How to find knitting patterns on the internet

I have been spending a bit of time finally writing up my neat and tidy little instructions for my go-to nice comfy ribbed sock pattern (I had thought it was too basic to put into a “real” pattern format, but then people started asking me about the pattern, and so now I am writing it into a pattern), but it’s not quite there yet so I’ll have to post about that later this week. In the mean time, though, something popped into my head that I keep wanting to do a quick note about, because even if it is just basic common sense I think it still bears repeating.

Every so often, I receive a blog comment or an email from a kindly reader/lurker/random human who happened to come upon my blog while traipsing across the internet, with a question or a question veiled as a comment, like, “I’m looking for a pattern for a ribbed hat. Can you help me plz thanks!” And sometimes I will respond with a few patient suggestions, sometimes I will be busy enough not to respond at all, and some times I will respond with some subset of the suggestions I will list below. It’s my guess that 90% of you are savvy enough to have thought of these things on your own, but if you are in the other 10% of human beings, allow me to offer these small tidbits of advice.

If you are trying to find a ribbed hat pattern/an easy child’s mitten/that sweater pattern your aunt knitted that one time a while back/some knitted wall hanging I’ve never heard of before, try one or more of the following routes:

1. Use an online search engine. Google is Your Friend. (Or, as the kids on the internets say, JFGI, dude). If you’re not familiar with using search engines, or if you’re not familiar with how to use them well, there are even tips guides on how to do this. The main thing to remember is to keep your keywords as useful as possible. You are not searching for “ribbed hat.” You are searching for “knitting pattern hat ribbing” or “knitting pattern ribbed hat” or “knit hat pattern free” or possibly “knitting hat free ribbed Aran child”, or however refined you want to make it.

Remember that Google is not clairvoyant. Google is also not secretly holding away the knitting pattern webpage you are looking for in a locked room somewhere. Google does not care about the hat pattern you are looking for. Google is waiting for you to give it instructions, and it will follow them. Google also does not respond to screaming and yelling, but I’m sure that’s not news to you, either.

Also, keep in mind that Google favours popular searches. The most popularly visited webpages related to your search string will likely be the first ones listed. The webpage you are looking for may not be the most popular one. Be prepared to sift through a page or two of results before you give up and try another set of keywords.

2. Visit Ravelry, and either
a) conduct a search in the pattern archive
(which BTW was one of the original functions of Ravelry), making great use of the constantly-improving pattern search features, or
b) ask around in the forums (which BTW was not one of the original functions of Ravelry, it came later because the users wanted it), in a group relevant to the kind of pattern you are looking for. I.e. if your pattern involves lace, the lace knitting groups might know. If your pattern is a cute Spiderman-themed hat for kids, there is probably a Spiderman-themed group out there you could ask. You will never know until you start looking.

I know that not all knitters in the universe are Raverly users. I know that there are even people in the knitting biz who don’t take Ravelry seriously as part of the “market” (whatever that is), and I know that there are knitters out there who either actively resist being joiners on the Internet or who may not even know that the knitting internets exist. I get that.

Keep in mind that Ravelry is there to support you as a knitter. It is an enormous archive of information, and it has a lot of users that also know a lot of knitting information. It is free, and if all you do is sign up in order to have access to the pattern search function, you are still totally allowed to do that.

3. Ask a human. Find the knitters closest to you – a yarn shop, a knitting circle, the women you see knitting at that coffee shop every other Friday. You never know – it might be that someone else knitted that exact same pattern, and can tell you exactly where to find it. It may be that your Local Yarn Shop owner had someone come in just the other day asking about that exact same pattern, and can tell you where to find it. It may also be the case that they have never heard of it. But, knitters like to help other people find ways to knit things, and they might help you find something similar that achieves the same purpose as the thing you were looking for originally.

Technically, this step doesn’t involve you using the internet, but it does involve you talking to people who may also use the internet, and the goal is to access more knitting pattern knowledge any way you can. This is all of the good.

All 3 of these steps are guaranteed to put you in contact with a lot of knitting patterns, and possibly a lot of other knitters, which are also both good things. You might get to the end of your search and find that you have totally forgotten about that stupid ribbed hat pattern and are now completely committed to cabled berets. Totally fine.

Have you ever had to track down a super obscure/random knitting pattern and had success? Leave other suggestions in the comments!

Happy knitting, and catch you again next time with a simple, free pattern.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “How to find knitting patterns on the internet

  1. Hey there! Not a comment on your post – but a heads up that I saw your content on craftblips dot com (don’t click over just yet) while checking the site for my own blog’s content after reading sixoneseven’s post about possible content skimming (http://sixoneseven.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post.html). Hope this even goes through with the links in it ;)

  2. No tips but I have spent hours searching and becoming sidetracked by different patterns. And like you mentioned, I may find something else I like better than what I originally started out looking for. It’s fun! and it’s surprising just how much stuff is out there.

  3. I don’t have anything to add ‘cuz I thought your three suggestions covered it all. I loves “the internets” (especially for all those lovely videos that teach you wonderful knitting techniques, especially when the only knitter I know in real life is vacationing in Florida–whew!). :D

  4. I might add that anyone out there wanting basic patterns should check out Ann Budd’s book on the subject (link below). It’s a great resource!

  5. Lissa

    If you’re feeling a little snarky, you could always create a link for them from Let Me Google That For You (lmgtfy.com) like: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=knitting+pattern+ribbed+hat (I’ve actually always managed to resist the urge to send it — but just knowing it’s out there makes me feel better ;).

  6. That is hilarious and awesome – LMGTFY! I didn’t even know it existed, but I am so pleased that it does.

    G

  7. Malini

    Great one. Searching for patterns online has become so ubiquitous that the knitting expert at my lys hands out urls printed on slips of paper.

  8. There’s always the public library’s stock collection of patterns for every age group. I’m not saying this is for everyone; but it seems to me that if you have to ask HOW to find a pattern on the internet, then you probably aren’t the most saavy of knitters and need to start small. Myself, I like http//:www.knitty.com for a unique pattern and Ravelry for just about everything else. But some of my most favorite patterns have come from other people’s blogging about their projects. That’s good, too! :)

  9. I think for those who are computer savvy, these questions seem silly, but take my mom, for example, who is in her 80′s and has just owned a computer for a few years. The learning curve for her is ENORMOUS and at her age, challenging to say the least. If she MANAGED to find a knitting blog, and saw you could leave a question I have no doubt she’d do so and would be eternally grateful for any step by step instructions. In fact, the lmgtfy link would have been enormously helpful for me to send her weekly until she caught on to the concept — so thanks for the post as I’m sure it will be enormously helpful to the wonderful knitters who have heard that more patterns can be found in that tv on their kid’s desk if they just knew how to look!!

  10. Julia

    Your posting made me laugh because I realized (reading your final question) that I had had exactly such an experience and acted like a total nebbish, but it was because I was a knitting nebbish, not an internet searching nebbish. A number of years ago I was in my local yarn shop and saw The Most Beautiful Thing Ever–it was a shawl/wrap/throw that looked as if it had been washed up on the beach of an enchanted island, made of magical seaweed and cast-off mermaid undergarments. So beautiful! Shades of green, with a little bit of coral; all different weights and types of yarn. The pattern was beautiful too, and something I’d never seen–it sort of swooped in big curves and gathers like waves. I loved it. On closer inspection I saw that it was a kit, with a weird name like “Absolutely Fabulous Something-or-other” by Colinette, so I went online and googled it and found out that it was A Phenomenon (with a nickname and a following and all the rest of it) but also quite expensive as a kit, so I decided to see about getting the stitch pattern and making it myself. I remember rampaging around in a yarn shop describing this thing to the patient owner and asking her how the pattern might have worked, and she finally said (very patiently even though I was being very self-important about how interesting this pattern was), “I think it’s called Old Shale…” So I went back on the internet and discovered that this tremendously complicated-looking and beautiful pattern was in fact a good old traditional pattern consisting of a simple series of increases and decreases, and that if I had had a bit more knitting knowledge I could have figured that out just by looking at it. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is but I never did make the throw…I have, however, made other things with Old Shale/Feather and Fan and I love the pattern. And now I know how to find things out both on the internet and by asking and by figuring things out myself (so I guess I should start knitting in coffee shops so that other people can ask me questions :-) Thanks so much for your wonderful blog!

  11. Marjorie

    Glenna – once again you, and your readers’ comments, have given me a giggle and made my day! So sorry that Lissa beat me to sharing with you the LMGTFY – I’ll never forget the first time my computer guru buddy sent that to me after I nagged him via email for the umpteenth time one day with a computer question . . . . . I’ve never really thought about it but now that I do I’m sure you must get totally inundated with queries – which, I suppose, in its own way is really a very nice, back handed compliment! (And, I await the sock pattern to see if what I’ve knit is what you think I might want to knit! :-) )

  12. Donna

    Thanks for the info on Ravelry. I didn’t know about the site and am off to check it out!

  13. Ravelry? So, it really has a site for free patterns. Thanks for these very nice tips!