There is an old adage that “There is no such thing as a free lunch” and never is that more appropriate than when dealing with the multitude of websites which are available these days - all offering Free Patterns. I’m not going to link to them as they have no need of any more free publicity but I’m sure you have all seen them crop up on Google searches at various times.
“No need to waste your money on buying patterns” they proclaim - often in loud shouty letters, offering to dazzle and delight the reader with their range of wonderful free patterns.
Whilst there is nothing wrong in principle with this type of website it’s worth bearing a few things in mind before taking them up on their oh-so-kind offer.
First of all, please bear in mind that many of these patterns are counterfeit - that is to say they are available for download without the permission of the designer. Whilst a pattern may be listed as a free pattern on Ravelry, this does not grant anyone else permission to distribute that pattern - either in printed or in electronic form. Often designers will offer a free pattern as a way of driving more visitors to their website or to their Ravelry designer page in the hope of increasing sales and awareness of their product. Having the pattern available elsewhere detracts from that and reduces the potential for further sales. There is a serious misconception among the knitting industry that just because a pattern is available as a free download it is available for anyone to use and distribute and many of these free pattern sites take full advantage of this lack of awareness.
In addition there have been an increasing number of cases where these ‘free download’ websites have been affected by viruses or other forms of malware. In some cases this may be malicious but often it is just the case that such sites are poorly run and administered and therefore may not be as assiduous in checking all their links as you might like.
Viruses and malware aren’t just a problem with sites like this either. Patterns downloaded directly from individual’s blogs may also be a problem. This was pointed out recently on my Facebook group - I am knitting a sock yarn blanket the pattern for which was published on a blog several years ago. There is a Ravelry pattern page but to get the pattern you have to go to the blog website rather than downloading via Ravelry. Several people reported that they had problems with their PC after visiting the site and thankfully the Rav team were super speedy in responding.
It serves as a timely reminder though, that as used as we are to the instant gratification of downloadable patterns it is worth checking where your downloads come from. Sources such as Ravelry and Love Knitting are impeccable, I am very pleased to say as all patterns have to be uploaded to their servers before they can be activated.
If in doubt, as with anything, it’s best to double check before hitting that download button.