Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Today, my little chickadees, we have a review of an older but still useful design program with a free and quite useful demo version. Knitware has 3 separate parts: Basics, Sweaters, and Skirts/Shawls. The Basics used to be called “Critters” because it includes doggie sweaters and garments for stuffed animals and dolls, but it also has basic garments for people as well. Use this one for dresses, pants and drop-shoulder pullovers. The Sweaters version has quite a number of different styles that can be tweaked to suit. Skirts also includes different types of shawls, ponchos, and blankets/afghans. The program generates both schematics and instructions for hand-knitting, machine knitting or crochet. Lots and lots of options. All you need to begin is an accurate gauge swatch! Washed and blocked, please.

There are extensive help files, tutorials and manuals. There’s also a Yahoogroup dedicated to Knitware and a group on Ravelry. The software developer has scaled back on individual assistance but the programs seem to be pretty robust – they’ve been around for about 5 years now. They work fine on Windows XP but there seems to be some issues with Vista and Windows 7. (Check here first if you run one of those. And then the help groups for more info.) The demo versions have a few things disabled such as Save, Custom sizing, Hat calculator, Circular Yoke calculator etc. However they are still quite useful. The full versions can be purchased individually at $30 each, with a $3 discount for buying two or $6 for all three. This is for the download. If you want CDs it’s an additional $15 each. Easier to just get a code to unlock the demo. I haven’t done that yet. Still deciding whether I’ll use it enough to bother.

Meanwhile, I don’t think this program is the be-it-and-end-all and don’t think I would follow it slavishly. However, it does give you a place to start and helps with all the mathy parts that scare people off designing. (Including this old damselfly!) I think it also might be useful in refitting something to your gauge or shape. I really like that it includes working in the round and top-down as well as bottom-up. Here’s one Ravelry crochet design that was accomplished with Knitware. I quite like this cardi and may try it myself using her tutorial. To see more examples, just search Ravelry with the tag “knitware”. Notice that a lot of machine knitters use it because it can generate specific instructions for them as well.

Now to go hunt up some yarn to crochet a swatch. I just found out that my planned tea at VanDusen Gardens has been postponed yet again to Friday instead of this afternoon. So now I have time to play.

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