PORT WASHINGTON, New York — Most knitters agree that Germany’s H. Stoll & Co. makes quality knitting machinery, but the company is now trying to ensure that samples produced on those machines get the nod from designers on the first round.
“We are going under the assumption that every decent designer today knows how to use a paint program, so we’ve put together a program that allows designers to paint with stitches,” commented Michael Seiz, vice-president of technology at Stoll America, here.
The software is called VSD, an acronym for virtual stitch design. It was previewed at the Milan ITMA show last fall to a very strong reception, according to Seiz. U.S. distribution commenced in December.
Seiz said Stoll’s main goal in introducing the software was to cut down on costly samples by allowing designers who lack a strong understanding of the actual knitting process to construct precise knitting simulations on screen.
The software contains a stitch library that can be configured to contain 10-15 different basic stitches. Subsets of that library extend the number of possible stitch structures to roughly 40. Each of those stitches can be employed in up to six colors of the designer’s choosing. Knit designers usually restrict their colors to a maximum of six, as any more than that would be physically difficult to knit.
What the designer sees when she mocks up a knit using the Stoll software looks much like what the actual knitted surface would look like. It does not look like a piece of graph paper covered with symbols. Seiz said the CAD presentation is precise enough for the knitter to execute faithfully.
“This is really WYSIWYG software,” he said. “The designer will likely get back something very close to what she envisioned. The CAD printout alone tells the knitter 90 percent of what he needs to know. The endless negotiating betweenthe printer and the designer is taken out of the equation.”
Seiz added, however, that designers who want to make doubly sure that the instructions they send to the knitter are crystal clear can produce very precise instructional grids complete with all symbols knitters are especially fond of by using a related program Stoll also introduced at ITMA. Called JSD, or jacquard structure automatic, the more technical program is not terribly difficult for a designer to master, according to Seiz.
“If a designer is at all technically inclined, she can take the design all the way through both programs and hand the knitter a finished production design,” he said. “The knitter won’t have to do anything.”
Seiz said designers should be able to produce such finished designs using jacquards, fishermen’s knits and cable stitches. More complex intarsia knits may be better left to the knitter himself, he added.
Seiz said knitters need not have either program to utilize the printouts the designers create on them. Knitters, however, were the group most intrigued by the program when it was shown in Milan.
The VSD and JSD software is sold packaged with Stoll’s proprietary SIREX system, which is based on a UNIX platform from Silicon Graphics. Stoll offers two SIREX systems. One sells for about $50,000, while the other, faster system sells for about $90,000. Both systems can run the VSD and JSD software. The faster system, however, is necessary if designers want to create presentations of their knitted designs using the U4IA texture-mapping software from Computer Design Inc. CDI has partnered with Stoll in promoting that software for the knitwear industry.

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