Sally Holt of knitCompanion and the create2thrive website was our guest today, to share how cool the knitCompanion app is with us at the Yarn Thing with Marly Bird podcast. We recently learned of many things that begin with the podcast, and certainly a friendship with Marly and Sally would be a very good thing!
Sally doesn’t live very far from Marly, but they both met at an event like TNNA in Ohio! Sally’s love of fiber activity probably came from her mom, who sewed, quilting and taking her things to craft shows (Sally says her mother’s best friend was a knitter). She says that her mom made clothes to fit Cabbage Patch shows, and Marly’s mom would go to craft shows and found the doll things for her! Sally says one of her sisters is very talented at creating clothes including making her wedding dress so it in the blood there. Sally says she’s also been a complete and total geek, tinkering with appliances and helping dad with the car… Once she got her hands on a home computer she did a lot with them, in fact, worked in software industry. She says while in college her crafting took a hiatus, but later on, became obsessed with it, seeking patterns that were several pages long.
For work, she found herself on the long 23 hour flights to Singapore. At about this time she purchased the first iPad and thought having the pattern she was working on would be so nice. One problem with that was the key to the stitches couldn’t be near where you were. Among other issues, and the increasing computing power with tablets, Sally began to conceive of the beginnings of knitCompanion. Sally often refers to it as KC (letting you know, because I thought she was saying Casey).
The knitCompanion app includes Row Counters, Stitch Markers (called magic markers which will find all the similar stitches and marks them with a certain color), Smart Counters (which resolves the ‘at-the-same-time’ events that happen in your knitting) among so many other features. One thing that can help some knitters that Sally mentions is to add the row between the action rows. For instance in working Lace, there is an in-between rows that just works back without any changes that is usually not included in the written or charted patterns but some knitters must have them.
A lot of the features have been suggested by the users. Sally could do the coding for the program, but the heavy lifting is done by a programmer (he’s often referred to as the Elf-on-the-Shelf even though he’s a very tall Canadian) and in a thread in the Ravelry Group, suggestions have come from group participants that have improved the app.
Many of the patterns that are available in knitCompanion format have a little added feature. For instance in Hunter Hammersen’s Curls, the pattern can be set up in the app so that the grided chart and the Stitch-Map can be seen at the same time. (We’ve recently featured JC Briar and shared Stitch-Maps.)
This knitCompanion format is called kCDesign and there are hundreds available from create2thrive.com. This is coordinated with the designers and integrated with Ravelry. With kCDesigns all the knitCompanion setup is done, and things like sizes and design modifications are built in.
In 2011, Sally had the opportunity to meet Lucy Neatby. Lucy contacted Sally when she got home, and her suggestions which became a Designer Series App, included a little video clip of Lucy (in her series, there are other series with other designers) showing how certain techniques are completed.
Another fantastic bit in knitCompanion (that came from Lucy) is that you can record yourself reading the tricky bits of the pattern, and then play that back when you get to it! A great way to get started with the app is to watch the knitCompanion Tour (knitcompanion.com/support). If you have a device that supports picture-in-picture you can watch the tour and follow along all on the same device.
Until now, knitCompanion has only been available for iPad devices. They began with the operating system version 4 (or iOS4) and have upgraded with each version of the new operating software ON TOP OF EACH new feature as it was created. Beginning in EARLY 2016 (not an exact date named yet) the knitCompanion will be available for Android Devices through the Google Play store. The first version will contain the knitCompanion essential tools and it will grow with each update to include all the existing kC features and more. The Android version is being created from scratch because it has to be written differently than the iOS version. Sally is excited to take advantage of this opportunity to re-do the app from the ground up so she take advantage of new interface options and apply all she has learned about how people use the app. Over the next year, the two platforms will grow together to offer the same features on both platforms and allow interchange of projects and kCDesigns between all devices.
The good news for folks getting started with the new platform is learning as you go, where those using it on the iPad have to begin at the beginning and spend time at the KCUniversity and Support forums to get up to speed. (Sally says they realize that people are seeing KnitCompanion at knit night, because of the questions and support requested later that night!) Sally explains it this way, ‘that people ingest the essential capabilities and will be easily able to adjust as it grows from the essentials’.
There are other ways to support knitCompanion, through the shop. One product mentioned, is the Keep-it-Clean, a cleaning cloth (which can be cleaned also) that features the soft side for cleaning your screen and a sticky side that will attach the cloth to your device so you’ll have it when you need it.
Marly hopes knitCompanion can be applied to crochet, perhaps as these two friends make time to spend putting their heads together to deal with how a crocheted piece curves…. You can follow Sally Holt at her Create2Thrive website, the KnitCompanion website, the Ravelry group for KC. Also available Pattern Genius is helpful when writing patterns.
Marly also is offering her pattern The Bronte Shawl, so you can try out the charts in knitCompanion, for a 75% discount with the code knitcompanion.
If you missed hearing this live it is still available as an archived episode at: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing/2015/12/08/sally-holt-of-knit-companion or in iTunes.