Sweaters and Software

I had a wonderful time teaching at The Knitting Boutique this past weekend. (Check back at their site in a couple of weeks, they have something super exciting coming up!) It was just the kind of distraction I needed. I love, love, love teaching classes. The connection with students, the conversations we have about things that are so very important, and the energy from it revitalizes and energizes me. (By the way: I still have space open in my classes at Sea Needles in Bethany Beach, DE on August 3. Call the store at 302-539-0574 if you’re interested.)

Back home, things are going okay. I’m slowly putting the pieces of my routine back together (and giving myself permission to fall asleep at 8 with the kids, if I need to). Knitting has been tough, I spent almost a full week without touching the needles for the first time in over 10 years. Still, my sweater-in-progress is inches away from completion and I’m eager to dive into my next idea:

yum-kim

Instead of photo-heavy knitting content, I’d like to talk a little bit more about CustomFit. The beta testers are getting underway this week, and the first sweater from the software is nearly done being knitted. (Can’t WAIT to show you that one.) We’ve been spending lots of time talking amongst our group of beta testers, and some questions have popped up to the surface. I think, largely, because nothing quite like CustomFit exists, at least for us knitters. Here are some of the ins and outs of CustomFit’s first release, and a bit about where we’re going to take it after September.

The first release of CustomFit:

  • Will produce a new pattern. It takes in your body measurements and a few easy, graphically-based choices, and crafts a new pattern just for you.
  • Will produce patterns shaped for women. CustomFit is based on the past several years of me working with women to achieve the right kinds and amounts of shaping for every body type. Much of that knowledge is “gender-specific” in that CustomFit doesn’t simply blindly take your measurements and use them directly for cast-ons. Instead, it takes your measurements and does the right thing behind the scenes to ensure a sweater that fits, with at least a little bit of shaping.
  • Uses one body, and one swatch, to produce a pattern. Initially, CustomFit assumes the same gauge over the whole of the sweater. If your swatch is in an allover patterned fabric, you can ask CustomFit to ensure that your cast-ons are multiples of your stitch pattern (but since CustomFit can’t possibly know about every stitch pattern in existence, your chart is up to you).

The word “first” is an important one, there. We have a rich and long-term list of at-least-quarterly releases planned. The following features get asked about regularly, and are already on our deployment schedule. In the future, you’ll be able to use CustomFit to:

  • Produce sweaters shaped for men. This is almost certain to come along fairly quickly, because I have a very clear implementation plan and I’m actively, actively interested in bringing it to you quickly. You can help! I really want to talk to men (or people who knit for them) to make sure that every garment CustomFit produces, regardless of overall shape, is a great fit. I hope to hear from you!
  • Combine multiple swatches into one sweater. This will come along fairly quickly, as well. We have a good idea about the behind-the-scenes machinations required, but it will involve some heavy user interaction testing, which always slows things down a bit. :-)
  • Alter an existing design. This is likely to be one of the major additions for 2014. (If I had to guess, I’d say fall.) It’s substantially more complicated, but is one of the ways I hope CustomFit will be a great thing for designers and knitters alike. In the shorter-term, look for some fun pairings between CustomFit and designers that approach this feature.

You may be wondering: Why wait? And it’s a good question. Ultimately, I’m warring with my engineer training. I could wait another year to release CustomFit, and make sure that the first release has all of these fantastic features… …but really, the most important thing about CustomFit is that it produces a sweater pattern that just works, for your body, flawlessly. And I feel strongly, given the response I get in my classes and elsewhere, that a flawless, flattering sweater that you can just knit, without thinking about it, is plenty exciting enough.

Further, since CustomFit works as a web application on a per-pattern basis, there’s no downside to releasing a truly solid, amazing version that will do fairly simple sweaters early, and then adding features regularly. You’re not purchasing software, you don’t need to worry about upgrades, etc. One day, CustomFit will just magically give you more options.

So I’ll urge you to think about this initial CustomFit release in the same way I talk about my students’ first post-class sweater. Make it all about the fit. Make it all about a sweater that works flawlessly for you, and that you pull out of the closet every day. There’s nothing like that feeling. It’s amazing. And then for your next CustomFit sweater, look forward to some shiny new bells and whistles to try out.

I welcome questions, thoughts, and comments. I am so excited about this project. I can’t wait to share the sweaters, as they are finished and worn out in the world, and I really want to know what you’re thinking.

Comments

  1. Joan says

    As a long time program manager – it’s better to release incrementally….as long as each increment has a well defined function and it performs that function well. Waiting till it’s perfect just means nothing will ever be fielded. The definition of perfect is different for the developer and the user….and perfect evolves over time. Field something that works well….and the users will help you steer it from there.

  2. says

    What I love about this project is that you can buy a sweater amount of gorgeous yarn and don’t have to hunt around for something that will work and, more importantly, work for my body. I love simple and cannot wait to try it out!!

  3. Manise says

    Echoing the above sentiments! Very excited to be involved in the beta-testing of Custom Fit!

  4. Kris says

    Hi Amy. I live in the hot southwest. I’m too buxom for spaghetti straps and tanks gape at the arm, so I look for light, cool fiber, fitted, short-sleeved things to throw over top. Hope you’ll keep us warm weather girls in mind come spring. I’ve never kept anything I’ve made.

  5. says

    I can’t wait for the first release. I’ll cast on a sweater so fast it’ll make your head spin. In fact, I think I’ll wind yarn and swatch NOW, just to get ready! Haha!

  6. says

    This sounds like it will be super cool.
    In my experience, I’d rather get something out there once it’s pretty good rather than sweating over making it perfect while my inbox fills up with inquiries about release dates.
    Best of luck!

  7. Karen in Tasmania says

    I think your plan is the right one and I am eagerly awaiting the release!

  8. Heidi Smith says

    I can’t another thing about this that hasn’t already been said. It really sounds exciting!

  9. Ève says

    I can ´ t wait until september ! What a wonderful way to begin fall…
    I’ll buy the perfect pattern for me as soon as possible . Thank you for everything you’re doing for us, knitters !

  10. Beth Vincelette says

    How do I get on the list to get a copy of Custom Fit THE VERY SECOND it’s available? OMG-I think I just started to drool with anticipation…

    • Amy says

      The best way is to join my newsletter. We’ll open it up to “preview users” first, including my newsletter and (if we have space) others.

      Being on the newsletter is the only way to get guaranteed a spot, though. So if you’re super eager, it’s the way to go!

  11. Irene T says

    I agree with Beth. How do we get on the list to be notified when CustomFit will be available?

  12. says

    I have always shied away from making sweaters because I never felt I knew how to get the fit “right”. Where do the darts go, where does the waist shaping start/end, do I take in the back or the sides…a ton of questions I was never confident enough to figure out on my own. I am beyond excited to try out CustomFit and finally have a sweater that fits and that I am proud to wear :-)

  13. Kim says

    You know this software thing is very exciting…but so is that little pile of yum you have pictured up there.

    (Hey, I was cool for almost 2 whole blog posts)

    • Amy says

      You were so restrained! I’m going to do a fall sneak peak post so that everyone can know, but for those reading the comments: The luscious green featured in the last few posts is Kim’s wonderful Merino Silk Sock, and is available at her website.

  14. GerryART says

    My currant goal
    Is to knit a sweater THAT FITS ME !!!!!

    you are just the gal who will help me with accomplishing
    This goal
    Then, watch those sweaters fly off my needle

    Thanks for caring

    Hugs

  15. says

    I’m always intrigued with custom garment software (she says, noting that she owns Knitting Wizard, KnitWare, and PatterMaster Boutique 5). What is the plan for people who just cannot measure themselves accurately? You know, the person who refuses to believe her waist is >30″ or that her bust is smaller than 36″?

    • Amy says

      That’s such a great question, June. Of course, when it’s just a knitter in front of their web browser, there’s no way to double-check the accuracy of their measurements.

      However, we *are* planning on partnering with select Local Yarn Stores, who would then offer help with the measurements–and if someone else (who has been trained) is taking them, things are much less likely to be “fudged”!

  16. says

    I can’t wait! (Guess I’ll have to…) I already have yarn picked out, and an idea of the shape I want. It’s the same shape I’ve been trying to knit for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years. I’m so excited at the idea of being able to knit up a basic, simple top without having to juggle patterns or spend an entire afternoon fiddling with numbers and schematics. Just pick up and go!

  17. Robbie says

    You are smart to do incremental releases for so many reasons. This first release has so much to offer, it’s smart to release it as soon as its ready

    You’ll get great feedback to help improve it and shape it’s future.

    I’ll be jumping in to try it a bit later but only because I’m starting a weight loss journey right after my vacation and there’s no way to make a perfectly fitted sweater during that journey.

    The good news, I have some great DK weight yarn waiting in the wings. Can’t wait to hear more as your journey continues.

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