A Place for Knitting Machine Enthusiasts
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In this section I talk about 2 very robust software systems, DAK ~ Design A Knit and COCHENILLE Software. They are excellent, versatile, carry options and allow you to deisgn garments and items like a professional designer. They have the ability to make pattern pieces, print instructions on how to knit the item, hand knitting option, stitch design modules and both have sewing modules. I love both of these knitting designs software packages for many of the same reasons and some differences and in my opinion the best out in the market for a serious hobbyist or the professional small business designer.
GARMENT DESIGNER AND STITCH PAINTER
Cochenille Knitting Software is a very robust software suite for machine or hand knitting and sewing. It also has a stitch pattern module called Stitch Painter that integrates with their garment pattern software, like Design A Knit (DAK) and I think it has better garment styling options than DAK 7 Pro did, but with DAK8 I would call it even. If you have Brother, TOYOTA or PASSAP knitting machines, this is definitely a contender amongst your knitting software options, also for any punch card machines. With Silver Reed, Studio knitting machines, if you have purchased a knitting machine with an EC1, I would recommend comparing this software to DAK and SILVERKNIT before you make a decision on which knitting software you want to purchase, if any at all. What I like about this program, is if you sew, and I have found that most knitters do, you can also make sewing patterns. If you knit by hand, you can generate a pattern for hand knitting or machine knitting. For instance, I like to hand knit my pockets on and the collars or other designs elements after I have knitted up the front, back and sleeves of the garment. I use this and have sold my DAK Software and cables because I hated having to set up my computer every time I wanted to knit something, but I also do very preliminary design work so DAK was overkill for me.
The premise of the Garment Desigsner is that a user may choose a standard size to begin the design process. These include Women's 2-50, Men's 32-50, Children's and Infant's, sizes as well as several dolls and even some stuffed animals. Simply choose the menu, and slide up or down to the desired size. Or, if one prefers, he/she may enter one's own personal measurements and create a pattern that works with the shape of their body. Once you've chosen a style, you see a sloper of your body, in green on the screen. The pattern (in black) surrounds the sloper and with the grid feature turned on, one can quickly see how much ease is allowed in any given style.
For further information, one can turn on the garment's dimensions and quickly see a schematic presentation of the garment. To build a garment, you simply choose amongst the numerous menu items in each of the sub design groups; body style, neckline, armhole, shoulder, and sleeve. This mix and match approach provides hundreds of thousands of combinations for the user to explore. In addition, you may add bands or ribs to the garment and the software will understand to remove them when charting a pattern piece. You can also see a top and bottom together on one screen to see if the assemble will work and look the way you want it to.
You can click and drag in this software. You can easily move the points to customize the shaping of your body template that you are working with. In general, the best way to work is to find a combination of styles that gets you close to what you want, and then to click and drag the points around until you achieve the custom garment you want. You may click on any line and move that as well, plus you can see it's length and other info in the info window in the lower corner of the document. Also, what you change on one side is copied on the other side, or mirrored, and this option can be on or off.
What I loooooved about this product is the ability to fuse pieces together and knit an item sideways from sleeve to sleeve, or fuse any other garment pieces that I wanted, or opt to knit, for example, the sleeves as separate pieces. This software also has a kimono sleeve option that I use all the time and with the click and drag option have the ability to modify them in any way I want.
About sleeves, for me the hardest part of knitting, knitting it up and putting it together properly; this software automatically adapts the armhole for your specific sleeve and sleeve cap, which is especially helpful when you tinker about with the cap of the sleeve and then also corrects any neck/collar dimensions. So, this is a "smart" software program.
Darts, you can add darts and the software will instruct proper short-rowing techniques, dependent on the dart and if you are using a cut and sew technique. I know of no other knitting software program that does this, and if you have the patience to use darts it really makes a big difference in fit, especially for those who are busty. Darts are an option on tops, skirts, pants and dresses.
Garment Styler allows one to print out knitting instructions (in a knitters cheat sheet format), which is ideal for machine knitters. It also allows you to print the pattern pieces in full scale as well as half and quarter scale. These are helpful for those who want to draw on the pattern and then use a knit leader/radar to shape the garment and apply intarsia, etc. You may also purchase additional templates and download them into Garment Designer for even more flexibility.
Once the design is finished all pertinent information can be saved, including yarn used, how much yarn, who it was for, stitch and row gauge and the ability to add your own information that you decide with custom boxes.
Wen you do print your knitting and shaping instructions it is a line by line format, so it does take up a lot of paper, that is the one drawback for me. I would rather it print out the instructions, line by line, but only when a change occurs, on the other hand people may like this option.
This item is usually coupled with a product called Stitch Designer. This fabulous design tool is specifically geared to the needs of textile and craft designers of all sorts and made to be user-friendly. Stitch Painter will open endless doors to your creativity, tailoring itself to any design goal that uses a grid, from weaving to needlepoint and cross-stitch to knits.
Stitch Painter operates in a color grid world and everything is counted in stitches and rows. The grid may be setup as square or rectangular, and thus you can use the software for multiple textile arts. Various Plug-in modules customize Stitch Painter further for certain end uses such as stitchery, beading or intelligently importing and color reducing graphic images. You may print directly from Stitch Painter or export in standard formats, thus allowing you to take imagery to publishing packages or other programs.
Stitch Painter currently offers a Standard and a Gold version for Windows and MacIntosh computers. If you want to use any of Stitch Painter's Plug-In's, you will need the Gold version. People who need Symbols will also need the Gold version. As with Garment Designer, you can purchase additional stitch patterns, download them into the software for even more variety.
In Stitch Painter you can also have Grids which can be re-proportioned, scaled down, and/or taken to other applications via the clipboard or export function. Have Grid numbering in your print out, tools that measure in stitches and rows and count stitches of each color. You can also export your stitch designs to DAK, S6 and PASSAP's Creation 6. This stitch deign program can do anything and everything than any other stitch design software program can do.
The future of Cochenille...
Cochenille Garment Designer and Stitch Painter will be growing in a modular way. Any feature that they add to the program that suits more than one craft, will be brought into the general program. Any feature that is craft specific will be brought into an add-on module that users may opt to own. so that you do not have to be bothered with options that have nothing to do with knitting. They have done this because it keeps cost down, allows the program to meet specific needs of the crafter and keeps the menu structure simple. Please visit their website for more information about this very nice software suite. The only small thing I would like to see is the ability to line out the garment directions as it would be easier for me to keep track of where I am when knitting as directions are line by line, and you read it from the bottom up rather than the top of the page down.
I own this software package and really like it and while I have bought the stitch designer option I never use it, only because I do not design colored stitch designs instead I mainly hand tool Susan Guagliumi's designs or use pre-built ones from my EC1 and mylar sheets. I would recommend the Garment Designer to anyone who already owns a stitch designing option such as an EC1, a Brother knitting machine, a punch card knitting machine or any knitting machine really. I would consider this software a much better choice over Great Knit Designs due to its extensive garment patterning versatility and a contender to DAK, but you cannot use Cochenille to work interactively with your knitting machines and that is the only drawback. With Cochenille you will need to print out the instructions or print out the garment patterns for your Knit Radar - Knit Leader. At around $250 this is a real deal for this type of a robust garment designing software with a stitch pattern add on. BUT, if you want to knit interactively DAK wins hands down over anything else in the market. You can demo it before you buy it and COCHENILLE also has it's own Yahoo Group
Issue with Protection: While I really love this software program and I understand the need to protect seat fees I HATE how they have changed the security with it. Before 2012 you just needed a key code, now you must have a usb dongle and have it plugged into your computer AT ALL TIMES when using this software. I hate it because it is small and can easily be lost, if you have pets who chew things up or kids who like to stick things in their mouths it will get damaged. Since the dongle sticks out at least an inch from the usb plug it can break off easily! If ANY of these things happen and you need a new dongle you need to buy another one at around $100!! You would think with all the types of security systems available in the market to protect against piracy or seat fees (how many computers you can have the software installed on), they could have come up with a better option for the end user, the customer. Hopefully, if enough people complain, they will change the way they protect their software.
ABOUT DAK (DESIGNaKNIT) SOFTWARE
DAK is one of the most popular software packages available for machine knitting and design in the hobby world. When you get into professional fashion design, there are software packages that are much more robust but cost from $3,000 and up. This is one option for the requirement of some sort of software when you purchase a Silver Reed/Studio knitting machine in order to do any patterning or stitch designs in the 800 series, and it can cost up to an additional $1,000, above what you paid for your knitting machine, depending on what you need/want. DAK is also compatible with PASSAP, Brother and Studio/Singer, Silver Reed knitting machines. There is a learning curve and if you do not have a laptop, you will need to get one, so yet another expense. There are other options such as SILVERKNIT, a PC10 or if your machine came with an EC1, you can use that. DAK can be used on a Mac despite the information that it cannot, I have seen in used on a Mac Laptop.
DAK has separate cabling system for each brand of machine and a UNIVERSAL CABLE that can be used with non electric machines that allows you to connect DesignaKnit for use as a shaping device (like the Knit Leader or Knit Radar). This cable works on ANY knitting machine, even the plastic bed machines like the LK-150, KX-350, KH-400 and PASSAP Vario, etc... You connect the cable to you PC, the other end is velcro'd to the main bed, the magnet (provided) is attached to the carriage. The cable senses the magnet as it passes by on the carriage and forwards the pattern in DesignaKnit by one row. This cable is the key to making a simple knitting machine very sophisticated. If you have a number of knitting machines, purchase a supply of self-adhesive velcro and stick it on your machines. When you switch machines, just switch the cable and magnet over to the new machine.
DAK is what is called a CAD system, meaning it is a powerfull Computer Aided Design software program that has been made to help you design, really just about anything on your computer rather than hand drawing or writing it, DAK is specific to machine knitting and with version 8 now having a module for hand knitters. DAK allows you to do everything and anything when designing items with the components explained below.
Garment Styling & Original Pattern Drafting:
Open a garment template and then adjust it to your liking such as turning it into a vest, short or long sleeves, with or without a collar. Enter you swatches gauge and DAK will figure out how many rows, stitches and when to and where to shape. You can then modify the garment by opting for one of three different kinds of fit; casual, classic or oversize. You can change styling details such as rib or welt depth, overlap on cardigans and jackets; change the width and depth of the neckline; turn an ordinary set-in sleeve into a puffed sleeve etc... For skirts you can choose what type of skirt to knit, how many panels in a skirt, alter the hem, curve or it's symmetry.
You can create a database with the measurements of your family and friends and/or customers and make custom fitting garments, that is if they will give you their measurements (LOL) and not have to measure someone again. You can keep a certain garment pattern that can be used again and again if it becomes a favorite to someone.
For custom pattern drafting you can use the Original Pattern Drafting option where you have a ton of tools at your fingertips to start a garment design from scratch or import an item from the standard templates available and modify it to your liking. You can display the item in US measurements or metric, scale the piece, rotate, add seam allowance, fuse two or more pieces into one, try out pockets to see if you like them and more. You can have up to 16 garment pieces at a time, you can cut pieces where you want to or fuse them together to accommodate a pattern piece to the width of your knitting machine, for example with belled or kimono sleeves.
You can decide on seam allowance, display measurements in numbers or stitches and rows, insert and remove fabric anywhere on the piece and measure in any way in any direction from one point or point to point. These are just a few things that you can do as the possibilities are endless for your imagination.
Stitch Designer & Graphics Studio:
These tools in DAK are specific to designing stitches for the hand or machine knitter. This is where you can design a stitch pattern, choose one of several printout formats, integrate the stitch pattern into the garment pieces and convert pieces ready for Cut-and-Sew knitting. You can design in color, texture or both up to 800 stitches and over 1,000 rows. You can draw your own designs with the pencil, paintbrushes, fill tools, color exchange option and erasers, fill and outline rectangle and ellipse tools, use your own custom brushes, zoom in and out of your work, import graphics and check your pattern to make sure that you "can" knit it (we sometimes get carried away). Color and texture can be seen at the same time to give you a real good idea what it will look like when knitted and this is great to see if your custom stitch pattern looks good when knitted or if you need to modify it.
You can also check floats at any time during the design process making sure not to have too many or have floats that are too wide since they can catch on things. I find this option important and useful as I can see the progress of my stitch patterns and it's floats at any time during the process, decide and designate how many floats are acceptable and then to make adjustments accordingly in real time, rather then finishing and then going back in to make changes.
The BEST thing for me about this tool, is that I can place garment pieces next to each other that have a stitch pattern and make sure that the stitch pattern matches perfectly from one piece to another. That way your garment, when finished, won't have 1/2 of the design cut off at a seam, instead you would have matched the stitch patterns at the seam so that the stitch patterns look seamless. I love, love, love that, it makes my final knits looks so much better.
The DesignaKnit Graphics Studio is a sophisticated program within DesignaKnit for processing graphics files, whether original computer-generated art or scanned images to digital photographs, and rendering them as stitch patterns. You can fine tune the image into stitch designs to include how many stitches and rows, have complete control over the color, the ability to grab the graphic anywhere and move it to any angle and look at it at any stage to see if you are managing floats and colors per row well. Then you finally prepare it for knitting, either by hand, by machine, or interactively by machine.
Printing options can be in full color and actual size or you can scale the design and you can experiment for cut and sew techniques, another option before you start knitting and then cutting up your fabric.
The Lace Tool:
The Lace Tool is a special add-on for Stitch Designer. Click on the tool and you can draw lace patterns instantly, as they will look when knitted, leaving DesignaKnit to work out the lace carriage passes and settings. You can design lace for Brother and Silver Reed electronic machines, Brother and Silver Reed punch card machines and Toyota Machines. The Lace Tool is great for hand-knitted patterns too as it allows the designer complete freedom.
You can draw lace or fine lace stitch patterns, or mix the two together if your machine permits it. You can create designs with lace and Fair Isle patterns to sit together on the same row, or next to each other on different rows and DAK will let you know when to use the lace carriage or the regular carriage or when to knit lace versus fine lace. DAK can produce a punch card template for you to use with a blank punch card for punch card knitting machines, so no guessing.
Which lace options and stitch mixing that are available are dependent on which knitting machine line you choose to purchase your knitting machine from. Brother knitting machines offer different options than Silver Reed knitting machines, over TOYOTA machines, etc..
Interactive Knitting: Knit from the COMPUTER SCREEN
To knit interactively, you must have the correct cable system and a knitting machine that can accommodate this option, meaning electronic. Needles to say this negates the need for a knit radar or knit leader and a row counter. You can choose instructions for swatch only, garment only or integrated Stitch Pattern and Garment Piece, have row by row instructions for shaping and color changes and you can have either a beep or an actual voice tell you what to do (it is a mechanical voice). In addition to the voice or beep options, which you can turn off, you have a row counter that counts down as you knit and your yarn colors are shown in the window that you are currently knitting, so you are sure to be knitting with the correct yarn color. This software is compatible with automatic color changes also.
You also watch your progress on screen so you see everything as it is being knitted in real time, and if you need to rip back, it will tell you how to do that also and where to pick up the pattern when you restart knitting. Also, neckline shaping includes full instructions on how to reset for the second side, which is something that comes handy for me as I always forget something.
As you can see this is a very robust software and it has a very tough learning curve, not too bad though it is user friendly once you know it, so I would encourage you to buy Cathie Sanders' DAK Tutorials at Northtipton as you can learn everything you need to know about DAK from these CD tutorials and learn interactively. With Cathie's CD's you can open up two windows, one with DAK and the other window having the tutorial and as the lessons progress you can follow along in your DAK window. It is in my opinion the absolute best way to learn DAK and no book or any other type of lesson programs out there come even close to her CD tutorials. She has also written almost 20 articles about this software program and I would consider her the most knowledgeable that I know of.
Paint Shop Pro (PSP) Plug-in for DESIGNaKNIT is available on CD or Diskette. The Paint Shop Pro Plug-In allows any version of Paint Shop Pro to read and open DESIGNaKNIT .PAT format files. Which ever version of DAK you own, the plug-in lets you open the .PAT files in PSP and use the powerful editing features of PSP to work on your design. There is FREE LESSONS for this software plug in that Kathleen Kinder and Northtipton offer on the internet FOR FREE. They are kind enough to post this information for anyone to learn from.
As with all software, I would encourage you to check out SoftBytes website for any software patches for the different cable systems or updates for the software. Here is a link to their site: http://www.softbyte.co.uk/intro.htm
A WORD ON TECHNICAL SUPPORT:
(2012) Technical support for this program in the USA comes from KnitKraft, they are the sole distributor for this software program in the USA. The owner of KnitKraft is a very nice gentleman BUT the person who actually supports this software is very, very difficult to work with. Since they have no competition in the area of support little can be done about the nasty disposition of the support person. Unfortunately, you will just have to deal with her, her rudeness, and the limited support that "she" feels is appropriate. If your interaction with her was as poor as mine I suggest that you complain to the owner of KnitKraft, maybe if enough people complain something will finally be done about it. I do not know if this has changed.
In 2011 DAK upgraded to version 8 and one of the many additional options with DAK 8 is that you can create stitches in Stitch Designer, save the file to the PC10 format and put it on your compact flash card. Why you would have a PC10 when you already have DAK confuses me but, when you’ve saved the file to the compact flash card, you can then put the card into your Silver Reed PC10 device and have it send the pattern to your carriage. Here is the pamphlet for you to donwload
As a side note, Cathie Sanders wrote an interesting article about DAK and Cochenille Design Studio software, and if they can be used in tandem, the article for your reading is on her website and here for you to download: DAK & COCHENILLE. I have both software systems and like them both for different reasons.
DAK will cost you about $500+, then the different modules are $125 and up and the cable systems an additional $250 - $700 depending on which knitting machine you use. The Hand Knitting Module is bundles with DAKPro 8. You will need some sort of lessons whether in person or with Cathie's DAK Tutorials if you are new to DAK and well worth it.
This software suite by far is the most expensive but also the most versatile and robust knitting machine software on the market for serious hobbyists or fledgling designers.
Design A Knit & COCHENILLE Software