Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cross Stitching with an iPad

I've mentioned that my job bought me an iPad so that I could be comfortable enough with one to be able to help the docs with theirs (I already was, but that's our secret). I've got carte blanche on it to do with as I please and I'm taking full advantage of it (well, I'm sure that surfing porn would be out of the question, but I wouldn't do that anyway, so there you go). I've scoured websites, blogs, the App Store, and forums looking for really good cross stitch apps and frankly, there's not a lot out there. But I have found a few that are pretty useful and I thought they were worth a mention (and if you guys have any suggestions for other helpful apps, I'm all ears!).

PDF Readers were the first apps I went looking for. Since I only have one kit in rotation and all my other WIPs are PDF charts, I thought it might be easier if I wasn't shuffling around numerous papers all the time. I buy this expensive paper specifically because it's thicker and stronger and holds up to weeks of handling, then it has to be hole-punched, put in a binder that has to be kitted up. I have to keep stock of purple colored pencils to fill in the stitched areas. It's just a lot of hassle and expense, but it's the way I've always done it. I've noticed a lot of people are using apps for this purpose now instead of printing off the patterns, and there are several YouTube videos on the subject that are quite interesting. I thought it might work out for me, even knowing my pitfalls (more on that in a moment).

Most people were either on the Good Reader side ($4.99 in the App Store) or ezPDF Reader side ($1.99 in the App Store) for one reason or the other, so I got both and tried both out. Of the two, I did much prefer ezPDF Reader, even though it crashed every single time I finished highlighting an area. The pitfalls I mentioned consists of two caveats.

First, I have an eye disease called Keratoconus (yeah, I don't get normal illnesses and diseases, I have to get strange ones). It's basically like astigmatism on smack and eventually my corneas will crack from coning out too much and I'll have to have corneal transplants. I'm hoping I won't need a transplant until they approve synthetic transplants (I've seen WAY too many horror movies to get donor corneas), but right now I just don't know. Long story short (I know, too late), I'm blind as a bat. I have extremely expensive contacts because glasses don't work and it's why I have to use a magnifying light (since I so stupidly use 28ct material). Reading anything on a screen for a long period of time is just out of the question for me which is why I don't mess with e-books (great disease for an IT person, right?). I was hoping looking back and forth at cross stitch patterns would be OK, but I still had the same hurt after a while and the "halo effect" I sometimes have was just too great, even after dimming the screen.

Caveat #2: Because it is a work iPad and I work in the medical field, we have to have special apps installed that keep you from turning off the screen lock. For me this isn't much of a problem, I used to be a transcriptionist and can type like the wind, so entering the code takes all of an sixteen of a second, but doing it a thousand times was just plain annoying. It's also what made the app crashing not a problem, it took even less time to click on the app to re-start it. Since I am the IT Director, I could technically just turn the anti-locking app off on the weekends or at night, but unfortunately, I am a pretty honest employee by nature and don't want to. An entire day of testing these apps and these two caveats together made me realize that dealing with the paper isn't so bad after all. So epic fail on the PDF reader front. I'm sure it will work for a lot of people, just not me. Story of my life.

Next up, cross stitching apps in general. This is where the App Store is lacking, but I did find one that is rather good. It's called X-Stitch ($2.99 in the App Store) and it's pretty much an inventory catalog of your entire stitch stash. Its good point - you will have an inventory of your entire stash; its bad point - you have to manually enter your entire inventory of stash! I've managed most all my patterns, but thread-wise I have several of each color of DMC thread and there are well over 400 so that might take a while and I'm not too jazzed about spending hours counting threads. It also has shopping lists, journal entries, wishlists, etc. I actually do find it quite helpful even if I don't have 80% of my stash inventoried yet.

I've actually had Cross Stitch Calculator on my iPhone for years. It's a good app to measure how much material you need for a pattern (and it was free!). Since HAEDs are typically charted at 25ct and I use 28, it's pretty much a must to figure out how much material I need.

At the recommendation of someone on a forum (I honestly can't remember where because I read so much), HoursTracker has been working great (the paid version, not the free one...there is a limit to the number of projects you can enter in the free and I needed more slots, the paid version was the most expensive app at $8.99). I basically clock in and out on each project I'm stitching on. I'm sticking true and only staying on the clock when I'm actually stitching, bathroom or tea breaks aren't added in. For years when I thought I was spending all day stitching, I'm now realizing that I'm really only spending about 8 or so hours stitching. Puts things in perspective a bit.

Last, but not least, I just added a new one for yesterday's's called Tally Counter. It was free and I can use it to count stitches. I've decided per the recommendation of Sasha over at CraftySasha to count when I finish a block. She says she counts the 100 once she has filled in the very last square of the block and the Counters app can be set to count by the 100's instead of just individually. This might be a pain with Maleficent and all that dad-gum dithering, but it will work quite nicely on Alice and the B's. Plus, since I can't turn the screen lock off, counting by the hundreds will make things easier.

I didn't test any cross stitch pattern creator apps. I have cross stitch software (which I've used, but never actually stitched one of my own charts, so why bother). As difficult as cross stitch software is to use in general, I can't imagine it would be easier in app form (or you could get the level of detail I like...HAEDs have spoiled me rotten). I might test one for the lettering of Rainy Wedding that my co-worker will do.

I don't know if you guys remember, but the stitched project is only part of the piece. There will be another piece on teal material that will have their names and their wedding date stitched out. It's why it's a Needle Club project, because we're supposedly doing it together (I must have had a bad headache the day I agreed to this and was on my meds). I'm still trying to micro-manage the entire project even though I did promise to back off after several heated discussions where I was accused trying to control things (OK, so I WAS trying to control things, but that's what I do and with good reason considering the others involved). The person doing the wording isn't a good stitcher, doesn't know how to create patterns, but insists on doing it all herself. I know her, she'll wait until the last minute and I'll end up being the one to design it, she'll rush to finish the stitching and it will look like crap. The other one isn't a stitcher at all but a knitter/crocheter. She wants to be the one to assemble the piece "artistically". That scares me more than life itself. I'm picturing some retro 70's macrame stitched frame. I'm still debating on finishing my part, rushing out and getting it framed and let them do the other projects separately. I just don't work well with others. Never have. Unfortunately, there isn't an app to help with that issue!


Tiffany Pincombe said...

Yikes.... Thank you very the thorough review of the apps. I can never decide if they're worth the money, but it sounds like a couple might work for me as well. No advice on the Needle Club project, but fingers crossed it won't be as bad as you fear.

Vickie said...

I like my paper charts...I can highlight, erase....I am impressed with your app research!

Irina Kopylova said...

You should try Cross Stitch Saga - it is a free iPad (soon iPhone) application made for cross-stitching and it realy helps. It has in-app calculator of floss and fabric and a statistics calendar.