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Creative Outreach Toolkit

Tools and resources to create and host a collections-based creative project or outreach event.

Pattern Creation Software

  • Stitchfiddle: Free online software for easy creation of colourwork charts for knitting, cross-stitch, crochet or embroidery. Users can pay to upgrade for access to more features, however the base level free membership is powerful and useful in adapting uploaded photos into charts, or for drawing your own charts from scratch in the platform. 

  • Chartminder: Free online platform for colourwork pattern creation. Note, charts created in the platform are public by default. To create charts that are private, you must pay a subscription fee. 

  • Knitbird: Knitting pattern and colourwork software available for free download. Allows import of images or pattern creation from scratch. 


Pattern Creation Tips

  • Contrast: Colourwork patterns usually look best with highly-contrasting colours, such as black and white. Colours that are too close in hue can end up looking "muddy" and indistinct. A good tip to determining if two yarns will work well with each other -- and that your colourwork pattern will stand out -- is to take a picture of your yarns next to each other with your cell phone camera and change the image to black and white/greyscale. 
  • Length of floats: Most handknitters prefer floats of 3 or less, and very few people enjoy knitting floats that are longer than 5. Keep this in mind when designing a pattern. Also remember that if floats are caught at the same stitch for multiple rows in a row, this can distort the pattern -- you may wish to add some background elements to break up long chunks of floats.

  • Number of colours: Most handknitters prefer working with only 2 colours on a single row, and it is extremely challenging to knit with more than 3 colours in one row. Try to limit yourself to 2 colours per row.

  • What types of images translate well: The more detailed an image is, the harder it is to translate into colourwork. Try choosing simpler images, keeping in mind that you will be limited in terms of how many colours you can use and how much detail you'll be able to provide. Figures that are horizontal (think a fence) rather than vertical (think a bookcase) work better for most knitting patterns. Finally, remember that it is often easiest to create a small icon and repeat it rather than to create a large, detailed chart.

  • Image prep work: To ensure that a chosen image will translate well, consider cropping any background as much as possible so that you don't have to remove any distractions later on. Focus on small figures that can be translated to a small, repeatable icon. 

  • For stitch numbers and sizing: Tin Can Knits offers a free, DIY colourwork pattern at multiple yarn weights (fingering, DK, and worsted) for hats and cowls called Anthology. This is an excellent pattern to start with and to use as a basis for your own maths.

  • Above all, remember that this process should be fun, and focus on the types of things that you enjoy knitting!


Free Tutorials:

Contact a Librarian

Jacquelyn Sundberg, Outreach Librarian
@Wellsinton on Ravelry

Kristen Howard, Liaison Librarian

@theclosestknit on Ravelry

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