Knitting may seem like a low-tech craft, but modern technology can help us enjoy it more. The knitCompanion app adds functionality to pdf patterns that the printed page can’t match.
I was given an app subscription in exchange for my review, but all opinions here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
What Does knitCompanion Do?
knitCompanion is a powerful pattern tracking app for iOS and Android. It allows you to keep track of where you are in a written pattern with digital markers, counters and highlighters. It is especially helpful for following knitting charts. If you are used to using highlighter tape, magnet bars and/or tick marks to keep track of where you are in a pattern, knitCompanion will take their place.
What Patterns Work with knitCompanion?
Any pattern at all! If the pattern isn’t in pdf form, the knitCompanion website explains how to get it into the proper format.
From the app, you can link directly to patterns in your Ravelry library or Dropbox. You’ll need to set up the pdf in the app to get the full benefit of what it can do, but there are plenty of tutorials to show you how to set it up.
For my review, I chose to use a kCDesign. kCDesigns are patterns that are already formatted for use in knitCompanion. In that way, I avoided the setup and was able to get right to my knitting. (A note to my designer friends: You can transform your patterns into a kCDesign for no fee with Create2Thrive!)
Knitting with knitCompanion
Purchase and installation was a breeze on my iPhone. I loaded up a kCDesigns sock pattern just before a two-week trip abroad. I find sock knitting to be perfect vacation knitting, because it allows me to travel light but still have a project stuck in my backpack.
The sock pattern was written for four sizes. I chose the middle one and found to my delight that my chosen size was highlighted in yellow throughout the pattern — automagically! I loved that I could zoom in on the pattern to make the text easier to read during my red-eye flight, and that it kept track of where I had left off every time I hurriedly stowed my sock away.
Unfortunately for the purposes of testing the app, I quickly learned the lace stitch pattern. I’m so familiar with socks that I started working on auto-pilot and forgot to advance my markers. I forgot to follow the pattern for huge sections, and only went back to it when I reached a milestone, like the heel.
knitCompanion didn’t blink. I just advanced the pattern to the next section and kept going. My sock turned out fine, but vacation ended before I finished the second one. It’s waiting, halfway finished, until my next vacation.
knitCompanion has more features than I can name here. Explore the website to see them all! The ones I found most intriguing were:
- Highlighter-allows you to highlight anything on a page
- Sliding row and stitch (column) markers on every page
- Linked Counters- allow you keep track of several things at once, like neck and armhole shaping
- Magic Markers-allow you to color code different types of stitches in a chart
- Notes-allow you to make notes about anything, so you can write where you changed something
- Video links-allow you to embed video links as how-to reminders
There are three levels of knitCompanion. kCBasics is free and offers basic features. Essentials adds additional tools, including the Notes and Highlighter features that I mentioned above. Setup + Essentials allows you to set up a pattern the way you want it, including cropping and combining charts. I didn’t even try that part, but it looks amazingly powerful and useful to a certain segment of knitters.
Pros & Cons
Let me start with the cons. There is a lot to learn, and you have to work a bit. You’ll spend quite a bit of time watching video tutorials and experimenting with the app to learn all the features. If you don’t like learning through videos, you’ll just have to deal with it.
I tend to be a read-my-knitting knitter rather than a read-my-pattern knitter. I learn the stitch pattern and understand the shaping, and only refer to the pattern now and again when I reach a milestone. I’m usually not following complex lace charts. I seldom use highlighting aids and I’m very good at reading my work to see where I am in the pattern. That made knitCompanion of limited use to me on the pattern I chose to follow as a test. I probably wouldn’t use the app for most of the types of knitting that I do.
One more tiny whine: I wish that it supported crochet charts as well as it does knit charts, but that’s not really a “con”. It’s called knitCompanion, after all.
Now to the pros, and there are many. This is a very powerful app that does many useful things. Let me repeat: Many. Useful. Things. Once you start delving into the features, you’ll see that it’s like having a very smart friend holding your hand along your knitting journey, and reminding you when you need to do something.
If you do lots of chart work — lace or cables especially — you’ll find knitCompanion an essential tool. I plan to try it on a complex cable next. I expect to be wow’d.
The support offered in the app, on the website, and through the support ticket system is phenomenal. It’s probably the best that I’ve ever seen for an app. Add to that the very active Facebook group of knitCompanion fans, and you have all the help you’d ever need in figuring out how to make knitCompanion work for you.
To learn more about knitCompanion, check out the website.
To learn about alternatives to traditional knitting charts, read Navigating Knit Stitches with Stitch Maps.