It’s no secret that I have a background in numbers: I have a degree in mathematics, and I spent 15 years working in product management in the software industry.Â I’ve spent many, many hours working with numbers in spreadsheets, sometimes in Microsoft Excel and sometimes in the Open Office spreadsheet program. No matter which program I use, spreadsheets are my best friend, and I love how they can help me even though I’m no longer in the software industry!
I use them for a surprising number of things.
Yes, spreadsheets are good for working with numbers, and I take advantage of this by using them to help me with pattern design and technical editing.Â (I may be good with math, but I’m terrible at arithmetic.)Â I use them to check the calculations. For example, when creating or checking a garment pattern I create a row with the number of cast-on stitches, I create rows with the number of stitches decreased for armhole shaping, and then I let the spreadsheet do the arithmetic to let me know how many stitches remain after the shaping.
But they’re also good for non-number related tasks.
I use them to create charts – these, for example. (I often use the Knitting Symbols font for my own designs, but for Knitty we have our own standard set of symbols.)Â Â I set the column widths and heights so that they reflect the appropriate ratio for a knit stitch (a stitch is about 3/4s of its width in height, so that meansÂ if you set the columns to be 1 cm wide, then the rows should be .75 cm tall.) and then I fill in either the appropriate symbols, or use the color fills.
When charting, the mathematical functions are amazingly helpful – I don’t need to fill in cell and row numbers – I just set the first one, and use a formula to create the others.Â And you’ve got color fills for colorwork charts.
I also use spreadsheets for my to do lists. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of Knitty – a sample spreadsheet I use to keep track of my technical editing tasks.
And I even use them to keep an inventory of my stash.
Spreadsheets – a knit designer’s and technical editor’s best friend!