I had an opportunity to use a pattern for knitting a project recently. The pattern is one for a character called Shaun the Sheep and the original knitting project was for a Nintendo case. I don’t have a Nintendo but I do have a small camera and it seemed to me that this would be a cool use for this particular design – it really is totally cute.
The problem is that my camera is a lot smaller than a Nintendo so the entire project needed resizing. The first time I did this I tried simply knitting less stitches and fewer rows. The problem was that while the project looked okay it was still way too big for the camera. I had shaved stitches off the pattern for the sheep’s face on the right where I could do without them and didn’t stitch all the rows required for the front but even so, I still knitted too many stitches horizontally and too many rows.
The only option really was to totally resize the pattern – and the problem is how to do it quickly and efficiently. My solution was to grab the pattern as an image. It was shown on a web page so all I needed to do was to go and take a screenshot of it. Having done this, I pasted it into Photoshop by choosing File > New and then Edit > Paste. Choosing File > New after you have taken the screenshot (press Prt Scr) sets the new image size to match the clipboard image size so you don’t have to do any guessing and you can paste the clipboard in very easily.
At this point you need to crop very closely around the image. You need to crop the image so that all you have is the stitch grid and nothing else.
You’ll also need to know just how big the original pattern is in rows and stitches. In my case, it was 36 stitches wide by 26 rows.
In Photoshop I resized the image to these proportions using Image > Image Size. I set it to 36 pixels wide by 26 pixels tall and then clicked Ok. This resizes the image so that each pixel is a knit stitch.
Having reduced the image to this small size I enlarged it again using the zoom tool. At this point, I made a copy of the image so that I could compare the original design and the new smaller one. To do this I chose Image > Duplicate and then clicked Ok to create a second version.
I then reduced the colors in the image by File > Save for Web and Devices and then selected GIF. I set the Color Table to 3 colors to reduce the colors to the 3 colors in the pattern- you would reduce the colors to the number of colors in your pattern.
Reducing the colors now means that when you size down the pattern only these colors will be used and you won’t get a lot of ‘in between’ colors.
Save the image and then reopen it. Choose Image > Mode > RGB Color. This is the version that you’ll be working on.
In my case, I wanted to knit a project that is more square than rectangular so I saw I could eliminate some stitches from the right side of the pattern without losing any of the sense of the character. I cropped off 8 pixels from the right of the image – this reduced it by 8 stitches.
Now choose Image > Image Size and set the size of the pattern. You will want to enable the Constrain Proportions checkbox so you don’t skew the shape of the pattern. I wanted my knitting to be 20 stitches wide and when I set this Photoshop calculated that the appropriate height would be 19 – making this 19 rows. I clicked Ok.
In the process of resizing, Photoshop is forced to reduce the number of pixels in the image so it discards some of them – so it is redrawing my pattern for me at the smaller size.
This is where the duplicate image comes into play. If you line this up beside the shrunk down version, you can see if there are portions of it that you think could have been drawn in better. For me there were one or two pixels that I wanted to change. So I selected the colors from the image using the Eyedropper then selected the Brush tool, sized it down to 1 pixel in size and then clicked on the image where I wanted to change a color. This allowed me to fine-tune the design to suit my needs.
After you have done this, you can scale the image up again and print it out. Then draw using a ruler over the image to create the grid that you need to use to make your pattern.
Alternately you can make your own grid. To do this, scale this image up by 1,000 percent by choosing Image > Image Size and set the Width and Height to 1000%.
Now, to create the grid image, choose File > New and make an image that’s 10 x 10 pixels, RGB color, with a transparent background. Zoom into it so you can see it clearly. Make a 1 pixel wide selection down the right of the image and fill it with black. Then make a 1 pixel deep selection across the top of the image and fill it with black. Choose Select > All and then Edit > Define Pattern, type Grid as the name and click Ok.
Now back in the pattern image, add a new layer by first choosing Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and then choose Edit > Fill, choose Pattern from the Use list and from the custom pattern dropdown list, select the last pattern in the collection and click Ok. This drops a black grid over the image.
If the colors in your pattern are such that you can’t see the black grid over black stitches, select the grid layer and choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Adjust the Lightness up, click Colorize and then locate a hue that can be easily seen over the top of your grid. You may want to adjust the Saturation slider and then click Ok. Now you can see the stitches and you have a pattern that is resized to your own needs ready for printing.