Question: What software do you use to draw crochet symbol diagrams?
I’m asked this about once a week, and more often than once a day at fiber events.
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My Answer: Adobe Illustrator
The reaction to this response is almost always a sigh, a shake of the head, and a quick retreat with shoulders slumped. (Even if the question was posed online, I can hear the sigh and feel the disappointment.)
Why the universal sorrow? Because drafting crochet charts is not (yet) as straightforward as typing in a set of text instructions and having a program spit out a lovely finished chart. Instead, you have to understand crochet diagrams and the construction of the crochet fabric, as well as have the skills to draw the chart using a vector-based drawing program like Adobe Illustrator, which is pricey to purchase, or the free, open source Inkscape. It takes practice, and the learning curve can be steep.
Even among those who do have the requisite skills, their approach to drawing a crochet diagram varies, even when they are using the same software. Having studied this matter for some time now, I have even come to recognize certain telltale “signatures” that hint at which illustrator drew the diagrams for a particular publication.
I asked some of these folks to share examples of their work. What follows are variations of granny square-style motifs. They aren’t all the same motif, but they do offer a glimpse into the ways that individual diagram drafters put their own stamp on their work. Unless otherwise noted, all of these diagrams were drawn using Adobe Illustrator.
You might recognize Karen Manthey’s work. Karen is a prolific tech editor and illustrator who works behind the scenes on many of the publications you are familiar with. Here’s an example of a classic granny square from Karen, with alternating black and blue rounds.
My granny square (shown above) looks a lot like Karen’s.
Lindsey Stephens, designer and tech editor, presents a black-and-grey diagram. She can be found at www.poetryinyarn.com.
Robyn Chachula, author of Vintage Modern Crochet, Blueprint Crochet and other best-sellers, draws in AutoCad Lt then moves the drawing into Illustrator to create jpgs as needed. She’s a trained architect, so she uses the drawing program she knows best.
Joan Beebe provides another classic granny. Look her up at ssknits.com.
Charles Voth offers this variation on a granny square. He can be found at www.CharlesVothDesigns.ca.
Alla Koval draws diagrams for all of her designs. You can find her patterns at mylittlecitygirl.com.
But back to the original dilemma. Is there a software program that helps the ordinary crocheter draw stitch diagrams? In my next post, I’ll share a bit more on the subject.
Meanwhile, if you are drawing your own crochet diagrams, pipe up in the comments section and let me know how you are doing it!
For more on creating charts, read In Search of Crochet Charting Software, Part 2, and How to Draw Crochet Symbols using Adobe Illustrator.
And if you are ready to learn to draw crochet charts, check out Creating Charts & Schematics with Adobe Illustrator.
Want to see how I can help you learn more about creating crochet charts? Fill out this short questionnaire and we’ll get started.
Edie, this is a fantastic post. I’ve reckoned with it for years and still occasionally hand draw mine (I used to do calligraphy professionally) but not for much longer.
I also feel like I can recognize a particular designer’s style in their diagrams, so I enjoyed reading your perspective on it.
Hi Edie– I came across this just recently: http://stitchworkssoftware.com/ Have you heard of it?
Yes, I have. I’ll be writing more about it in a future blog post.
I have this one, though I haven’t used it much; it substitutes keystrokes for symbols:
I use inkscape at home and illustrator at work for my charts. It was a frustrating process of learning how the programs work, but well worth the effort. I love being able to customize any little thing I want to.
I am using MS Publisher and a Crochet symbol Font. The same flexibility as illustrator but am much shallower learning curve. If yiu can use Word, us can use Publisher. Total flexibility, layers, colours, sizing, grouping but using familier MS Office controls.
Give it a try.
My issue isn’t that it’s done in Illustrator or InkScape, but that I can’t find any crochet symbol icon sets to download and import into an editing software (I use Affinity Designer which is like Photoshop and Illustrator in one, and is cheaper to buy).
Late to the party but obviously the search for the perfect crochet charting solution remains in progress. Graphic designer here, with decades of experience using Illustrator (I remember when it was Illustrator 88) and FreeHand (RIP). So I use Illustrator for charting, drawing my own symbols as objects and using all of the funky tools I can. Downside: it’s taken me a week and a half of here-and-there work to be able to produce the first motif of a design I’m charting, and I need to show a couple of them to show how they join. Surely there has to be an easier way than this.
And for the Mac.
I use Adobe Illustrator. It took a while to learn the program and I still occasionally have to go online to look up this or that, but I think it is a very versatile and powerful tool for stitch chart writing. The diagrams look amazing with Adobe Illustrator.