Crochet Designers ‘Ask and Receive’ Affordable Chart Software in Time for the Holidays
Ask and ye shall receive. Well, that is certainly the case for crochet designers who have been patiently awaiting the release of a software program for creating crochet charts. In fact, the pleas had become quite persistent recently as several affordably priced software programs for knit designers were introduced to the market. And now, crochet designers finally have a tool at their disposal – right in time for their holiday wish lists.
Crochet Charts by Stitch Works Software is the creation of Brian Milco, a California native who grew up in New England with a passion for computers. Brian first became interested in software for fiber artists when he was employed by another company to write knitting software. “When I realized that it was time to move on, I decided that I really wanted to start my own business,” he explained. “I could see there was a market for good cross platform software in the fiber arts community, and people I had talked to expressed a specific need for crochet software. So when I decided to open my own company, I decided to start where there was a clear demand for what I could offer.”
Brian began work on Crochet Charts almost a year ago and launched the first version in October 2011. Reasonably priced at $50, the software program allows designers to create charts with crochet symbols of designs constructed in rows or rounds. Other features of the software program include the ability to export charts and legends to several standard formats (PDF, SVG, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, and plain text); customizable stitch libraries and legends; helpful tools to allow charts to be easily read, such as the ability to alternate row colors and add indicator marks; and, the flexibility to create multiple charts in one document.
“The biggest difference between Crochet Charts and other software on the market is that it is designed specifically for crochet,” continued Brian. “It uses a free form canvas, so there’s no grid which you have to shoehorn your stitches into. Another difference is that I built my software so that it runs on Windows (XP/Vista/7), Mac (Intel, 10.5-10.7), and Linux (Ubuntu), and the look and feel is native on all three platforms.”
I had the pleasure of test driving Crochet Charts last week and I must admit that it has a very modern, user-friendly look and feel. In fact, I was able to put together my first chart in a matter of minutes without any crazy hair-pulling. Users, though, will appreciate the fact that Brian is available to answer any questions about the program via email and a special group on Ravelry. He is also readily open to suggestions for improvements and upgrades.
The next version of the software, v1.1, is planned for release this week. “The biggest addition is that I’m increasing the number of stitches to over 100, and generally sanding and polishing the rough edges. I’ve also included a couple of user-requested features – a ‘copy, cut, paste’ right-click context menu, and the ability to select the stitch increase when creating charts in the round.”
More New Features on the Horizon
Several new and exciting additions are in the works for Crochet Charts. For example, in the next 3 to 6 months, Brian plans to add a Tunisian Crochet set to the available stitch symbols and within a year, he plans to create a set of stitches for knitting that can be added to Crochet Charts. This will ultimately allow users to combine knitting and crochet on the same chart without any difficulty….how cool is that!?!
“My issue tracking software is telling me that there are about 90 items on my wish list right now, so I have a lot of ideas and suggestions,” he explained. “A lot of them are smaller items like a ‘Select All’ checkbox in the Stitch Library, but some are bigger like a properties dialog that allows the user fine control over the values (angle, scale, stitch, pivot point, color, etc.) of whatever items are selected.” These are both scheduled for the 1.2 version of the software. In addition, Brian plans to add adjustable guidelines for rows and rounds and to improve the usability of the indicators, allowing them to be individually customized.
“I have a few really big ideas that I don’t want to talk about until I’ve had a chance to do some prototyping to see if they’ll even work,” he added. So, users will simply have to stay tuned and wait as the goodies unfold. Brian hinted that these goodies may include a simple schematics program, which would really send crochet designers over the moon.
“It’ll probably be at least a year before I release any other software titles. For right now, however, I want to focus on making Crochet Charts the best software I can, and help to promote some more comprehensive standards when it comes to crochet symbols,” he concluded. And, crochet designers couldn’t be more thrilled.