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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

How to Make a Knitting Chart in Excel

Monday, January 25, 2010
How to Make a Knitting Chart in Excel (Part 1 - Setting up the Chart)

Setting up the graph paper

Open a new Excel document and save the file. (Always save your work frequently!)

Resizing the columns: To resize the columns evenly, you need to select the columns you would like to resize. Click on the "A" header of the column (see red arrow) and drag until all the columns you want are selected. Alternatively, Click on "A" and while holding pressing the shift key, click on the column heading and the end of your range (selecting A through CZ will give you 104 columns.)

The end default of columns is Q, but if you press the right scroll bar arrow at the bottom of the screen (see red arrow in the below picture), you can increase the number of columns

Click on the edge of a highlighted column, and drag until you see the width label change to 1 (12 pixels). Note: You will not see these numbers when you release the click. This width is approximately the size of a single letter width in the column label. By selecting many columns at once, you will have a grid where every square has the same width. If you have kept track of the width value, then it is easy to add more columns of the same size later, but I like to start with more than I could ever need.

Now that we have a good square width, our grid is made up of small rectangles. To adjust he height, select multiple rows as you did with columns. I like to select a couple of hundred rows (sometimes I like to work on multiple charts in one document) As with selecting columns, click on the "1" row title, and the "150" row title while holding down the shift key.

With the 150 rows selected, click on in between 2 rows (see red arrow) and drag to decrease the size until you have a height of 9 (12 pixels.)

You now have a grid of 104x150! You are ready to start designing your knitting chart.

The finished grid

How to Make a Knitting Chart in Excel (Part 2 - Drawing Your Chart)

Welcome to the second article on how to make a knitting chart in Excel. Part 1 looked at setting up the spreadsheet so you would have a working grid. Now that you're set up and ready to go, this article will take you through the drawing process. Part 3 will give instructions on how to save and share your chart with the world.

Remember: to see a larger version of each screen shot click on the thumbnail.

I'm using Microsoft Excel 2003 on a PC, so the location of some of the menus and tools may vary depending on your version. The general technique should work just fine for you. These instructions will give you a square grid. Keep in mind that knit stitches are not perfect squares.)

The knitting chart you created in Part 1.

The Formatting Toolbar

The formatting toolbar may already be part of the toolbar you can see already. The buttons that will be most useful for your chart design are found on the default right hand side of the toolbar.

Familiarize yourself with the Formatting Toolbar. If this is not visible immediately, you can open it by going to Viwe --> Toolbars --> Formatting. (See the check by the formatting bar.)

How to find the Formatting Toolbar

There are two parts of the toolbar that you need to draw your chart. "Fill Color" and "Borders".
If you plan on making a lace chart (not covered in this How To Article) you will need to find what symbols correspond to K2tog etc instead of Colors.

Borders will help you provide a grid that is visible when you print your chart. Although you can currently see a grid, if you try looking at your work with "Print Preview" this grid is invisible.

Drawing your Chart
Choosing your color Pallet. By reading the above formatting toolbar section, you should know how to find the Borders Toolbar. We will start my making a grid the that should be large enough to accommodate our project. Select (highlight) the region you would like to make a grid with.

In the Borders Tool Menu, select "All Borders" (The symbol looks like a mini grid.)

Now it's time to choose your color pallet using the "Fill Color" Button off of the toolbar. When drawing your chart, you could highlight each grid field you would like to change color, then go to fill color and select the color you want. This would quickly become tedious. I prefer to make a mini color pallet in the corner of my workspace, and use Copy and Paste to make my chart.

See the mini color pallet in the top right section of the grid with 4 colors. Now you can copy and paste from these colors, rather than go into the Fill Color menu each time you want to make a color selection.

Draw your chart!
Copy the color you want in you "palette", select a cell, and paste to change the color.
Continue until you have drawn the outline or design of your choice.

Even if you have copied one lavender square, if you highlight 4 empty cells before you paste, all of them will turn lavender. (This can make filling in the a shape much easier.)

Save your work often!
Even with saving your file frequently (I will save each time I pause, but I am neurotic about saving), it is possible to erase your hard work accidentally. Or it can be hard to undo some modifications you made to your chart, and you would like to go back to a previous version. I like to save my in progress charts by copying them to a lower area of the same excel document.

If you copy the chart (in rows 11-16) and paste it below the work-in-progress grid (I pasted at rows 49-58), then you have a copy you can work on, but a previous version saved below. This way, if you become unhappy with your progress and would like to go back to an earlier version, you can!

How to Make a Knitting Chart in Excel (Part 3 - Sharing Your Finished Charts)

Sharing Your Chart
Finalize Your Chart.
Using the borders toolbar (see Part 2 for how to locate this toolbar) you can clean up your chart so the grid is only pronounced around your chart.

The borders toolbar from the Formatting toolbar.

Comparison of charts with an "unclean" grid , no grid and a grid only around the chart itself.

The example chart is 21x21 stitches. To make it easier for the reader, I sometimes choose to use the "Thick Box Border" to mark every 5 or 10 stitches. This can reduce counting.

The "Thick Box Border" button (left) and what a chart would look like after adding the thicker grid every 5 sts (right). These thick borders are more helpful and obvious if there is a lot of background in your chart.

If you chart is really long and complicated, you may want to add numbers to the rows. This will enable you to refer to them by name in your pattern. It is your choice whether you want row 1 to be at the top or bottom, it really depends on how you are incorporating the chart into your pattern. (There is no harm starting with row 21 of a pattern in the instructions!)

If you have been following my instructions for making the grid then the default font size (10) will be too large for our grid, in both height and width. Change the font size to 6 and widen the column so you can see double digit numbers. I also like to make the numbers bold and a contrasting (non-black) color.

Numbers too small (left) and adjusted column width for smaller numbers (right).

I personally choose a very simple and non-elegant method to bring my chart from excel to a publishable format. The screenshot. There is a button on your keyboard that says PrtSc (print screen) or something similar. This will capture the image that you see on your screen into your clipboard so you can paste it into another program. Here are some references on how to take a screenshot in Windows or Max OS X.

Before taking the screenshot, you want to make your image as large as possible. Go to the View Menu --> Zoom and select a custom value so your chart takes up as much of the screen as possible.

If you want to eliminate the background grid completely, you can take the screenshot from the Print Preview screen, but even with the zoom button you may not be able to zoom in as much.

After you're happy with you zoomed in image, take a screenshot.
Copy the captured file into Microsoft Paint and save it was a bitmap or jpeg. (Bitmap is the default of Paint, and is what I use).

Crop the file using your favorite image editing software.
I personally use Adobe Photoshop, but there are many free programs available that will let you crop.
Distribute your chart!
Upload to your flicker or picasa account, blog or email it to friends.

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