Beginner’s Guide to Charting your Knitting, pt 1

December 23, 2012 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

I’m new to charts myself. New to reading them, and even newer to writing them. While this has its drawbacks, it also has its advantages – a fresh perspective, something new to research (yay!) and lots of trial and error. And there’s plenty of opportunity for both trial and error. Lucky me.

But now that I know how much easier charts are to knit from than endless lines of ant highways  tiny figures crawling across a page, I can see how invaluable charting tools are to any knitter, as any pattern can be plugged in and turned into something you can read at a glance. And for those who prefer written instructions, many of these programs also convert graphs into written format too.

And since I’m almost certainly not the only crafter stumbling round in the dark trying to put two and two together, I figure I might as well share my research so far and perhaps save someone else some effort, or at least reduce the number of headaches from 20ish to maybe 12 or so..

So, at first glance there seem to be only quite a limited number of options, but further delving uncovers at least a dozen, which is not bad for such a specific market.

Free

  • Excel * ( Warning: attempt at your own peril. This product is not good for your hair. I may have incurred permanent bald spots on either side of my head from repeatedly pulling my hair out in frustration before I finally threw in the towel on this one. Ok, well, this might be a slight exaggeration, but then I’m not an excel fan. Your mileage may vary.) Fleegle has a great series on how to drive yourself bonkers use this easily accessible program
  • The lovely Jacquie of http://jacquie.typepad.com/  has generously created a nifty little doober which you can use online her blog http://jacquie.typepad.com/Charts/knitChart.htm, or download, by scrolling down and clicking on the ‘ChartMagic’ link on the lower left. This was the first thing I had any real success with. The downside is that pattern size is limited, though the downloadable application can chart up to about 50 stitches, a little more than the one in her blog. I did also encounter a little glitch or two, but they were probably due to user error! I have that effect on things.

Paid

  • Intwined Pattern Studio looks pretty good and has a couple of video demonstrations http://intwinedstudio.com/ and at $44 it’s quite accessible.
  • http://www.knittingsoftware.com/ has a bunch of programs for different tasks, including the Stitch and Motif Maker, $89, and various more specific applications such as sock or sweater designers or swatch makers, ranging from $5 to $35.  It has a demo, if you can get it to work, which unfortunately I couldn’t as it doesn’t want to play with Windows Home Edition 64 bit.
  • Knitware at http://www.greatknitdesigns.com/ But again with the 64 bit issue. While I definitely think this application has the best name  it sent me in circles from start to finish, and if you’ve always wanted to go round the bend, their website is the shortcut! After about an hour of twaddling around, I’m still not even sure how much it costs.
  • Designaknit has the heftiest price tag at $495, but it looks to be a complete package that can also plot things like garment shaping and so on.  http://softbyte.co.uk/designaknit.htm. It has a downloadable demo.
  • Cathy Scott’s Knitting Chart Editor, £60 is another option, and has cute little knit stitch symbols to boot.  http://www.stitchmastery.com/

Apps for iGadgets

These little guys all look great but will have to wait til I have a chance to upgrade my gadget to ios 5 😦

* For those intrepid souls who are so inclined, there are a number of knitting fonts for excel, useful for when you get sick of wingdings.

For colour knitters, there’s also a bunch of programs that will convert a photo into a colour chart too. e.g. this one – http://www.tricksyknitter.com/pages/knitting-chart-maker/create-a-color-chart.php

Well, this is what I’ve gleaned thus far.  I’ll be revisiting this topic in the near future when I’ve had opportunity to test a few more of the options. And in the meantime if I’ve erred anywhere, please let me know so I can make this information as accurate and useful as possible.

And of course, if all else fails, print yourself out some graph paper http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/ or do what I did, dig out an old maths book from year 10 (tellingly enough I’d hardly used it at all! How convenient!) and a pencil and eraser, and nut it out the old fashioned way by scribbling and swatching!

Happy knitting!

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Entry filed under: Spinning and Knitting. Tags: , , .

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