Using “Skitch” as stitching record

When we got our very first computer all those years ago, I remember someone saying computers would drastically reduce our use of paper. Speaking as a teacher, computers have not reduced our use of paper; in fact, I think they’ve increased it! I know computers are seen as a risk for important documents: you can create something, save it only to lose it at some point in the future. However, usually this doesn’t happen and, if you back up your documents, you can be pretty sure they’ll be around for a while.

In an effort to reduce the amount of raw materials I use and space in my home I need for paperwork, I’ve started to keep a record of my stitching projects on my computer. Why? Because I’ve become more and more convinced that I’m a visual learner. Show me a photograph of a stitched piece and I usually can work out the stitch, the thread and approximate the order of work. Give me instructions to read without a photograph and I get confused, frustrated and make mistakes. Computers allow me to easily combine photographs and text.

So, two good reasons to use a computer to keep a record of my stitching: 1. ) I use less paper and 2.) I can combine easily a photograph and written instructions on the computer.

I’ve tried different programs for this but have finally settled on a combination of two: a work processing program of any kind and a great little program that’s free called Skitch.

For work processing, I use Text Edit on my Mac because it came as part of the OS and it’s simple. A document can be saved as a pdf or an rtf (rich text file)  so any document can be opened in any other word processing program. No bells, no whistles, just text writing.

Skitch is a program I was introduced to by a colleague at school. It allows me to take a photograph of whatever is on my screen, like a screen shot. That’s not what makes it so great, though. After the photo has been taken, Sktich provides the user with tools to mark up the photograph. There is a text tool, a tool to draw arrows, to make circle or square shapes, to draw free hand using a pencil or a marker type tool, and a paint fill in tool.

When I started to make notes on the Trevelyon’s Cap project, I could draw arrows on the photo and number each of the design elements. Then I used Text Edit to record the thread color(s) and stitches used for each element.

I could take a Skitch photo of only a tiny part of the design and then notate it directly on the Skitch photo instead of using a separate text document. Different colors are available for all of these tools, which makes writing instructions even easier as you can refer to the colors in your instructions.

For example: the section pointed to by the pink arrow is stitched in Pearsall’s silk 250, the section indicated by the yellow arrow is Pearsall’s silk 251 and the section indicated by the green arrow is Pearsall’s silk 252.

I use Skitch all the time when I’m writing about a process here on the blog. One photo can be annotated multiple times so it’s easy to make step by step instructions. In addition to the screen shot feature, if your computer has a built in camera you can take a photo of whatever is in front of the camera – you! for instance!

However, none of this is the best thing about this little program: nope, the very best thing is that it’s FREE!  It is NOT for both platforms…only available for Mac. Sorry! Please let them know you want it for PC.  You can find it here:  Skitch

How do you keep a record of what you’ve done? Are instructions enough or, like me, do you need photos as well? Are your records on the computer, in a book or in another format?





11 thoughts on “Using “Skitch” as stitching record

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I am so in need of a program like that! Anf FREE!
    Thanks again for the link 🙂

    (following your embroidery stitching is a privilege)

  2. I use a combination of methods to get all on the computer; I have nothing on paper anymore–converted all the old records to files.

    But Skitch doesn’t “do” PC, at least not yet. Last time I heard anything about it from Evernote was that it wouldn’t come out to use with any OS before Win8, but that it was planned to be a PC “app” for Win8 after the general release of that OS.

    Which of course doesn’t keep us from putting a photo on our mobile device (I’m on a camera-less Android) and marking it up, then sending it Evernote for retrieval from the PC. Very slick.

    • Oh, I also rarely do projects from books or kits etc unless I can do it “my way”, but I do need designs (not pictures necessarily) since I flunked (no kidding) drawing in college, which I took hoping to draw my own stuff. If I have to follow instructions, it turns the project into “homework”, which also makes my hobby too much like work so I ignore stuff that I can’t do “my way”.

  3. Wow! What a cool program! Now ANOTHER thing to distract me from my stitching – keeping track of it!

  4. last week I fished out a kit I had been given on a course and I had not worked on it since the course and I cannot start my new project until I have finished this one ( I am afraid I only have one piece of work on the go at any time, unless I bring bits home from courses, then I finish it immediately after my current piece). However I did not have the picture despite having the instructions, I found it very hard to stitch the piece of work; infact I made very little progress. I like to keep a nippet of the original wool that I used with the finished kit afterwards (just incase somebody wants it in 100 years time :-))

  5. I have notebooks – and of course my blog! As I spend so much time with the computer for other reasons I prefer not to computerise too much of the rest of my life!

  6. I would really like something like this for my PC. I don’t have mobile stuff. Does anyone know of anything for a PC that is free or very inexpensive?

    • Hi Julie-Anne,

      Here’s a “Skitch like” program I found for PC on line called Jing. I haven’t used it but it looks like a similar program. I found it at this website
      If any of these are helpful, please let us all know.
      Thank you!
      Liebe Grusse,

  7. Hi Kathy –
    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve just checked out Jing and I think the idea of keeping stitching records using it will be very helpful to me. I’ve done some sporadic “by hand” recordkeeping in notebooks on my embroidery projects, but I really like the idea of making notes directly on screen shot photos.

    As for being a visual learner, I know that I am one. I’ve been trying to learn/understand Hardanger for a while now, and wind up frustrated with the written instructions. As I’m left handed, that complicates the process, too.
    Best wishes,
    -Sharon in France

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