I’m still trying to work up my favorite mode of double running graphing. I’ve pretty much dismissed all of the dedicated charting programs. They don’t allow the dot/stitch metaphor that I find far easier to stitch from than heavy lines superimposed on a background lighter grid.

Again, here’s that jester snippet from TNCM. I find this clear enough to stitch direct from the thumbnail, even at its tiny size/poor resolution.


It’s small, but it’s clear. The lines are stitches, the dots represent the “holes” in the cloth being stitched. In something like Aida, Hardanger or Fiddlers Cloth, each dot is an actual hole in the weave. If one is using plain weave linen, each dot corresponds to the interstices between each two (or three, or more) threads over which the stitches are taken.

Here’s the same pattern, graphed out in one of the stitching programs (click on this, to see it better than it is shown in the thumbnail):


Yes, there are some aids built into the stitching program, like decimal bars on the graphs (every 10th bar indicated), and stitch counts along the margins, but those can be added to my style of illustration.

My main beef with ALL of the stitch graphing programs is that they treat back stitch, double running or other straight stitches as an afterthought. Sometimes the back/double running notation can’t be easily mirrored or manipulated (as in KG-Chart LE, which I used for the bit above). In others it always appears as an undifferentiated or symbol-represented line, with no indication of individual stitches. And in all of these programs, scale is limited. They’ve been invented for folk who stitch at larger gauges than I favor. My 18 stitches per inch (36 count linen) is a bit smaller than the 7, 10 or 12 stitches per inch many modern stitchers favor. Patterns plot out waaay too large for easy display or reproduction on book size pages. So far I’ve taken the demos of quite a few of the dedicated stitching programs for a test drive. To date I’ve tried and discarded PCStitch 9; WinStitch, SitchR-XP, DigiStitch, KG-Chart, Easy Cross, Easy Grapher Pro, STOIK Stitch Creator, and Cross Stitch Professional. I will say though that most of them do a fine job at turning photos or drawings into cross stitch. (I am a bit frustrated with programs that allow very limited trial periods. I work. Lots. My hobby investigations take place over months, not days. I would have liked to have gone back and re-tried some of the earlier programs I encountered later on, but was unable to do so because my 3-day trial had expired. Their loss, not mine).

Now I’ve turned to general purpose graphics programs. I need one that lets the user manipulate grid density and representation, that allows mirroring and rotation, and grid-constrained line drawing. Ideally I want one that allows either patterned lines, or that allows some sort of logic-based display controls (black pixel overlaid with white pixel = white pixel as displayed; black pixel overlaid with black pixel = black pixel as displayed; white pixel overlaid with black pixel = black pixel – you get the idea).

I’m not quite at the optimal yet. But I’m getting close. I did the bit below using GIMP – a general purpose open source graphics manipulation tool. Elder daughter (the one jumping up and down, waving madly over there in her dorm room) gave some vital assistance with layer manipulation and masking. Here’s the result (click on this one too):


I’m not quite happy with the dots/voids. I find my original method from TNCM much easier to parse out visually than I do the new version, with dots in the center of each void. But that may be just me.

I’m going to soldier on, looking for something – anything – that can get close to my original. For the record, that was done on my long gone Mac IIcx using Aldus Superpaint. A program that has no direct cognate today.

All advice/leads on possibles are gratefully accepted. In fact, if someone manages to put me onto an effective solution to produce the look in the first snippet above using Windows software, and I end up using their method for my next book, I will reward them with a highly suitable stitching related gift.

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4 responses

  1. I have no suggestions, but I do hope you can find something that suits you. TNCM’s graphs are incredibly easy to stitch from.

  2. I’ve actually been making smilar graphs with inkscape; like gimp, it has layers, but it’s vector based and has lovely snap to capabilities. The dots I make by placing a larger white circle underneath a smaller black circle, and then the stitch lines are on the bottom layer.

    1. Interesting. I have to investigate this method. Gimp does have a very useful snap-to feature as well.

      It’s also nice to see someone else using the voided-dot method of showing graphed patterns (as opposed to the trace over the squares standard). I started doing that in TNCM back when I began drafting it for final print, in ’82. It’s been slow to be adopted by others, but I think it’s easier to work from and a better representation of the finished product. T2CM will be done that way, too.

  3. […] Jesters at the Fence. A snippet from TNCM (see below). […]

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