Although the make do and mend attitude seems to be making a comeback, it’s often not true to say that you can make a jumper for less than you can buy one in the shops. We are paying less for our clothing than we have ever done, but making something yourself will not only give a huge degree of satisfaction, it will mean you have a quality product which will last for decades, rather than something which will bobble or fall apart after a few washes.
Yarn is the obvious expense when knitting, but patterns can be equally pricey, especially if you are looking for something a bit different. Smart knitters though know exactly where to go to find cheap or even free knitting patterns.
If you’re an ardent knitter you’re probably signed up to Ravelry already, but if not, make your way there immediately. Ravelry is an online knitting community which both provides forums to chat with other knitters from across the world and browse through a massive library of patterns. Many patterns on Ravelry are free to download, and others cost anything up to £5. It’s also hard to beat the instant gratification of seeing that perfect pattern and being able to have it in your hands in the matter of seconds.
Be aware that many of the patterns are written for a North American audience though, so ensure what you are buying gives UK conversions in terms of yarn and needles.
Charity shops, car boot sales and Ebay can also be great sources of knitting patterns very cheaply. When buying vintage patterns try not to get distracted by the 70s hairdos or lurid yarn choices, think about the shape and construction of the item and try to imagine it brought into the 21st century with modern yarns. Second hand patterns usually only cost a few pence each, and watch out for patterns for baby clothes, blankets, scarves, hats and other accessories which do not date as quickly as clothing patterns.
Very old patterns will be written in inches and feet rather than the metric system, and when we went metric in the 1970s the number of needles was changed too. An imperial size 8 knitting needle is equivalent to 4mm, not 8mm, so ensure you’re clear about sizing before you start knitting.
Many manufacturers of needles, yarn and patterns will try to attract visitors to their websites by providing some patterns free of charge. The benefit of these patterns is that they are specifically designed to show off yarn to its best advantage. For example, the Artesano website has patterns written for Artesano DK yarn to suit a wide range of abilities. If you have some aran, chunky or Artesano DK yarn which you are not sure how to use, look first on the ball band for a manufacturer website and look for free patterns before looking elsewhere.
Many modern-thinking pattern publishers and knitting magazines have also made many patterns available as digital downloads which generally cost less than the printed version and you can get them straight away rather than waiting for them to arrive in the post.