Knit Companion App: A Review
When we finally got an IPad, one of the first things I did was search for knitting apps. I quickly stumbled upon Knit Companion and downloaded the free version. The concept is this: instead of printing out a paper pattern and cutting it up or marking it up to suit your own personal needs or workflow you do all that with a .pdf copy in your app. The app comes with a free version, so you can play without paying.
It comes with lots of help videos that are specific to the part of the app you’re in, which is a great service for the user. Another great thing is that the app designer offers free one-hour online seminars to introduce you to the app and give you the chance to ask questions, so I signed up and completed one recently. They run pretty frequently, so I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has been through one.
The class is structured to show you what you can do in the free version, introduce you to some of the limitations in it, then, understandably, make the case for the full version.
Free Version Features
In the free version, you can import .pdfs very easily from your computer or Ravelry or other internet downloads. These get stored in your PDFs section of the app. Once you want to work on one, you can create it as a Project with your own title and can choose which pages of the .pdf you want in your project. One of the most useful things for me so far has been the row marker. The free version has a sliding bar you can move down your pattern, as well as a moveable dot you can place within a row to remind you of your place. No matter how you move the page around or zoom in or zoom out, the markers absolutely keep your spot. No need to hit save when closing the app, either – it will just reliably remember your place. It’s supposed to sync across devices, too, though I haven’t played with that yet, so I can’t attest to it.
I will say that I have hit one glitch with the sliding row marker – when using it on my iPhone (vs. larger iPad) on a .pdf that I created by scanning a book page into my computer, I sometimes lose the slider when I zoom in because of the smaller screen. It doesn’t lose my place – I just can’t move the slider until I zoom out, then in again.
The free version also features multiple stitch and row counters (which I don’t use in real life, so I haven’t personally found much use for in the app, though I’m sure they’d be valuable to most people).
Paid Version Features
Now, here’s where they get fancy. I completely understand that the goal of app development is to make money, so they saved some of the whizz bang for the paid version. In that, you get the ability to create what are called Designs. Now, there are a few Designs already loaded into the free version for you to play. What you can do with a Design is everything you could do by printing out a paper copy of a pattern and messing with it. You can rearrange the pages or sections. You can place charts next to their symbol keys. You can take notes, flag/highlight notes for yourself (like highlighting a section where it says something like, “Change needle size here, you idiot!!” Because I’ve never been guilty of flying right past that step. Ever.) You also get the stitch counters and upgraded row markers for both the text and charts. All of this personalization takes a little time to set up, but that’s the point – it’s personalized to your tastes and needs.
As I mentioned, you get a few of these “Designs” all set up for you in the free version. There have also been several Designs published, ready to go, on Patternfish. Have to confess I haven’t played with Patternfish myself – anyone else?
Besides the glitch I mentioned before, there’s one major one for me – so major, in fact, that it will probably prevent me from buying the full version. That’s the fact that the paid version is not a one-time deal – it’s a subscription. To create your own Designs (cutting up, rearranging, and marking up your own .pdfs), you have to pay $0.99 for one month or $9.99 for a year. There were some lucky early adopters who got grandfathered in when they purchased a lifetime membership, but those are not available anymore. Even so, I was considering trying it for a month to see what I thought. Then came the real kicker – to keep your Designs, you have to keep your membership. (*See below for an update to this.*) This means that if you get a subscription, spend the time to personalize a .pdf pattern to your tastes, then let your subscription lapse, your Design is gone. I don’t know about you, but I just couldn’t get past that part. The thing that kept coming to my mind was the contrast with Craftsy.com classes. There, you pay an up-front fee per class, and the videos, course materials, and your personal notes are yours forever.
To be clear – the free Designs in the free version and any Designs you purchase for Knit Companion through Patternfish are always yours to keep and use, even in the free version. But if you want to create your own, you’dbetter keep that subscription going forever.
Have you played with Knit Companion? Free version or paid subscription? What’s your impression? Has it changed how you knit, especially while on the go? And what other knitting apps do you like? Leave a comment and let me know!
* 8 August 2015 addendum: I have learned that if you let your subscription slide, you DO get to keep the advanced personalized patterns (“designs”) you’ve created. So take that into consideration when deciding whether you want to try this out!