Let your computer handle the math!
Spreadsheets are perhaps the most powerful tool for a knit or crochet designer or tech editor. They can do your calculations for multiple sizes in the same time it takes to do a single size. They can make stitch counts fit a particular stitch multiple, show you what happens with a slight change in gauge, help you figure the yarn needed for projects, and so much more.
In this introduction to using spreadsheets as a design tool, we’ll use Microsoft Excel** to learn the basics of how spreadsheets work, including naming cells, completing metric conversions, rounding numbers, and setting up basic formulas that calculate stitches, rows, stitch multiples and yarn amounts.
You’ll begin setting up a powerful, multi-use calculator in a spreadsheet that can save you hours of work. You’ll see how you can use components of this calculator as modules that can be adapted to designing everything from simple accessories to the most complex garments. You’ll see how spreadsheets can speed up your workflow and improve the accuracy of your numbers.
Be the boss of your designs by letting spreadsheets do the math!
I’ve tried to anticipate some of your questions below.
Q: Is this for knitting or crocheting or both?
A: Both! If we have both knitters and crocheters in class, we’ll do examples from both disciplines, because the concepts are the same. If we have all knitters, or all crocheters, we’ll concentrate more heavily on one or the other, but you’ll be able to use what you learn in both disciplines.
If there is a lot of interest for a particular series of sessions (in other words, a substantial waiting list), I may split it into two groups: one for knitting and one for crocheting.
Q: How does it work?
A: Once you register, you’ll get information about how to connect to the meeting, and a preliminary assignment. At the appointed time, we’ll gather online, with a maximum of 15 students. I’ll share my screen and present a few little lectures while you follow along. There will be Q&A time in each session, and I’ll assign some homework. Later in the week, you’ll have the opportunity to meet me online for office hours, where I will be available to answer your questions.
Q: Will you teach me to design?
A: To my mind, hand knit or crochet design encompasses three parts: Concept, Execution, and Communication. We’ll be working on the execution aspect of design: working out the numbers you would need to make an item in one or more sizes.
This workshop assumes you know the basics of designing and design math, and that you have some experience designing simple items like hats and scarves. You should understand stitch multiples and why accurate gauge measurements are so important. If you’ve never designed your own sweater, that’s OK, but you should at least have made a sweater with shaping so you understand how the process works.
Q: Will you teach me how to write a pattern?
A: Not in the “communication” sense of writing the words so others can read and follow the pattern. I cover those topics pretty extensively in my Craftsy class How to Say It: Pattern Writing for Knitters, and in online course Crochet Pattern Writing Workshop, both of which are available 24/7.
Q: Will you teach me how to draw a chart in Excel?
A: No, sorry.
Q: Will I be able to custom-design a sweater in multiple sizes in this three-week session?
A: You’ll have a tool that will help you do that. I’ll present options for continuing to develop your spreadsheet for custom designs, either on your own or with additional help.
**Q: I don’t have Excel. Can I still take the class?
A: I will be demonstrating on Microsoft Excel. You can use a program like Google Sheets, Open Office or Numbers if that’s what you have. There may be slight differences in the way the programs work, but the concepts are the same across all platforms.
Q: I have built spreadsheets and I’m very comfortable using them. Should I take this class?
A: Possibly. Some of the spreadsheet information I plan to present may be too basic for you, but along the way I’ll be talking about how I build and use spreadsheets in all kinds of design situations, so if you want a peek into my design process, this is your chance. It may get you started thinking about ways to take what you already know and apply it to design.
I’d love you have you in class, because you’ll probably ask a question or present an idea that I’ve never thought of, and we’ll be able to learn from each other.