June 28th 2014

Ever wish you could easily convert an image in to a knitting pattern? — Then you would probably be interested in Knitwit which tries to make it as easy as possible to create your own knitting patterns in your browser.

The Knitwit landing page

The Knitwit landing page

I made Knitwit for my girlfriend who is an avid knitter, but since it's mostly just sitting around I feel like I might as well share it with the rest of the world. I should add that Knitwit is free and has no ads. It's even open source if you want to contribute and know python or javascript: github.com/arnfred/Knitwit.

The concept is simple. You upload an image, crop it and select the most important colors. Then you specify the number of stitches and click generate to adore your beautiful finished knitting pattern.

Picking an image

Because knitting patterns are usually made with few colors it's usually best to use an image that is pretty simple in terms of colors. The logo of your favorite sports team or an art piece by Roy Lichtenstein make great candidates. A photo of your best friends face is a little harder to make nice, but if you really want to knit a selfie I included a webcam option so you can take a picture then and there.

I picked this robo-crab as an example

I picked this robo-crab as an example

Crop and colors

Next you crop the image and pick the colors. Usually the crop step is a bit superflous because I want to use the whole image, but it's nice to have when you occasionally want to keep only a detail of your image. Picking the colors is pretty important on the other hand. Usually a knitting pattern should only contain a few colors, so when you make a pattern you want to point out the most important colors in the image:

Adding the black color

Adding the black color

To adjust a color, click on it and then anywhere in the image to pick that exact color. In the screenshot above you can see that I'm selecting the black color since it's outlined with a blue border. You can in theory add as many colors as you want to, but try not to overdo it or your pattern will eventually be unknittable.

Width and Gauge

Before generating the pattern you have the option of specifying width and gauge. The width is the horizontal number of sticthes while the gauge is the amount of stitches you knit in a 4 by 4 inch swatch. To get a perfect non-distorted image you will probably get the best results by knitting a 4 by 4 inch swatch in the yarn you plan to use and count the amount of rows and columns and that information in the form:

The form for specifying width and gauge

The form for specifying width and gauge

In reality the gauge form only cares about the ratio of the two fields, so if you input the numbers from a 2 by 2 inch swatch or a 4 by 4 inch swatch doesn't really matter. Ultimately the generated pattern is adjusted in height to reflect the knitted pattern:

Pattern with 40 by 40 gauge

Pattern with 40 by 40 gauge

Pattern with 30 by 40 gauge. Notice how there are many more rows in the pattern and how each cell is flatter.

Pattern with 30 by 40 gauge. Notice how there are many more rows in the pattern and how each cell is flatter.

Final adjustments

Once the pattern is generated you can adjust the last few details. Most importantly you can change all colors to match your yarn and see what works best:

Fancier colors

Fancier colors

If you want to reduce the amount of colors you can select any of the colors and merge it with another color. Any squares in the pattern colored with either colors will then be colored the same color.

Finally for those who want to print the pattern on a black and white printer or who prefer patterns containing symbols better, you can click on the show symbols button to let each square in the pattern have a symbol instead of a color:

Using symbols instead of colors

Using symbols instead of colors

You can also click on each square to cycle through the colors and fine tune the pattern.

Finishing up

Once you are done you can save and share the pattern online and save and print the image to get started with the knitting. Try it out here: Knitwit.

The cover image is of a piece made by Lisbeth W. Johannsen and photographed by Boye Jensen.