App Review of StitchSketch LE. Designing Your Own Patterns Is Easier than Ever!

For today’s edition of Yarn Addiction Thursday, I’m reviewing With StitchSketch LE. You can create your own knit, cross-stitch, beadwork designs, or pixel art on your iPad or iPhone with ease.

In the past, if you wanted to design a knitting pattern, you  needed graph paper or to draw out your pattern. Each block got its own color, just like pixel art. If you were doing it freehand, no worries. A photo was a lot tougher.  It was tough to copy a photo onto graph paper, so you could use a light table or transparancy. Not convenient but doable.

So all is good, until you knit out your design and find that the gauge of your yarn makes a unit block of the design more rectangular than square. Your end result ends up looking stretched if the stitch is more upright rectangular and squashed if the stitch was wider.

How to make sure your design doesn’t go wonky? One solution was to find knitting graph paper with different gauge. I didn’t even know that existed until recently. Or you could use an Excel spreadsheet to make your graph paper by adjusting the column and row sizes according to gauge. So all that work and you still need to get your image on the paper. Yikes.

StitchSketch LE makes things  a lot easier. Use your iPad or your iPhone to create wherever you are.

20141113-132835-48515356.jpg1. You select your medium (stitching, knitting, beading, pixel art) which will have symbols or colors depending on your choice.
2. Input the size of the work and the gauge of the yarn
3. Create your image. Draw in the app or import.

 


4. Save the work
You can save work in the app gallery, your camera roll or generate a PDF. Outside the app gallery, saving as a PDF gets you the maximum amount of information. Saving to your camera roll gets you a chart but no row counts or color info.
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5. Generate a PDF.
Check your settings carefully. You might save without the graph lines which makes it very difficult to use. But don’t close this PDF. You need to click the icon on the top right to move the generated PDF into another app to save it or send it. By doing this you get a file row counts and a list of colors in RGB and hexadecimal (for coding). If you buy the full app, you get color references for the brands they use.

I drew the image below in the app. I posted some versions using different media available in StitchSketchLE. I wonder if one could do pixel art for Minecraft in this app?

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Some examples of stitch symbols

For knitters who design with stitches more than color
There is also a selection for knitting symbols. I don’t do a lot of knitting with stitch symbols so I’m not familiar with the meanings and the effects. I played with the symbols to show some of them. I’m pretty sure this would not actually make anything.

Some tips
1. This is basically pixel art so the finer your gauge, the more refined your design will look.
2. Test knit a swatch and count your rows and stitches then enter: this way you can be sure your design doesn’t suffer from stretch or squashiness

Conclusion: 5 Stars
I really like the app on my iPad. It removes the grunt work (finding paper, creating a graph, transferring the image to paper) from making a design and allows you to focus on making your vision a reality. I downloaded the free version but haven’t upgraded to the full version. Currently, the LE version fills all my needs very well. I find $6.99 a bit spendy for the full version, but the tracing paper mode does entice me. If I did complicated color work or made kits for people, I would definitely get the full version so I could get a color list of manufacturers’ flosses or beads.

StitchSketch LE by Keiji Ikuta is a free app for the basic and $6.99 for full app.

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Yarn Addiction Thursday: All About the Learning

Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, "No!"
Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, “No!”

I missed a couple yarn addiction Thursdays due to my book making frenzy for the Tokyo Art Book Fair. I actually have had no time to be addicted to yarn. And now that I’m in book making mode, I’m not really keen to get back to fibers. There are two reasons for this. I do not want to spend more money. I want to use my fiber stash but that means experimenting. The second is that I have a number of other projects to complete so that means I don’t have time to experiment.

I did do some thinking about what I could do with my stash and I realized I had some knowledge gaps that prevented me from designing effectively.

So today’s post is a list of yarn-y things I want to learn.

Understanding yarn weights and
wraps per inch.
This is a big gap in my understanding of yarn as a textile. I need to know more about how this affects the results of my designs and buying effectively.
 Estimating how much yarn I need.  Relates to the problem above and below.
How to design a pattern for a sweater. Understanding drape and fit. It’s such a huge thing to learn but I’m interested.
 How to piece things together.  I get the concept of blocking, but my sewing is kind of rubbish. I want to know more than one way to join pieces.
How to do 3 color knitting without getting a weird pull on the stitch I can do a great job with 2 colors. 3? Forget about it.
How to design and knit shapes to make plushies. I think this is a great way to use up stash and I love creating toys.
Finding or making more stash busting patterns  My stash busting always ends up making me buy more yarn. SOooooo not the point.

So this is my list. It is rather huge but I think it is a good point to guide me for the next 6 months or so.

If you have any good tips, good sites or some suggestions for other things I need to learn, please let me know in the comments. I’d love some help on this.

Happy stitching everyone.

Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.
Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.

Note: Mock Sunkey is made from a kit I bought in Tokyo that included the socks. I did not knit him.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Baby Fish Slippers

fishslippers_05a
Fish Slippers

A friend had a baby and I decided to make some baby slippers. They knit up quickly and are fun to make. I use a pattern by La Droguerie (of course). The original pattern is for frogs but I didn’t have enough green left over to make two slippers. I had some nice blue so I decided I could convert the frog into fish by using some felting wool in a lime green. So not only a gift, but a stash-busting project!

I drew a quick sketch and then drew out a template for the fins. I needle felted the wool, traced the template on top, cut out the fins then finished the fin edges with the felting needle. I felted the wool with soap and water just to be sure. The eyes are felted, too. This way, I’m less worried about small parts that could end up in a baby’s mouth.

Each slipper took about an hour to knit and sew up. This was a project where it was actually fun to sew on the embellishments.

fishslippers_04
Materials:
La Droguerie Surnaturelle
Hamanaka felt wool

Yarn Addiction Thursday: More I-cord

view of whole scarfSince I found it so relaxing to make i-cord with the mill, I decided to make another scarf. It’s based on the same La Droguerie project. This time, instead of using pom poms, I sewed tiny beads between the cords to join the strands. I used old beads and pendants that I had left over from my abandoned attempts at jewelry making. The pompoms were fun, but I like this project, too. I feel like I’m wearing a piece of jewelry.

Knotted scarf detailing beaded joinsMostly I used stash wool, but I picked up some more at La Droguerie. Sigh… I’m such a wool addict. But at least 60% of the wool is from stuff I already had. I think this scarf is a lot more elegant than the pom-pom scarf. Using beads instead of pompoms is more subtle anyway. Another change I made was to sew the beads closer together than the pompoms so that the gaps between strings are smaller. As much as I enjoy making the cord, I’m starting to find the sewing up part tedious. This is a problem since I already made more i-cords for another scarf. I suppose it’s now a problem for later.

Scarf tip details
Scarf tip details

Another great stash-busting factor were the silver beads I used for the ends. I had to buy a few more blue beads, but I really tried to use up what I had. As a stash project, this worked out not too badly.  The finished product is a bit heavier so I was a bit worried my hard work was for naught. I hate even a slight pull around my neck so I was relieved to find that if I took a bit of care on how I wrapped it, I didn’t fell any pull.  

Materials
Wool
Cashmere 95%/nylon5%: Cashmere Gold by Rich More (stash)
Alpaca 100%: Alpaga Teint by La Droguerie (1/2 stash, 1/2 new
Silk 50%/alpaca 50%:  Soyeuse by La Droguerie (stash)
Merino: Daily by Okadaya (stash)
Notions
End Beads:
silver and moonstone, old single earrings or bought randomly over the years
Other Beads: La Droguerie and stash
Connecting Beads:  La Droguerie (new)

These Needles Will Take Your Knitting From Muggle to Magic

Gorgeous colors PLUS smoother knitting?
Gorgeous colors PLUS smoother knitting? Must be magic.

The most magical knitting needles were revealed to me at Gina Brown’s in Calgary.  The Symphonie Dreamz by Knitter’s Pryde are made of densified laminated birch, and have different colors for different sizes. The set of 10″ single pointed needles comes in a case and runs about $65 USD. I’m keeping these in mind for my birthday.

These needles remind me of wands from Olivander’s Wand shop in Harry Potter. At Olivander’s, wands are made of various woods to suit the wizard or witch. The fact that these needles come in various colors (according to size) and are made of a birch instead of bamboo make them special to me. It seems appropriate for knitting because making something out of yarn is really a kind of magic.

Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary

Since my European Yarnpossible missions, the wristwarmers,  and Argie I hadn’t made anything for months. From late March, I’d been working on a writing project and a photography project which took up all my time. In May I went to the Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Conference in New Orleans and visited my family in Canada. It was lots of work and lots of fun. But I was going into maker withdrawal. Making something from yarn is like a kind of meditation for me with the bonus that I have some product to show for my time. Still, I don’t live in Calgary anymore so I don’t know any knitting stores there.

My mom gave me five balls of Sirdar Denim Tweed DK that she found during a cleaning binge. I thought, “Hey great! Free yarn.” But then the yarn sat there, and it just begged to be made into something. But I don’t have a crochet hook. Then I think, “Hey! I could maybe buy some Noro books in English.” Remember that Phildar pattern I liked? Noro Love has a pattern called Aimee that is similar. I know you can order books online, but I’ve been burned too many times before on craft, crochet and knitting books. Just because the picture is great, doesn’t mean that the book is going to work for YOU. I need to hold that book in my hands and check all the patterns and the instructions before I spend my money.

Gina Brown’s
Happily, Gina Brown’s has a great Noro selection and a great selection of Noro pattern books. I also wanted to consult someone because I’d need to adapt it to make it longer and I need advice on the wool. The pattern calls for Kochoran, a wool that Noro discontinued. There is no substitute for talking to experienced staff at a knitting store when it comes to swapping out wool.

diamond_woolI promptly got the Noro Love book and then talked yarn with the staff. She recommended I try Malabrigo Chunky or Diamond alpaca wool.

I loved the feel and colors of Diamond alpaca. I wasn’t sure about my tension, so I bought a ball to try it out. I knew right away I wasn’t going to be my sweater. It was soft, colorful, quick to knit but I forgot how much alpaca sheds. I gave up on the swatch but decided to use up the yarn by making a pair of slippers which would be far from my face in daily life. I took a look at some slipper patterns then decided to try my hand at making my own pattern. Luckily I used just under one ball, plus a contrasting trim to make up the slippers. It took about two days to make them, including start, restarts and shopping. Everything was great but the shedding! I was covered in blue hair. It looked like I was owned by a big blue dog.


Super warm, felted slippers from Estonia
Even super warm, felted slippers from Estonia are no match for chilly ceramic tiles

The idea to make slippers was no doubt was inspired by the glacial temperatures of the ceramic tiles on my parents’ floor. Even my super slippers Ratti and Ratto couldn’t protect me from chills. It turns out that my new alpaca slippers make great inserts for Ratti and Ratto. The extra layer of alpaca is like a massage for my feet.

While shopping at Gina Browns’ I nabbed a fun book, Monkey Around by Patons for knitting or crocheting various kinds of sock monkey toys and accessories. I promptly bought more wool to complement the my recently acquired denim tweed to make a sock monkey cosy. I post about the sock monkey cup holders in next week’s Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Gina Brown’s has lots of lovely fibers in some of my favorite brands, Malabrigo, Noro and Cascade. The staff was lovely and I got lots of great advice. They also showed me a pair of magical knitting needles. Check them out in an upcoming Yarn Addiction Thursday post.

5718 1A Street SW
Calgary, AB T2H 0E8
Phone number
(403) 255-2200
http://ginabrownsnews.blogspot.jp/

Pudding Yarn
I just happened on Pudding Yarn when I took my mom out for lunch on 17th Avenue. We parked the car and right outside was a yarn store I’d never heard of. It’s been there for a while, but I no longer live in Calgary I’m out of touch with shops. It was also perfect timing because I had just decided that the lime green cascade yarn I had for the sock monkey cup was a great contrast color for the slippers but the size just looked too awkward. My attempt at amore delicate edging failed miserably. The woman who worked at Pudding Yarn was helpful and the store has a lot of nice, luxurious yarns. I was able to get a really nice yarn (Phildar, coincidentally) in a lovely deep magenta to trim the slippers.

1516 6 St SW, Calgary AB T2R 0Z8
(403) 244-2996
http://www.puddingyarn.com

It’s interesting how my memory of yarn shops in Calgary has changed, or perhaps knitting in Canada has changed. When I was just starting to knit in high school, most of the patterns were Patons or Beehive with the occassional exotic French patterns. The yarn was ok, but not particularly amazing compared to the wonderful array of colors, textures and materials available today.

Mission Yarnpossible: Paris

I think this pattern must be vintage by now.
I think this pattern must be vintage by now.

I had two ideas about yarn in Paris before I started research: La Droguerie and Phildar. La Droguerie has become my go-to store in Tokyo for beautifully colored yarn, fibers and notions. Now I was going to get a chance to see where it started. Phildar is a French yarn company. I have a decades old pattern for Phildar yarn that I always liked but could never find the yarn. This trip might see that sweater become a reality.

There are quite a few blogs about knitting and crafting in Paris. My favorite was www.onemancrochet.blogspot.com. The blog is a fun read and has a great list of stores to check out. I was most keen on Lil Weasel and added it to my list.

The Search for Phildar:
It seems like this brand is less popular than it used to be and it was hard to find. I found some Phildar in a little corner in Printemps department store but didn’t find the yarn from the pattern. Not only that, the yarn section was kind of an afterthought of a corner and wasn’t really that interesting. I think I’m not going to pursue this sweater. I love the design but the pattern isn’t easy to read and finding a replacement yarn will be tough in Japan because of language. There are easier things to spend time on and now I can move on from that idea.

La Drougerie


Going to La Drougerie is like heaven for yarn lovers and jewelry makers. I often go to the one in Shibuya. So going to the one in Paris was a no brainer. All La Drougerie stores are beautiful, full of great notions, yarns and colors. Lots of great examples cover the walls. If you aren’t inspired to make something when you walk into a La Drougerie then I don’t know what to say.

Despite the awe of color and ideas, visiting the Paris store was a bit disappointing. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t get in Tokyo and it’s not easy to buy stuff at this location. There is a ticket system for customer service that was hard to figure out. Normally, I’m all for systems that keep things organized but when I asked tried to ask for help with my poor French, I got completely ignored. There’s no photography in the store but my husband took a few shots from the outside because after all the effort of getting there, he wasn’t leaving without any.
Address: 9 et 11 rue du Jour, 75001 PARIS
Tél: 01 45 08 93 27/ Fax: 01 42 36 30 80
Heures d’ouverture:
Le lundi de 14h00 à 19h00
Du mardi au samedi de 10h00 à 19h00

passage_dugrandcerf
At the entrance of the Passage. Photo by H.O.

Lil Weasel
Onemancrochet had a great post about wool shops to check out in Paris. I only went to Lil Weasel and it was a highlight of my trip. The store is located in Passage de Grand Cerf which is in the 2nd Arrondisement, the Montorgueil quarter, with entrances on the Rue Saint-Denis and Place Goldoni. This arcade is filled with stores selling antiques, art and artisanal objects so Lil Weasel fits right in. Even my husband found shops to interest him.

Lil Weasel is everything you would want for buying yarn. Just looking in the window is a visual treat. Super friendly staff, who speak English, are willing to talk to you about what you want to do and to help you make it. They have a fabulous selection of materials and yarns. They organize the things by color instead of brand or size. I’ve never seen this organization but I love it. I asked if I could take pictures and the staff seem surprised by the request and encouraged me to take photos.


They helped me pick out some colors to make some granny squares. We agreed on the green being a more interesting contrast color than dark gray but now I’m chicken about the green.
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Address:1 Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Paris, France
Tél:+33 1 73 71 70 48
du Mardi au Samedi de 10h30 à 19h00

Things I made with yarn from Lil Weasel:
Valentine wrist warmers
Hello Kitty cup holder (debuting in a few weeks)

Mission Inspiration: Helsinki

City and Sea

Photos from walking around Helsinki in January. I convinced my husband to walk around Helsinki for hours by luring him with the promise of food at Hietalahti Market Hall. It was a loooong nice walk and the food was good.

I really enjoy scandinavian food. The bread is always good and hearty, there are lots of sandwiches with vegetables. I’m totally into sandwiches since I got back.

Shops

For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of the Marimekko shop. I love their prints but the clothes just don’t work for my body type. There are many Marimekko shops in Tokyo. I like the simple, minimalism design I saw. The clean lines make me feel really relaxed.

Some Helsinki winter color palettes:

Mission Yarnpossible: Helsinki

So the next Yarnpossible mission in my European adventure was to find some yarn in Helsinki. Thank heavens for ex-pat sites and blogs. If you are travelling to a foreign country, I really recommend checking out some ex-pat sites. Knitmap.com was a great help. I spent a lot of time looking at this world-wide knitting store database. When searching for stores I discovered Riihivilla.com. Riihivilla sells through an online shop  and at Kauppatori Market in Helsinki. It is a family business which produces and dye their own wool and make gorgeous kits. I didn’t go but it is definitely worth mentioning because this shop really represents Finnish yarn and knitting to me.


On January 2nd, I went to Lanka Deli by Novita.  I enjoyed the shop but the women who worked there were polite, they weren’t as chatty as staff at other stores I’ve been to or other Finnish people I met. I think there was a language barrier.

I found a felting wool which I later used to make my  felted iPhone case. The yarn is called Huopanen. It was interesting to work with a wool specifically for felting after knitting. It works up easily and I din’t have problems with splitting the yarn.

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I also bought some wool to make some mittens. Florica by Novita is a 5-ply sport weight. It seems similar to the craft-boutique wool I saw in Tallinn. It was a bit softer and I had a chance of ordering more if I liked it. My color choices were inspired by Marimekko designs and Italla tableware, and Dick Bruna’s Miffy. Bruna is one of my favorite illustrators.


Lanka Deli by Novita.
Malminrinne 1 B, Helsinki, Finland 00180 Finland
(09) 673 246

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Noro Kama Cushion Fever

I’m back with a cushion project for Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Noro Yarn: Kama in Emerald. (no longer produced)
Noro Yarn: Kama in Emerald. (no longer produced)

I originally bought Noro Kama yarn for a Christmas scarf project for a friend. This beautiful green yarn was on sale because it was no longer produced. It’s a loose-twisted aran-weight yarn  made from alpaca, silk, mohair and angora. I planned to use alligator crochet stitch and make a dragon scarf for a Welsh friend. I thought by using a thick yarn using a large hook, the project would go more quickly. It didn’t work. The yarn was just too bulky too look good in the proportion I wanted. I soon noticed how much yarn and how much time Alligator stitch took. I only had two balls and I’d been targeting quick and easy. After doing ten cm I bailed. I still made the scarf for my friend but I used a new stitch and and bought different yarn. Now I had two large soft balls of soft bright green happiness taking up space in my house. With only two skeins, my future Noro kama project had size limits.

I decided to knit a cushion. I was inspired by Naomi, in my stitching group, who makes the most amazing blankets for the home. I didn’t have a pattern but a cushion is two squares sewn together, right? I decided I would knit one side and sew on fabric for the other side. Maybe I’d use buttons or a zipper. I wanted a largish pillow so I knit out a square about 60x65cm based on an odd-sized zabuton (Japanese flat, square cushion) I have. The knitting went well enough. I cast on a couple of times, knitting a few centimeters trying to get a size I liked. I eventually settled on eighty stitches and stocking-stitched my way to a satisfactory squarish shape. Then the knit square languished in the to-do pile for a while. I couldn’t find fabric I liked. The square did make a lovely background for another Yarn Addiction Thursday post. It was tempting to leave it for a photography background but I wanted a cushion, so I needed some fabric.

I wanted something simple but graphic, either in black and white or greens I liked. I kept getting stuck between something too cartoony or something Liberty cotton. Something Marimekko-like would have been great if not at the Marimekko price.

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I checked out Spoonflower.com. A person could get lost looking at all the great designs but I didn’t see one I liked for the cushion. I decided to try my own design. I drew a few sketches then played around on Adobe Illustrator. This was the result. I don’t mind it at this size, but on a larger piece I found I didn’t like the way it striped. I was trying for a more wavy organic pattern. The greens aren’t quite right for the yarn. either. Someday I will play with this design and get it right. But that unfinished cushion was really nagging at me and my design inspiration was at low ebb.

Then while shopping with friends at Shinjuku’s Okadaya (fabric store) I found a polka dot pattern I didn’t mind. I liked the idea of contrasting the striped knit fabric and dots. The dot colors were similar to the yarn–bonus! Still stuck on earlier ideas, I got the idea of painting the fabric.  Thank goodness for friends who tell you when to stop. I grabbed a green zipper and was excited to get started. Except… I don’t know how to sew a zipper. No worries. Two YouTube videos later  and way more confidence than I should have had, I was ready to give it a try.

This first video was good for an overview of the process. It’s about making cushions for outdoor furniture but it’s great for concepts. They also cover measurement concepts.

The second video, by Anna Bartlett applied more directly to what I made. It’s part 2 of a series but I skipped part 1. Part 1 is about piping. I don’t have piping. Below is a task list I made from watching the video. It’s worth watching the video. She has many useful tips. My list is very generic.  This video gave good visuals about positioning with the zipper foot. I found that surprisingly difficult.

Inspired by  decided to be ambitious and try for an invisible zipper. I used XXX’s method for laying out the fabric. I wasn’t too concerned about matching but I tried to make the fold so that circles aligned and that both pieces were on the same bias (thanks for that tip, Mom!). Sewing the knit material to the fabric was not too hard. But I pinned it a lot and I used a 2 cm seam allowance. My mom gasped when I told her, but I found if I was too close to the selvedge of the knit material the edges got caught in the pressing foot or the material pulled funny. Two centimeters in made everything flow just right.  I’m really glad I was ambitios. My original plan was  to do the zipper on an edge. I’m glad I didn’t. I think it would have been tricky to sew the knitting to the zipper fabric.

HOW TO ATTACH A ZIPPER (as I learned from Anna Bartlett’s video.)

  1. Cut to pieces of fabric on same bias to same width. Don’t worry about length. Trim later.
  2.  Sew around edges to prevent unravelling
  3. sew one side of the zipper to one side of the fabric
  4. sew on the other piece of fabric to the zipper
  5. do zipper up, fold fabric over to cover zipper and iron flat
  6. sew another line down the zipper to fasten the flap
  7. Pin the knit material to the zipper side, right sides together, cut off the excess length from zipper side of cushion. If you wait to cut the length you have more freedom to place the zipper. (Learned that trick from the video) NOTE: she doesn’t pin as much as I did. I had fussy wool. And I need all the help I can get.
  8. BIG TIP: MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE ZIPPER PARTLY UNDONE SO YOU CAN TURN IT RIGHT-SIDE OUT WHEN YOU ARE DONE SEWING. I heard the tip and understood it, but still, I caught myself just in time.
  9. Sew the edges together
  10. Turn rightside out.

I got lucky and didn’t have to take the zipper sewing apart more than once and that was soon after starting. Once I figured out the zipper foot is was… fairly painless. Here are some shots of the finished cushion.

Finding a cushion to fit ended up being a bit of a challenge, but I found one at Franc Franc in Jiyugaoka for ¥2600. I love my new cushion. It’s soft and surprisingly good back support.

 

 

 

 

 

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