Knitrino co-founder Andrea Cull demonstrates the app.
Today’s consumer is used to having the world at their fingertips. From two-hour deliveries to an endless supply of streaming video, we’ve come to expect instantaneous and seamless content, whenever we want it. When it comes to knitting patterns, though, little has changed since the advent of digital patterns in the early 2000s.
PDF patterns may have more external links to video tutorials, but otherwise, they look pretty similar to the way they were when Ravelry first took off in 2007. At a time when a seamless experience is a holy grail, the piecemeal state of knitting patterns is ripe for another market disruption. That’s where Knitrino comes in. This new app hopes to change the way knitters knit by harnessing the power of technology.
The current state of knitting patterns
Knitting patterns are a set of line by line instructions, not unlike lines of computer code. There are inherent limitations built in.
First, the knitter needs to follow each line of the instructions in order. A knitter needs something to mark her place amid distractions and pauses (remember, knitting a sweater can take months). Options include things like a sticky note, a mechanical counter, a magnetic pattern place-holder, or a counting app.
Second, when a knitter purchases a pattern for a sweater, all the sizes are embedded inside. In order to knit a size small, she needs a system to ignore the extraneous information. She could use a highlighter or PDF editor, but without a system the pattern information gets very confusing.
Third, a sweater contains hundreds of lines, and for brevity, a designer doesn’t write out every single line individually. In most patterns, lines of instructions are condensed into repeating sections. These repeats are above and beyond what a mechanical counter can handle. Yet another mechanism is required to manage this aspect of pattern-tracking.
Now, what happens when a pattern contains an unusual stitch, or simply one the knitter is unfamiliar with? Many designers include descriptions of stitches at the front of the pattern or links to videos on the inside, which is very helpful. But basic stitches are often not given additional instruction, leaving newer knitters to also require a knitting instruction book or to scroll through online tutorials looking for help. Toss your phone or tablet in with the knitting must-haves.
Clearly we live at a time when countless hours of video tutorials are available, as well as hundreds of thousands of patterns. But with so much at their fingertips, a knitter looking to ‘just sit and knit’, managing the menagerie of paper goods and notions required to follow along with a pattern is frustrating. The experience lacks integration. It’s a problem ripe for innovation.
From PDFs to an interactive app
Knitrino aims to integrate all of this information by creating an app for interactive knitting patterns that’s designed from the bottom up with the knitter’s needs in mind.
Inspired by “tales of heartache, like sweaters with massive errors because the knitter looked at the wrong size instructions,” sisters and founders Alison Yates and Andrea Cull explain:
“The surprising piece to us was that in a market where people spend hundreds of dollars on beautiful hand-dyed yarn it’s often an $8 PDF pattern that’s the major source of their pain.”
Sisters Alison Yates and Andrea Cull are co-founders of Knitrino.
The Knitrino app features a marketplace of specially-designed, interactive knitting patterns that allow knitters to engage with the pattern in a completely novel way.
Designed to be an all-in-one knitting pattern experience, the app shows row-by-row pattern instructions of only the current size being knit, alleviating an issue that has caused much knitting-heartbreak. There’s also a progress keeper, a note-taking feature and a colorwork option that shows color charts in the knitter’s selected yarn colors. Every stitch is active, meaning that users can click on a stitch and head to a tutorial or video while inside their pattern.
By creating interactive knitting patterns that combine tutorials and videos with place-keeping and note-taking tools, in addition to a marketplace, Yates and Cull have no doubt Knitrino is the future of knitting.
“Technology continues to shape the way we learn. We think technology can enhance knitting while still honoring its roots; we can be nimble about the different ways people learn while providing smarter tools that remove barriers,” the sister’s say. “As a small example, imagine how much simpler it will be if you’re just learning and you can simply click on a stitch to view a tutorial.”
Behind the app
Cull is a knitwear designer who has been featured in Interweave Knits, knitscene, and Pom Pom Quarterly among other publications. Yates didn’t even knit when the project began, but with a passion for innovation and business experience, she knew there was a start-up opportunity when Cull regularly discussed the frustrations in her knitting life.
The sisters fully understand have taken on a massive development undertaking. When asked about the technology, they say, “There’s a reason most of the knitting apps out are just PDF readers. That’s easy. What we’re building is difficult. Not only do we have to build the framework for Knitrino, creating and defining every stitch type, every motif, every pattern, but we also have to build new tools just to create the interactive patterns. We’re actually creating multiple pieces of software – one to generate the pattern on the back end and one that knitters will use on their phones.”
Even though each pattern needs to be built from scratch (as it’s not possible to simply ‘convert’ a PDF pattern into an interactive one), the sisters know they’re on the right track.
“Each pattern we offer has to be manually built by us. But every time we show Knitrino to knitters and we see their jaws drop and hear audible gasps, our hearts do tiny backflips, and we know it’s completely worth it.”
The app is scheduled to enter beta testing in late Spring and be released Summer 2020 for IOS and Android. The app is free, with users paying only for the patterns they purchase.
A focus on community
Aside from the technological achievement, Yates and Cull are keen harness technology’s ability to connect others. “Knitting is community-oriented. We think community is a vitally important part of craft, in particular for those who live in ‘yarn deserts’ or isolated areas. Technology empowers us to connect people from all walks of life, and to give us a common thread in an increasingly disconnected and polarized society.”
Stacey Trock helps small businesses in the craft industry put their best foot forward in the digital world. She specializes in developing a company’s branding, marketing + social media to build customer-loyalty, community-building and engagement. She writes, teaches and consults on a variety of small business marketing topics.