Yes, it really is a Ravelry app for the IPhone!

And it works with Voiceover!!

 

I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying there needs to be a Ravelry app since I first got my IPhone. Just a little over a year later my dreams have come true. Yay me!

 

Wooly is a new app for Apple IOS. It’s definitely a work in progress but it looks like the developers have the potential to make this a great app. I’m already impressed. We all know about the trepidation every time we have to buy an app. Is this going to work with Voiceover or not? At first glance this app is almost completely accessible. The only thing I had a problem with was something called Happiness. First of all I didn’t even know this feature existed on Ravelry. Apparently it adds descriptive words based on how high you rate a project on the Happiness scale. My Petri Shell now says it is an Uggh! On the Happiness scale. I must have done this with the app but I can’t recreate the action. This project would have actually been something like 90% which is a lot better than Uggh! Other than that I could edit all the things the app says I should be able to edit. One very exciting thing is that I could adjust the progress percentage. I can’t do that on my PC. I tried to explain how awesome this was to my husband and it just went right over his head. Poor darling probably thinks his wife is crazy. So far though the most totally awesome thing about Wooly is its photo uploading feature. You can take a photo from within the app and upload it directly to Ravelry. Had previously mentioned husband take photo of me in Petri and I had it uploaded in about 30 seconds. We all know how long it takes with the usual digital camera to computer to Ravelry to project method. The app has the photo option from within each individual project so it eliminates that step. There are also photo editing features right in the app.

I’m really excited about this app. It has a lot of great features and the potential for many more. I’m going to contact the developers about the one issue I had with accessibility. Oh, and the edit button says 14gear. I think they could fix that without much trouble. Wooly costs $2.99. I would have paid more so this is a really great price.

 

For more information:

 

Wooly in the ITunes store

 

Ravelry group for Wooly

 

There are also Ravelry apps for Android and Windows users. Check out the article on apps for Ravelry on the Ravelry homepage. You might need a Rav ID to see the article.

 

One last interesting thing is that Ravelry developers are creating a mobile site. It can be found at m.ravelry.com. From my windows PC this site is totally inaccessible. From my IPhone it appears to work fine from a quick glance over. It looks like you can use it to browse all your project information plus a few other things. The developers say they are updating it as they add more features so it’s not finished yet.

 

 

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Ana and Crystal are on Viewpoints!

Ana and I did an interview for the Viewpoints Podcast. We talk about knitting with visual impairments and share some tips and advice for other blind and low vision knitters.

 

Please check it out:  ViewPoints 1214 4-4-12 Knitting for the Visually Impaired

 

Also, check out  ViewPoints

A weekly, half hour radio program for people living with low vision

Find out more about the show and get links to the podcasts at:

www.ViewPointsPlus.net

 

Embossing Patterns Directly from the BrailleNote

Those of us who like braille love the luxury of embossing braille patterns and tutorials directly from the computer. I say “luxury” because braille embossers are expensive, two to three thousand dollars being the low-end price; they usually require the purchase of extra software–another seven hundred fifty dollars–for translation from print to standard braille codes; and they pose the challenge of keeping them in good repair, not to mention form feed card stock in standard paper sizes. So a relatively small number of people own them and tolerate their quirks, even putting off upgrades to other systems in order to continue access to quick braille.

I’ve had a Braille Blazer (now discontinued) for over ten years. It’s temperamental, and if I don’t guide the paper, it jams or does peculiar things to line spacing, but it puts a nicely brailled hard copy of a pattern or pattern stitch in my hand within minutes of my finding it on the web. And there are few things as blissful to a yarny as referring to a brailled pattern while enjoying a TV show or waiting for a ride.

During the past year, I’ve upgraded my home office (computer, printer, scanner, and telephone) but haven’t been able to finish the transition to 2011 technology because I couldn’t find a way to use my embosser on computers that no longer have parallel ports.

Then the other day, while talking to a friend, I remembered that the BrailleNote, which I also own, should be able to convert print documents into contracted braille, and it should be able to connect peaceably to an embosser, so I did some reading of the manuals of both devices, Googled around a bit, and learned that I had three options: serial connection (always a PITA), Bluetooth adaptor and connection (described as iffy), and USB converter and connection (discussed more confidently).

Since I had a USB to parallel converter lying around, I used the third method. The converter is a Cables To Go 16899 USB To DB25 IEEE-1284 Parallel Printer Adapter Cable for Windows, which I bought from Amazon for about eleven dollars. The process worked beautifully the first time, so I decided to pass along the steps for embossing directly from the BrailleNote to a device with a parallel port. I have an mPower and Braille Blazer, but the steps should work for other BrailleNote and embosser models.

Translating the Document to Braille

The first step is to make sure the pattern is a braille file, so start by saving it as a brf or KeyWord braille file. The quickest way is to open the document in KeyWord and use the save As feature:
1. Open KeyWord, then open your pattern document after locating it on the SD card or in one of your folders.
2. Press Space+S or ctrl+S to save the document.
3. Press Backspace once to change the folder, or twice to select the drive where the file will be saved.
4. Press backspace+X or ctrl+X repeatedly to change the file format to brf.
5. Write the file name and press Enter.

Take a moment to read your file to make sure abbreviations have been translated correctly.

Setting up the Embosser

The second step is to set up the embosser. This only happens once, so you shouldn’t have to do it again.

1. Connect the usual parallel cable to the braille embosser.
2. Screw the USB to Parallel cable to the free end of the cable in Step 1.
3. Turn the Braille embosser on.
4. Turn the BrailleNote on.
5. Plug the USB end of your extra long cable into the BrailleNote. the BrailleNote says, “Printer ready.”
6. Go into the Keyword main menu, select Embosser, press space+S or type S to adjust embosser settings, set the port to USB, and the page and line lengths to 25 lines and 32 characters, exit and confirm that you want to save settings.
7. It’s a good idea to restart the embosser after changing the settings, so you may want to turn the Blazer off and on at this point.
8. The BrailleNote manual strongly recommends that you test the embosser right away by brailling the two practice documents in the General folder.

If the practice docs emboss correctly, your embosser is ready to go.

Embossing the File

The third and final step is to emboss the pattern. It’s the easiest of the steps.

1. Open your braille pattern file in KeyWord.
2. Press space+dots 2346 or ctrl+read+b to Go into Formatting, and make sure the page and line lengths are consistent with the embosser (25 lines and 32 characters).
3. Go back to the KeyWord main menu, select embossing, press enter, and respond to the prompts about the folder and file name, and so on.
4. The last promt is “Embosser ready.” Press enter, and after a pause that goes on a couple of seconds longer than you expect, embossing begins.

Nothing to it. Once the USB to parallel cable is connected and the embosser is set up, making braille patterns directly from the BrailleNote is a matter of converting the document to a braille format like brf, choosing the Emboss option from the KeyWord main menu, and following the prompts. A yarn crafter’s life doesn’t get any easier.

JKnit Knitting Project Assistant for IPhone

I recently invested in an IPhone. It has been amazing to be able to use every feature of a phone. I haven’t been able to do that since I lost my sight ten years ago. But, rather than gushing on all the wonderful things I can do with the phone, I’ll just tell you about one app I found.

JKnit is a knitting assistant app. It costs $5.99 so I was very hesitant to try it out. Luckily for me it works perfectly with voiceover. The app allows you to keep track of your projects by the piece and by the row. You can use the online web portal to input all your project directions along with the row numbers they affect. Then you sync the app and all the information transfers to the phone. JKnit has a built in row counter and each time you get to a row it shows the directions for that row.

I’ve really enjoyed having an easy row counter. I turned off screen lock within the app so all I have to do is position voiceover to the counter plus button and sinply double tap each time I start a row. It will keep your place on multiple projects and it’s just so easy.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about JKnit. As a blind knitter it’s even more helpful since it allows me to have an accessible version of the pattern wherever I am. It’s true that I can also read online and text versions of patterns with the IPhone but having one integrated with a row counter is even better. The online web portal is also easy to use. Copy and paste your individual pattern instructions and you’re ready to go. I highly recommend it and the price is well worth it.

Here are some links to more information on JKnit:

JKnit Knitting Project Assistant App

JKnit User Guide

Ravelry Group for JKnit App Users

Direct Link to JKnit in the ITunes Store

Knitting Pattern Central

I’m very excited to share with everyone that my Be Mine Hat pattern has been listed on Knitting Pattern Central.

Now, honestly, this isn’t a very big accomplishment in the grander scheme of things. The only requirements for listing your pattern are that it be free and have a picture. But, as an amateur pattern designer, I think it’s awesome.

All I had to do was fill out the contact form. I included links for the blog post and the PDF download. She chose to list the blog link which is actually better than just the download.

Knitting Pattern Central is a great website. The owner has compiled a lot, probably thousands, of free patterns. They are all organized by type. You’ll find mine under “Hats”. If you haven’t ever checked it out, please do. The website I mean, not my pattern, but you can check that out too. There is also Crochet Pattern Central for crocheters so don’t worry if you don’t knit.

Hopefully, I’ll share more patterns soon and, if you’ve written your own pattern, spruce it up and share it with the world.

Ravelry Tutorial: Joining A Group

Ravelry has a very large network of online groups and forums. There are groups for everything you can imagine. I’m in a group for people who like the Wheel Of Time fantasy series and another for people who hate charts. There is also a group for blind and low vision knitters. I don’t post to the groups very often but they can be very helpful.

Finding And Joining A Group

 

  1. Go to Ravelry and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the top of the page and arrow down to find the “Groups” link.
  3. This page will list the groups you are in. You can search for a group as well as browse. Searching will probably be faster. The search field can be found under the “Search Groups” heading. It’s also the only form field on the page so you can easily find it with your screen reader’s find next form field command.
  4. Let’s search for the group for blind and low vision knitters. Type “Blind” in the search box and press enter.
  5. Use your screen reader’s find next text command to find the words Search Results for blind”. Then arrow down to view your search results. I got 13 results in my search including one very funny one at the end of the list. The biggest group for blind knitters is called “Blind Webs”, and it is the first result.
  6. Press enter on the group you want to join or learn more about.

 

This will take you to the group’s main page and you can explore to find out more about the group. There is a search edit box after the fresh discussion threads if you want to search the groups or forums.

The quickest way to find the “Join This Group” link is to use your screen reader’s links list. You can also find it a few links down from the search edit box.

Posting To A Group

 

On the individual group pages there will be a heading called “Fresh Discussion Threads”. Below this heading you will find a link to post a new topic as well as a link to subscribe to the group. This subscribe link takes you to the RSS feed and, if you want, you can get a message when there is a new topic in the group.

Below these links there is a table with the latest discussion threads. Press enter on any of the titles and it will take you to the thread. You can also subscribe to the individual threads from their specific pages.

To post to the thread just press enter on the reply link after any post to answer that comment specifically or use the “Reply To Thread” link at the bottom of the page for a more general response.

To quickly get to a list of your groups just press enter on the “Groups” link at the top of the page. The first heading will tell how many groups you are in; just arrow down to read the list. Have fun checking out all the different groups in Ravelry. There’s one for just about everything and if you can’t find the group you want, you can start one.

Ravelry Tutorial: Searching For A Pattern

Ravelry is a great place to search for patterns. The most helpful part is selecting different search parameters. In this tutorial we’ll go through a sample search. We’ll search for a sweater pattern that uses worsted weight yarn, uses between 900 and 1200 yards, is for a child aged 4 to 12 and is available for free.

  1. Go to Ravelry and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the top of the page and arrow down to find the “Patterns” link. Press enter.
  3. This will take you to the pattern search page. You can also browse for patterns but today we’re going to search. Type “sweater” in the search field and press enter.
  4. This will bring up your preliminary results. Navigate to the first heading. It will read “Search.” Now use your screen reader’s find next text command once. It should land on the number of search results. I got 22,884 so we definitely need to narrow it down a little.
  5. Arrow down until you find the drop box with the words “Jump to filter.” Below this box is a list of all the different search options. They are all the same as what is listed in the drop box. When you select a filter from the drop box it will move that set of options to the top of the list. You will have to go back to the drop box each time you need to select another filter because when you press enter or tab out of the box your cursor moves to the bottom of the filter you chose. The drop box will be the first form field from the top of the page so it’s not hard to find.
  6.  Select “Weight” from the drop box and press tab to exit the box. You can arrow up through the choices or go back to the drop box and arrow down to get them in the right order. Either way, press enter on “Worsted 10-Ply”. The numbers after the choices tell how many matching patterns Ravelry has for this filter.
  7. Now select “Yardage” from the drop down box. If you have any trouble finding where you are after you tab out of the box, just remember that the drop box is the first form field from the top of the page, and the filter you just chose is immediately after it. Now press enter on “900-1200 yards”.
  8. Go back to the drop box and Select “Gender/Age/Size/Fit”. This filter requires you to select a sub-filter before you can make your choice. Press enter on “Age or Size”. Then press enter on “Child (4–12)”. You can press escape to close the sub-filter options if you are going to be arrowing around a lot but it’s not necessary.
  9. Now find the drop box for the last time and select “Availability”. Either arrow up to find “Free” or go back to the drop box and arrow down. Press enter on “Free”.
  10. Now that your search has been narrowed down you can get your results. After selecting the last filter, your cursor should be at the top of the search results. If you arrow down, you will find a list of the filters you chose followed by your search results. If you get lost on the page go to the top and use your screen reader’s find next text command to find the words “Search Results for Sweater” and arrow down from there.

 

Keep in mind that you can select as many or as few search parameters as you like. Also, pressing enter on the pattern name will take you to the Ravelry pattern page. This page has a lot of information about the pattern that can include yardage, available sizes. Gauge and suggested yarn. You will also find a link to the pattern source.

After the pattern details you will find the following links: Cast On, Add to Faves, To Queue. Selecting “Cast On” Will add this pattern as a new project in your notebook. Select this if you want to start the project right away. “Add to Faves” adds this pattern to a list of things you like. “To Queue” adds the pattern to a list of patterns you want to do in the future.

Have fun looking through the patterns. I’ll be back soon with another Ravelry tutorial.

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