We sell each one of these so we thought we would take a look at the pros and cons associated to help you decide which is right for you!
The upside here is clear - it's the most affordable. Most patterns fall around the $6-$12 mark. Listening to customer demand, we are transitioning away from hard-copy single patterns and to primarily digital downloads. Electronic versions of patterns can't be lost or damaged, and are easy to update. Whether printed or digital, paying for a design versus finding one for free should mean a detailed, well laid out, and thorough pattern. All techniques should be explained with pictures and charts as needed.
Typically the next step up in price, these can be wonderful addition to your library of patterns. Magazines usually feature brand new patterns, and it's fun to see what's on trend even if you don't end up making them. Many publications like Making and By Hand have more than just knitting and crochet patterns. Sewing, baking and other crafts are often highlighted as well, bringing variety to your crafting diet.
Ah, a library can be a fine thing for a fiber artist. If you like more than one pattern from any given book, it is worth investing in. Knit primarily hats? Definitely take a look at a book of hat patterns. Ditto sweaters, shawls, socks, and baby stuff. You can gain inspiration even from the patterns you don't end up making and, call us old fashioned, but there is something pleasing about flipping through a book. In addition to books of patterns, we also stock a variety of popular resource materials like stitch libraries and techniques.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For single patterns, there isn't much of a downside. It is a relatively small investment and will likely mean a better experience on average than trying your luck with a free pattern.
Magazines? Take full advantage of online previews from publishers to see if you are interested in the issue. If more than one thing jumps out at you, it's probably worth the fun of seeing what's fresh.
Books can be the hardest to judge. The same rule of thumb applies - if you like more than one pattern, it can be worth the investment.