Monday, May 27, 2013

A few free "hidden gems" on Ravelry (free knitting patterns)

A few years ago, I browsed Ravelry's newly added patterns feed on a daily basis. At that time there would be a few pages to skim through, and most were not of much interest to me. However, opening the pages of the patterns that appealed to me ended up being a big time-suck, and heaven forbid I missed a day of browsing -- I would have to catch up the next day, and eventually I realized that if I were going to try to do more productive things in my day, I would have to give up this little hobby.

Now Ravelry has implemented a few features on the patterns homepage that allow me to get a nice little dose of new patterns without spending the time to browse through all of the new patterns. "Your Pattern Highlights" shows a selection of new patterns based on your Ravelry preferences (i.e., favorite designs, designers, patterns "liked" by other users with apparently similar taste, etc.), and "Hot Right Now" showcases the most looked-at patterns recently. The default is to show the top five patterns, but I just discovered that the list can be expanded to show 20. Great!

But occasionally, I still come across patterns that don't appear on either of these lists, usually either by viewing my friends' feed of recently added photos, or by browsing patterns for a particular weight yarn. When I run a pattern search, I usually sort by "most projects," but occasionally I'll sort by "recently added to Ravelry" just so that I'm not looking at all the same patterns all the time.

It was in this way that I came across these few free gems today, while searching for a pattern for these yarns:

Pure cotton ripple yarn, from Taobao seller 幽思品兰香

Shishang silk protein/wool blend from Taobao seller 燕子_时尚坊
All of them went into my queue immediately:

Smoky Earl Grey 
I love the look of these boxy, dropped-sleeve pullovers, in the vein of Tweedy---Stripey. This one is more cropped and in a slightly lighter weight yarn than the latter.

Recto Verso
This is a button-back short-sleeve cardigan in "lacy" garter stitch (basically, a "condo" stitch, where two different needle sizes are used) knit at a very loose gauge. I really love the look of loose-knit garter stitch, especially in a summery yarn, like cotton.

(Actually, even in wool it's good. Witness my Skappelgenseren. And my dumbbells.)
I found the Recto Verso designer has a number of fabulous, simple patterns (more chubby garter stitch!) for free, in French and English -- and this one is not yet on Ravelry (link opens PDF) but I found it on her blog and love it, too (French only but the schematic is pretty clear and with a bit of Google Translate magic I reckon I can figure it out).

Finally, I came across the Web site for Järbo Garn, which seems to be a Swedish yarn company with a similar setup to Drops Yarn in that they release a bunch of patterns every season to accompany their yarns. Unlike Drops patterns, the Jarbo patterns seem to be mostly in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, with the occasional Finnish, German, or French translation thrown in, but again, Google Translate is pretty powerful, especially with the simpler designs. There is an English-language framework for the site, though, so navigating it is not a problem.

Bonus: When I expanded my "Hot Right Now" list to the top 20, I came across this other free gem, a summery lacey shawl -- I think it'll be perfect for this hot pink ribbon yarn that'll be left over as soon as I finish my Doris Chan Lacy Top Cardigan.
Italian mill end yarn "Earth" from my favorite Taobao shop, 很胖的胖子

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