Wednesday, January 23, 2013

iPhones and Knitting

I admit to being an iPhone junkie.

I got a 3GS 3 years ago from Santa, and haven't looked back. I don't use it to phone or text, but I use it for reading (books, news, blogs...), weather, navigation, and music (listening, tuning my guitar, improvising, journaling progress...).

Now, I've found a new way to use it - for knitting!

Since I commute by transit every day, I have time to knit on the bus. Now, instead of fidgeting with bits of paper chart, I've found a way of keeping the charts on my iPhone in a very nice way. You'll need a computer and your iPhone, and the apps are all free. Here we go:
On your computer:
1. make or obtain a chart for your knitting pattern in PDF format. There are many ways to do this:
- if you have a book, scan it. You get "JPG" format this way (pictures), which you can then change into PDF format using a free program called PDF Creator. You can even "glue" several PDFs together to make a single file, using (free) PDF Architect.
- if you want to make your own designs, I recommend the free charting website KnitChart, then taking a screen shot and printing it - not to a printer, but through the aforementioned PDF Creator - you'll get a PDF file.
2. email the PDF to yourself. Note that I'm assuming you can read your emails from your iPhone...

On your iPhone:
1. go to the App store and download the free JKnitLite app.
2. open your email and open that PDF chart you just emailed yourself. Once open, in the upper right-hand corner there'll be this little "tray-with-arrow" icon. Tap on it and you'll see the "open in JKnitLite" icon. Tap on that, and you will have imported your chart into JKnitLite. It's now in your JKnitLite library for use.

Now you can open JKnitLite and use it to keep track of where you are in your chart. You can zoom, put the chart in landscape, pan across it...and it comes with a highlighter bar that you can custom-size to fit exactly 1 or 2 rows (or however many rows you want). Once you've set it up, double-tapping above the highlighter bar advances it. Great for knitting on the go! You can work on several projects at a time; JKnitLite remembers where you were.

The program works on any PDF, not only on charts. So it'll work on text instructions as well. The one thing you can't do that I kind of miss is the ability to add highlights to various parts of the text (ex. multiple-size patterns, where you want to highlight the instructions for your particular size).

The rest of the program I've not requires an upgrade to get to the other bells and whistles (which I don't find I really need).

There's also an iPad application called Patternism (v1.2) which looks interesting and is cheap, but I can't use it on my iPhone.

Then there's KnitCompanion, which is the Rolls Royce of knitting apps, but after test-iPhoning it I find it really isn't for me. I find its interface too cluttered for the tiny iPhone screen, and it tries to do too much for what I find I need. Maybe if I were knitting lace at home, with an iPad, I'd find a use for it. But not for knitting charted socks on the bus...

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