WORK IN PROGRESS
Questions regularly turn up asking what software we use as individuals to design repeats for our knitting. I work exclusively on a Mac unless downloading to my Passap with Wincrea, an ancient laptop, and as old a version of windows.
I have been using Gimp for eons, it is my go-to along with Numbers to create the charts in my blog and graph my designs to ready them for download.
ArahPaint is a free paint program, part of a far larger weaving one. I have used it intermittently for features not achievable in Gimp at all, especially prior to its latest Mac updates. Working notes may be found in my many past blog posts on using Gimp including the latest 2021/07/18/gimp-update-for-mac-2/.
The scope of AhrahPaint is smaller, but its functions are well worth exploring from simple designs with any application including hand knitting, to scaling, drawing in repeat, configuring those repeats in many arrangements easily, color reductions, and much more for end-use in machine knitting.
There is a very good downloadable manual, but not generous in providing small details applicable when working in a low res bitmap such as that found in knit design.
My goal here is to provide some starting ideas on using the program for new users and a few comparisons to Gimp features for those who have worked with that program in the past.
Links for anyone wishing to try Arahpaint on a Mac (or Windows), including video tutorials
Sept 20, 2021: a new version of the software is now available for download, it is larger in file size https://www.arahne.si/learn-support/software-demo/
A “fast pattern” supplement http://www.arahne.eu/pdf/fastpattern-EN.pdf, black and white images are used on pages 20-24,
The user manual appears unchanged
The drawing in repeat window now offers new Preview, and Browse options. If Paint is part of the complete weaving program, there is a library of patterns for the user to browse through. If it is used as a stand-alone, the choice provides the opportunity for the user to browse through their personal library of images before continuing. The information available to me as I began this post
the download button is at the top left of the webpage
https://www.arahne.si/public/news/ with more info and videos on version 6
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daOsTulCKbk for anyone inspired by weaving drafts as a source of knitting pattern repeat
Arah menu options provide a quick view of menu differences between it and Gimp Tools as listed in the shortcuts pdf, the order is slightly different than in the program view When exploring design potential in any paint program, it is best, to begin with, to use a small repeat that can be clearly identified when tiled in various configurations, resized, and pixel edited. If drawing is with the goal to produce a BW bitmapped image for download, drawings can happen in those colors to start with. If color separations are planned in the development of the design, then 2 color images including black may be preferable.
The Arah default dot size for pixel drawing is 1X1. The 8-bit palette mode both for colors and greyscale uses up to 256 shades, greyscale values may also be measured in percentages of black ink coverage. Images may be converted from one color mode to another as in Gimp.
Begin with a small image size To work on the image, magnification will be required. This may be achieved in two ways on the Mac, one is to click repeatedly on the magnifying lens icon in the toolbox, the other is to press any number from 0 to 9 on the keyboard, the zoom will instantly change for 1 at 100%, to 6 for 600%, to 0 for 1000. The latter is minimal for building repeats on a viewable grid. The zoom level for both increases and decreases may be changed during drawing operations as well.
The image may be also be magnified to fill the window, and the program may be used in full-screen mode on your device by making the very last selection in the View menu. At zoom levels higher than 300%, the program shows a grid between pixels, if the grid view is enabled.
To show or hide the grid, choose View, Show Grid
To change the grid properties, choose View, Grid properties
The grid color can be black, gray, or white.
The second level grid determines every how many thin lines a thicker one will be drawn
Setting the grid: the default grid is subdivided, grid color and spacing may be custom set through selections in the View menu Altering the thicker line placement to suit personal preferences or to match electronic or punchcard published repeats more easily, simply type in new values and close The default cell shape appears to be square, without the option to create rectangular cells. Changing the grid option to lose subdivisions: deselect show grid 2. Draw a basic shape whose changes may be easily recognized. Color palette tools are in the palette areas. The starting palette may be altered to include black. Double click on the foreground color at the top, the #1 block over the #0, not in the space below the palette icon. A color selection window will appear, choose, click OK. This change is lost if one quits the program. If satisfied with the drawn repeat, use the selection tool to isolate the final motif. The new working image after cropping to selection:
Drawing in repeat instructions reproduced from the manual Starting with the single triangle: block alignment Standard brick alignment using offset in pixelsPillar repeat also using offset in pixels Other offset options through the use of fractionsPlaying with mirroring positions, producing a minimum 2 by 2 repeat, the result looks akin to the pillar repeat drawing above, but tiling again to check for alignment may yield surprises that can be viewed as design features or errors, Changes to mirroring arrows may be made when drawing in repeat on the top left of the window as well Once an image is drawn in the repeat of your choice, if only the Random option is used, with new picture left unchecked, the pencil may be used to draw on pixel cells, and changes will be made across all repeat segments. Each step may be undone individually. Many of these functions are paralleled in Gimp symmetry drawing.
The possibilities are endless. As always, good note-taking helps in being able to reproduce your chosen process with new images.
If you begin drawing a repeat using a single color on a white ground, then decide you would rather work in only black and white, simply double click on the foreground color, the palette window will appear, choose the new color, and all pixels in your repeat will then change to the selected one Repeats may be built in a more controlled manner using the image duplicate menu, its symbols immediately reminded me of the Passap Alter Direction options: choose a simple repeat to start with. Here a diagonal line was drawn along the center of a square, the bottom half bucket filled a half drop was added and the repeat was tiled to test alignment
Many find inspiration for knit designs in weaving drafts. The Arah Youtube video on developing drawing such repeats shows an option for preview in the draw in repeat window not available in my present version of only the ArahPaint. The resulting working repeats are likely to be large. Reset allows for changing repeat mirroring arrangements. Using find the repeat may help develop a sequential series of repeat segments in different sizes, producing different tiling effects, and the option of hand selection of even smaller areas followed by cropping and processing is always possible.
A sample effort producing a tenfold repeat of the original: Finding the repeat first on the complete resulting new image on left and testing its tiling, followed by finding the repeat again, cropping to the selection and tiling that as well on the right If the goal is to knit a scarf, 72 stitches wide, crop either repeat to a chosen 72 stitches in width, tile in length in either program to visually check alignment. If knitting in DBJ for approximately 1200 rows is the goal, one may obtain a visualization of the results ie for 1296 consecutive rows. A black pixel border could be added to the 72 stitches by copying and pasting the image on a larger canvas that will accommodate that border, or the border may be added by filling in pixels vertically to the edges of the original. Some repeats to play with: the 120 X 96 png Its shorter, top half The bottom half, 120 X 48, isolated in Gimp, tiled in length X4 to get a sense of some of the possible differences I cI can see the process becoming addictive once a single personally pleasing starting repeat is developed, and its, in turn, becoming a possible source for collections of designs
When scaling small repeats in Gimp in height only I found the results to have errors, seen in these images, while ArahPaint will multiply the motif cleanly only in height when needed, seen here with the original multiplied both X 2 and X4The Arah scaling appears to be quicker and far more accurate also when used on some published images that would require a lot of clean-up after resizing in Gimp.
Drawing lines: use the straight-line icon button to activate the tool, select the line thickness by selecting a number of pixels to be used then move the mouse pointer to a line starting point on the canvas and press the left side of the mouse, dragging it until the line is of the desired length and angle. When the line is at that desired length release the mouse.
A=1 pixel, B=2, C=4 with line dragged and released randomly, D= the line was moved and the mouse was not released until the steps were all the same size. The thick lines option works only at line width 1, which will keep the single pixels connected If you double click on the line icon, the Straight-line icon is activated. Now you can draw horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines. If you move a mouse horizontally—it doesn’t need to be perfectly straight, the drawn line is horizontal. If the angle between a line and the horizontal axis exceeds the angle of 23 degrees, the drawn line will be diagonal at 45 degrees. If you move the mouse toward the vertical axis, the line will be drawn as a vertical line. The straight-line tool may be used to draw clean diagonals. If the paint tool is then used to fill spaces between some of the drawn lines, the line tool reverts back to the original and will have to be reactivated if you wish to continue using it.
Working with both programs: developing a pretend repeat to later be used for chevron 24 stitch tuck stitch :
A: using straight lines, draw after determining the spacing to be left blank between them, here they are not all intended to match. Bucket fill the stripes intended to be knit stitches, reactivating the straight line tool after each fill
B: when satisfied with stripes and shaping, crop the original to 12 stitches in width
C: using drawing in repeat, mirror to create a 24 stitch shape. Save images along the way in case any “wrong” selections are made, draw in repeat (not shown) at least X 2 in both width and height, looking for errors in alignments D: correction is needed a the top of the repeat E: after your best shot, draw in repeat once more, leaving the setting at random, edit any wrong pixels using a white pencil, the edits will happen across the repeat
F: the new repeat
G: drawing F in repeat makes it appear correct
H: making the repeat as small as possible for use on electronic machines; the find repeat tool does not work on every repeat, particularly very small ones, and it works seamlessly at other times or will require only small adjustments. It is worth testing on images and keeping its use in mind. Here it makes a selection, the image is cropped to the selection, saved, and drawn in a larger series of repeats to check the alignment. Planning a repeat suitable for a punchcard, the uncropped repeat F is opened in Gimp, and pattern fill is used in white areas to ready the file for tuck knitting. The image is then map tiled to check alignment once more, and if satisfactory, it can be saved, ready to be knit The process can be so quick that it can be easily repeated to make new adjustments to meet our needs.
Making things work to get a “cleaner repeat”: the pattern fill is 2 rows wide by 2 rows high, so having both black and white areas of the design a multiple of 4 is a place to start. In the above, the shape outlines are in single row steps, so it is inevitable that the 4-row fill is episodically cropped by single pixels. Doubling the height of the initial single step repeat in Arah begins to solve the problem. In keeping the 24 stitch width restraint, the result, a now 56-row repeat, will now have variations in the width of the black pixel areas which will produce knit stitches on a tuck ground With experience, one can quickly imagine ways to clear errors and alter images. Electronic machines free us from repeat width constraints. Widening the zag repeat to 48 stitches, working in Arah, check vertical alignments first, edit intersections whether in a tiled image or the original, ultimately the 48-stitch by 80-row repeat is opened in Gimp, filled with the tuck pattern, and saved for knitting Color separations: the critical difference in the use of the Arah rectangle tool from that in Gimp is that it cannot be used for sequential selections of pairs of rows in color separations such as those for DBJ or mosaics. In those instances, the Arah image, scaled to the appropriate height may be saved, then opened, and processed in Gimp. For DBJ with each color in each design row knitting twice, design the shape and scale in length in Arah, save and open in Gimp for the separation, see post on working with Gimp update for Mac Mosaics: draw the desired repeat in Arah, double it in height, save the image, open in Gimp and proceed with mosaic color separation