Tools of the Trade:
StitchinKnit™—A Symbol Font
In knitting as in life, we tend to take things for granted—especially where patterns are concerned. A skilled designer, technical editor, graphic designer, and/or publisher will make even the most complicated patterns look easy.
Charts are among the most underappreciated and overlooked component of good pattern design. Experienced designers usually have their own repertoire of chart symbols, some of which can differ from designer to designer, publisher to publisher. Other designers rely on third-party knitwear design or charting software to create the charts using its symbols.
The Need for Easy Symbols
New designers have been challenged to find attractive symbols that they can easily use for charts—and here's where Adriana Hernandez enters the picture. A set designer and printmaker, Hernandez also designs fonts and sells them through her type foundry, Adriprints.
Fonts have contained symbols for years now—Zapf Dingbats being perhaps the most memorable example—and Adriana realized that she could create a whole "alphabet" of crochet-themed symbols and offer them as a font as well. Her first release, StitchinCrochet™, was an elegant and complete font family for crochet designers. Next, she turned her attention to knitting, and the result is StitchinKnit™.
Getting StitchinKnit™ Up and Running
StitchinKnit™ consists of three font "families"—the standard font, a thicker "Chunky" version, and a fun "Hand Condensed Thin" version that appears hand-drawn (by someone with artistic talent). All three fonts sell as a packaged download for $6.
Once you purchase and download the font (available in Open Type OTF or Windows/Mac TTF formats), you simply install it on your machine as you would install any font. In the PC/Windows environment, you open "Fonts" from your Control Panel, click "File - Install new font," find and select the downloaded font files, click "ok," and then enjoy them wherever you'd normally use a font.
Of course if you're using the symbols to chart actual stitch patterns, you'll need to place them within an actual grid—something no font is set up to create for you. You can create a grid using a sophisticated graphic design program, such as Adobe Illustrator, or you can create a table in a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, and graph your stitches that way.
To get you up and running, the font comes with a three-page PDF that explains which keys create which symbols. The PDF also includes a helpful graphical representation of the symbols superimposed on an actual drawing of a keyboard. Each key creates two different symbols depending on whether or not you press the "shift" key.
All of the most common chart symbols are here, and in some cases Hernandez gives you multiple options. For example, for the SSK you can use or depending on your preference.
You'll also find symbols for everything from bobbles and eyelets to twisted reverse stitches, many kinds of cables, increases, and decreases, and even the humble black square or X to mark no stitch at all. Of course, you're free to use the symbols for whatever purpose you'd like, regardless of how Hernandez has translated them.
Pros and Cons
In addition to the knitting symbols, this font file also includes a collection of many standard yarn/fabric care symbols—handwash, machine wash, no iron, etc. They're helpful if you wish to make your own yarn care labels, although not all designers will need them. But still...you never know when they might come in handy.
As visually fun and attractive as the handwritten symbols are, I suspect they won't see much use among knitwear designers who sell their patterns to the public—for the simple reason that the handwriting requires a little more concentration to decipher. But then again, you never know.
Appealing to the Pros
Speaking of knitwear designers who sell their patterns, StitchinKnit™ was definitely created with professional designers in mind. It's sold with a generous commercial license that permits you to use the fonts in charts for your own published designs—whereas many other fonts and downloads are limited to personal use only.
Adriana does make one gentle request in the readme file: "This font was baked from scratch for you to enjoy. The purchase of this font supports my ability to create more of them. Please reference my font and my copyrights and/or trademark on all commercial, published, or distributable uses. Thank you!"
A fair request. Considering all you can do with this tool, the time it will save you, and the visual impact it can have on even your most casual knitterly doodles, I'd consider this tool $6 well spent.