Review: knitCompanion

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.

Knit companion graphic

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

Edie knitting in Provence
Knitting in Provence

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.

Knitting on the TGV

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.

Features

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

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.

Announcing the Premiere of Stitch Makers Live Virtual Crochet Conference!

It’s been hard to keep quiet about this one, but now I can tell you about it!

What is Stitch Makers Live?

This post contains affiliate links, which is how I make money from teaching. Please buy your tickets from this site.

Stitch Makers Live is a 3-day virtual event for crocheters. It’s all the fun of a crochet conference from the comfort of your home!

Join 11 crochet bloggers and teachers LIVE on Facebook throughout the event. We’ll be hanging out with you, teaching and answering questions.

The LIVE portion runs Thursday, September 19 through Saturday September 21, 2019.

What Do I Get?

  • 15+ LIVE virtual classes with industry experts
  • Exclusive bonus crochet pattern with each class (15+ patterns)
  • Discussion and socializing with other attendees and teachers
  • A virtual party at the end of the event
  • Full access to the recordings for one full year

And you’re invited!

Early Bird Tickets are only $55 now through Monday, September 2.

After Labor Day ticket prices will increase to $80, so buy now to lock in the lower price.

Tell Me More

Our experts are passionate about sharing their love of crochet with others. Whether your goal is to improve your skills in hat making, gather the bravery to begin your first sweater, or dive into short rows, our goal is to help you. We have handpicked these teachers and designers to bring you the best instructors on a variety of crochet topics.

Getting to an in-person conference can be a barrier for some crocheters. You want to improve your skills and meet new people, but work, family life and budget constraints can make that impossible. Stitch Makers Live is the affordable alternative, because you’re only paying for the classes, not for flights, hotel rooms, restaurant food, and so on.

Stitch Makers Live is the only crochet-only online conference, and we’d love you to be part of the excitement.

How Does Stitch Makers Live Work?

When you buy a ticket to Stitch Makers Live you’ll get access to a private Facebook group that is only open to Stitch Makers Live participants and teachers.

The event runs September 19-21. The live video classes and interaction with the teachers will take place on the private Facebook group. Instructors will be teaching and interacting with you from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm Eastern each of those days.

And we’ll be having a virtual party from 7:30 pm until 9:00 pm Eastern on Saturday night, September 21!

Edie, What Will You Be Doing?

I’ll be teaching techniques from The Village Hat pattern. You’ll learn my tips for great-looking crocheted motifs and join-as-you-go techniques. The Village Hat pattern includes both charted and text instructions, and it’s free with your Stitch Makers Live attendance.


Want to buy a yarn pack so you can make the hat using the same yarn I did? You can! It’s available now from Wonderland Yarns.

Buy the Yarn Button

Other teachers and topics include:

Teacher collage
Logo collage
  • Tamara Kelly of Moogly: Plan Your Projects Perfectly with Weight and Gauge Basics and Fabulous Crochet Sweaters are Simple with Finishing Techniques
  • Mary Beth Temple of Hooked for Life Publishing: Hop on the Tunisian Trend with Basics from a Professional Teacher and Level Up Your Projects with Surface Crochet Techniques
  • Alexis Middleton of Persia Lou: Build Better Crochet Baskets with Rope or Cord and this Crafty Star
  • Marie Segares of Underground Crafter: Conquer Amigurumi with Tips and Tricks for All Those Bits and Get Slouch Hat Savvy with Crochet Tips from an Urban Designer
  • Andee Graves of Mamas 2 Hands: Master the Tricks to Create Easy Perfect Crochet Spirals
  • Jessie Rayot of Jessie at Home: Produce Perfect Granny Squares Every Time with these Clever Tips
  • Pia Thadani of Stitches n Scraps: Stretch Your Crochet Skills with Elastic Waistbands for Wearables
  • Linda Dean of Linda Dean Crochet: Fall in Love with Crochet Short Rows for Wonderful Shaping
  • Julie Desjardins of Accrochet: Success with Crochet Socks Can Be Yours – Start with the Basics
  • Courtney Whitehead of Creations by Courtney: Handy Help for Hat Makers – Both Top Down and Bottom Up

Join Stitch Makers Live

Have I convinced you about how excited I am to be a part of this brand-new venture? After all, I get to share my love of crochet from the comfort of my home, too!

Won’t you please join us? I can’t wait to see you there!

Buy Tickets Now button

Where to Put the First Stitch of a Crochet Row

Most new crocheters question where to put the first stitch of a crochet row. It’s not always clear from reading a pattern where that hook should go. If you don’t get it right, you may gain or lose stitches and have uneven edges.

Knowing where to put the first stitch of a crochet row in every situation will help you maintain the same number of stitches and keep your edges straight!

This article uses American crochet terminology. I’m assuming you want to keep the same number of stitches on each row, and to have straight sides. Be sure to watch the videos listed below to get a good close-up look of where I’m putting the first stitch of the second row in different situations.

Turning Chains

The key to knowing where to put your hook lies in understanding turning chains. Turning chains are the chains at the beginning of a row that bring your hook up to the level of the next row, ready to work the new row.

Your pattern will tell you how many turning chains to work, and whether that turning chain counts as a stitch. If the pattern doesn’t indicate whether the turning chain counts, you can decide for yourself.

Type of
Stitch
Typical
Turning
Chain
Does Turning
Chain Count
as a Stitch?
scch 1usually not
hdcch 2sometimes; you can decide
dcch 3usually but not always
trch 4usually but not always

When the Turning Chain Counts as a Stitch

If the turning chain counts as a stitch and you don’t want to increase or decrease, the second stitch of the row or round (the first “real” dc, for example) goes into the stitch that is one stitch to the left of the stitch at the base of the turning chain. Or one stitch to the right if you are working left-handed.

The last stitch of a row goes into the top of the turning chain from the row below. The last stitch of a round goes into the last stitch of the previous round.

Here’s what that looks like in a stitch charts and on a swatch. This swatch and stitch chart begins with a foundation chain of 13 and has 11 stitches across each row, because the turning chain counts as a stitch.

Photograph showing where to put the first stitch of a row when the turning chain counts as a stitch.

Watch How to Work Double Crochet to see me transition from Row 1 to Row 2 on a swatch, and count the ch-3 turning chain as a stitch.

In How to Work Treble Crochet, I also count the ch-4 turning chain as a stitch.

Photo showing location of last stitch of row when ch-3 counts as a stitch

When the turning chain counts as a stitch, if you put the first stitch into the same stitch as the base of the turning chain, you’ll increase. If you don’t remember to put the last stitch into the top of the turning chain, you’ll decrease.

Photo showing same number of stitches on each row using turning chain as a stitch
There are the same number of stitches in each row, counting the turning chain on each row as a stitch.

When the Turning Chain Doesn’t Count as a Stitch

If the turning chain does not count as a stitch, and you want to maintain the same number of stitches, the first stitch of the second row goes into the stitch at the base of the turning chain because you completely ignore the turning chain.

The last stitch of the row goes into the last “real” dc, because the turning chain is ignored. Here’s what that looks like in a stitch chart and on a swatch. This swatch and stitch chart begins with a foundation chain of 14 and has 11 stitches across each row, because the turning chain does not count as a stitch.

Photo showing where to put the first stitch of a row when the turning chain is not a stitch

Watch Single Crochet with Edie Eckman starting at about 3:32 to see me transition from Row 1 to Row 2 on a swatch, but not count the ch-1 turning chain as a stitch.

In How to Work Half Double Crochet, I do not count the ch-2 turning chain as a stitch.

Photo showing end of row when turning chain is not used as a stitch
Photo showing same number of stitches on each row not using turning chain as a stitch
There are the same number of stitches in each row, not counting the turning chain on each row as a stitch.

When the turning chain does not count as a stitch, if you skip the stitch at the base of the chain and work into the next stitch, you’ll decrease. If you put the last stitch of the row into a turning chain, you’ll increase.

Reminders: Where to Put the First Stitch

Remember: When the turning chain counts as a stitch, treat it like one.

It has magically become a stitch (because the pattern told you so). Why would you put another stitch in the same place? And why would you not work into it on the way back?

Remember: When the turning chain does not count as a stitch, ignore it completely.

Your edges will be straight, your stitch count will stay the same, and you’ll stop worrying about where that stitch should go!

For more about turning chains, read 5 Ways to Prevent Gaps at the Beginning of Crochet Rows. To learn more about this and other ways to improve your crochet, check out my Improve Your Crochet: Essential Techniques on Bluprint.

Join-As-You-Go Crochet with Flat Join

Two granny squares joined with flat join using join-as-you-go

Using a join-as-you-go method to join crochet motifs is a great way to save time and effort.

With join-as-you-go, you don’t have any seaming to do at the end of the project, because you have joined all your individual pieces as your work. The flat join method of join-as-you-go gives a particularly beautiful and smooth connection.

Flat joins can be worked into chain spaces or into the top of stitches. With granny squares, the joins are usually worked into the chain-spaces.

Follow these step-by-step instructions, or scroll down to the bottom of the post for a video explanation.

This post contains affiliate links which don’t cost you anything but may provide a small income to me. The yarn pictured is Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird.

Join-As-You-Go Granny Square

We’ll be joining a classic granny square that has chain-2 corners and chain-1 side spaces. My sample square has three rounds.

Begin by working the entire first square. Weave in the ends.

Crochet the second square, stopping before you work the last round.

Two granny squares: one complete and one incomplete

Begin working the last round of the second square, stopping when you get to the half-way point of a corner. In other words, stop after “3 dc in corner space, ch 1”.

Stitch diagram for joined grannies

Flat Join Join-As-You-Go

To work a flat join, draw up the loop on the hook until it is a bit longer than usual, then take the hook out of the loop. This is known as “dropping the loop”.

flat join, step 1: Insert hook from RS to WS into first square

Pick up the first square with the right side facing. Insert the hook from right side to wrong side (from front to back) through a corner chain-2 space.


flat join, step 2: Pick up dropped loop and pull it through

Pick up the dropped loop with your hook and draw it through to the right side of the first square.


Flat join, step 3: Continue on current square

Continue working on current square: ch 1, 3 dc in same space.


Completed joins

Continue working flat joins in the chain-1 spaces along this side, while working (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-1 space of the current square. The last flat join will be in the chain-2 corner space.


Completing the Square

Once the squares are joined all along their sides, keep working along the remaining sides of the current square to complete the round.

Learn More About Join-As-You-Go

Join-as-you-go is such a time- and effort-saving technique! There’s a lot more to learn about this topic. If you want to make your crocheting life happier, check out my books and pattern page, as well as these resources:

Bluprint Craftsy Joining Crochet Motifs
Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs
Join As You Go Seamless Crochet Techniques

Crochet Pattern: Crimson Cowl

Crimson Cowl Universal Yarn designed by Edie Eckman

Get ready for the cooler days of fall with my newest design for Universal Yarn: the Crimson Cowl. The cowl is shaped to drape gently around the neck and to sit lovingly over the shoulders.

The Yarn

Fine Weight Yarn-2 Craft Yarn Council

Fibra Natura’s Cashmere Lusso from Universal Yarn is a luxurious blend of virgin cashmere and recycled cashmere. You can feel good about using yarn with recycled fiber, and the yarn feels great against the skin.

Cashmere yarn is lightweight but warm, and is lovely to crochet with.

 

You’ll need just a single skein in either this beautiful Anthurium color or one of the other on-trend colors available.

 

The Pattern

Crimson Cowl  designed by Edie Eckman for Universal Yarn

There are no tricky stitches here. Just chains, single and double crochets worked in the round and fanning out to create a lovely drape from the neck down. Use a size H-8 (5 mm) hook or whatever size you need to get gauge.

The pattern for the Crimson Cowl is free at Universal Yarn’s website. The pattern is both written and charted.

 

Get the Pattern

Other Projects

For other small crochet projects to keep your neck and shoulders warm, check out these patterns. Hint: They all have text AND charted instructions.

Bobble Fringe Scarf

Cascade of Color Scarf

Easy-to-Wear Cowl

 

 

Free Knitting Pattern: Quick & Easy Summer Placemats

Easy Summer Placemats Free Knitting Pattern by Edie Eckman
Easy Summer Placemats Free Knitting Pattern designed by Edie Eckman

Brighten up your summer with these quick and easy summer placemats. They are a perfect first project for beginning knitters, and they make a great house-warming gift for new neighbors.

This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

The Yarn

Craft Yarn Council Size 5 yarn icon

Bulky-weight yarn makes the knitting go fast! Lion Brand Rewind Tape Yarn is fun to work with. Because of its construction, it’s less bulky than you would think, and it imparts a great texture to the fabric.

 

Lion Brand Rewind Tape Yarn

I love the exuberant colors that I used, but you can also choose from more muted shades to suit your taste. The instructions below are for two placemats in different main colors. If you want to make four placemats, two of each color shown, with a yellow stripe on each, you’ll need two balls each of the blue and pink, and one ball of the yellow.

 

The Pattern

Garter stitch is about as basic as a knitting stitch can be, and that’s all you need to know to knit these placemats! Minimal pattern-reading is required, and gauge doesn’t even matter all that much.

Easy Summer Placemats Free Knitting Pattern designed by Edie Eckman

Quick & Easy Summer Placemats

One size: 16″ x 13″/40.6 x 33 cm

Materials
Lion Brand Rewind Tape Yarn (70% polyester/30% viscose, 3.5 oz / 100 g, 242 yd / 221 m), 1 ball each color 148 Fish Bowl (A), color 195 Think Pink (B), and color 157 Make Lemonade (C) [See note above about yarn amounts for multiple placemats.]

US Size 10.5 / 6.5 mm knitting needles

Stitch marker or piece of waste yarn

Gauge
13 sts and 22 rows = 4″ / 10 cm in garter stitch (knit every row)
Gauge is not crucial in this project.
Watch How to Measure Gauge in Knitted Garter Stitch for more information.

Pattern Notes
Leave a 6″ / 15 cm tail for weaving in each time you begin and end a yarn.

Beginning knitters will want to knit the pattern exactly as written. More experienced knitters may create a slip-stitch selvedge by slipping the last stitch of each row knitwise with yarn in front.

Abbreviations
k: knit
RS: right side
st(s): stitch(es)
WS: wrong side

Instructions
With A, long-tail cast-on 42 sts. Knit 1 WS row. Turn work, and place a marker or piece of waste yarn on this side to indicate that the side is the right side.

Knit every row until piece measures 13″ / 33 cm from cast-on edge, ending with a WS row. Cut A, leaving a 6″ / 15 cm tail for weaving in.

With C, knit 10 rows (5 garter stitch ridges). Cut C.

With B, knit 2 rows (1 garter stitch ridge). Cut B.

With A, knit 6 rows (3 garter stitch ridges). Bind off.

Weave in ends.

Make a second placemat, substituting B for A and A for B in the instructions above.

Other Projects

Check out these other easy knitting patterns:

Blue Springs Double Cowl

Easy Quick-Knit One-Skein Tea Cozy

Molly Hat

Stoneybrook Shawlette

Zig Zag Eyelet Scarf