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Palm Powered


by Jaya Srikrishnan, Knitting Designer, Palm OS enthusiast

I am a software engineer, a wife and a mother but long before I was any of these, I was a knitter. I started knitting when I was a young child and have done so ever since. I am also an eternal list-maker but I used to keep losing my bits of paper. One day, when I was traveling on business, I had to make a phone call from an airport. I had lost the paper on which the phone number was written. So there I was, balancing my laptop on the little ledge below the phone, booting it up so I could look up the number! I felt foolish. This was before the era of the cell phone.

That drove me to get a Palm handheld and I haven't looked back. After that first one, I have moved up a couple of times and on one of those occasions, I took an oath. I swore off paper. I refused to carry notebooks or note-pads around with me. Everything was going in my handheld. That was easy when it came to work and my personal life but when it came to my knitting, I was presented with a challenge.

With help from a few other handheld owners, the writers of some of my favorite pattern generating programs and some experimentation of my own, I now carry almost all my knitting related information with me on my handheld. The only exception is complex charts that came out of a book, or a pattern, that I would have to type in to convert into electronic form. I have to admit that I have not experimented with scanning these in and then converting them into a Palm OS format. My main reason for avoiding this is the size of these charts and how unwieldy they would be on the handheld's screen. However, I have typed in smaller charts and downloaded them to my handheld.

I am excited about sharing my experience and future learning with you as we spin the ancient art of knitting together with the modern application of electronics into a yarn that will help all of us create a finished object that is truly satisfying.

Specialized programs
General programs
Basic Palm OS applications
Mapping Software
Word Processors and Text Editors
Image Viewers
List Programs
Downloading web pages/documents
Useful tools that defy categorization
Web Resources
User Stories


Specialized programs

These programs are very useful for knitters as they are especially designed for the knitting audience. If you are primarily looking for a knitting program or two, and only a knitting program or two, focus on the following list. However, if you want to use your handheld for lots of other things, scroll down to the General Programs section where you will find programs that you can customize for knitting as well as other things.

screenshot CountAble
Knitters have to keep track of lots of things like the number of rows knitted, the number of increases or decreases that have been made or have to be made, and the row in the particular stitch pattern being knitted. CountAble makes keeping track of this easier.
screenshot eKnit Kards
Nancy's Knit Knacks sells laminated cards (Knit Kards) that contain useful information for knitters. The eKnit-Kards are a software program that mimics many of the laminated card sets.
screenshot KnitAble
This is a program that combines a number of different functions. It contains databases to track your yarn, needles, projects, patterns, and other assets. There are also calculators for a variety of things as well as a project notebook where one can record information about a project as well as measurements of favored recipients.

General programs

Many programs that are available for general use can be used for knitting. They are categorized by the type of function they provide. If your handheld is going to be used for more than knitting, these programs could be a way to go. They fall into a number of categories: those that come with your Palm powered handheld, word processing programs or text editors, spreadsheets, databases, image display programs, and miscellaneous other software like list programs, web clipping programs, etc.

Basic Palm OS applications

Your Palm powered handheld comes with a MemoPad application and a calculator. These are indispensable to the knitter. The calculator can be used to compute increase/decrease rates, to verify stitch repeat multiples, and to check how many skeins of yarn are needed based on the total yardage for a project, etc.

MemoPad is a basic text editor that can be used to keep notes on projects. It can be used to download patterns that are in text format. While the formatting capabilities are limited, most knitting patterns can be reproduced in text format. Only the instructions can be downloaded; schematics, charts and other diagrams will not be preserved. Here is an example of grafting how-to's in MemoPad:

Mapping Software

Knitters are always on the lookout for yarn stores and other interesting fibre places to visit on their travels. Getting the address is the first part, but getting there is the important part. Mapping software can aid in locating addresses on the go. A GPS receiver is an important add-on for getting directions en route, whether it is built-in as in the Garmin iQue Palm-powered handheld, or connected to a handheld via cable or Bluetooth. The GPS receiver tracks one's current position, and the mapping software calculates a path from the current position to the desired destination.

There are three distinct product categories here:

  1. A handheld with a built-in GPS receiver and loaded with mapping software
  2. A handheld with an attached GPS receiver and loaded with mapping software
  3. A handheld with directions downloaded from a website like MapQuest


iQue 3200 and iQue 3600


Lastly, driving directions to yarn stores can be downloaded from MapQuest via AvantGo. This requires some pre-planning, or a handheld with wireless capabilities and access to a wireless network.

Word Processors and Text Editors

For a detailed discussion of this topic, see https://www.palmsource.com/Interests/Writing/. This section will focus on how these programs can be used for knitting. PC pattern generating software like Sweater Wizard and Sock Wizard and the Sole Solution and the Knitter's Desktop Companion can be used to generate patterns in Rich Text or DOC format. These patterns can be downloaded using a word processor or text editor and kept at one's finger tips. Many free patterns on the Internet are in HTML format and the word processors can also be used for these.

Here is an example of a pattern from the Internet downloaded in a word processor. The highlighted row indicates the current row being knitted.


Spreadsheets are a great way to chart stitch patterns in an electronic format. The cells of a spreadsheet can be formatted to conform to the proportions of the knitted stitch (square or rectangular depending on the gauge). Existing fonts and colors can be used to indicate how to work each stitch. An example of a lace chart in a spreadsheet follows:

XRX, Inc. (scroll down for the download for the Symbol Font) and Carol Taylor have released knitting fonts. These are intended to provide fonts for charting on a PC. However, I was able to take Carol's fonts and convert them using Font Bucket for use on the handheld. Using these fonts makes it much easier to chart cables and other more complex stitch patterns. The same process should work for the fonts provided by XRX, Inc.
Here is an example of a cable charted using Carol's font. The vertical bars don't line up perfectly, but it is clear where and in which direction (left or right) the cable crosses are. The dots are purl stitches between the cables. One potential problem with this is that the column and row heading fonts also change so you can't see the numbers and letters. This could be problematic for large, complex charts.

screenshot Minicalc
screenshot Quicksheet
screenshot Documents To Go
screenshot Tinysheet


Databases can hold all sorts of information. A general-purpose database can contain inventories of needles, yarn, patterns, magazines and books. It can be used as a notebook that contains information of planned, in-process and completed projects. Projects can be linked to the yarn, pattern and needles that are needed, or were used. The best thing about a database is that it can contain anything you want organized in any way you want. I have created a needle conversion chart (http://www.ddhsoftware.com/gallery.html), and a database to check off sock heel turning rows as I knit them (similar to CountAble above). For the faint of heart, example databases specifically for knitting have been created in some cases. Links to these are included in the description of those programs, where they exist. An example of a yarn inventory entry and a needle conversion table in a database:

screenshot screenshot

Refer to the Databases Expert Guide for more information.

Image Viewers

Knitters love to show off their completed works. The best way to show these off is to wear them but one can only wear so many knitted garments at one time. Carrying photos of one's work on a handheld is an easy way to get around this limitation. Image viewers also have other useful functions. Charts and graphs can be scanned in and used as references. Additionally, charts from charting programs like Stitch and Motif Maker (http://www.software4knitting.com/pstitchmotif/stmkr.htm) or Stitch Painter (http://www.cochenille.com/stitch.html) can be converted to graphic formats and downloaded to be viewed via an image viewer. Here is an example of a chart created using this latter process:

Additionally, image viewers can be used to view scanned-in patterns. If you have a scanner and have a printed paper purchased pattern, i.e. not one that is already in a digital format, you can scan the pattern and transfer it to the handheld as an image. Using the scroll and zoom functions in the image viewers, you can then view the part of the pattern you are working on. This will work better with high-resolution devices than with the older model handhelds but simple patterns should work on the older models also. You will need to abide by the pattern designers' copyright rules when you do this but most designers allow patterns to be copied or scanned for personal use. For more information on copyright seehttp://www.geocities.com/jbtocker/copyright/ andhttp://www.girlfromauntie.com/copyright/.

screenshot Firepad Picture Viewer
screenshot AcidImage
screenshot Album To Go for Palm
screenshot Pocket Photo
screenshot Resco Photo Viewer for Palm
screenshot SplashPhoto


There are other programs that can be used on a handheld to enhance one's knitting. List programs can keep track of patterns, yarn, accessories, etc. as well as to track projects in process and plan their completion. Web page and document viewing programs can be used to download web pages, PDF or HTML files that contain patterns or charts. Lastly, there are some useful tools that don't fall in any convenient category.

List Programs

screenshot HandyShopper
A list program for shopping lists and more.
screenshot SplashShopper
A list program for shopping lists and more.

Downloading web pages/documents

screenshot Adobe for Palm OS
With its desktop converter, this program allows one to download PDF files to the Palm for viewing. Files don't look exactly the way they do on the desktop. Many knitting patterns are in PDF format so this is useful at times.
screenshot iSiloX / iSilo
iSiloX converts web pages so that can they can be downloaded and viewed with iSilo
screenshot Plucker
Plucker is an open source offline viewer for web pages and e-Books.

Useful tools that defy categorization

screenshot Factor
Have you ever wondered what stitch patterns you can use for a particular garment? If you know the total number of stitches you need to cast on, you can use either this factor generator or the following one to determine the repeat options that are possible. The square root function is useful for calculating hypotenuses for diagonal knitting or entrelac.
screenshot Factors!
See description above.
screenshot Rulers
If you are looking for a quick way to measure how much you have knitted or a rough gauge, this little program can fit the bill.
screenshot Unit Converter
Converts from grams to ounces, yards to meters and vice versa.

Web Resources

PDA Users Group for Knitters
Palm OS/PDA User Group for Knitters. One needs to become a member to read the archives and participate in group discussions.
Socks are the ultimate portable project to go with a handheld. The socknitters website has lots of sock patterns that can be downloaded to the handheld using one of the web viewers or one of the word processing programs.
A very comprehensive site with instructions and patterns. These can be downloaded to a handheld.
Knitting at About.com
Another very comprehensive site with instructions and patterns that can be downloaded to a handheld.
Index of Knitting Bloggers
An index to the many knitting related blogs out there. Blogs not only contain information about what the bloggers are knitting, but also lots of technical tips and techniques with pictures.
Yarn Over
More patterns that can be downloaded to a handheld.http://www.nurhanne.com/patterns/patterns.html

User Stories

Glued to her hand

by Jennifer

My Palm has been glued into my hand ever since I got it.

Being techno-savvy (read: geek) I quickly discovered the best tools and games to optimize it, and was amazed at how much use I got out of it. That usage tripled once I started knitting. Obviously there's the basic calculator, as any knitter knows how much math is involved in knitting. There are also knitting related programs out there, but what I use daily is MobileDB. One advantage this database program has over others (like the fantastic HandyShopper) is that there is a desktop conduit. This is good as I can type faster than I can write on the screen. I've created many databases that have allowed me to knit practically paper-free. I have general databases, like inventories of my stash and needle collection. I have lists of what projects I'd like to do. The most handy is the database I create for each project I knit. I break down each project by steps, and have the db set up with fields like Step, At The Same Time, # of Sts, # of Rows, Notes, and so on. A sample project might be broken down like this: 1 CO 97 sts w/7 US circ (the rest of the fields are blank) 2 work 10 rows of k1, p1 rib

For step 2, under # of sts I'd put 97 (so I know how many sts I should have at the end of that section of directions, very handy when working with incs and decs) and under # of rows I'd put 10 (my total so far, very handy to make sure diff pieces of the same item have the same # of rows, like ribbings and sleeves, etc...)

I set up the first column of the db to be a checkbox, and then on my palm I have my entire pattern broken down step by step. Once I've completed that step I check the box and it goes down to the bottom and I'm presented with the next step to do. Each step gets it's own screen, so it's never confusing. Best of all, since each db takes up so little space, I can keep them all on my Palm. The program allows you to create up to 12 folders, so I organize my dbs how I want. For example, some of my folders are: K-WIP, C-WIP (I crochet too), Completed, Inventory...

Unless I'm working from a chart, I never, ever need to have a paper pattern with me. All I need is my Palm and I'm good to go. Of course, if I really wanted I could take a pic of the chart with my Palm's camera and read my chart that way, or redo it in Excel and read it that way, or import it via Adobe Reader.

I have another database that lists every project I do, start date, end date, materials, and such.

The best part is, if I ever want to remake a project, I don't have to go searching for anything. I have everything I need at my fingertips, down to how long it took.

Getting organized

by Debbie

I've already downloaded the "Knitable" program. I'm really excited about the possibilities. I have been trying for several years to organize my knitting and be more selective about my yarns. I knit every day and am the make of the "Row Counter Bracelet for Knitting". I also teach knitting to both children and adults. Like you, I'm tired of the countless lists and diaries and papers with notes and phone numbers. I'm very interested in keeping the basic patterns that I use over and over again in the palm.

Being prepared

by Gina Shelnut

Knitting and my Palm OS has changed the way I shop and >wait. I have used my Palm to view what size and quantity of needles I already have so that I won't buy more of what I already have. I have used the word program to keep track of the amount of yarn and pattern instructions so when I am shopping I can find what I need to a project I may be wanting to start. I also use the program to stroe small simple stitch patterns and dishcloth patterns so that while I am waiting I will always have a project handy! I love using the PDA for all my knitting on the go!

Paperless at last!

by Linda Maynard

I've been knitting for over 40+ years. I'm not organized in every aspect of my life. But I am with my knitting. And I never go anywhere without some kind of knitting project with me.

I've tried every organizational method possible. I've tried the little knitting book journals, notebooks for my patterns, etc. Nothing compares to having your knitting on your PDA. The knitting book journals are nice, but if you don't have room to carry it, it's useless. With a PDA and all of my knitting inventory, current patterns I'm working from, and my shopping lists for upcoming projects are all in one pocket size place that slips into my purse. It is always available. My PDA integrates with word documents and excel files as well as importing .rtf files and graphics.
After having all of my knitting data on my PDA, I will never go back to carrying around my pattern books or knit shopping lists on bits of paper again.
Saving time, money and energy

by Dale Jarrett

Using the Palm has improved my knitting life in several very important ways. It saves me time, money and energy - my most important resources!
It saves me time because I can quickly find any information I need - from my needle inventory to the amount of yarn needed for a pattern to a listing of all the LYS's in my state so I can quickly find a shop regardless of where I am.
It's definitely a dollar saver when I don't buy duplicate supplies or worse, the wrong supplies, because I have a record of what is currently in my yarn and needle stash. And I always know how much yarn to buy because I have a yardage calculator stored in my Palm also. And most important of all - I don't use unnecessary energy digging through piles of patterns, searching through UFO's looking for just the right needle size, or going through tubs of yarn searching, searching, searching. I don't even use up brain cells trying to calculate increases or pattern repeats!
Information at hand

by Julie U

I started knitting about 5 years ago. I tend to go 'overboard' with my hobbies and I must confess that I am a book and needle junkie. I buy just about every book I can find as long as it has at least one pattern I would consider making. Right now my book and magazine collection stands at about 170 titles. So, admittedly, when I am in my LYS I often need to reference my library list, so as to not repurchase a title I already own.
By keeping my needle inventory on my palm, I know when I need to get purchase needles with my projects (which really isn't very often).
Knitable also has a projects database. When I purchase yarn with a specific project in mind, I list it in the projects database. Then I also note it when I enter the yarn in my yarn inventory. This way, I know what yarn has been earmarked for a project.
All of my knitting pals know that I carry my knitting info in my palm. When we are shopping and I say 'I think I have that book' they all wait for me to check my palm.
I love being organized and having my favorite hobby inventoried in my palm has really made my life easier.