I have used Excel to chart lace and cable stitches and have found it very helpful and easy to use. I use the keyboard characters for standard symbols like k2tog, ssk, yarn-over etc. For cables, I sometimes use made up symbols (>>>> means right leaning cable over 4 sts) or rely on free knitting fonts that work with Excel. I chart one repeat of lace and once that is done, tailoring it to suit my needs is very simple with cut, copy and paste. Excel is very helpful in grading too, but that is not what I want to share here.
I was charting a large, complicated (for me) lace for a shawl recently. After the first cut was done, I sat down to swatch it only to realize my stitch count was off somewhere. On some rows, I had extra stitches, while on some, I was falling short. It is easy to manually count decreases and increases when your stitch doesn’t span too many columns, but in my case, I was dealing with a 75 column x 40 rows chart. Even if I did muster the courage to manually count it, I would never be sure I had done it right. I decided to use Excel’s in-built functions for help. I have used basic math functions like SUM, SUBTRACT, ROUND etc for grading, but had never tackled a problem like this before. A little sniffing around gave me COUNTIF.
I am using the above chart as a reference. You can click on these images to see a larger version. There are too many k2tog, ssk and yos, so manual counting is a bit difficult. I want to tally my decreases and increases for every row. I set up a column which gives me the count of yarnovers. I need to know how many times the character ‘o’ appears in every row. The formula to use is COUNTIF(H3:AJ3, “o”).
This formula counts the number of times ‘o’ appears from celss H3 to AJ3. Similarly, set up formulas to count other characters also.
The last column TALLY should subtract the decreases from the increases, i.e. YO-SSK-K2TOG-2*DD. We multiply DD by 2 because double decrease reduces the stitch count by 2. If the cell shows zero, then your stitch count is fine, if not, you need to fix your chart. Copy these formulas on all the rows of the chart and you can verify your stitch count on the all the rows.
Here is my setup. See the number ‘2’ on two rows there? That is the reason my stitch count was off. I deleted the yarnovers at the beginning and end of both rows and now the stitch count is intact.
Here is the new chart with tally being all zeroes.