This and That

Random bits of my life

Tutorial: How to Make a Needlework Chart with Visio

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 20, 2012

Visio for needlework chart

Crocheted matzah cover

This year I didn’t pack my filet crochet matzah cover away right after Pesach. Someone who saw my Flickr photo requested the pattern and I decided to make it available. The only problem was that I didn’t have any charting software.

Years ago, on my Windows95 machine, I had an old copy of PC Stitch, which was adequate for charting but not ideal. To be honest, it felt like an old DOS program that had been ported into Windows, which was probably what it was. I decided to use MS Visio 2007 (part of the Office suite) to see whether it would work. Voilà — A chart in one evening!

Note: I know that some people use Excel for charting. It is easier to use and more readily available than Visio. Visio’s main strength is that it is a graphics program with a built-in grid (you’re laying your grid lines on top of the background grid lines, which don’t show in the finished drawing). You can export your finished design as a PDF or JPEG. You can re-use the grid for other designs by hiding or deleting your current design layer.

How to Make a Needlework Chart with Visio

  1. Launch Visio and open a blank block diagram, stretching the canvas until its large enough for your design by pressing Ctrl and dragging the edges.
  2. Make sure your Drawing Tools toolbar is visible (right-click the toolbars and make sure the Drawing toolbar is checked).
  3. The grid is visible by default. If it isn’t, click View > Grid.
  4. Snap-to-Grid is enabled by default. If it isn’t, click Tools > Snap & Glue.
  5. Click the Line tool on the Drawing Tools toolbar and draw horizontal and vertical red lines, 10 squares apart.
  6. Select the red lines and save them to a layer called “grid_red” (Format > Layer).
  7. Lock the “grid_red” layer (View > Layer Properties).
  8. Draw a grid of black lines. This isn’t as tedious as it sounds: Draw one black line. Duplicate (Ctrl-drag or copy/paste) them until you have 9 parallel lines positioned correctly. Select all 9 lines and group them (Ctrl-G). Copy them (Ctrl-drag) them between each pair of red lines.
  9. Save the black lines to a layer called “grid_black” and lock it.
  10. Creat another layer called Design (View > Layer Properties. Click New). Check the Active checkbox so that all things you draw from now on will be saved to that layer (this should happen anyway because you have locked the grid layers).
  11. Draw a black square, no line, to fill one of the squares. Using Ctrl-drag to duplicate the box, start filling in the letter shapes. If there are long horizontal or vertical lines, stretch the black square to fit. Copy and paste duplicate letter shapes.
  12. Save file. You can export as JPG or PDF (File > Save as).

When I’ve laundered the cover, blocked it, and photographed it properly (the photo above really doesn’t do it justice), I’ll post the pattern.

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