This web page was developed as a forum of questions, comments, suggestions, tips and techniques for machine knitters and Design-A-Pattern users. Feel free to send me an e-mail with your questions and comments. Your note may be listed if it will be of general interest to other knitters. If you wish your name and e-mail address listed for follow-up conversations, let me know. 
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I already own Design-A-Knit. How is Design-A-Pattern different?

Some of our customers have both programs because they each have their own strengths.  For machine and hand knitters, Design-A-Pattern provides more extensive styling, sizing, editing, printing and file saving options since it is written to interact with other Windows programs. As an example, Design-A-Pattern offers the ability to overlay motifs on panels and grids using Windows Paintbrush. Design-A-Pattern is not designed for interactive graphics to avoid the cost and complexity associated with electronic knitting machine cable connections. With five programs available, you only buy the garment types that suit your taste. Design-A-Pattern is always updated with customer suggestions, and customers can return their disks at any time for free upgrades since there is no limit on program 'lives'. 

I just bought a computer and I'm learning to use it. How easy is Design-A-Pattern to use?

When we are asked this question at seminars, we invite computer novices to sit at our computer and give it a 'test drive'. With a minimum of help, they can chart a custom pattern by adjusting starter sizing templates within 10 minutes. People with a working knowledge of Windows, word processors and graphic programs also appreciate the simplicity and flexibility as they learn extra features to create their own garment patterns. 

I don't like to knit with short row shaping. Can Design-A-Pattern make Cut-N-Sew tops?

After visiting a British knitting exposition where people expressed an interest in Cut-N-Sew templates, we have added and expanded this feature in our volumes for basic and asymmetric tops. In addition to printing full-size templates of any garment section, printouts can be scaled-down to use with knit radars and knit leaders.

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I do custom knitting for people with unusual body shapes that require me to knit each panel differently. Can Design-A-Pattern help me knit for these customers?

Design-A-Pattern allows you to calculate and print row/stitch directions for each knitted panel. As an example, for men with 'mature' figures, you can expand waistline tapering for the front panel and print it separately from the 'normal' back panel. Similarly, other measurements such as shoulder widths and tapering can be adjusted for separate panel calculations and printouts. 

Since I'm a large person, I have a hard time finding patterns in my size. Will Design-A-Pattern allow me to chart patterns that fit me?

Although starter sizing only goes to size 50 for knitted tops, larger measurements can be used. The main problem for large garments is having enough needles for front and back panels. By entering the highest needle number on your machine, Design-A-Pattern adjusts row-by-row printout directions automatically for 2 or 4 body panels. A gusset insert style was also included in volume #1 that lets you add side panels for extra width. Another option is provided in volume #4 which allows asymmetric designs to add overlap and separate shaping for left and right front panels. 

Can I chart dresses or suits by combining styles and measurements from different volumes?

Using volume #2 (skirts and slacks) for a dress bottom and volumes 1, 3, or 4 for the top allows you to make 1-piece dresses or 2-piece suites.  You must use the same skirt or slacks Waist Circumference as the Bottom Circumference measurement used for the knitted top. Care must also be used to ensure both skirt and top total length measurements are taken at the same time from a common point. It may be helpful to take measurements from a dress that fits you well. 

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What is the easiest way to add graphic designs and lettering to my front panel?

Of several options available to transfer panel shapes and grids to other programs, the easiest way to add simple designs or letters is to use Design-A-Pattern's Grid Screen. The selected panel will be loaded into Paintbrush by clicking the EDIT button (To Paint). Geometric designs can be added with line, square and circle buttons, any font lettering can be added with the 'text button', and colors can be added with the 'color fill' button in Paintbrush. When you are satisfied, simply click the 'Exit' button and say 'yes' when Paintbrush asks if you want to save the picture as 'Paint.bmp'. The computer will return to Design-A-Pattern's grid screen where you must click the EDIT button (From PAINT). The file 'Paint.bmp' will be loaded, and you will be asked to select a grid style or measurements overlay. The panel is ready to print from the Grid Screen.. 

How do I create my own motif using the expanded 1x1 grid overlay of the front panel?

Because 1x1 grid overlays are larger than normal Design-A-Pattern panel graphics, they require different procedures to add graphics. After generating a zoomed panel on the Grid Screen, return to the main information screen. Click the Paintbrush button at the bottom of the screen to load the displayed graphic into Paintbrush. The 'color-fill' button and color palette are used to fill in any row/stitch rectangles to create an original motif on the front panel. Since grid openings are small, the picture must be expanded by selecting 'Zoom' under the View menu item. When finished with the motif design, it can be printed, saved or copied from Paintbrush. If the picture is saved for loading into a word processor or program, use any filename except 'Paint.bmp'. 

How do I add clipart graphics to print an expanded 1x1 grid overlay of the front panel?

A working knowledge of general Windows navigation features and Paintbrush is needed for this. As described above, the 1x1 zoomed panel graphic should be loaded in Paintbrush from the main information screen. Clip art or pictures can be copied (Edit-Copy) from any loaded program for pasting onto this panel grid where it can be moved and resized by dragging it with your mouse. Be sure that Paintbrush's 'Draw Opaque' setting (under the Image menu) is disabled when the graphic is pasted onto the panel grid. Return to Design-A-Pattern (Alt-Tab) after adding the graphic, and copy the same displayed panel using the drop-down menu (Copy to Clipboard). Use Alt-Tab to return to Paintbrush, and paste (Edit-Paste) the 1x1 panel to overlay the panel grid on the graphic. As above, the finished design can be printed, saved or copied from Paintbrush. 

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Since Design-A-Pattern printouts don't tell me how to knit necklines or trims, are there special techniques to use row-by-row directions? 

Since most knitters prefer to use the techniques they are most familiar with to knit trims or shape necklines, we don't include technique directions in printouts. I combine the inside needle numbers listed under the 'START' column for two rows (knit, wrap and knit back) for neckline short-row shaping.  For shoulder slope shaping, I double the outside needle numbers listed under the 'STOP' column. 

I'm used to traditional knitting directions for sweaters. When should I print traditional instead of row-by-row directions?

Although row-by-row directions offer several advantages (shaping accuracy, no need to mark repeats, etc), row/decrease/repeat printouts are available in volumes #1, #2 and #4. For charting garments with straight lines (raglan sleeves, vee-necklines, etc), traditional estimated printouts are often shorter than row-by-row directions. Row-by-row directions are much better for curved shaping (ie capsleeves, crew necklines, etc) since the traditional 'Magic Equation' is much less accurate due to simulating curves with several smaller straight lines. 

How are cables knitted on garment panels using Design-A-Pattern row-by-row directions?

You must knit a swatch with your cable choices to calculate row and stitch gauges.  Pick out the Design-A-Pattern volume of  your choice, and enter these swatch gauges as usual.  Follow your pattern directions for garment shaping while knitting in the cables at the same time.

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How do I read the row-by row printout?

Our printout is arranged like a knitting machine with left and right side needles listed on either side of the row counter column.  The 'START' columns on each side shows the first needle in work from the center of the bed.  The 'STOP' columns shows the last needle in work on both sides for the outside edge of the garment. The 'TOTAL' column is the number of needles in work on both sides of the row.  Since rows are only listed when the number of needles in work changes, you knit straight until the row counter reaches the next listed row. When numbers increase or decrease in the 'STOP' column, you are shaping on the outer edge of the garment, and when numbers change in the 'START' column, you will be shaping the neckline.  When you decrease for the neckline and garment edge (underarm) at the same time, the 'TOTAL' column shows how many stitches are left in work on that row after shaping.

My knitted garments usually don't fit well when I buy patterns. How will Design-A-Pattern help me make better fitting armholes and sleeves?

All Design-A-Pattern volumes allow you to enter and adjust numerous body measurements to draw your pattern on the screen. Since rows and stitches are calculated on the screen drawings, finished panel measurements are accurate to the nearest row and stitch for any shape.  Ease can be added to any starting measurement based on your finished garment fit preferences. Adjusting armhole depths and shoulder set-ins on body panels automatically adjust sleeve panel shaping. The continuous curve shaping of a cap sleeve is normally a challenge, but Design-A-Pattern gives you the right size every time. If you prefer a customized 'puffy' sleeve top, cap depth and width can be adjusted as well. 

What finishing techniques do you use to make garments fit better?

One of the most common knitting errors is adding the wrong amount of ease. Knitted garments should drape on our bodies, not hug them like a second skin.  Skirts in particular must have enough ease to avoid clinging that gives a pull or pocketing effect in the back. If you are unsure how much ease to add, finished measurements can be taken from garments that fit you well. As an example, I usually add 4-6 inches of ease for my skirts. 

I always seam my garments by hand.  Almost all store bought garments are sewn together with a sewing machine or serger.  To achieve a true hand-finished look, you must take the time and effort to hand seam your garment panels together. Speed does not help give a nice finished look. When I assemble gore panel skirts, I latch the seams (like an afghan) to give a nice effect. I generally do a small crochet trim around the edge for a finished look on sideways skirts. 

How do I decide what kind of yarn I need for different garments?

You have to plan ('mind knit') your garment in advance.  Sometimes your yarn will 'tell' you what type of garment to knit with it.  For instance, if you are planning a dressy garment or suit, use a hard finished yarn like Millor's Tepeyac or Bramwell's Artistic.  For a regular everyday sweater, the softer sport weight yarns are terrific.  Examples of these are Millor's Trenzado, Bramwell's Fine 4-Ply, or Forsell's Shamal.  If you are a really new knitter, contact your knitting machine dealer for advice, or you can contact me.

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