Monday, May 24, 2010

Intwined Studio Charting App for Knitters

I truly am useless at reading written-out patterns, so I have, over the years, collected almost every charting program for knitters that appeared on the market in the hopes that one of them would be the Killer App of Chart Knitting. I did not purchase the extravagantly expensive application that appears years ago whose name escapes me, but I did shell out $185 for Knit Visualizer when it was released. I rarely use it--I prefer Excel. Most of what I chart are older patterns with written directions, and I dislike KV's awkward single-line pattern parser, which is unforgiving of mistakes. (There are other things I don't especially care for in KV, but this post isn't about Knit Visualizer, so I won't whine any further about it.)

Anyway, I was rather blown away when I started playing with Intwined Pattern Studio. First of all, it costs $44--a whopping bargain of gargantuan proportions, because it not only contains all of Knit Visualizer's features, but allows full-page editing of charts and directions.

The main chart screen is divided into three sections.

On the top is the chart and to the left, are three lovely collapsible palettes that can be positioned anywhere on the page or closed up to save screen real estate.

The Stitch palette shows you the stitches in the chart and the Colors palette displays colors in use--both palettes save a lot of time, as you can instantly reuse items without scrolling through a long list of symbols.

The Stitch palette itself is quite exhaustive, but if you need a special symbol, you can design one.

What's especially nice about the Symbol library is you may rearrange stitches into categories, create custom categories, and edit the abbreviations and descriptions. If you collaborate with someone else  and created a group of special symbols, you can export symbol sets and email them to your partner.

The Stitch Library uses bitmap symbols, not fonts, so you can import your own pictures and use them in the library. You can also edit the current settings. For example, I happen to like a dot instead of a dash for purl. So I changed it.

 Like other charting programs, you can add cheerfully colored borders and no-stitch symbols; flip chart areas horizontally and vertically; replace one symbol with another; and zoom in and out of the chart. You can also use colored boxes for the No Stitch symbol, or simply have them omitted from the chart.

The star of the show, though, is the window at the bottom of the display: it's where you can type (or paste) knitting instructions and see the corresponding symbols appear on your chart. Unlike Knit Visualizer, the entire written pattern is displayed at all times, and changes made to either the chart or the pattern are reflected in corresponding section. This feature is exceptionally useful, because you may access the whole design, not just a single line.

Note also in the image above that there is a lace setting--the program just skips alternate rows, which saves a lot of space.

Once are satisfied with the chart, you tell the program to copy the chart and switch over to the Document window. You'll see your chart there, and you may add any special instructions. This window is a full-featured word processor. If your design uses multiple charts, you can insert them, and you may drop photos into the document as well.

On the down side, you must save the stitch key as a separate image--a little annoying. And, while you can copy the written instructions into your document, the method is not obvious. I hope both these little foibles are fixed in a later version of the program. On the whole though, this program is powerful, customizable, delightfully easy to use, and won't have a significant impact on your yarn-buying budget.