Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Software for Knitters: Part III--Knit Visualizer Review

Knit Visualizer version 1.2
Platform: Mac and PC
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Knit Visualizer is an astounding programming tour de force. The program not only lets you paint stitches onto a graph, it also can translate written directions into a chart for you. After Excel, it’s the program I turn to most for charting tasks, especially if I want especially handsome printed output.

This version is not especially appropriate for charting in color—there are better programs currently available for this kind of design (and I will talk about them in later postings). However, the next version will let you chart directly in color (and will include more symbols, too). No, I don’t know when the next version will be released, but there’s a Yahoo group you can join to keep up with her progress (and make suggestions, report bugs, and chat with other users).

As you can see from the picture above (which will be far clearer if you click on it.These blurry Blogger thumbnails are just awful), the layout consists of the main chart window, a panel of stitch symbols on the right, a text entry field on the bottom, and an icon toolbar under the Main Menu bar on the top.

Here's a snip of the chart itself.

There are several ways to use the program. You can enter the chart symbols directly in Stitch Paint mode, or you can type in text and watch as Knit Visualizer miraculously translates these into a graph for you.

Here I am typing in Row 5…

And here’s what Knit Visualizer displays when I press the Enter key.

The program lets you specify whether your pattern should be set up for circular or flat knitting and whether the current entry is a right-side or wrong side row.

There’s a limit to the translator’s intelligence. It would be flummoxed by something like k2, drop the yarnover from the previous row, k2. You have to abide by some rules, which are clearly delineated in the manual, and be a bit creative when charting patterns with unusual stitches.

You’ll find cool little touches everywhere. Rest your mouse over a symbol and a little pop-up tip appears, showing you what the symbol stands for.

And you can select cells and add borders, if you need them.

The designer has included a broad range of symbols, including cables, twists, increases, decreases, and a set to indicate colors.

There are two drawbacks to the program. The first is the cost: $135 will buy a lot of sock yarn!

The second drawback, in my opinion, is the output format, which is currently limited to .png files (a bitmap format similar to .jpg or .tif). Thus, you cannot edit the result directly or change the symbol definitions. There are some tricks to editing both before and after output, some of which are only for graphics experts. I’ll try to explain what you can do, but some of the options will not be available to you unless you own other types of software.

The simplest way to make some changes is inside the Print Preview dialog box. Here, you can actually alter some of the text merely by typing it in. The first screen shot below shows the unedited pattern output.

And here I have added the text you see highlighted.

You can also enter in notes, as shown below, and actually change the pattern itself, if you are so inclined. Also, there are several layout variations you can choose—horizontal, vertical, vertical centered, and so on. I switched to the Horizontal layout in the picture below.

Some of the text cannot be changed, for example, the actual stitch definitions shown in boldface in the dialog box.

Those with some graphic experience and the appropriate software can play around with the output in some sophisticated ways. If you print your Knit Visualizer chart to a PostScript printer driver (for example, a generic Linotronic 330 driver on a File port), the program generates a nice EPS file that can be opened in a vector illustration program such as CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator. You can then edit the file with complete abandon.

Here, I have opened the PostScript output in CorelDraw and have selected the line of text at the top.

Now I have increased the text size and changed the text color to red…

And changed the purl stitches to blue dots…

And made one of the gray boxes pink.

You get the idea.

I gave Knit Visualizer a 4 out of 5 rating, withholding one star because it currently lacks color support and boy, on my laptop, the interface font is really tiny. I squint a lot reading the menus and command options.

If you hate written instructions and wish they would all turn into neat charts with a wave of a wand, Knit Visualizer is definitely worth the investment.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this treatise—PC Stitch.


Anonymous said...

I found the stitch markers you are looking for at:

You have inspired me to begin my own Draggone and I am diligently following your advice! Great blog - I thoroughly enjoy reading it.

/Anna Marie

Lacefreak said...

Very informative! I've been looking at the various software for making patterns. I'm not good with computers. Just the average user, so trying to apply Excel towards making a pattern would likely be out of my scope without alot of education on my part. A program like this or Stitch Motif might be enough for me initially. Your blog is really helpful in pointing out some of the things to look out for before buying any programs. I'm going to try to demo this and Stitch Motif as well. I look forward to the next post!

Batty said...

Wow, that looks impressive! I may have to give this a try.

Anonymous said...

Such a great review. I hope you will do many more. i'd be interested in your opinion of the following:

MacStitch (mac)
Knitting Wizard (mac)
Stich Painter
Sweater Wizard
Sock Wizard

Thanks so much!