Christmas Goodies! MacStitch

In a rash moment I had declared a “computer free” Christmas banning everybody in the house from going online. All of us are as bad as one another and I quickly regretted it. Apart from silks from China, lace and ribbons from Singapore, beads and charms from everywhere (think a huge zip lock bag of beads and charms all mixed up together) Jerry quietly purchased MacStitch for me. As soon as I realised I was itching to try it out!

MacStitch is a cross-stitch design package similar to ‘Studio’ for the PC. You can work with you can work full and half stitches, French knots, beads, and backstitch from point to point, including between centers. This means that not only can you design cross stitch charts but since backstitch is possible the software also allows you to create blackwork designs and use some canvas and even weave stitches such as Algerian eye. Basically since it works on the principle of designing on grid you could use it for any even weave designing.

I thought I would let you know how my first experiments with it went.

I think the most popular feature is the Image import function which converts the image to which ever thread range you prefer. On offer are DMC, Anchor, Maderia threads or Paterna, Appleton and DMC wools.

I decided I would experiment with this image of a pansy taken in my garden last spring. I cropped the image and then removed the background in Photoshop as I just wanted to work a sample. So it looked like this.

Using the “import a picture” function. The program pulled in the image and automatically mapped the colors in the image to the closest floss colours in the brand you use. There can be up to 90 colors per design. This worked fine and as expected. It would be possible to print out and stitch from there. When you print you have the option of colour blocks, back or colour symbols, symbols on colour blocks or crosses on a cloth effect. Of course you can also set your thread count and size of chart.

Since the pansy has a lovely blush to it this image produced a complex chart. I wanted something quick to work simply to test the program – this something will end up in my visual diary so I did not want something that would take me for ever and a day to stitch – I simply wanted to test the software. I am also a great believer in the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid). So, I immediately set about reducing the number of colours which is easily done as you can add, remove find and replace threads. Threads can also be sorted by colour, brightness, number, and usage. This was a feature I found extremely useful later on in the process.

Normal features such as selecting an area and using copy and paste, flipping and rotating parts of an image to create repeats are present. An automatic feature for knitters is that the design can be stretched vertically in other words adjusted for knitting.

When you print the chart the program also includes thread estimates for each color used. Now this feature proved to be handy as I have not done any cross stitching in quite awhile so I had to dig out my old threads and see what I had to hand. I did have to substitute a couple of colours but I have started stitching it. I will place the results online when I have finished.

Generally this program has proved to be a heap of Christmas fun for me – for anyone who has a Mac and has often wanted a cross stitch designing program its simple to use, quick to learn and works well. Also much to my family amusement and constant friendly jibes it will keep you at the screen for hours drawing. I wondered why they agreed so readily to a “computer free” Christmas – they knew I would be eating my words on that one!

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