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?