Monday, February 28, 2011

Using Teacup PatternMaker to Mimic Knitted Garter Stitch

This is a continuation of my pursuit to use InDesign to help me more effectively design knitted afghan patterns. One of my previous blog posts, "Data-less Tables: InDesign Meets Knitting," focused on replicating perfect right-angle triangles using diagonal lines in InDesign tables. Today's post will focus on my attempts to use InDesign to accurately mimic garter stitch, so that I can create more realistic illustrations of my designs.

In case you haven't read my previous post about garter stitch, I'll summarize it here. Garter stitch has a 2:1 proportion of rows : stitches. So if you knit a piece of garter stitch 40 rows tall and 20 stitches wide, it will be perfectly square, perfectly flat, and will look exactly the same on both sides. Knitting each row gives you a ridge. So if you knit two rows, you get two ridges, one on the front, and one on the back. Taking it a little further, if you knit 40 rows, you'll have 20 ridges on the front, and 20 ridges on the back.

So the effect I am trying to replicate is getting InDesign to make wavy lines where the number of waves equals the number of lines, with just a little bit of space in between. The trick is getting this to fit perfectly inside of a square frame.

The above photo shows the effect I'm trying to replicate. After a bit of trial and error (and admittedly a few months of wondering how and if it could be done), I finally stumbled upon the solution. It is Teacup PatternMaker. The solution is deceivingly simple, and I've had the capability for quite some time and didn't even realize it.

In case you're not familiar with PatternMaker, it's a very cool plugin that generates customizable postscript patterns on the fly, right inside of InDesign. As an attendee of the InDesign Secrets Live 2010 Print and ePublishing Conference, I was thrilled to receive the entire Pattern Pack as part of what I'll call my digital gift bag. I am fascinated by geometric patterns, so this Pattern Pack was like an early Christmas present.

As you can see in the graphic above, my square has 8 ridges and 8 stitches (called "Waves" in Pattern Maker). By saving this pattern as a preset, the next time I want to design anything in garter stitch, all I need to do is fill the appropriate frame with this pattern, and then edit the colors.

And case you're wondering what the little red rectangle is at the top left corner of my  pattern, that's FrameReporter,  by Rorohiko. It gives little snippets of information about the selected frame...and happens to be one of my favorite plugins.

More articles on InDesign and Knitting coming soon!