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Do-It-Yourself Design: The Sole Solution Software

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In the Beginning
Software has come a long way. What was once the exclusive domain of geeks is now common territory for everyone, including knitters! (And if you happen to be a geek and a knitter, you're even luckier.)

Because of their logical, mathematical makeup, socks lend themselves perfectly to computer-aided design.

Early programs offered clunky interfaces and limited options, spitting out a series of numbers you had to put together yourself. Today, however, the software is much improved.

The Sole Solution
Released in September 2001, the Sole Solution is a new software program designed exclusively for sock knitters, by a sock knitter, with the collaboration of several other knitting experts. The result is a clean, fast, easy-to-use program that gives you almost infinite design possibilities.

What You Get
The Sole Solution retails for $29.95 and comes on a CD-ROM. Installation is simply a matter of clicking a few buttons, nothing more. If you managed to find your way to this review, you can install this software without batting an eye.

What You Can Do
Once you get the software up and running, you'll be taken to the program's main window. Here you see all the variables you can work with -- and there are many.

You can determine whether you want to knit a sock from the toe up or the top down. You're given several heel styles, widths, and stitches. Ditto for the toe styles and widths.

And, perhaps most interesting of all, the program produces patterns for socks knit on four DPNs, five DPNs, and even two circular needles!

If you want to use a specific stitch pattern, you can add this too. The program won't chart it out for you, but it will let you know when it's time to begin your pattern and when to stop. If you like form-fitting socks, you can even program specific leg shapings too.

The Patterns
Once you enter all your variables, click a button and the program generates your pattern. In what seems like less than a second, your pattern appears in a new window on your screen. The layout is perfectly clean and uncluttered, with an easy-to-read font that looks good on screen and in print.

More important than an attractive layout, however, is the pattern itself. You'll find thorough, well-written instructions that make it hard to believe you're reading a computer-generated pattern. If you get confused at any point, simply press F1 and a Help window pops up.

Even if you don't need help, I strongly urge you to explore the Help section anyway. It includes a vast appendix with well-illustrated explanations of everything from Kitchener stitch to knitting socks on two circular needles.

You can save your patterns in Word ".doc" format, plain text format (".txt"), and rich-text format (".rtf") for later reference.

Not Your Mother's Software
I never have been tempted to play with sock-design software beyond a few initial clicks. Then again, I've never gotten to play with an application that provided so many choices. Like exploring restaurants in San Francisco, you could use this software to design a new pair of socks every week for a year and never repeat yourself.

If you consider the number of options this software offers, combined with the in-depth help files, $29.95 seems quite reasonable. Unlike that exercycle that long ago became a clothes rack in your bedroom, the Sole Solution stands a good chance of being useful for a long, long time.

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