Saturday, October 02, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners. --Florence King

Thanks to reader Camille for telling me about this author.

I have a lover AND I take no prisoners. Don't necessarily agree with what she says but the elegance with which she says it is inspirational. Wit is indeed erotic, applied accordingly and with a deft hand. Heh.

Countdown to Fiber-October
I'm looking forward to next Friday, when my mother and I invade Stitches East.

So in preparation, I reviewed my brochure. Which got me to thinking how much I dislike sitting in classes, since I fidget even at the age of 54 and a half.

And some of the classes' topics are a huge stretch. "Fringe Benefits"--three hours of everything you could ever want to learn about fringe. Egad. "Easy Gift Hats"--three hours of learning how to make a hat. I wouldn't last five minutes.

However, for those people who need to learn some stuff, the Stitches classes are probably a godsend. If Stitches had been around when I first began knitting, I would have definitely taken some of the pattern drafting classes, fidgeting or no fidgeting. And nowadays, I would take any class given by Lucy Neatby, Joan Schrouder, Kaffe, and the folks at Habu. I guess I could sit still.

Somehow, though, I find the idea of sitting in a Stitches class with perhaps a large percentage of KnitDweebs highly unappealing.

Billy Gates Knits
Well, he should. I've often used Excel as an ad-hoc charting tool, although I own the fine Stitch Motif Maker 3. If you want to do a little charting on the QT at work, there's nothing better.

I thought I might do a quick tutorial for you all because I know that not everyone is a whiz at Excel. I use it a lot in my work and I've come to appreciate its power as an application. Plus, if you're running a fairly new PC, most likely MS Office came with your computer, so you have it.

Here's how you do it.

1. Open a new workbook in Excel.

2. Now, click on the square between Row 1 and Column A, so that the entire worksheet turns blue. As my friend and Excel mentor PJ Conway always says, "With Excel, blue is the clue." Your screen should look like the one below. Go into Format and set your Row height to 10 and your Column width to 2. You'll get a nice blank knitting graph. (I've tried to make the screenshots as big as I can but they'll still probably look like crap, so don't whinge about them.)

3. Now you're ready to create a design area and place your color palette. I took a random number of cells and just put a border around them so that I could delineate the design area. Now, to the right of the design area, you'll set up your color palette by filling in a single square with each color you wish to use.

The screenshot below shows my finished palette.

4. To create a charted Fair Isle design, you will copy the square of color you wish to place in the design area and then paste it into the correct square, as shown below:

I use the key commands Ctrl-C for Copy and Ctrl-V for Paste--much faster than going in and out of the menu. Just hold down the Control key and then hit either C or V, depending on what you're doing.

But, you say, I want color AND symbols. No problem, chica. Go to Insert>Symbol and a wealth of nifty characters will be yours for the placing.

There's a shitload of them. The ones in the screenshot below are just a sampling.

5. Now, you can place a symbol of your choice in a cell. If you want it nicely centered, go to Format>Cells>Alignment and select Center for both Horizontal and Vertical in Text Alignment.

BUT, you whine, I want symbols AND color. Jesus, this is so easy. Just add a color fill to your symbol cell and you're ready to cut and paste, like I did in the chart below.

6. Once you've finished your design, I would suggest that you place a border around each cell, even though Excel will print out the grid anyway. The border is a lot sharper. This time, highlight only your design area and then select the border that will outline the cell top, bottom, right and left. Got it?

7. And so, you have finished. Actually, doing this little pattern took me all of 10 minutes, if that. Obviously this isn't a real Fair Isle design, just my doodling. But you get the idea. And here's how it should look when you're done.


I have not used Excel to do any complex stitch pattern charting. I use Stitch Motif Maker for that. However, I'm sure you could create your own custom symbols by drawing in the cell, if you wished. Explore and play with it. There may be some usable items in Symbols. Try going through all the Wingdings and Webdings first.

Now I feel wholly righteous and that I've actually taught something online that might be worthwhile. Let me sanctify my efforts by getting a cup of coffee.

Consultant Agonista
I am almost done with my consulting stint in NYC, thank you Jesus. It's been difficult not having enough time to knit. Knitting on the train just puts me to sleep. So I've done almost nothing during the past couple of weeks. However, I have been able to get some spinning and knitting done on the weekends, albeit precious little.

As it goes, I seem to have just enough time to post once a week, on the weekend. I'm hoping that once my NYC business is done, I can get back to a regular twice a week entry, or more perhaps. This is why I've been writing more in each post, so that at least you'll have something once a week that is hopefully worth your time.

And let me just say that I look forward to meeting those of you who show up next Friday at Stitches. If you think it's me, just come up and say hi. I am quite friendly when fed. Besides, my mother will find it amusing.

The Gallery of Ghastlies will be on the blog sometime next weekend. I shudder in anticipation just thinking about all those unrare and definitively unhandy ponchos and ugly intarsia abortions.

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