Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Meg can now testify that KnitML has actually, truly been useful to her. The Child's French Sock pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks only provided written directions, and she thought that a chart would be nice. "Can the Knitimal do this?" she asked. "Why, of course it can!" I replied. Well, at least I suspected it could.

So I entered the part of the pattern she wanted a chart from into the KnitML editor. I crossed my fingers, ran the program and...

Whoosh! It worked!

What's more is that she even commented that it was very attractive looking and that I should take a picture.

At first glance, this isn't all that exciting. There are many programs available today (some of them on the web) that will allow you to type line-by-line instructions and they will convert them into a chart. But if you were to take a closer look at the KnitML pattern, there are two things that are exciting.

The first is the clarity of the KnitML pattern itself. To create this chart, I typed this into a KnitML template file:

Row 1: p1, yo, k1, p1, ssk, k3
Row 2: p1, yo, k2, p1, ssk, k2
Row 3: p1, yo, k3, p1, ssk, k1
Row 4: p1, yo, k4, p1, ssk
Row 5: p1, k5, p1, k1
Row 6: p1, ssk, k3, p1, yo, k1
Row 7: p1, ssk, k2, p1, yo, k2
Row 8: p1, ssk, k1, p1, yo, k3
Row 9: p1, ssk, p1, yo, k4
Row 10: p1, k1, p1, k5

The row-by-row instructions are indistinguishable from a real pattern. That's reason enough to use software from the KnitML Project for your instructions-to-chart conversions. But there's another reason to be excited.

If the pattern were provided to you in KnitML form (by the designer), you wouldn't need to trouble yourself with any of this. You could simply open up the pattern in your KnitML pattern reader, and... voom! All of your preferences would be taken into account, and you would magically have charts if you so desired.

I've told the world about KnitML's chart producing capabilities (well, at least the KnitML Blog and on Ravelry). Unfortunately, I've gotten absolutely no response or feedback from anyone. It's a little disheartening.

Except for Meg, who is finally convinced that this is useful. Sorry it's taking me so long to knit you socks, sweetie!


Pork with Bones said...

Sorry you're not getting much feedback. I don't have anything in the way of useful commentary, but I certainly find XML an interesting and exciting topic! It's clearly an idea with a lot of potential to it, and I'm always looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

yarmando said...

Don't be disheartened, Jonathan. KnitML is an incredibly cool project. I suspect most of us just aren't mentally equipped to do much to help you out, other than sit on the sidelines and watch appreciatively.

Janet Szabo said...

Jonathan, believe it or not, I've been thinking about KnitML a lot in the past couple of weeks--the problem is that I have barely have time to get the work done that I NEED to without spending time on fun things like KnitML. But if you want to experiment with some cables and charting, or cables and some other KnitML stuff, let me know. I would try to carve out some time if there were a small, discrete project to help you with.

LaurieM said...

It's a smart idea and coming along nicely. It's hard to see how an individual designer would use it in this state because of the learning curve. In my opinion, it needs tools support.

What if you contacted the editors of either Vogue or Interweave Knits? Maybe they could use it for their magazines, or do an article on it?

the fiddlin' fool said...


You're spot on about the tooling. That's one of the things that I hope to address with the Graphical Pattern Editor / Composer. It will ultimately have advanced features such as being able to make suggestions (i.e. "auto assist" and "code completion"). It currently has the previewing capability, and an upcoming release will feature preference customization for the renderer.

I want the tools to get a lot better before I go to a magazine like Interweave, unless one of those magazines would be willing to do a "concept" type article. Most of the work up to this point has been foundational, and frankly I imagine that's pretty boring to most people. :)

the fiddlin' fool said...


Thanks for the offer for help. I suspect that I will take you up on it for the 0.6 release of the core tools. I intend to tackle cables and some other more complicated charting functionality at that time.

Liz said...

I think that KnitML is a great idea- I just usually knit from whatever is given to me, and don't mess with it too much. (I also didn't realize that KnitML was up for public use- I thought you were still incubating, but now I will use it!)

Anonymous said...

Do not be disheartened. More people need to know about it. What a great thing to do for knitters everywhere. I just found out about it very recently myself.

=Tamar said...

I think it also might be useful as a proofreader for existing patterns. Say you're trying to redact a mid-19th century pattern from a newspaper column, filled with typos and no hint as to what it will really look like besides a somewhat fanciful engraving. A KnitML chart could save a lot of hair-tearing.

k-brow said...

Wow. I knit that sock from the book, with the written directions and it drove me crazy. I would have loved to have had a chart for it...

JustApril said...

huzzah! that's so cool