In Search of Crochet Charting Software, Part 1

Granny Square for blog post(2)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.

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 pricy 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.

Karen Manthey_Granny SquareYou 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 Granny Square

Lindsey Stephens, designer and tech editor, presents a black-and-grey diagram. She can be found at www.poetryinyarn.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robyn Chachula_Granny Square DiagramRobyn Chachula, author of Vintage Modern CrochetBlueprint 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_Granny squareJoan Beebe provides another classic granny. Look her up at ssknits.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Voth Granny SquareCharles Voth offers this variation on a granny square. He can be found at www.CharlesVothDesigns.ca. He also teaches a Craftsy class called See It, Crochet It: Reading Stitch Diagrams. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granny Square_Alla KovalAlla 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.

Want to see how I can help you learn more about creating crochet charts? Fill out this short questionnaire and we’ll get started.

Skewing Grannies

Not a punk rock band, but a Thing that Happens.

Think of the classic granny square. For four or five rounds, it lies nice and squareish like this pastel square.

But if you keep going for round after round, it may start to look a bit like this blue blanket (which is a rectangle, not a square, but you get the idea).

This is a beautiful blanket but wouldn’t it be even better if it didn’t tilt on its axis? The skewing happens because each stitch sits slightly off center from the stitches above it, and the more rounds you work, the more exaggerated the effect becomes. Luckily there’s a solution.

Every few rounds replace the typical (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) granny square corner shown on the left with a (2 dc, ch 2, 4 dc) corner shown on the right.

It won’t be noticeable in the overall design but should re-align the sides. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Thanks to Raveler nursekimknits for providing such a great example of a Skewing Granny and for reminding me that this is a common problem. Got other problems that need solutions? Leave a comment below.