QR codes for knitting (2) or other textile techniques: “happy holidays” a few ways

I reviewed, edited, and added information to an earlier blog post on QR codes and knitting earlier today. The results from the same steps in processing the generated images may be applied to any fiber technique which results from using counted, single units.  In light of the coming season I thought I would offer some “happy holidays” variants. In assembling them, I found an additional free online generator that allows for far more control on output code pixel dimensions than others I have previously experimented with.

aztec (smallest unit possible 100 pixels square)QRA100onto the morovia website the “blanket” sizeQR150getting back to knittable, less than punchcard widthscreenshot_45QR21a less than 50 wide repeat for mylar, and surprise!screenshot_53QR49

Working with generated mazes: GIMP charting 2

My previous posts on using gimp to generates charts and images suitable for knitting: 1, 2, 3, 4 . I am working in Mac OS 10.10 now, so there may be some variations in results from earlier OS or for Windows versions users.

the edited repeat from the previous postcropped

It is possible to knit this design in DBJ with the same separation as for knitting it as a maze, both are 2 color slip stitch patterns, the maze separation is less laborious. To process for use in DBJ, the image needs initially to be doubled in length. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a new gimp document, several times the size of the repeat, select and copy the corrected repeat , in turn pasting it in the new, larger canvas. I used 40 by 60; color 1 is red, color 2, white, most of my charting is done at 1,000 times magnification

copy and paste

drawing a vertical line in non pertinent color to border areas having several rows with no second color present, as seen below, may help define end or start of selections when attempting to invert colors. Color invert may be achieved in RGB mode, not indexed. Below the inversion occurs on “even numbered” every other rows. The program in my OS now showed the previously red squares in blue, the alternate squares in black.

After using color invert, non pertinent color (blue) may be erased (using pencil tool, each square on grid is a single pixel) as well as those yellow “border” squares. In the image below the black squares on the left represent all holes that will be punched out in card. One drawback in this program, because of the scale using single pixels, is that no text to include row numbers, etc. is possible. The final repeat is 10S X 44 R.

If one wants to avoid using double length in the automated machine settings, the image of holes to be punched may be doubled in length. To do so color mode needs to be changed to indexed (4 colors) to retain image clarity.screenshot_19


 fabric knit in DBJ, long stitch on left, bird’s eye backing on right 500_2355

Maze and mosaic knitting, my previous posts: drawing motifs, from design to pattern (Excel), from pre punched cards,  and references and pubs. The repeat worked out for slip stitch, and edited down to 2 colors. Again, the black squares on the left represent all holes that will be punched out in card.

screenshot_21-mazeTo further mark the repeats in blocks, making chart easier to follow in absence of numbers, the subject of drawing straight lines comes up. Most of the online tutorials for using gimp are for its Windows version. The pencil tool may be used. Normally, tool options are displayed in a window attached under the Toolbox as soon as you activate a tool. If they are not (Mac), you can access them from the image menu bar through Windows → Dockable Windows → Tool Options, which opens the option window of the selected tool. In theory “Ctrl:This key changes the pencil to a Color PickerShift: This key places the pencil tool into straight line mode. Holding Shift while clicking Button 1 will generate a straight line. Consecutive clicks will continue drawing straight lines that originate from the end of the last line.” On my Mac I worked out this method: first select color and pencil tool. Place a pencil dot where you want the line to start. If you press the shift key, a cross hair will appear, press the command key in turn as well for straight line mode, click where you want the line to end. Consecutive clicks will continue drawing straight lines that originate from the end of the last line. Pressing both the shift and the command one at once after the initial pencil mark will call up the color picker and require a color selection and an OK.

windows: dockable itemswindows_dockable dialogues

gimp lines

separation for maze knitting 10S X 22R, elongate X2
maze_needsX2 borderknit as a single bed slip stitch, changing colors every 2 rowsscreenshot_01as dbj 500_2361

The dropped stitches were a problem when using the ribber on one of my two 910s, that adventure can be the topic for another post.

Working with generated mazes: GIMP charting 1

Laura Kroegler shares an online generator for “mosaics”unikatissima offers them for mazes and cellular automata. Representations of such patterns have cropped up in relation to hacked knitting machines and electronic downloads such as those seen in the Claire Williams blog, and in published information by Fabienne, who of late also has a kickstarter project. Such patterns may be charted for hand knitting or for use on punchcard machines once the size of the repeat is taken into consideration. Mirroring either vertically or horizontally can make the image far more interesting, but that has to be a consideration in planning if the stitch repeat has a constraint of 24 stitch limit. A beginning unit 6 stitches wide will allow for the horizontal mirror to be repeated twice on the punchcard. The minimum punchcard length is 36 rows. The maximum scroll down to height in the Kroegler generator is 20, so for the least punching, an 18 row max would “fit”. The caveat here is that if the generated pattern is to be knit as DBJ or as single bed slip stitch, those 18 rows need to be color separated accordingly. For the design to be charted out easily, it may be saved, and then in turn gridded in Photoshop or Gimp with grid matching stitch size in the generated pattern preview (ie below note X and Y values are 5 X 5, so grid used would be 5 X 5 pixels as well).
After reviewing the tiled generated pattern, the image may be carefully captured from screen and saved. I worked with an 8 stitch repeat for my tests. Below are screen grabs of the resulting patterns after some of the various options offered were tried. Mirroring this repeat horizontally, makes it too wide for a punchcard (16 X 2=32).






using a 5X5 grid after capturing a portion of another generated image, using a simple 8X8 repeat, outlining single repeats, thinking punchcard machinescreenshot_34

checking the result tiled to predict possible knit “look”screenshot_28

If working with a 6 stitch repeat, horizontal mirroring becomes possible for punchcard machines, perhaps making things more interesting; the program can generate a single repeat as a png, and punching holes is a drag so maybe length remains on the short side in anticipation of the punching holes and color separating for knitting the motif as either DBJ or single bed slip stitch, so here goes: having the generated image produced so each stitch and row is represented by a single pixel allows one to work within any program preset to superimpose a 1X1 grid:screenshot_07

screenshot_08my saved png, supposedly for an 8X12 repeatnewgridded in gimp, revealed as  11W X 23 Hscreenshot_09

testing tiling: oops!screenshot_10

the trimmed repeat, eliminating double lines, 10 St W X 22 Rows Hcropped

tiled, looking closer to originalcropped_tiled

and then there is the knitting of it….

For the latest version of gimp use on Mac, version history may be found at gimp website, for Mac Yosemite and Mavericks’ latest information on version 2.8.14 .

A block lace pattern on the KM 1

A friend recently posted a forum query on a published pattern that has led to my exploring another hand to machine knit transfer lace. The “flemish block lace” design from the second treasury of knitting patterns by Barbara Walker, p. 270 seemed to be the lace pattern motif used. Here is a partial detail from the fabric that began the discussion

try to copy

Below is a chart for the Walker repeat produced with Intwined. The repeat is a multiple of 14 + 3 border stitches, the first row is purl, but I could not enter an all purl for row one and not have the remaining symbols altered by the program, which assumes in lace the first row is knitflemish block lacethe program’s generated HK instructions for one repeat plus 3 border stitches screenshot_04In attempting the machine knit version I chose to use the HK chart for my transfers as it stood, the directions of the transfers being mirrored vertically did not matter to me.

This design has “chains” traveling along some of the edges of the diagonal shapes. A lot of moving stitches in groups of 2 or 3 is required to achieve the look. It may be possible to achieve the fabric knitting with the aid of a lace carriage,  but planning the punchcard or electronic repeat and correcting any dropped stitches pose special challenges. My first samples were knit on the bulky KM, working in width of the 17 sts illustrated above.

I began to test transfers by moving stitches every row. Interesting things happen when single rows are knit on the machine as opposed to the traditional 2 in multiple transfer lace, as well as the resulting shape being half the number of rows long. The eyelet yarn lies single, without the twist usually seen, and begins to look more like ladders (see previous posts on zig zag ladder lace).

knit sideIMG_1938purl sideIMG_1939

with 2 knit rows between transfers (the missing eyelet in marked spot is due to operator error) the familiar look of multiple transfer lace appears1940


below the swatch image is flipped horizontally for a different perspective, approaching the original hand knit inspiration1940looking at charting differently, back to Excel: single repeat

BW repeat_12

                    checking alignment, adding border stitches4 repeatbw                                                adding colorcolored repeat

moves                    checking alignment, adding border stitches4 repeat color2The next consideration might be how to make executing the pattern easier on a standard machine. Needle pre selection may be used to guide hand transfers. Working out the electronic repeat, represented by black squares:isolating mylar rep                                         the transfer directions

transfers                        the chart in repeat , including bordersmylarx4_borderthere is no transfer on row 3 of repeat next to border on chart left, it is omitted in bottom of chart, shown on top half. End needle selection is cancelled throughout. The resulting test swatch, one operator error transfer missing on mid left:

                                                    knit side 500_1945                                                     purl side500_1944One of the issues I encountered during the initial tests was that of occasional needles “sneaking”/ dropping back on the machine, so ladders rather than eyelets were formed. The needle retainer bar is old, and I like to work lace with the ribber off and a tilted main bed, explaining the possible cause.

Zig Zag ladder lace 2: hand knit

I work primarily on a Mac, Maverick OS. Intwined software has had some issues operating in Mac consistently in the latest OS versions. The chart to text can be a really nice feature. The repeat, drawn here with symbols in the built in stitch library, shows errors in row 2 and 4 of the accompanying text.single repeatmistakes single

On a larger canvas, the original repeat is outlined below in red. Yellow indicates knit border stitches around ladder lace pattern repeats; row 22 is absent from the text that accompanied the larger chart.

full chart

full directionsSkitch is a free program, available for both Mac and Windows, that allows the opportunity for of highlighting or further editing a graphic. Taking the information above, here I added numbers that reflect actual repeat rows, used the arrows as a reminder of change in direction of zig zag, and the red outlines vs green indicate changes in type of knit decrease. It is easy to add as much or as little additional information as one feels helpful. There are controls for line thickness, shadows, etc.

actual repeat

JKnit is another program that may be of interest to anyone who prefers to track their projects, progress, and much more on their iPad or iPhone. The Lite version is free for both devices.

Below is an image of the hand knit swatch, unblocked, which appears three dimensional; transfer  lace has traditionally been blocked to lie flat and maximize eyelets. The fabric may be very interesting without blocking. If a slightly thicker yarn with “memory” is used, the piece may be steamed lightly, and the pattern segments will tend to shift in and out from the flat surface, whether the piece is hand or machine knit.IMG_1901

The yarn used was a “throw away” swatch testing acrylic. A very quick, light press and a bit of steam and here it is in the resulting killed, forever flattened version

IMG_1905  and it reverse side


X11 and open source programs: Mac Mavericks update

With the advent of Mac Mavericks, function of some open source design software linked to XQuartz was lost. Macosforge  now provides an updated X11 for OS X 10.6 or later (including Mavericks). X11 is required to run  Inkscape, a vector program, and ArahPaint5, a paint and drawing one that can be viewed being used in this video. Version4 is also included in a package with a free demo for ArahWeave. All have potential for creating and working with images, particularly useful in development of large format motifs for download to knitting machines.


Visualizing knit cables in color_ Excel

In the past I have suggested methods for working in Excel, and provided links to excellent material shared by others online. Of late I became interested in using the program to produce simple color graphics for cable illustrations. It is helpful to have prior experience in using Excel for knit charting. This is not intended as a complete tutorial. I am providing a document for experimentation. I would suggest copying and pasting the individual shapes to a different part of the document before playing with color changes, resizing, etc. This may be done within the chart in progress, or separately, and then copying /pasting or moving the final result into place.

The resulting charts may be used in both hand and machine knitting. My illustrations here are intended for machine knits, so they do not combine purls and knits on their ground. Images represent single side view: as they would appear on the knit side facing hand knitters, or the purl side facing the machine knitter. Stitch, row marking, and text may be added as wanted.

Chosen from the view menu, the object palette allows selection of built in available shapes. Once a shape is drawn into the workbook, the formatting palette allows access to image size, rotation (including flipping both vertically and horizontally, and alignment (moving front to back and reverse).


Color fill – unless standard colors are chosen, there will be issues matching colors combined when using with bucket fill from toolbar to add color to cell(s)



formatting options: fill


shape border: line, color (or not)


one of the ways to access size, rotation, aspect ratio


sample results


an in progress document for experimentation: blog_color_cables. Adjust zoom to personal preference for either viewing or working, grab portions of working screen for images of sections of workbook to save, or save as, and explore PDF options.

More on charting, foreign symbols, and cables

This topic has come up as part of previous posts. I recently reviewed links, and thought I would re-group them a bit differently here, adding some new.  Please click on continue reading to have list appear as active links if they do not immediately do so in your browser. Latest additions are at post bottom.








pixelated lettering




letters in knit stitches




care labels


more on cables



I have been trying to navigate Mac Numbers again, but in playing at my own latest charting with software after the Yosemite update, I find I am drifting back to using Excel once more as my primary “graph paper”. Charts published in foreign languages and magazines, and particularly those in Russian (where the same symbols appear to have different functions depending on the publisher) provide challenges in translating for using charts provided in hand or machine knitting.

Some sources from/for different countries that may help with interpretations:








I began a spreadsheet that includes a few of their alternative symbols, and some cable configurations working with shapes available within excel for charting them. Here is my editable WIP excel document with the start of the process, a possible DIY start , will update in future

foreign symbols2_share  2/1/15

Anna Burda magazine symbols PDF, includes HK how to illustrations:  ab2  2/1/15

4/24/15: sconcho  is a GUI for creating knitting charts  that comes with a built in stitch library. A manual is available. Custom stitch symbols may be created in Inkscape to form personal vector shapes.  X11 may be required to run Inkscape on your computer as well, all are free.

Knit charting in Mac Yosemite; visualizing knit cables

Some previous blog posts on topic






in reviewing the 2011 post I found that the knitting chart maker by Jacquie no longer works in Yosemite due to Java plugins conflicts

Updating to Yosemite has provided some interesting issues for me. The first was Safari pretty much becoming unusable. It took a Mac expert and a chunk of his time to resolve the issue. There are still hiccups in other apps. I thought I would revisit some of the methods I have mentioned as usable in knit charting on Mac via a bit of discussion on cables and visualizing them.

Intwined began having issues in Macs with any custom built stitch libraries in mid year 2013. The last update offered and installed September 2013 has continued to have some functionality issues in later Mac OS versions (Mavericks, and now Yosemite), stripped of any custom stitches built previously, not allowing for their addition. It has become only an occasional go to for me now. Charts  created in the program are easily recognizable.

Inkscape (recommended for creating icons for use in Intwined, a free vector program) will require a  XQuartz update for Yosemite. Their previous release allowed for its use in Mavericks.



http://sourceforge.net/projects/sconcho/ is an open source, free charting software with built in stitch libraries that may meet many of your charting needs in any OS version

Excel behaves as in the past (my version:Office 08)

Mac Number has once again deleted some familiar menu options, added new ones.


and some of my accumulated knit symbols from other font sources continue to work on the mac, but are unsupported if using the iPad version of the program, where they appear as the original  keyboard strokes, rather than the assigned symbols

GIMP 2.8.4 (2.8.8 did not), HyperDither, appear functional as in past.

Tracking and visualizing custom cables outside the parameters of built in libraries or fonts/symbols in alternative software, using Numbers 3.5: one of the problems that can be encountered in charting cables is that programs with built in stitch libraries may not provide for cable crossings specific to your pattern. The charts below have not been proofed executable in a swatch at this point in time, are simply a way of exploring drawing methods, my working notes from some quick experiments, not a step by step tutorial. I have no way of confirming results in previous versions of the software or OS.

available “shapes”

To make them editable, click on shape, go to format menu, highlight shapes and lines-> make editable. Click on shape and in turn on format symbol below in the image below, and windows become available for style and arrangement choices

The knit and purl symbols on the left of my first chart utilizing line with arrow shapes are standard ones. The right side uses a dot for purl stitches instead of a line, and that began to make the whole more readable to me. One drawback is “shapes” do not seem to respond to any copy and paste demands and I had to draw each individually. I preferred to place them outside my chart. Guidelines then appear to suit for easy re sizing and the resulting edit may then be dragged and dropped into appropriate location in chart, readjusted as/if needed. Color palettes for drawing appear limited to the built in shades; toggling between available colors may be accessed by clicking on the dots below the pen tool in the first illustration above.  In the chart, purple lines indicate stitches brought forward, yellow the stitches brought to back when working the cables. The number 10 in the left hand column should be a one.

Cleaning up lines and adding color if needed may be done in Photoshop or GIMP; this makes forward stitches a bit clearer

bucket fill provides an added way to follow movement of stitches

Utilizing the pen tool in shapes menu to draw custom cable crosses and filling them using the option within the numbers program  moves toward an all color chart_ far quicker than using lines and bucket fills. The red segment indicates knit stitches traveling in back for the cable cross

A lot of information is available on creating reversible cable fabrics using ribbed configurations. I thought I would play with knit/ purl blocks rather than vertical rib lines. The initial chart was begun in Intwined, bucket filled in Photoshop to extend colors within cable crosses. The red border outlines the pattern repeat. Alternate right side rows are shown; all wrong side rows are worked as the stitches appear (knit stitches are knit, and purl stitches are purled). Here the cell colors happen to be reversed from their use in the above, the yellow is used for knit stitches, the green the purls. I opted to indicate knit stitches by color only, no symbol.

This is the resulting swatch, in a random acrylic yarn, with varying numbers of rows in between cable crossings my plan is to create a scarf in significantly thicker alpaca yarn, a strictly HK fabric. Photo shows both sides of fabric.

Creating knit graph paper on mac, using Excel and Numbers

Working on Excel 2008_Mac OS

On a work sheet columns are usually standardized to accommodate approximately 9 font characters. Width and height are measured in points and units such as inches or centimeters: 1 point equals approximately 1/72 inch or 0.035 cm. Default row height is app. 13 points. In developing knitting charts smaller units of measurement are preferred. Preferences (general) may be changed from the default (inches) to cm, or the smaller unit mm, and saving. Online conversion between units of measurement and PostScript points may be calculated (if needed) using calculators ie.


general preferences pane

default cell measurements in mm and points

When opening an excel document, to view only one page: on the bar at the top of your spreadsheet click the View menu and then in turn choose Customize Toolbars and Menus. The window below will appear, click on the commands tab.

Scroll down to “Zoom to One Page” on the list, “click and drag” it to your toolbar, releasing your mouse button to place it using the vertical line that appears as your guide to determine its placement.

chart tool bar with icon (to right of red line, click on image for magnification)

on the standard toolbar

If the chart toolbar is in use, left click on arrow at right, the customize toolbars and menus is the second option offered; a right click will allow you to modify toolbars as a first choice, and offers the commands as option 3

Clicking on the icon now in the toolbar will show one work sheet, and adjustments may be made as follows for producing your graph paper or knit chart, clicking again will show multiple sheets once more.

Click on diamond upper left hand corner to select whole sheet, now that the whole sheet is selected to apply your unit choice to the whole document: place your mouse on and hold it between the cells indicated by any 2 of the letters (separator will appear), drag the boundary on the right side to define desired width, repeat the process between any 2 numbered rows to define height

The format menu may also be used; first select the whole sheet, then on home tab, click on format, select format row height or format column width alternately to specify desired measurements The latter method may give better control over unit specs in some instances.

If the intent is to use the program as virtual graph paper on which to add color, symbols etc one may continue editing,  and working with borders and border drawing options line thickness most suitable for printing may be selected, along with types of lines and colors.

Common ratios for knitting are 4:5, 2:3 (height to width) with stitches being usually wider than tall. Single page workbooks to start your chart editing and saving for printing



Selecting the whole document for printing by going for the select all command in a variety of ways did not print the whole document for me, or even recognize content. Whether printing the whole document or part, the print area needs to be hand selected. Click on cell upper left where you want to begin, drag mouse and release on last cell bottom right on which you wish to stop. The selected area will now appear colored blue, and outlined by a broken line. In file menu, choose print area, and in turn to its right “select print area”. File print should in turn be operable now, along with a preview of selected area to be printed.

If you wish to have the graph paper as a permanent file, proceed as above, but from your printer screen select PDF, then save as

An online PDF generator for printing graph paper for knits (including shadow knitting) in 2 ratios and orientations may be found at


Previous posted links and more on using excel for virtual designing of knit charts and motifs


Numbers 3.2.2

I chose to change preference for rulers to point units (options are for centimeter inches and points)

default cell size in cm and points

Click on table at top of your document screen, to right of function icon; select first choice on left, second row

a place to start

Uncheck alternating rows on menus on right, revise options

Click anywhere on screen, use command all to select all table cells. Choose row and column size, typing in your desired values or using arrows provided, hit return. Click anywhere on sheet to get additional markings to appear again. With your mouse, grab and drag  _l symbol on bottom right

and you will also have the benefit of viewing the number of rows and columns in your document. Click on circular target icon on upper left, drag  _l symbol on bottom right, and all units on sheet will be resized to displayed measurements.

For thicker, darker,or even differed colored and types of lines changes are easily made working with borders menus

Clicking on any cell leaves only your graph; selecting print from your file menu prints exactly what appears as the sheet number chosen , and /or have saved; additional adjustment options are offered on right

Click on white part of your sheet, only your chart will be viewable and ready for printing. If a PDF is desired, choose Export to -> PDF from file menu.


In creating charts using symbols I like to use square grids, 28 pts=1.02 cms=.4 in, and working at 50% magnification.


I had  a ravelry request for a punchcard template. In a previous post


I shared a method that got me in the ballpark using a word document, for having a printable, near scale graph. Here is an editable excel workbook resulting in as near as I could get to printing punch card at scale; included are beginning added markings for Brother machines that could easily be altered to suit other makes; lines at side can serve for comments or notes.

Going about printing in a different way: I captured an image from my excel template

saved it, opened the image in photoshop, adjusted image size as below, and when printed the output was nearly dead on in terms of size, and would make tracing motifs from it onto a punchcard over a light box super easy

downloadable punchcard worksheet

In Numbers the closest I could get to punchcard cell size was using point values, 19 for rows, 18 for colums, printing was off.

Another use: creating cell blocks for  custom needle tapes to track actions such as holding that may be used as guides (standard KM needles are 4.5mm apart). My color printer is defunct, so this is the grey version. Color coding may be easily added for more complex fabric manipulations.