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:
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.