X-Stitch Studio

X-Stitch Studio



Whereas cross stitch has existed as a pastime, arguably as far back as Norman times, (if not earlier), it has only been within the last 10 years that technology has improved to a degree where a device in the home can lend a hand. Yes - we are talking about the computer, (no stranger to a Web browser) but until only very recently, even the mention of the word would have been enough to cause many a talented stitcher to vanish into the distance. Times have changed, however. Every day, more households are becoming home to PCs. The main use of these computers in the home, however, is all too often only to play games or type letters, and far too many are used only by the men or children in the family.

No-one now doubts that the Age of Computers has arrived in the world of cross stitch. Armed with the "X-Stitch Studio" program, you can use a computer to save enormous amounts of time and effort when designing new charts of your own.

How can a computer help? Conventionally, cross stitch design work is carried out on graph paper, with coloured pencils. You colour in the squares, making the odd mistake here and there, rubbing out, copying,etc. After some time, the design is complete. Next, it needs to be 'converted' into black & white symbols, in a grid, where each symbol uniquely represents a colour. So, its back to pen and paper, rubbing out, carefully drawing, outlining, and so on, until the chart is done. This is followed by a stitching session, possibly followed by another drawing bout, to correct some minor problems.

All of this takes time, and for most people, it is only the design of the original colour pattern that counts as 'fun'. The process of converting to symbols is boring, takes ages, and is prone to mistakes, adding possibly weeks to the job. X-Stitch Studio, by Ursa Software, handles most of the donkey work for you, leaving you to concentrate upon the creative aspects of design, and letting the computer do the drudge.

To maintain a familiar analogy, the computer screen is presented as a grid, exactly as if you were working on graph paper. Instead of coloured pencils, a selection of colours, representing DMC or other thread colours, is shown on screen, and you can 'pick up' a colour for drawing with the computer's mouse, just as you would pick up a pencil. Using the mouse as your drawing tool, you then start filling in squares, drawing full, or half stitches, and changing colour when you need to. On graph paper, you might lean closer for a tricky area - on the computer, you can 'zoom in' or 'zoom out' to make the on-screen squares larger or smaller - great if your eyes aren't what they once were!

Of course, it would not be much of an advantage if it stopped there. Using the computer, you can quickly copy areas, and stamp them back down elsewhere, to build up borders and the like. You can rotate areas, draw boxes, circles, and fill large areas with colour in a few seconds. You can add outlining stitches, and a clever automatic outliner will go round the edges of a shape, adding outlining for you.

The real time saver, however, is when it is time to create the symbolic chart for others to work from. Instead of spending a week or two doing it by hand, a simple click or two of the mouse kicks the computer into action, and in just a few minutes, you have a clear, easy to read chart, with no mistakes, and all the stitches counted, too!

Can't Draw? People who can't draw need not despair - it is amazing what can be achieved with a piece of clear plastic and a felt tipped pen! For the more technically 'with-it', however, the X-Stitch Studio program allows easy 'import' of scanned pictures. X-Stitch Studio actually drives the scanner directly, and has it's own mini 'image editor' which allows you to crop, flip, and adjust the contrast & brightness of the image, before converting it into a unique chart for you in seconds.(Scanners are a device like a photocopier, which, instead of creating a new piece of paper, place an image digitally into your computer. The scanned image is made up of thousands of coloured dots, which the X-Stitch program shrinks down to a smaller size, and turns into a cross stitch chart for you!)

The X-Stitch Studio program neatly sections off the creative process into 3 stages - Design Studio, Import Studio, and Print Studio. Nearly all actions possible are represented by an easy to understand button, and the program will prompt you where necessary, to help you along. Studio allows 90 colours in any chart - (many more shades than in most charts you can buy 'off the shelf'), and the design area available allows you to create charts up to 5 feet square on 14 count Aida, although of course, any other H.P.I material may be used. Choose from DMC, Anchor, Madeira, Coates, Tapestry wools, Beads.. The program comes with unlimited, unparalleled free telephone or email support, for those occasions when you need a little extra help.

PC running Windows 95 up to Vista, and any graphic printer. 12Mb disc space for the program, and a hi-colour display.