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Story: How One Knitter Met SweaterMaker
Marta had been a machine knitter for 10 years. She knew her machine inside and out. She knew how to chart set-in sleeve sweater patterns, had done it for years with paper, pencil, and calculator. She belonged to a knitting club that met once a month for show-and-tell of their latest projects.
Her husband Dan encouraged Marta to learn how to use their home computer to design her sweaters. So did her knitting club friend Patty. But the women in her group talked about how expensive the software was, and that it was hard to use, and you pretty much had to take lessons to figure out how to use it. “No, thanks,” Marta said. “I have my way to chart my sweaters and it suits me fine.”
One October morning, Marta and Patty were visiting at Marta's kitchen table. “Marta,” Patty said, “I brought my laptop. I want to show you the knitting software I bought.” She reached down to pick up her computer out her bag.
Marta frowned. “Oh, Patty, not again."
Just then, Marta’s daughter Amy burst in through the side door of the house and into the kitchen. “Hi, Patty," she said. "Oh, Mom, I had the greatest idea for the Christmas card this year! Let's have a family portrait taken of all of us, you and all the kids and their families. Three generations of family! Won’t that be terrific?”
“Oh, honey,” Marta said, “What a wonderful idea!”
“And here’s the kicker, Mom: we’ll all be wearing matching sweaters that you made for us!”
Marta’s smile faltered.
Amy continued happily, “It will be so cool! Like we’re all members of a very exclusive, private club. From three-year-old Benny to seventy-whatever dad is, all the same. Can you do it for me, Mom? Please please please please PLEASE???”
Marta said, “Of course, honey, if it will make you happy.”
“Ooh, Mom, thank you! I hoped you’d say that. Here.” She fished a folded sheet of paper out of her purse. “This is a list of everyone’s sizes, and the sweater I want. I have it all designed in my head.”
Marta studied the paper. “Saddle shoulders,” she murmured. She had never knitted a saddle shoulder sweater in her life.
Patty looked over Marta's shoulder. "Cardigans," she commented. "With V-necks and plain hems. These will be beautiful."
“Yes!” Amy said. “They’re all the rage now.’
Marta said, “And you want the sweaters done…when?”
“Well, let’s see, we have to give the post office at least a couple of weeks to deliver the cards before Christmas, and we have to give the photographer a few weeks to print the photos and make copies, so the sweaters have to be done, oh, say, the first week of November.”
Marta protested, “That’s three weeks from now!”
Amy nodded. “I know, I know, it’s not much time."
Patty wrapped her arm around Marta's shoulder, "No problem, Amy! The gals in club and I can help."
Amy reached down and hugged them both. "Thank you, thank you. This will be so terrific!” She glanced at her watch. “Oh, gee, I have to go.” She kissed her mother on the cheek. “I’ll buy the yarn and bring it over this afternoon. You can use the time until then to design the sweaters. Okay? See you later, Mom! Nice seeing you again, Patty!” The door closed and the room was quiet again.
"Well." Patty studied the paper. "Look at this. Twelve different sizes. And they're saddle shoulders. How many saddle shoulder sweaters have you designed?"
"Well, they're just like set-in sleeves, right? I've designed hundreds of them over the years. The only difference is those little saddle things. I can do this. How hard can it be?" She gathered pencils and paper, her booklet of standard sizes and calculator, and got to work. “I’ll start with the smallest one, for the three-year-old,” she decided.
Patty smiled at her friend. "Well, if you need any help, give me a call." She packed up her laptop and left.
Marta grinned. She would show Patty. This was easy. She could chart a sweater, any sweater. But twenty minutes later, Marta was near tears with frustration. The math was tricky. That little saddle threw off everything familiar, just enough that she kept making errors.
Two days later, Patty got a phone call from Dan, Marta's husband. "Patty, can you come over?" he said urgently.
"Why, what's wrong?"
"Just--come over. As soon as you can."
Patty dropped everything and drove to her friend's house. Dan answered the door. He looked worried. "Am I ever glad you're here." He reached out and pulled her inside.
"What's going on?" Patty stared into the living room. On the carpet was a large opened box containing many cones of yarn. The family computer was turned on showing a page on the Internet. Beyond the living room, she could see the dining room table covered with papers, many of them crumpled into balls. Marta sat at the dining room table, leaning back in her chair, her arms crossed, her expression dark with frustration.
Patty exchanged looks with Dan. She walked tentatively to Marta. "Hi, Marta."
Marta didn't answer.
"How is the charting going?"
Marta wailed, “Why did I ever agree to this? I should have my head examined. I can chart set-in sweaters and dropped shoulders, they’re work but at least I’m familiar with them. But saddle shoulders? Who ever thought they were a good idea? That little saddle keeps throwing me off, just enough to make math errors. It's so confusing! This is harder than I thought it would be.”
"Let me help you," Patty said.
"No!" Marta snapped. "I can do it myself."
"Of course you can," Patty said soothingly. "But why should you? It would be faster and easier using the computer."
"I can do it myself," Marta insisted. She sat up and began writing and punching buttons on her calculator.
Patty turned to Dan and asked softly, "Did you get SweaterMaker, like I asked you to the last time I was here?"
He nodded. "Downloaded it this morning."
"Good." Patty fished a piece of paper out of her purse with writing on it. "These are all the sweaters Marta's supposed to design and knit. Start up SweaterMaker, and plug in the numbers. Do the biggest one. It's a man’s size 42, saddle shoulder cardigan, with a V-neck and one-by-one ribbing at the waist and wrist."
He took the paper. "Patty, I've watched you two knit for a lot of years, but I don't even know how to knit, much less how to use this software."
Patty grinned. "Just get as far as you can, and if you need help, holler."
He nodded doubtfully and left.
Patty turned back to her friend. "Marta, stop."
Marta continued scribbling. Patty could see her friend was just writing down meaningless, random numbers.
Marta sat back abruptly, crossing her arms. "What? You want to point out how stupid I am?"
Patty pulled out a chair and sat across from her friend. "Marta, there comes a point where you have to just stop wasting your time with the tedious stuff."
Patty continued, "Are you enjoying what you're doing?"
"Do I look like I'm enjoying what I'm doing?"
"No, you don't. You need to chart twelve sweaters. How many have you done?"
For answer, Marta got up and went to the bedroom that served as her knitting room. She returned a moment later with a pile of knitted pieces. Most were partway done, ragged edges, none of them blocked. She tossed the pile on top of her paperwork. "These are what I've done so far. Not one of them is right."
Patty said gently, "Marta, honey, you are an experienced, skilled knitter. You have a good eye for choosing colors and textures, you're an expert with joining pieces and keeping track of shaping changes, putting in those small decorations that make a garment special. How many of your sweaters have won prizes? How many people have been lucky enough to receive one? You should be spending time doing what you love, and what you're good at. This stuff--" she waved at the paperwork on the table--"this stuff is just boring, tedious math. This is just the groundwork that has to be done before you can do what you're best at."
Marta wiped her eye.
Patty continued, "What if you could finally do away with all this paperwork, and just focus on doing the fun part?"
Just then, Dane called from the living room, “Honey, what is your stitch and row gauge?”
Marta answered automatically. “Seven and a half stitches and ten rows per inch.” She caught herself and said, “What do you need that for?”
Patty said, "He's charting a sweater."
Marta stared. "Dan? He doesn't even know how to knit."
"He doesn't need to. Not really."
"But--but the ladies in club said that computers were hard and you have to take lessons to use them."
"That's true for some knitting software. Not this one."
"And they're expensive. We're on a limited budget."
"This one cost less than sixty dollars."
"And they take a long time to chart the sweater."
At that moment, Dane entered the kitchen, smiling triumphantly and carrying a pile of papers. He pushed aside the papers on the table, leaving a bare spot, and with great ceremony, placed the papers in the empty spot. "Madam, your pattern. Done."
Marta stared at him. "What is this?"
Patty smiled. "Take a look."
She turned to him in astonishment. “Where did you get this?”
He smiled. “On the computer.”
She squinted. “You did? So fast? How?”
He grinned. “I ordered some software online, downloaded it straight to my PC. Installed it, and fired it up. I plugged in the numbers Patty gave me, and voila! Your pattern, your size, your sweater features, all ready to go.”
Marta stared at him, at the papers, bursting with questions. Finally she said, “Show me.”
They walked to the living room where computer was. Dan gestured at the chair. She shook her head. “You do it.”
He shrugged and sat down. “Okay,” he said, “now, I’m not an expert, but here’s the page where I set everything up.” He clicked his mouse and the screen changed. “Here’s where you set the kind of body you want. I put it on saddle shoulder, see? And here’s where I set it to V-neck, and here’s where I set it to being a cardigan. And here’s where I set the size. Men's here, forty-two here.”
Marta saw. Even with her limited computer experience, this seemed simple enough. “Okay, so how did you get the pictures?”
He clicked the mouse and a new picture appeared on the screen. “Like that.”
“Yes. It makes the pictures all by itself—I didn’t do anything except print them.”
“What about the instructions?”
“Same thing. It just does it itself.”
“Move,” said Marta, nudging his shoulder.
“Move. I want to try it.”
Dan smiled again. “I thought you didn’t like computers.”
She made a fist. “We can make this hard, or we can make this easy. Move.”
Dan got out of the chair. Marta sat down, took the mouse. It took her a little practice to get the arrow to move where she wanted it to go, and she had to concentrate to press the correct mouse button. But it sure seemed awfully easy. What was the catch? There must be something hard about this. She pressed on, certain she'd find the catch somewhere.
Within an hour, she had designed all twelve sweaters.
She carried the pile of patterns into the kitchen. Patty was quietly unraveling the knitted pieces had not worked out winding the yarn into a ball. Dan sat reading the newspaper. Marta showed her patterns to them. “I don’t get it. I just don’t get it,” she said.
“What? Something go wrong?”
“No! That’s not it at all.” She dropped the patterns on the table, atop her pile of scribbled-up pages. “The gals in my knitting club said that using computers was hard. This wasn’t at all! They said the program was expensive. It wasn’t! I don’t get it.”
Patty shrugged. “They must have been using something else.”
Marta took a long look at her pile of hand-written calculations. Then at the printouts she’d made. Back at the calculations. She inhaled deeply, sighed, scooped up her handwritten calculations, and put them in the recycling bin under the sink. She turned to her friend and her husband. “Okay, I admit it. You were right. I have better things to do than sit around punching calculator buttons,” she said. “Like knit some sweaters.”
Wondering if SweaterMaker will run on your computer? If you're running Windows or a Mac, see the table below. If you're running anything else, please e-mail me.
You may be wondering, "Will SweaterMaker's drawings print on my printer?"
SweaterMaker works essentially like a boss, a middle manager, and a worker. SweaterMaker says to Windows, "Hey, I want a copy of this and this, print it out for me." Windows says, "Yes, ma'am." It turns to the printers already installed on a computer, "Hey, I want a copy of this and this, print it out for me." The printer says, "Yes, sir," and prints.
In other words, if you can already print documents and pictures using a printer installed on your computer, you will be able to print SweaterMaker documents and pictures. It doesn't matter what make or model the printer is. SweaterMaker doesn't do the work, Windows and the printer do.
A dart is a fold sewn into a fabric to make a bulge, or pucker. The most common place for a dart is in the bustline of a woman’s shirt. Another place might be the lower front of a shirt for a pregnant woman, or very large man.
SweaterMaker doesn’t give you a way to create darts.
But SweaterMaker does give you 38,830 Built-in Sweaters!
And it will chart every one of them for you with your own stitch and row gauges. And you can customize some of the dimensions of your sweater, which effectively makes the number of sweaters you can make...not infinite, but very, very large.
38,830 sweaters? That's already large! Where do we get this number?
Every time you design a sweater, you choose one style from the “Options” column in the table below.
(If you’re interested in the exact math I used to get that number, click here to see my calculations.)
Those are just the built-in sweaters. You can also customize the dimensions of your sweaters to anything you want them to be.
For example, suppose you wanted to make a short-sleeved shirt with a sleeve that ended halfway down your upper arm. First you would choose one option in each row in the above table. Then you would change two measurements:
You may be wondering, "How complicated is SweaterMaker?"
Or, "Is it easy to use?"
I would love to tell you, "Yes! It's easy!" But don't take my word for it. Let me show you some "screen shots" of SweaterMaker in action. A screen shot is just a picture of what is displayed on your computer's monitor when some application is running.
I ran SweaterMaker as it charted patterns for all seven body styles, and took screen shots of the pieces as they went by. Click Screen Shots to see SweaterMaker in operation. For example, you'll see what the vertical Dolman sweater looks like--you will be knitting it all in one big piece!
I offer a money-back guarantee for SweaterMaker. Try it for a full 30 days. If it's not what you're looking for, or if it doesn't run on your computer for whatever reason, uninstall the program from your computer, return the manual and CD, and we'll refund the cost of the software (but not shipping). No risk to you.
We accept cash, checks, money orders, and cashier's checks through postal orders, or credit cards through PayPal.
For postal or easy PayPal ordering: Send me an e-mail. Tell me what you'd like to order, give me your mailing address, and I'll send you a PayPal invoice. Either mail me a check for the specified amount, or complete the PayPal invoice, and I will send you your order.