Guest Post: Faster Knitting with knitCompanion

This guest post was written by Sally Holt, creator of the knitCompanion app which is available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. A knitter herself, Sally created knitCompanion to include many features to make knitting (and crocheting!) from PDF patterns easier and more efficient using the tag line Knit more, frog less. We love the idea of making the most of your crafting time by using this technology, and you can download knitCompanion for free from the app store on your device!

From Idea to App

Back in the early 2000s I was working in the high-tech industry and was also starting to knit. I carried my knitting with me on ever-increasing business trips. When those trips became long-haul international flights, things between my knitting and I got very serious. When I was first beginning my knitting journey, even simple things were tricky, I needed a pattern and instructions close at hand for almost everything. With practice, the basics got easier and I could do them without a pattern. The only problem? I like a challenge. As I mastered each new thing, I wanted to tackle the next hurdle. The first time I did a yo (on purpose) combined with k2tog/ssk and created lace I was PUMPED! 

As my knitting progressed, I discovered some projects did not travel well. The main reason was how difficult it was to keep track in the more complex instructions. I tried all sorts of things, but in the end, I had to travel with simple projects and leave the more complex ones at home. 

There were no tablets back then, just the original e-book readers. At Sock Summit 2009, I saw people experimenting with using their e-book reader for patterns. The basic approach was to place a sticky note on the screen to mark your row. I thought that was interesting, and it got my mind to thinking about the possibilities of creating a more mobile tracking system. Right away I knew it would need to support any pattern since I was always picking up new patterns on Ravelry. I played around with some generic pdf readers, but they were clumsy and didn’t provide the types of tools I needed. I really wanted smooth and streamlined control of markers, counters that I didn’t have to share between projects, and the ability to work from and keep track across several pages of information at once.

In 2010 Apple released the very first iPad. It included a fairly sophisticated system for creating apps and opened up a LOT of possibilities. The timing was perfect and lots of things clicked together in my brain. By 2011 knitCompanion was in development and the first version was released in 2012. Since that first release the app has evolved mightily. 

What’s Slowing You Down?

If you’ve ever wished you could knit more and frog less, then you have probably experiences at least 1 of these problems that can slow down your knitting: 

Tiny Charts. Especially if you’re a fan of complex lace patterns, sooner or later, you’re going to encounter a Very Large Chart that has been squeezed onto a single page of your pattern (and don’t get us started about patterns that are split across multiple pages!). In the days of paper patterns, this necessitated a trip to the local copy shop to enlarge the charts as much as possible - but of course, you are limited by the size of the paper available, as well as your own skills at operating the copy machine itself. 

Zooming in on any part of a pattern or chart is so much simpler on your tablet or smartphone! Which brings us to the next point….

Getting lost in the pattern. Over the years, most of us have probably tried sticky notes, highlighter tape, or good old-fashioned hash marks to keep track of where we are in a pattern. The only problem with these methods is that sticky notes and highlighter tape can be jostled out of position, and if your paper pattern is misplaced or damaged before you’re done knitting, are in big trouble! Having to decipher or re-create your notes can be frustrating, not to mention, lead to mistakes that necessitate frogging later on.

The free version of the knitCompanion app has 3 handy markers which stay in place as you zoom and scroll on any pattern: 

  1. Sliding row marker (default yellow - but you can change the color and opacity) which can be used to highlight a single row of pattern instructions or chart row that you are working from.

  2. Sliding stitch marker (default blue - but can also be changed) which is handy for keeping place as you knit across a row. 

  3. You are here marker: this can be used to mark a specific spot on any page and can be placed by holding your finger in the spot you’d like it to appear.

The above 3 markers are unique to each page of the pattern, which means that you can flip between pages without losing your spot on any of them! 

Mental notes are easy to ‘lose.’ Let’s face it, we always think we’ll remember that we added an extra repeat here or used a certain technique there….but when the time comes to revisit that part of the pattern, chances are those important bits of information have been forgotten! Getting in the habit of making notes on the modifications and techniques you ended up using which are not written out in the pattern can make your life WAY easier down the road. 

Page flipping frustrations. Have you ever tried working from a chart in a pattern, only to discover that the key was on a totally different page? Not only can it be annoying to flip back and forth every time you need a reminder of what a specific symbol in your chart means, it can also slow you down as you work. This paid feature allows you to keep the key handy as you work from any page. 

Need to reference a tutorial video? On iOS, you can embed a video in the pattern you’re working from, allowing you to re-watch the tutorial whenever you need it without navigating to another app! 

The bottom line: find whatever works for you so that you can enjoy knitting & crocheting more and frogging less! 

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  1. Learned several new things from this post. Thank you, Sally. You’re my hero!

  2. I use KnitCompanion every day on my iphone. I would never think of using anything else to keep me on track. I would love to see a knitting journal with the app to keep all the other info for my project and being able to include a photo or have a separate app that links with KnitCompanion.