First off, if you’re not familiar with Handweaving.net, GO CHECK IT OUT RIGHT NOW. And then subscribe. It might be the best $25/year you spend in your weaving life – and it’ll only get better the more that Kris Bruland adds to the site. I use the Docs portal to the University of Arizona Weaving Archives whenever I’m researching something but most folks love the site for the Drafts: 70,000+ drafts – more being added continually – and some really nifty tools to manipulate and compare them. For instance, be sure to check out the “Same Threading” action if you’ve found a draft you really like.
It’s Handweaving.net’s newest tool, the Color Editor, that I’m writing about today, because it’s the one that we’ve been using for a while now in the Stash Weaving Success course I’m teaching with Tien Chiu. I’m not going to explain what the Editor is and how to use it right now: there are help files and tutorial videos right on the site for that. What I AM writing up are a few additional tips that I shared with our SWS students in a recent Q&A that I’ve found make working with the editor a little easier.
- How to scroll from side to side
- How to zoom the draft view with your keyboard rather than your mouse
- How to save your colour palette
- How to move .wif files between the online color editor and Fiberworks (this wasn’t in the Q&A but I’m adding it by special request)
How to scroll from side to side
One of the difficulties when working with the (current version of the) editor is the scale of the picture. If you have lots of ends in your threading or picks in your treadling, you have to choose between seeing everything and making things big enough to edit. Put another way, when you zoom in far enough to make the little squares you’ve got to click on big enough to find with your eyes and your mouse, you can only see a portion of the draft. The horizontal scroll bar is below the drawdown, so you can’t use it and look at the threading at the same time, which gets cumbersome.
If you have a wheel mouse, the wheel normally scrolls the active window vertically. If you hold down the Shift key, however, the wheel will scroll the active window horizontally. This isn’t specific to the Color Editor – it’s a behaviour common to most (all?) browsers and applications.
The upshot for the Color Editor is that you can zoom in enough to see the threading and scroll from side to side without having to move the entire window down to the horizontal scroll bar below the drawdown. Caveat: you have to have a scroll mouse for this to work.
How to zoom in or out with the keyboard
The Color Editor isn’t speedy. It can take a second or two for it to respond to your clicks and drags. I notice this particularly when I’m trying to zoom the draft in or out – which I do frequently to switch back and forth between a zoom factor where I can edit and a zoom factor where I can see the whole design. Because of the lag time, clicking or dragging the Size slider that controls the zoom level can be frustrating.
Instead of click or dragging the Size slider, you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move it. In order to do that, the Size slider must be in focus. You can tell it’s in focus if it’s highlighted somehow, though how it’s highlighted will depend on your browser and its settings.
To bring the slider into focus, use the Tab key on your keyboard. Typing Tab repeatedly will cycle you through various elements on the page that you can interact with, including (but not limited to) the Upload WIF, Download, Add color, and Replace Color buttons, the Lines checkbox, and the Size slider. Holding Shift while typing Tab cycles you through the same elements in reverse.
It’s not always possible to see which element is in focus, so I usually start by typing Tab a few times to see what lights up, or just cut to the chase and click on the Lines checkbox (twice, so that it’s the same value after as before) to bring it into focus, and then Shift-Tab to go back to the Size slider.
Once the slider is in focus, typing either the down or left arrow key on the keyboard will move the slider to the left (towards the smallest value) and typing either the up or right arrow key will move it to the right (towards the largest value). Try it a few times and you’ll learn how many steps up and down you need to go to switch between your preferred zoom factors.
How to save your color palette
The most powerful part of the Color Editor is its ability to let you choose colors directly from a photograph you upload using Select Colors from Image. I’ve been doing some version of this for years but it’s required multiple apps and a lot of copy/pasting, so it’s lovely to have an app that will do it all so easily!
A picture of yarn isn’t just one solid block of colour, though, so it can take some time and energy to refine the palette exactly as you want it. For instance, here’s a photo of some yarns:
Each of the spools and balls in the photo has lighter areas, darker areas, and regions with medium values. The yellow is particularly tricky to capture with a single click because the pixels that make up that part of the photo range from a light blue to a dark brown and many things in between – only a very few of which are the yellow that best represents the yarn. The Color Editor provides tools to edit the colors and get them just right (there are help files and tutorials on the page) but it still takes time.
Having gone to that effort, you don’t want to have to do it again to come up with the same palette time after time. The solution is to save a picture of just the color palette you’ve created from the photograph, using something like the Snipping Tool (in Windows), or a screen capture that you’ve cropped down to just the color palette. The details of how you do that will depend on your device and operating system. A Google search for “screen capture” and your operating system should turn up useful results. In Windows, I use the Snipping Tool a lot.
Here’s the palette I came up with from the photo above:
Now when I want to use this same palette in the Editor, I use image of the palette instead of the image of the yarn, which means I just have to click on each of those big, easy to target, rectangles of solid colour.
How to move .WIF files between the Color Editor and Fiberworks
I’ll start by saying that the following relates to (the Windows version of) Fiberworks PCW because that’s what I know and use but you can do something similar with any weaving drafting application. You’ll just need to locate the equivalent commands in your application’s menus. (You can open .wifs in the (free) demo version of Fiberworks and then manipulate them – handy if you want to play around with thread thickness, for instance – but you can’t save your work without a licensed copy you’ve paid for.)
One other note: capitalization doesn’t matter in file types, so .WIF is the same as .wif.
To download the draft you’ve created in the Color Editor as a .wif that can be opened in other weaving applications, simply click on the Download button and choose Download WIF in the dialogue box that opens.
Depending on your browser settings, you’ll either be prompted for instructions as to whether to open or save the file and what application to use, or it will automatically download the .wif file to the directory you’ve previously told the browser to use. If you’re given a choice, save the file. If you’re not sure where it went, your browser may let you open a history of your recent downloads and then open the file they’re in. Failing that, check your Downloads directory.
To upload a .wif to the Color Editor, click on the Upload WIF button. This will open the file structure on your computer. Navigate to the directory that contains the .wif file you want to upload, then select it and click the Open button.
To open a .wif file into Fiberworks, first launch Fiberworks itself, then choose Open Drawdown… from the File menu. This will open the file structure on your computer. Navigate to the directory that contains the .WIF file you want to open, then select it and click the Open button. (You can’t simply click on a .wif file and have it launch Fiberworks automatically unless you tell your operating system to link the .wif file type to the Fiberworks application by default.)
To save a draft as a .wif file instead of Fiberworks’ native .dtx format, choose Save As… from the File menu. Below the field where you input the name is a menu of file types, which defaults to the native .dtx format:
Clicking on the second line, where it says “PCW 4 Files (*.dtx)” will open the menu so that you can select .wif instead:
You can do that before or after you enter a file name in the File name field above the file type menu. Now the file you save will be a .wif file that you can upload to the Color Editor or any other weaving application that makes use of the generic .wif file type.