Monday, January 25, 2010

How to Make a Knitting Chart in Excel (Part 1 - Setting up the Chart)

A comment on my peptide beer cozy pattern page inquired how I was able to make the chart look so good. You can go to an office supply store and purchase graph paper. You can download graph paper online. But how can you easily make a chart of your own design and share it on the web? In this article, I will give you a tutorial for using Microsoft Excel to generate your knitting charts. In Part 2, I will discuss how to draw your chart and in Part 3, how to save and share your chart.

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.)

To see a larger version of any of the screen shots, click on the image and the full size file should open up.

Setting up the graph paper
  1. Open a new Excel document and save the file. (Always save your work frequently!)
  2. 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 column "A" header

    Multiple columns are highlighted

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    Resizing the columns

    After the resizing is complete

  5. 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.

  6. 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.)

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

The finished grid

Continue this tutorial:
Part 2 - Drawing your Chart
Part 3 - Saving and sharing your chart