Category Archives: Product review

knitCompanion review

How do you keep track of where you are in a pattern? I was recently invited to try knitCompanion, an app for iOS and Android devices. I’m happy to say that this is a very useful tool.

Read to the bottom for ways to try knitCompanion for free, including a chance to win a year’s subscription to the upgrades!

The basic version of knitCompanion is free. kCBasics works with any PDF pattern. It can link to your DropBox and Ravelry accounts, so it’s easy to import your patterns. I also emailed a pattern to myself, and opened it with no problem.

Here’s my Snowy Woods hat pattern in Knit Companion. The pages are displayed at the top, but you can hide them when you’re actually working the project. You can zoom in and out as needed. I’m zoomed way in, in this picture. I like big letters!

KCBasic has a sliding row counter and stitch counter. You can have a different set of markers on each page of your pattern. There’s a project timer, and an area for project notes at the bottom of the display, which you can also hide when you don’t need it. If all you want is something to hold your pattern and your place, you’re golden!

The next step up is called Essentials. This adds a lot of features. You can highlight parts of your pattern, which is great when your pattern contains multiple sizes. Sweater knitters will love this. You can put notes right in the pattern, next to where they apply. You can also link videos to the pattern (love those tutorials), and my favorite thing? You can customize your row and stitch marker colors and width, and invert your row marker so the highlighted row is the one that really shines.

There’s also something called QuickKey, which lets you access your chart key at the bottom of the display, so you don’t have to hunt through pages for it. (Not pictured)

The highest level of knitCompanion is called Setup. There are some very powerful features here. The most useful one for me is called magic markers. You can ask that every time a particular stitch is shown in the chart, it’s highlighted in whatever color you want. You can have all your SSKs be one color, and all your K2togs be another color. Left and right crossing cables? Sure! Magic Markers can even let you know how many of the same kind of stitch are in a section; you just have to tell it the minimum number to count. 5 is good for me!

Setup also lets you cut and paste charts all onto one page, so they’re not spread out over several pages. This is a pretty high level function, which I don’t particularly need, but you might. But for the cost of a fancy coffee, the magic markers would be worth the upgrade from Essentials to Setup for me.

There are a lot of features that I haven’t tried yet. But I like an app that I can learn as I go. Right now the sliding markers are the most helpful to me, because I’m using them for editing patterns that I’m writing.

Remember that I said that Knit Companion works for all pdf patterns? That means all pdfs. I’ve been using it for pdfs of patterns that aren’t even written yet. I can paste my chart in progress into a pdf and open it in knitCompanion, using the row and stitch markers while I edit the written instructions that are generated by my charting software. I can also make a pdf of my Excel spreadsheet’s written notes, and use that while I chart. No losing my place. Magic.

I don’t necessarily take my iPad everywhere I go. It’s an older model, and it’s heavy! But I do take my phone. And Knit Companion can sync projects through my DropBox account. Cool! No DropBox? It’s free, if you keep your account under a certain size. I finally upgraded my DropBox after several years, but didn’t need to before last month. There’s a lot of stuff in it for work!

All in all, this is a nice addition to my knitting tools. KCBasics is free, and Essentials is $9.99 for a year’s subscription. Essentials + Setup is $14.99 for a year.

How do you keep track of your projects? Paper? App? Magic wand? Tell me all about it!

Have you tried knitCompanion? Sally Holt, the creator of knitCompanion, has given me a free one year subscription to Setup + Essentials for a lucky commenter on this blog. Note: I can only make this happen for an iOS app user through the Apple App Store, and only if you don’t have a current subscription. I’ll pick a lucky winner on June 8, Worldwide Knit in Public Day! (More on that later.)

And if you’re not the lucky winner, you can always try before you buy. knitCompanion offers a free 7 day trial of Essentials, or Setup + Essentials. What are you waiting for?

Note: Sally Holt provided me with a one year subscription to try knitCompanion. All opinions in this review are my own.

Coming soon: Concentric Bed Socks

It’s a race to the toe!

It’s a pleasure to knit these single strand worsted weight socks with Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient. The yarn has held up perfectly after frogging the Concentric Slipper Socks. The added bit of contrasting color for heels and toes means that I can make the cuff as tall and scrunchy as it needs to be. The pattern will have three sizes. It’s off to tech editor and test knitters now.

You’ll note that I’m back to magic loop. The Flexi-Flips were nice, but when I picked up the stitches for the gussets, I had more stitches than I felt comfortable with having on the short Flexi-Flips needles, and was afraid they’d go sliding off. I’m back to a 32” circular, and very happy. If the Flexi-Flips were just a bit longer, or if they came in a set of four, they would have been fine. Oh, well, they’ll be great for fingerless mitts!

I have quite a bit of knitting help here, from the helpful knitting cats.

Yadi wants to chew the cables.

Biscuit has become quite a lap cat.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

Crafty Moms 15.0, plus FlexiFlips needle review

This past weekend was the 15th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the Oregon Coast, whoa. Fifteen years of friendship and fun.

Fifteen years of beautiful sunsets and walks on the beach, and projects we may or may not remember.

I’m putting the rest of the pretty scenic pictures at the end of the post, so I can talk knitting at the beginning.

I started Anna on her first brioche project. Petite Brioche, of course! Funny how her colors match her clothes. Everyone has a palette, right?

I finished my green brioche design project (no pix yet) and went back to my Nymphaea Shawl. This one is in Bumblebirch Heartwood, Atlantic and Hellebore. The colors might seem familiar to you; I used them in my Tumbling Leaves Shawl, too. It’s a very different look when you feature the blue instead of the green.

(Love this view)

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the rest of the beads, so I didn’t get very far. Oops.

The blue/brown yarn is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (Sky and Earth). Perfect name.

I sketched and charted an idea for this yarn combo, but it wasn’t cooperating in the swatch, so I set that aside, too.

I’ve been wanting a pair of worsted weight socks, and I’ve been wanting to try Skacel’s new FlexiFlips needles. They come in a set of 3; these are US5. They’re like dpns except they’re flexible in the middle. One end has an Addi Rocket tip, and the other has an Addi Turbo tip, so you can choose your desired pointiness. I like the pointier of the two tips.

The idea is that you hold the work on 2 needles, like using 2 circulars or magic loop. The third needle is the working needle. This means you have one fewer needle than when working on dpns, and no flappy needles as in 2 circulars, and no loopy ends as in magic loop. I don’t mind dpns, but one fewer interruption in the knitting is nice. And I don’t mind magic loop, but that gets a little dicey with brioche and the YOs.

Verdict: I like them! I cruised through most of a cuff down sock, pausing only to puzzle out how I wanted to arrange the heel/gusset stitches. What I’m not loving is that this blue yarn is leaving dye all over my hands. I look like a Smurf.

The dye washes off my hands pretty easily, but now that I’m home the project is in time out. According to my dyer friends, I should treat the yarn with a good bath and some citric acid and heat. It’s a pretty big skein; I could:

  • Finish knitting the socks and then treat them
  • abandon this sock and just reskein and treat the rest of the yarn, hoping there’s enough for a pair
  • or frog the sock and reskein and treat all of it, then knit

What would you do? I’m afraid to wash some but not all of the yarn; there’s a good chance I’d end up with two different colors.

I also tried a small brioche sample with the FlexiFlips, and I liked them for that, too. Mmmm, brioche. I don’t know that I’d want to buy a set in every size; they’re $24/set. Maybe one more set in a reasonable sock size? This is breaking my 5 year sock knitting hiatus!

Now that I’m home, I’m back to knitting Nymphaea. This is the shawl for the Fall Shawl Retreat with me and Laurinda Reddig in November. I want to have a sample in semi-solids; the original is in gradient mini skeins. I may want one in a continuous gradient, too. It’s a pretty simple and zen knit!

As promised, more pictures below.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We didn’t have an iron

Sunset

Gorgeous Monday morning

Nature signs her handiwork with a flourish

Leftovers for Monday morning breakfast. Here’s to friends!