2014, Lace, Tutorial

Charting Lace in Excel: Tallying Increases and Decreases

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.

2013, Knitting, Tutorial

How To: Create circular/oval arrow in MS Word

I need schematics to include in my knitting patterns. This is always a pain point for me because I am not good at free hand drawing. I tried creating schematics with Microsoft Word and was reasonably successful. I know there are better tools, but I am not good at free hand drawing, so I go with MS Word which gives me already-drawn shapes. One issue I face with MS Word is the lack of oval or circular arrows in the library. I usually flick an image from the net or draw one myself (which doesn’t look like an oval arrow at all), but I had enough of these workarounds, so I decided to take this bull by its horns. Here is a photo tutorial for creating circular/oval/elliptical arrow in MS Word.

This tutorial is for Microsoft Word 2007. This should work in MS Word 2005 as well. The menu items and their positions may be different, but this functionality should exist in older versions of MS Word.

1. Go to the ‘Insert’ tab. Select ‘Arc’ shape under ‘Basic Shapes’.

2. Draw an arc. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, because we will be changing it later.

3. Select the Arrow Style as shown. ‘Shape Outline’ menu is visible and enabled when the ‘Arc’ object is selected. Choose whichever arrow style you like. I chose the block, filled arrow here.

4. The arc will now have an arrow at one end.

5. Click and hold on the yellow circle on the non-arrow end and drag it down. You will see trace of the shape being drawn. Based on this, drag the mouse until you are happy with the shape.

6. Do the same with the arrow end. Click and hold the yellow circle and move it around until the arrow end is close to the non-arrow head.

7. Use the blue circles to change the width or height of the arrow.

8. Your arrow is ready to be used.

9. Use your shiny, new arrow in your schematic.