Monday, January 25, 2010

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

Welcome to the third 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. Part 2 gave you tips on how to actually draw your chart. Now I will give you 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.)

Sharing Your Chart
  1. 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 (left), no grid (middle) and a grid only (right) around the chart itself.

  2. 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.

  3. 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). It is worth enlarging these thumbnails as the details are hard to see here.

  4. 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.

    How to find the zoom tool

    Adjust the zoom until your chart takes up most of the screen.

    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.

  5. After you're happy with you zoomed in image, take a screenshot.
  6. 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).

  7. 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.
  8. Distribute your chart! Upload to your flicker or picasa account, blog or email it to friends.

Go Back to Part 1 (Setting up your chart)
Go Back to Part 2 (Drawing your chart)


  1. Thank you for creating this tutorial, I was becoming disillusioned by the freebie software for just such a purpose. The learning curve is a bit more than I wanted to invest in at this time. I love being able to use existing software I am already familiar with. I wished I had thought of it. Ingenious!!!

  2. Great tutorial!! I wonder if there is a way to change colors. Let's say you made it with red and wanted it blue. How do you select the cells that are red and change to blue?

  3. So there isn't an option like in a drawing program to immediately change the color in all of the cells. You can, however, select a no-square region by holding the shift key down as you select other objects you'd like to change.

    Usually I just copy and paste the new color in a couple squares at a time, in retangular blocks. (Although I make sure to copy and paste the entire design somewhere else in the sheet to for "backup"

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. What a GREAT idea! Thank you for sharing this. The last time I downloaded a "free" knitting chart program off the 'net it crashed my computer. To think, all this time I had a free chart-making program at my fingertips.

  5. Thanks for the nice tut of how to use Excel. I like this idea better than some of the "programs" that I have seen.

    1. You're very welcome! I like to use the tools I have on hand whenever I can. :)

  6. I don't have MS products on my computer, but I do have OpenOffice, which has a spread sheet program. I was able to adapt your instructions for OpenOffice Calc and it works beautifully!

    1. I'm glad that you were able to adapt the instructions. Have fun creating your own charts!

  7. This is Great! Do you have amy tips on how to add text to your grid using the fonts available within the Microsoft Excel program? I would like to be able to knit m daughters name onto a scarf that I'm making for her and I'm not creative enough to design my own font.

    1. I'm not sure how to get Excel to add text to the grid itself, but I did a search for a number of different free alphabet knitting charts. There should be an option on this list that should work for you. (This is where I start whenever I want to add less simple letters to my designs.)

      I also have a list of free knitting fonts that you can use if you want to incorporate knitting symbols into your charts.

    2. Thank you, that's so much easier!

    3. I was actually taught this weekend by my husbands business partner how to combine Photoshop and Excel to create PDF charts using fonts of your choice. Once I have figured out how to do it with any sort of skill and how to express it in a way that makes sense to anyone but me, I'll share it with you. It is much easier for me since I am not at all creative enough to fill in text grids. My text ends up looking like a two year old did it with a black crayon!
      I did do a search and found a very nice free Harry Potter font that I was able to incorporate into my grid. I'll let you know how it turns out in my project.

    4. Sounds fantastic. I'd love to hear how you did it!

    5. For adding text I learned a little trick. I create a table in Word 28R X 21C. Then on another sheet in Word I create the letters I would like to use and in what font. They need to initially be in a light colored text. Then I use the Snipping tool to create a screen grab of the letter(s). I next paste it on top of the table in Word. I then right click on the picture that I just pasted and choose Size and Position. I then choose the tab that says Behind Text. That puts the picture behind the graph. This is why the initial color needs to be light so that the grid will show through. After that I am able to use the fill feature in Word to fill in the squares over the top of the picture in the color of my choosing. It works great for letters :) Gosh I hope this makes some sense. After adding color to the squares you can remove the pic from behind and voila you have a chart. Of course you would have to mess with height and width to your knitting specifications.

  8. Can this be used for crocheting

    1. Sure! I don't know as much about crochet charts,but they tend to be less grid like so it could be a little more complicated. I'm a novice crocheter and am inexperienced with crochet colorwork, but if you make charts in a grid then this could work for you.