Thursday 10 July 2014

Charts....And How to Handle Them

Everyone works differently, and over time we all develop methods to take some of the effort out of our hobbies.
For cross stitch, in my experience, that's predominantly anything that saves me time or reduces mistakes.

I have my needle minder so I don't lose my needle, my stand so I can stitch two handed. My frame so I can see most of - or all of - the design I'm working on; which saves me time moving the fabric around. My Tanto organiser so all my threads are sorted and easy to find.

Then we have the chart.
When I started I did what most people do - just accept the chart in the kit or chart book. It never crossed my mind to do a working enlargement (idiot!).

Oh...if you're new to cross stitch try not to fold and unfold your chart all the time as those creases will eventually fade or tear and you'll lose rows and columns of symbols! Eek!

But, as I moved from beginner through intermediate and finally to expert designs I found reading the charts was taking a lot of my time.

The solution? I'm sure you've guessed.
Highlighter Pens.
Those glorious, colourful, things that you can buy in most £1 shops in packs of 3 or 5!

As seen in the photo at the top of the page, I use a pink pen to highlight the stitches I'm about to do. Then, once done, I go over them in blue.
I'm sure some of you are thinking But highlighting takes time too! and you'd be right - but nowhere near as much time as having to count each row, or group, of stitching. And let's not mention the amount of time saved by avoiding the dreaded frog (that's unpicking mistakes for those who don't know) caused my miscounting. I've reduced that problem significantly through highlighting.

So, nowadays, no matter what I'm working on I photocopy a working page and go mad with my highlighter pens!
I'm not alone I've discovered - there are a lot of people out there who do the same.

But, with the advent of specialist charts that you download instantly from the internet in PDF format another option was needed.
Yes, you can print directly from those files - but what if you don't want to or can't?

Well, there are other options.
If you have a tablet or a Kindle Fire (or other HD version probably), or even a decent screen on some MP3 players and phones you can probably view your PDF charts on those devices.

 This is a screen clip from my desktop PC.
So, you can see, if you sit near your PC (or Mac I would think) you can have your chart displayed as large as you wish.

But, what if you don't own a desktop PC.
Well, I don't own a tablet, but I do have a Kindle Fire, so I did a test.

I downloaded the free Adobe Reader (for Android) App:

This little App was very easy to install. Once I had a PDF file on there I was ready to go.
Apart from the fact this looks like a new version of Sudoku you can see it's a very clear image.
I also discovered that it was possible to do this:
With more investigation, I'm sure I will find that there are other PDF readers that will let me highlight and then cross through.
It's a brave new world people!
I wouldn't be surprised to find that most devices have a way of doing this - so the purpose of this article is really just to bring the option to the attention of my readers.
Because, like me, you may never have thought of doing this - until now!
I have just been informed that two other popular PDF readers for Android are:
And GoodReader for Apple.
I've tested EZPDF and can confirm that it seems easy to use and has some good functions. Hopefully, one of these will suit you - or you'll find something similar!



  1. Should totally keep me updated on this! I need to figure out a way to stitch easier/faster =)

  2. I have a Nook and love that I can use it and mark up files. I have two apps I'm playing with right now to see which I like, FoxIt and iAnnotate for Android. They are both a wee bit temperamental. Surprisingly enough I am gravitating towards FoxIt. I waited ages for iAnnotate to be available for Android but they haven't quite worked out all the bugs and it occasionally lags and portions of the file go blank. Last night I realized that I couldn't listen to a book I had downloaded onto the Nook and open up my pdf at the same time (grrrr) so I linked my Nook to my laptop and pulled up the file. The fact that the file was now much, much bigger was very nice. This might actually become my permanent set up when at home. When using paper charts, I always make a working copy (I have issues about writing on originals, in books, etc) and then do the same thing you do, highlight in one color before and a different color after. Also, just wanted to say thanks for youf very interesting and informative blog. I was blogging awhile back and know the dedication it takes. I've been trying to make sure that I comment on your site because one of the reasons I stopped blogging was that I felt that I was talking to myself. I now make it a practice to comment whenever I can on the various blogs I follow, especially when I find a great blogger like yourself.

    1. Thank you Kathy!!!
      1. For the useful information for Nook users!
      2. For the kind words! It's always good to know that there are people out there you keep those comments coming! :-)

  3. I second Kathy. Such a useful and informative blog. Always a pleasure to read :)

    1. Thank you! I really hope I can keep thing interesting...I'm sure I'll run out of things to say before long!

  4. Thanks for the tips, that was very interesting, will try it !