I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to write this review for a while. It’s taken me such a long time, because I’m torn between just saying “If you knit, you need this app” and trying to explain exactly *why* you need this app. 😉
knitCompanion does so much, that it’s impossible to cover in a fairly brief review; I’ve been using it for over 2 years now and I’m still not using it to its full potential. Please don’t think this review is comprehensive – make sure to check it out for yourself!
So, with that caveat…here’s why I use knitCompanion, and how it makes me a much better knitter.
First things first: this app is free, and offers in-app purchases for added functionality. Currently, the most expensive in-app purchase is the kC Bundle for $10.99 USD, and that includes “Setup” and “Magic Markers”. (You can try it for 30 days for $2.99, too, which is a nice touch.)
You’re going to want this bundle. I’ll come back to that.
I’m a chart knitter, whenever possible. I love the visual representation of the stitches, the ability to read at a glance. However, if you’ve ever tried to knit from a paper chart, you know exactly how limiting that is…blowing up the charts to a readable size not only incurs paper, ink, and time costs, but it means you’re stuck knitting from multiple pieces of paper taped together, generally covered with sticky notes to mark your place, and other notes in the margins.
Knitting lace from a chart? Or counting stitches between decreases? Then you’ll find yourself squinting at the chart, tapping each square as you mutter “Ok, 8 stitches until the next yarnover!”
And if you knit in public, lugging the multiple pieces of a chart and half a tablet of sticky notes around – in addition to yarn, needles, stitch markers, and measuring tape – isn’t exactly travel-friendly.
Not a chart knitter? Welcome to the world of using a sticky note to mark your place, or physically marking up your pattern to keep track of the most recent row completed (and you’d better use pencil, in case you have to rip back!)
Maybe you use a row counter, one of those clicky ones that seem to be loaded with magnets. At least mine always were, as they tended to exude a force field that drew every child and some adults within a 100 yard radius to them, and compelled them to push the clicky buttons repeatedly and at random, leaving me never very sure if the last row(s) marked actually had been knit.
And Bob help you if the pattern has you doing more than one thing at a time, say, binding off for armholes on each side while maintaining shaping and cables!
Whether you’re a chart knitter or a written pattern knitter, if you’re knitting anything larger than a dishcloth, chances are you need the knitting key to remind you of what the abbreviations and symbols stand for, and how best to work them.
And if you’re like me and prefer, say, a centered double decrease (CDD: slip 2 together as if to knit, knit one, pass slipped stitches over) instead of a left-slanting double decrease (SK2P: slip one as if to knit, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over) – well, then, you need to mark that on your key, and remember to check your notes every time you flip pages back to the key.
And all of this only happens if nobody spills a mug of coffee on your pattern, or grabs a piece of it because they needed some scrap paper, or your paper-obsessed cats magically leave it un-gnawed. Ok, maybe that last one is just my crazy kitties, but you get the point. If anything happens to a page of your pattern, you’ve got to try to recreate your notes and and last-row-knit from memory.
Enter the knitCompanion app.
It syncs with Ravelry (so I can easily transfer patterns from Rav to my iPhone or iPad.)
It syncs with Dropbox, so if I have a non-Ravelry pattern PDF, I can access my projects (complete with notes, counters, keys, and more) from either phone or tablet.
It stores PDF patterns locally, as well, for when I’m knitting without network access. In practical terms, this means I can knit using the app on the iPad, and when my tween runs off with it, I can pick up my iPhone and resume knitting exactly where I left off, with no guesswork.
Backing up to the cloud via Dropbox means that even if something catastrophic happens to my devices, I can use a new device to access all of the pattern notes, counters, PDFs, etc…just the way they were when I left them on my original device.
With the setup tool, I can easily crop my charts (even stitch charts together, for those pesky patterns where the chart spans multiple pages!)
I can highlight the current row, whether on a printed pattern or on a chart, so I can see at a glance which stitches should be knit.
I can add notes to myself – including audio notes! – reminding me to do things like change needle sizes. I mean, I’m sure I’m the only person who forgets to go up a needle size or two after hat ribbing, resulting in a hat that’s much tinier than it should be, but with this app, I no longer have that problem.
I can create and set row reminders – text or audio – telling me to change needle sizes, shift stitch markers, add beads, or anything else that needs to happen on a given row. In my example image above, you can see the slider specifying which stitch I’m on in the highlighted chart row, a “you are here” marker just in case I accidentally move my slider, a note containing instructions, and a sample audio and text row reminder.
Reason 784 why I ❤️ #knitcompanion – no jumping between pages to see the key! #knitting #knittersofinstagram #struttingpeacock A photo posted by Rebecca Diamond (@therealrebeccadiamond) on
Perhaps one of the most useful features, especially when knitting patterns that include unusual increases, decreases, or other stitches, is the ability to view the key no matter where you are in the pattern.
As seen in this image, I’ve added my key to the lace chart page of the PDF, and this way, any time I’m not sure what a given stitch is, I don’t have to flip back to the beginning of the pattern to view instructions.
It also keeps track of time spent knitting a particular project (and that time can be edited if you happen to get distracted watching, say, Orphan Black, to pick a purely hypothetical example, and maybe you forget to knit because Helena is just so scarily mesmerizing that you forget to switch off knitCompanion and your timer keeps running.)
Magic Markers – the ability to tap a stitch, and have the app locate others like it, and count them? That alone is worth the annual cost of the kC Bundle, although it is available as a stand-alone purchase.
You can see them in action in the image here; plain knit stitches are highlighted, and actively counted for me on the row I’m on.
And, of course, I can always zoom in if I’m having difficulty reading a chart or text; no scanning, enlarging, and making additional copies required.
As I said at the beginning, there’s no way to cover everything this app is capable of in one review.
I’ve not even discussed the Ravelry-integrated pattern store, where you can purchase complete kC setups for many patterns by well-known designers, as well as discover new favourites.
There’s a ton of quite comprehensive documentation with knitCompanion, and new things are added with each update.
I just know that I can’t imagine ever going back to knitting without knitCompanion, ever again!
Have you tried knitCompanion? If so, I’d love to hear from you – what is your favourite feature?
Looking forward to trying it out?
The app is free of charge right here in iTunes. A few free patterns are included, so you can jump right in with knitting to get a feel for how the app works.
NEW:This app is also available for Android as of August 2016. It has a slightly different feature set from the ones mentioned in this review, for the first launch, but Create2Thrive is committed to continuing to enhance the features for both platforms.