Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Knitting Software Comparisons

Since I'm compiling this for my own use I thought I'd share it. No one sponsored me *sob* and it's all my own opinion. In roughly alphabetical order...

DesignaKnit 7

Not compatible with Windows 7. They have a new version coming out in September which I've emailed to find out about. Looks like it does chart and garment design for hand and machine knitters.

Price - Oh look $199 (£127) for handknit only version.


Very slick chart software. If you are trying to create a pattern where you already know the pattern for the item you're going to apply the chart to - say a mitten or sock or even a whole fairisle jumper - then this allows you to create multiple charts using colours and stitches. I especially liked the colour picker which showed you the complimentary/triad/any other type of colour thing matches for the one you had chosen. Fully Windows 7 and Mac compatible, it exports in every format you can think of including pdt, pdf and docx. Nice demo version too.

Downside - cost
Upside - very nice interface. This is the one you would put on your xmas list or save up for.
Price - $99 (approx £63)


Attractive chart making software. Useful tools to help create repeating charts, mirrored effects, add colour etc. Extensive stitch library (200 including cables) which you can also modify or add to. Can export to PDF or as an image file and can copy and paste the text. Updates the text as you alter the chart and vice versa. Good demo video on their site and extensive userguide. Available for Macs and Windows.

Downside - no demo you can download to try out (although demo video very good)
Upside - Looks like you get software updates for free.
Price - $44 (approx £28)


More chart making but definitely aimed at the hobby crafter and quite a cutesy interface that will probably distract you from the lack of features - although it is still good for the price. With this you purely get a chart without the written instructions. One thing I haven't seen elsewhere is the ability to add text (in arial or times) and import images into your charts. The image importer is nice as it allows you to adjust the level of pixelation/detail and hence the size of the chart.

Downside - basic software but fine if that's all you need.
Upside - intuitive and attractive with text and photo import options
Price - $30 (approx £19)

Knit Visualizer

Looks like a chart generator. Price put me off looking for more details.

Price: $185 (approx £118)

KnitWare Basics/Sweaters/Skirts&Shawls

Tell it your gauge, type of item you want to knit, machine knit or crochet and adjust to your measurements. It produces a pattern for in the round or flat assembly. Don't like the neckline? Change to another. Want raglan instead of saddle shoulders? Click and it's done. Have a repeating stitch motif? Tell it the repeat length and it adjusts the pattern so the repeat is centred on flat bits or fits onto an in-the-round garment. This was my first choice system UNTIL I came to check the compatibility with my laptop. I had tried the demo on a borrowed one and really liked the interface and the option of different systems for basics, jumpers and shawls. Plus they were only about £20 each so for less money I got more variety of garments. And then disaster struck. If you have Windows 7 64-bit then you have to blah blah.... So gutted.

Downside - doesn't work on my machine without a load of fannying about which I can't be bothered with.
Upside - All sorts of patterns can be created and adjusted as needed.
Price - £20 per program (approx $32)

Here is a cat picture to break up the text.

Sweater Designer 1.5

Doesn't work on my machine. Is Windows 7 really so outrageously advanced that compatibility is impossible to achieve? 80+ motifs to use on 6 sweater styles. $1 plus postage for updates.

Price - $49 (£31)

Sweater Wizard 3.0

Want to knit a jumper or cardigan flat or in the round? Kapow. Very like KnitWare but will actually work on my machine (always a bonus). Allows you to use various techniques like steeks or three needle bind offs. As well as collar shapes it also has 'collar trims' which means cowls, hoods and turtle necks. Overall this one is pretty sweet and the support looks to be pretty good with both a Ravelry and a Yahoo Group.

Downside - you have to pay for upgrades. $28 too which isn't pin money.
Upside - Basically does what you want.
Price - Official website quotes $90 (approx £57) but available for $68 (£43) elsewhere. Or $58 (£37).

StitchMastery Knitting Chart Editor

Very similar to Intwined but with a more sophisticated menu system which could make it quicker to use in the long run. It also comes in a Linux version as well as Mac and PC which might set the hearts of geekier knitters racing (the Linux version is even 10% cheaper than the others). Unlike Intwined this does have a demo version you can download which might make you more confident in buying, especially considering the price.

Downside - purely the financial. That much money for something that only does charts?
Upside - Software updates included and lovely menus.
Price - £60 (approx $95)

If I missed the software you like let me know in the Comments below. 

my cat's got chicken feet

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Do Knitting Patterns Always Get More Expensive in a Recession?

Is it my imagination? Or have knitting patterns been getting more expensive recently?
deer hunting
Back in the day, when Ravelry was all new and shiny and some of us were still mourning the weird turns the yahoo UKHandknitters group had taken, it was fairly unusual to buy an individual pattern online. Single patterns were available in shops but they were printed and rare.

Then came Autumn 2008 and Twist Collective launched. And I remember thinking two things...
  1. Wow, some of these designs are gorgeous.
  2. I'll just click on this to see how much it.....HOW MUCH?!
Back then it was rare for me to buy a pattern that wasn't in a magazine or book and the only online ones I tended to use were on Knitty. How things have changed.
July 12 2009 patterns 007
If you take a look back at my post on The Most Popular Patterns (aka The Top Eights) you'll notice that none of those patterns are from printed magazines and I can't see any from books either. They are all single patterns you either pay to download or get for free.

I have been spending a seemingly endless amount of time on Ravelry in the last few weeks looking for patterns for swaps, gifts, friends, ideas - you name it. And it has come to my attention that more and more of these patterns are for sale and that therefore (dur) fewer are free. Not only that, but a number of patterns that I would have expected to be around the $5-7 mark are now up around $9. Once again I find myself seeing a lovely pattern on Ravelry's only to find when I click on it that I'm once again saying to myself "HOW MUCH?!".
Pav Surprised
Having thought about this a bit I have concluded the higher incidence of paid for patterns must be down to one of three reasons.
  1. When your everyday knitter started publishing their patterns a few years ago they were a bit timid about not being a "name" and so didn't feel confident asking for money. Now that pattern publishing is the norm - hey, even I've done it - these people do feel confident in putting a price tag on.
  2. Everyday knitters are no longer publishing out of pride or love for their fellow knitter. They are now more market focussed and are publishing specifically to earn some money.
  3. Everyday knitters do still love their feelow knitter but are also more aware of fair exchange - a fair price in exchange for their effort. 
But this still leaves us with the price increase. Inflation has been at about 4% in the UK for the last three years so that would lead a $7 pattern in 2009 (which I still think is pretty steep) to be a $7.87 pattern in 2012. Is the extra dollar a sign that more people are looking to knitting to bring in income they may have lost as a result of the recession? (My take home pay has shrunk in value by nearly 10% over the same period as a result of pay rises - when I got one - not keeping pace with inflation.) Or is it designers feeling they are heading more towards what they deserve to be paid, rather than what the market will accept?
Part of the reason I've been thinking about this is because I have once again been thinking about putting some more patterns into a suitable format and passing them on to an unsuspecting knitting community. I've been exploring software to help with this and am currently tending towards KnitWare from Jigsaw. I looked at SweaterWizard and Intwined and while they both look interesting they didn't quite have what I was looking for plus the Jigsaw one is cheaper. And in a recession one has to take these things into account.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Pincushion Frenzy

I have been making pincushions over the weekend. Led me to create my first ever Treasury on Etsy.
Treasury Capture
You can find it here. Wonder if you'll be able to spot which two in it are mine....? Let me give you a clue.
Etsy to be
I adore these ones. Wouldn't they look cute as place-card holders/favours at a wedding?

Been knitting away on some new socks.
Twisted Stitches Sock
They are Down the Rabbit Hole - a free pattern on Ravelry. Until now I've never got the hang of travelling stitches or of cabling without a needle. Now? Ha! I am so doing it like it's 1999. Neeeeoooow my cables are progressing at such high speed my fingers are a blue. Kinda. I'm turning the heel on the first one anyway.

Now I'm off to make some Challah. My previous batch vanished with indecent haste and was extremely yummy so the time has come to make some more.
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