Update 10/25: A day after the hullabaloo, the pattern page on the Fred Perry website was taken down, so you won’t be able to find it if you’re looking for it. Interestingly, the pattern pdf files appear not to have been removed from the website, so for the time being, they can still be accessed via the links in this post.
It feels like the entire knitting community has been talking about Fred Perry today, and it’s all because of a genius idea executed rather poorly. I don’t want to go into detail because you may have already heard or read about it elsewhere, but if you haven’t, I’m going to point you to this post on the subject by Kate Davies. In short, Fred Perry released a collection of knitting patterns in conjunction with a ready-made collection, so that enterprising knitters could knit their own! rather than pay the £125 or so one of the ready-made sweaters would cost you. The problem is that the instructions are really not user-friendly for the modern handknitter: no sizing info, no yardage, no gauge, suggested wool that apparently does not exist, and the list goes on… as far as I can tell, the patterns are effectively the instructions one would need to machine-knit these pieces, only “translated” into the jargon of handknitting (and poorly at that). Whatever happened here, they’re really not ideal if you actually want to make the items pictured.
In spite of Fred Perry’s really missing the target on the pattern end, I find myself coveting a few of the pieces. I decided I’d turn my negative energy into a positive end, and use this as an excuse to celebrate handknitting designers. I’ve compiled a list of alternative patterns you might like to knit instead of trying to make sense of the Fred Perry pieces, many available from independent designers. Unfortunately I don’t have time to do this for all the Fred Perry patterns, but I picked out my favorites.
“Aran Cardigan No. K3721”
The Fred Perry pattern is listed here on Ravelry and available to download from the FP website here, but you may notice that there are apparently no instructions for the sleeves. When looking for alternatives, I tried to find patterns for pieces with a similar feel – V-necked, cabled like a traditional Aran sweater, slouchy “boyfriend” fit, with pockets. Not all of these patterns check off all of these boxes, but I was looking for patterns that are available individually and not difficult to track down.
Aran Cardigan alternatives:
A: Tuesday’s Child by Carol Sunday ($7.50), available on Ravelry here and Carol’s website here
B: Lucky (me) by Solenn Couix-Loarer (€5.00, or ~$7), available on Ravelry here
C: Breezy Cables by Kathy Zimmerman ($5.50), available on Ravelry here and from Interweave here
D: Aran Cardigan Sweater by Lion Brand Yarn, free with registration on Lion Brand’s website here
“Fairisle Beanie No. C3205”
The Fred Perry pattern isn’t up on Ravelry yet, but it’s available to download here. There are multitudes of stranded colorwork hats listed on Ravelry, but again, I’ve tried to come up with alternatives with a similar feeling. I think suggestion A, the Fair Isle Ski Hat, is the closest, but if you put a pom pom on top of any of the others you wouldn’t be too far off. I’m also going to take this opportunity to sing the praises of pom pom makers like this one – I first learned to make pom poms using the cardboard disc method, and trust me when I say that the plastic Clover device is much easier.
A: Fair Isle Ski Hat by Audrey Wilson (£3.00, or ~$5), available on Ravelry here
B: Seasons Hat by Jared Flood ($6.75), available on Ravelry here and on the Brooklyn Tweed website here
C: Green Memories by La Maison Rililie (€3.90, or ~$5.50), available on Ravelry here
D: Olivia Hat by Tiennie (free), available on Ravelry here
“Fairisle Turtle Neck No. K3723”
The Ravelry page for the Fred Perry pattern is here, and the pdf download is here. The color choice and bold motifs are really what make this sweater, for me, and trying to find good alternatives was tricky. I came up with a few ideas, though. Color choice makes all the difference in the world, and if each of the sweaters below was worked up in the same color pallette as the Fred Perry pullover, they’d all look a lot more similar.
A: Fair Isle Yoke Pullover #2753 by Bernat Design studio (free), available here (and the Rav page is here)
B: Limoges by Manos del Uruguay Design Team ($6.00), available on Ravelry here and on the Manos page here
C: Machu Picchu by Carol Sunday ($7.00), available on Ravelry here and on Carol’s site here
D: Dances with Yellow by Varian Brandon (free), available to download here (pdf link) and the Rav page is here
As a disclaimer, I haven’t personally knit any of these patterns and I can’t promise you’ll have a good experience, though several of the designers I featured in this post have fantastic reputations in the handknitting community when it comes to their patterns (Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed and Carol Sunday in particular). Still, in terms of sizing, yardage, and gauge information, they’ll all give you a lot more to go on than the Fred Perry “patterns.”
Additionally, if you’re interested in vintage-style patterns in general, I’d like to point you in the direction of Susan Crawford and Rohn Strong, both of whom are particularly focused on vintage knitting and crochet. These are the two designers I’m most familiar with, but if you have other suggestions for folks I might not have heard of, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!