Friday, November 11, 2011

Ask Diana - What's the best option for getting patterns into a Brother 270?

One of the blog readers asked a great question today.  Given the opportunity to acquire a PPD, is that the best option for putting patterns into the Brother 270?

The Brother 270 is the electronic bulky.  I use one for most of my videos, because the big needles are so easy to see.

I thought I'd write about this question, because I've tried several options.

First of all, I've played with the PPD. 

  • I found it very simple and basic, easy to learn
  • It's relatively cheap
  • It pokes right into a slot in the 270
  • Some preprogrammed PPD cartridges are available
  • It works with a TV monitor so you can program your patterns
  • It's old technology
  • It's black and white, no playing with color schemes (or colourways, as they say in UK)
  • It's tedious to use compared to some of the available software
  • Stitch patterns is all it does - not shapings, or hand knit charting, or talking to other machines
Secondly, I've beeped in my own patterns from a piece of graph paper. 

  • It's free.
  • It's simple, and instructions are in the book
  • You should learn how to do it anyway
  • You can write what pattern you used right on the magazine or notes you're working from (by that I mean the memory numbers, like 901, 902, etc.)
  • Miserable for any kind of big pattern
  • Not very visual, easy to make mistakes
  • Because not visual, if you're designing, you're stuck with graph paper, or if you're eccentric like me, pieces of newspaper, old envelopes, and napkins...
You can improve this experience by using Excel for the graph paper.  Set the column width to something like 3 and the row height to something like 13 (beats me why Excel uses those numbers...) and you'll get a squatty square that is about right for making a knitting diagram.  Then use the color fill to make a pretty picture. 

The illustration here is a stitch pattern that I created quickly in Excel.

Or you could invest in DAK

  • Incredible features - color palettes, shapes, sizing, gauges
  • Cool pattern designing tools like mirror images, cut-and-paste, kaleidescope, shapes, fonts, etc.
  • Great visual interface that works on PCs - I just love to sit and doodle new stitch patterns
  • Visual interface includes a "repeats" feature, which helps when you're doing an all-over pattern to make the edges work
  • Visual interface includes a couple of views that look almost like real knitting, which greatly helps me visualize my item.
  • Visual interface allows for the squashed shape of knitted stitches, which can be a problem if you're designing on square graph paper
  • You can make screen colors to match your yarn, which is also very helpful when designing
  • I actually like "knit from screen," which talks to me and tells me when to increase and decrease.  I tend to get interrupted quite often, and it keeps my place.  Some people find the talking computer annoying, but I'll take all the help I can get!
  • Use it with almost any machine and use it with hand knitting
  • Lots of ready-made patterns include DAK format files
  • The lace tool (not a 270 item, but pertinent for other machines) is wonderful
  • If you also happen to have a Passap E6, it's great when it can be used instead of the card reader
  • Work with Paint Shop Pro and put photos in your work!
  • It's costly
  • It's not easy to learn
  • The copy protection on it is a terrific pain - you must be careful with your original disks and keep track of your receipt, serial numbers, etc., as well as be prepared to phone the distributor if it decides not to work because of the copy protection.
  • You will need a special cable for your machine.  The 270 cable is particularly unusual and expensive.  Over the years, I've purchased separate cables for five different kinds of machines.  This can't be helped, because the input on the Passap are completely different from the 270, which is completely different from say, the 930.  Each time I need a cable, that's another expense. 
In my humble opinion, DAK is worth the hassle and expense, if you will be doing a lot of pattern and garment designing.


  1. Thank you for these lovely tip!I'm using the old DAK,but was downloading Pattern Explorer about a week ago and then I'm able to SEE my COLPATS!Have a nice day!Synnøve

  2. Thank you, Diana, this info is so helpful. I did order the PPD for my kh270, but it wasn't free. ($175) Guess I goofed there
    Thank you so much for your teaching videos. I wasn't using my 20 year ribber at all until seeing your videos
    One more question: I didn't buy the ribber to go with my kh270 because I have the kh230 & kr 230. Should I put the kr270 on my wish list? or is that too little difference in ribbers?