There are lots of reasons to own a software program that can help you create or design charted images for counted cross stitch or any other counted technique. The major reason for me is the convenience of being able to work out a stitch chart in an easy-to-use program and print it in a clean format ready for use. I use software to create filet crochet patterns for my mom, to work out monogram placement, to sketch up blackwork designs, to work out drawn thread edges or Hardanger ideas, or to work out patterns that I find on a vintage linens or on old samplers or what-have-you.
On Sunday, I posted a photo of some really pretty Pysanky Easter eggs that were resting on a beautiful Ukrainian embroidered cloth. I received an e-mail from a reader, and this is what she asked: I LOVE the design on the Ukrainian cloth you posted today and I want to stitch it sooooo bad! Beside drawing it out on graph paper, how could I make the pattern for it? Do you use software for that, or do you draw it on graph paper? Do you know if it’s easy to use that kind of software? Any suggestions are appreciated!
So that question prompted today’s article. There’s no affiliation here – I’m simply passing on information about a product that I use that I’m happy with. You may know of other good cross stitch software that you might want to recommend, and that’s fine. If you’re looking for this type of software, I suggest you shop around, read reviews, download demo versions and try them out, compare prices and features, and then make your own informed decision.
So, for working out any patterns that involve counted embroidery techniques, I use MacStitch 2011 by Ursa Software. MacStitch is written to be used on a Mac, but if you don’t work on a Mac, you can always look at their PC version, which is called WinStitch. The current version for both of them is 2012, but I haven’t upgraded yet, so I’m still using 2011.
Right off the bat, I should tell you that I don’t do a lot of counted design work. But what I have done in MacStitch has been very easy to do. In looking at the Ukrainian cloth, I drew up this element, which is the main motif of the design.
In MacStitch, I work in color blocks, but before I print a design or export it as a PDF, I can opt for color blocks or symbols or both. I can also coordinate block colors with colors of thread from many major thread brands. And I can add beads, French knots, backstitches, half and quarter cross stitches, and so forth to my charts, too. I can chart text, using whatever fonts I have on my computer, and do all kinds of other charty stuff.
Using the cut and paste feature, I created the corner. That took about a whole second.
Then I worked out the trim around the corner. Since I couldn’t see exactly what was at the corner of the outermost outline, I worked out my own version.
Then I just cut and pasted the elements to fill in the whole design on the corner.
Making sure the corners all worked out and the design matched up took a tiny bit of fiddling, but all in all, I was able to produce the whole design in MacStitch in a short time, using mostly cut and paste and a little bit of fiddling. The design above isn’t quite finished, but it’s nearly there.
Now, this is designed for 28 thread count fabric, and if stitched over one thread, it would produce a design about 6″ square, so not very big, and definitely not large enough to line an Easter basket! But to enlarge the design, I just have to cut it in the center and add repeats to achieve the length and width I want. If I were making a very large cloth, I might design an element for the center that coordinates with the edge.
Once the design is finished, I can choose all kinds of options for printing. I can choose at what size the chart will print, so that I don’t have to strain to see the pattern. If the chart runs over onto more than one page, the “overlap” will print with a shadow, so I can clearly see what was on the previous page and find my place. I can print the stitch key, I can print different types of graphs, I can preview the piece rendered on “cloth” (well, as much as a computer can do that, anyway)… pretty much anything you’d want to do with a cross stitch chart, you can do.
The program is easy to figure out, as long as you have a little bit of computer experience (just like any program, really!). MacStitch has a pretty good user guide, which is helpful. I’ve used other software for this type of work – Jane Greenoff’s Cross Stitch Designer, PC Stitch, and Stitchcraft are some programs that I’ve used on a PC (they don’t have Mac versions). Compared with those programs, I found MacStitch to be more user-friendly, and my guess is that Ursa Software’s WinStitch version for PC would be equally as user-friendly (though it’s only a guess – I haven’t used it).
So, to answer the question about software for counted cross stitch and other counted techniques, I use MacStitch by Ursa Software. If you’re in the market for this type of software, you should try out the demo versions of cross stitch software out there, and then compare features and prices.
As for the Ukrainian cloth, I don’t know if I’ll ever stitch it or not! But I suppose if I want to, it’s just a matter of pushing the print button, right? And that’s really the nice thing about having this type of software on hand.
What about you? Do you use any cross stitch software to work out designs? Any recommendations you want to share? Any problems you’ve had with various software? Or any questions you might have for me about this software? If you do use this type of software, do you use it for anything other than cross stitch? Looking forward to your feedback! Just leave a comment below if you want to discuss!
Tomorrow, I’m giving away another beautiful book! The next day, we’re talking threads and organization (very excited about that!), and then an update on the Medallion Project – it’s creeping along slowly, but at least it’s creeping…