Sunday, September 02, 2012

Appy times

I resisted the lure for a long time, thinking I should make do with the old cell phone I had. Well, maybe not that old - I must have been the last person among my friends to even get a cell phone. “Who needs to be that available?” I would ask, and cite all the reasons why they were a nuisance, like people including everybody else in their private conversations on the bus, or guests spending most of their time on the phone with others during a visit. Now I must confess that I stubbornly make myself unavailable in such situations by switching off the sound of my phone, but about six months ago I finally caved in and got that iPhone I was so fascinated by. And how that has changed things!

I had heard of apps that would let you visit Twitter and Facebook, plan your dinners and shopping lists, but what my friends at work didn't tell me, not being crafters themselves, poor dears, was what a great companion a phone loaded with lots of crafty apps could be.

I started out by looking for free quilting apps, and found quite a lot, most of which I tried a few times and then forgot about. But there are a few that I use a lot - RK QuiltCalc is great for working out how much fabric I need for borders, backing, or pieces. A great tool when you come across a fabric bargain and want to make sure you buy enough. But my favourite quilting app is ProjectQuilt. I use it for keeping track of my quilting plans. You can describe your projects, adding deadlines, when you started, who it's for, prority and even calculate costs, if you must... You can add photos to identify each project - I usually snap a photo of the fabrics I want to use or a screenshot from EQ of a quilt I have planned. Recently I came up with the idea of using it to store information about all the backing fabric I have in my stash. I do this by snapping a picture and adding length and width of the fabric. It took a little effort to get them all out and measure them, but the beauty of it is that now I can quickly scroll through to check if I have the right fabric for backing a new quilt and if it is big enough without rummaging through it all.

Once I had my quilting sorted out, I went in search of knitting apps. I found Needles which is good for keeping track of all your knitting needles by size and type. Another great help if you want to shop for a new project and wonder if you have the right size needles at home. There are several apps that help you count your rows and repeats while you are knitting, but my absolute favourite helpmate is Knit Companion. In this app you can use a pdf file of yor knitting pattern and set it up, with written guides and charts separately. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you get text and charts where you can slide markers to where you are in the pattern, so you easily keep track of where you are. There are also counters to keep track of rows and repeats. The beauty of it is that you can close the app, put your knitting away and the next time you pull it out you can go right back where you left off; no counting to find out where you are in the pattern. You can have several projects on the go at the same time and keep track of them all.

Another great little app is Gaugefy, where you can work out sizes of knit pieces if the gauge is altered.

My embroidery has been left on the shelf for a while now, but with the recent smell of autumn in the air, I was inspired to have a look at my stash. There don't seem to be that many cross stitching apps yet, but I found Xfloss where I can make an inventory of all my floss. It is basically an illustrated list of all DMC colours arranged by numbers. You can add how many skeins you have of each colour, and whether you need to buy more, by tapping the shopping cart. You can also enter projects you are working on or planning, and once you have done that you can assign the different colours you need to their respective projects, giving you a great shopping list.

Now these are just a few of the apps I have come across so far – I’d love to hear about any you have found useful! Yes my phone has become a great little helper. Sometimes it even makes a ringing sound – I wonder what that is about… ;-)

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