Tuesday Tip: How to use Microsoft Excel to make your own graphs

Maybe you can crochet anything you set your mind to, but can you design anything you set your mind to?

Of course you can!

Graphghans are all the rage right now. They make wonderfully personalized gifts for people of all ages, and they’re so versatile! You can do them in straight SC/HDC/DC, in bobbles, shells, waffle stitch (!), and especially using the newly popular C2C method of crochet stitching.

I’ve been asked at least a hundred times how I design my graphs, so I decided to take the time to put together a little tutorial to show you how I do exactly that. Enjoy!

Update 6/9/19: I’ve created a video tutorial for this! You should be able to watch the video below, or click here to be redirected to the Facebook video.


Open a blank workbook in Microsoft Excel. Note: I am using Microsoft 2013, so my menus may look a little different than yours!

  1. Adjust the width of all of your columns. You can do this by clicking on the little arrow on the top-left of your workbook. This selects all of your cells in the workbook. Right-click on any of the column headers and select “Column Width” from the menu.1
  2. Adjust the column width to a value of “2.14”. This will make your columns and rows form nice little squares! Perfect for graphing!
  3. Select your desired graph size by clicking in one square and dragging your mouse down to form your graph size. I suggest a 25×25 or 30×30 graph to start with. 2
  4. With your graph squares selected, add some borders to your graph. You can add default black borders by selecting “All Borders” from the menu or you can add borders of a different color by selecting “More Borders…”.3
  5. I prefer using grey borders for my graphs because I think it’s easier on the eyes than flat black borders. I select the second color option down in the second row (it’s highlighted in gold in the next picture), and then select “Outline” and “Inside” from the Presets to make the borders cover all of my selected squares.45
  6. Add row numbers to your graph by entering the numbers in the cells below/above/next to the graph squares. If you’re going to do C2C, most C2C graphs start in the lower right-hand corner, so make the lower right-hand square your first row, increasing the row numbers as you move up and to the left. 6.PNG
  7. Add some arrows to your graph by using the Insert Shape feature. Draw four arrows: up, down, left, right. 7
  8. Copy and paste these arrows so that they follow these rules:
    • Top and bottom edges of the graph:
      • odd row numbers = ^
      • even row numbers = v
    • Left and right edges of the graph:
      • odd row numbers = >
      • even row numbers = <8
  9. Now it’s time to add some color to your graphs! Start with a basic concept or design you want to make. In this example, I am going to make Jayne’s striped knitted hat (from Firefly, if you don’t know the reference!). To start, I usually find an image of the shape I want to emulate in my graph. Here is the hat I will be graphing: 9
  10. Select some squares by clicking and dragging your mouse over the desired area. To add color, click on the paint bucket and select your desired fill color.10
  11. Keep selecting your squares and filling in color. This is mostly a trial and error process.11
  12. You can even add letters if you want!12.PNG
  13. Or background colors!13

And that’s basically it! From here, you can add a list of colors off to the side or a stitch guide, or you can convert to a PDF or just print right from Excel. There are other free versions of Excel that would probably work just fine in a pinch (LibreOffice comes to mind), but I have had Microsoft Excel since I was in college. It’s my go-to program of choice.

I hope this helps other crafters to be inspired to create their own graphs! Obviously, the more squares you have in your graph, the more detailed you can make your designs. I prefer the smaller graphs because I just don’t have the attention span to make anything much larger than 50×50 squares!

If you want to do straight SC/HDC/DC etc., you will want to adjust the graph’s row counts and arrows to reflect the straight back-and-forth motion of your work. You also don’t necessarily need numbers along the top and bottom of the graph.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! This method of graphing is definitely full of trial and error, but it’s the easiest way I could think of to make my graphs. Hopefully it helps you to discover a whole new world of design possibilities!

Happy crafting!

28 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip: How to use Microsoft Excel to make your own graphs

  1. Awesome, I was trying to insert photos and that didn’t work, ths is easier thanks for posting

  2. mine is a much older version I can’t insert the arrows but I can get a grid and pit the colors in very cool. it will save me hand strain from doing it with pencils on graph paper.

    1. You can, but your graph would have to be quite large to get close to the resolution of a photo. I’m guessing somewhere around 200-300 blocks wide by the same high, depending on the layout of your photo. Most of the graphs I design are 25 blocks x 25 blocks, but the technique would still work for a larger graph!

    1. It depends on how you’re doing it. If you used my graphs in just sc and did 1 sc per block, your square would come out pretty small.

      Some people are doubling the sc count, basically doing two sc per block and then doing each row twice, essentially making each block of the graph be 2 sc x 2 sc.

      Hope that helps!

  3. thanks! this was helpful. only one question- why does the guy behind the guy in the pic have plastic bottles stuck to his head 🙂 ?

  4. Awesome I thought of this before I bought pc stitch but it didnt come back to mind until after I purchased it. Well they both will help. I can use pc stitch for picture grapghs. Also you bought memories from when I took Microsoft Office some years ago. Aweome great teacher.

  5. What size blanket would this make? I would be doing a double crochet stitch? I am still learning how to read designs. I know this was asked already but would one block on the graph be considered one block crocheted?

    1. Size is determined by a lot of factors: (1.1) the ply of the yarn, (1.2) the number of strands you carry throughout the project, (2) the gauge of needle you use, (3) the type of stitch you do.

  6. hi i was just wondering how do you graph a star shape. I have 15×15 to play with

  7. Is there an easy way to make a graph for patterns on hats? Looking to make a beanie with a design. Thanks!

  8. I was told not to use squares because my end picture would be distorted. How would I combat that over a large picture? Would I elongate the squares?

    1. If you’re using sc, your actual stitches will be wider than they are tall, so your squares on your graph should be a little bit wider than squares, looking a bit like slightly smooshed squares/rectangles. Hope that helps!

  9. I am hunting for a simple, easy, cross stitch computer program. I have one now, but has several screens, to much to do. Very complicated.

  10. Oh my God! This is great 👍🏼
    I’ve been working all my adult life with MS Excel, but never knew it’s this helpful for my crochet life!!!!
    Thank you so very much 🙇‍♀️

  11. This is awesome, thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I have been using excel for work related stuff but it never clicked to me that I can use it for my grapghan patterns – can’t thank you enough for this.

  12. Hey! I hope you can help me.. First..THANK YOU for posting this!! I am doing C2c HDC- I alloted 25×25 blocks in excel.. just how many squares per block would constitute as ONE cluster of hdc’s. I do the chain 5 and then chain 2 method and then 3 HDC in each before sl st to the next.

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