I grew up in a family where learning all the fiber arts was a matter of self preservation. I had a grandmother and an aunt who were professional dress makers. My mother worked for my aunt and did all of her hand finishing. I learned a lot from all three. My grandmother and mother were also into knitting. I had to go one better, and while I sew and knit, I’ve also been known to spin my own yarn.
I learned simple knitting when I was in grade school, but once I mastered it, I put it aside and didn’t pick it up again until college. For the last few years, my knitting passion has been lace patterns. Plain vanilla knitting bores me to death, but give me something with a complicated lace pattern and the yarn flies off my needles. My one hang-up? I hate working from written patterns. I thrive on charts. Imagine trying to build a garage from written instructions instead of blueprints. Charts are my knitting blueprints. Unfortunately, a lot of patterns come with only written instructions. That’s when I generally drag out the graph paper and translate written words to symbols.
Now, I’ve done it on my iMac (yes, there’s a font for those symbols), but it’s a time-consuming pain. Graph paper and a sharp pencil were faster. There are a couple of websites that will generate charts for you, but there again, I have the font on my iMac, and it really doesn’t speed the process. I found a new app for my iPad, Knitting Chart Maker, (and yes, there’s an Android version) that makes the process easy. There is a free version, but if you want to save and/or export your chart, it’s only a $3.99 in-app upgrade. Considering that comparable Mac software runs $99, it’s a steal.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a work-in-progress, and new features are in the works. There is no copy and paste — yet — but it’s coming. In the meantime, creating a chart is a simple as deciding the number of stitches and rows (maximum size is 50 x 50), then select the first symbol from the left column and placing it where you want it. Wrong spot? No problem. Just tap it again. When you’re finished, save your chart or export it. Even email it. Graphic formats are saved as .png files. Add notes to your files. And if you want to share one of your designs with someone who hates charts, you can even convert it to text. The app designer isn’t doing the actual programming, but she works with the programmer in regards to every bit of feedback that she receives. Can’t ask for more than that.