There’s no denying that many knitters have come to rely on the computer as an essential tool. Even if you don’t spend every spare moment in the parallel knitting universe of Ravelry, you probably do search the internet for patterns, inspiration and technical support from time to time.

But have you ever thought about how your computer can help you offline too? I often use Excel, Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, to plot out shaping or stitch patterns: first I set the spreadsheet’s grid to a proportion that reflects my stitch and row gauge, then I select symbols from the standard Microsoft fonts to signify increases, decreases and various other stitches, and pop them in the graph where necessary. Until today.

As I was tinkering with the pattern charts I’ve made for the upcoming Introduction to Knitted Lace class, I began to wonder if some tech-savvy knitter out there hadn’t designed a font of standard knitting symbols–the kind you see in commercial patterns. Google answered my question in about 1/100th of a second and made me feel silly for not having asked the question sooner. I downloaded Aire River Design’s free TrueType font. It was easy to install and includes a great range of symbols, including dozens of increases and decreases.

XRX–the publisher of Knitter’s Magazine–also has a free knitting font available on this page, which also features a downloadable PDF of a great article by David Xenakis on using Photoshop to create colour charts from digital images.

What about you? Is your computer a useful knitting tool?