Fair Isle Design, Using Excel (Version 1)

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Although, there are any number of commercial software packages that can help you design Fair Isle patterns, Excel is still widely used. Inspired by pages such those by  Marnie MacLean, my husband decided to create an Excel spreadsheet to help me chart my patterns. This speadsheet benefits from a number of macros which help with the design and allow the design to be changed to symbols before use. If you would like a free copy read on.


The Excel spreadsheet can be downloaded from here. He would advise that the file is saved as an Excel template with the name of "FairIsleDesign.xlt".

How To Use

Start by opening the template, give the design a title and save the spreadsheet with a new name (if you receive a macro security warning, see the FAQs):

Then create the colour palette by pressing the "Colour Palette" button. Add colours to, up to, the first 20 colors using the "Standard" or "Custom" color selector. Save palette:
The colours should render to the key area:
To add to the design select the "Insert" button, select either a Colour or a Symbol from the key then select the range of cells to change:
Add further to the design by selecting another Colour or Symbol until the design is complete:
To erase areas of the design select the "Eraser" button and select the range of cells to erase:
To return Excel to normal behaviour select the "Select" button:
To convert the design to Symbols press the "Show Symbols" button; to convert the design to Colours press the "Show Colours" button
The display worksheet can be used to view larger areas of patterns. Select the "Select" button to allow "copy and paste" between the design and display worksheets. Do not use "cut and paste" as this will remove the grid board. Illustrated below is how the "Making Waves" pattern would look if repeated:

Contact Us

This page is here to support the members of the Ravelry Community.
If you wish to contact me, send a "Ravelry message" to "mariemclellan".

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which versions of Excel will run this spreadsheet's macros?
A. The spreadsheet was built on a Windows XP PC using Excel 2003. It is known to run on Excel 2002, Excel 2003 and Excel 2007.
    A slightly less elegant version will run on Excel 2000 and is available here. It will not run on Excel 97.
    It would not be expected to run on the Mac's versions of Excel or on OpenOffice.org Calc, due the lack of a viable VBA interpeter.
Q. Why does Excel make an issue of the macros in this spreadsheet?
A. The macros in this spreadsheet are there to add functionality to the buttons (mainly). Unfortunately, macros can also be used to carry viral payloads; as a consequence Excel's security will seek to disable macros it does not recognise. Macros are recognised by Excel if they are signed using a verified certificate; unfortunately, verified certificates are expensive and we do not own one.
Q. How do I enable the macros in this spreadsheet?
A. To enable the macros in this spreadsheet it is necessary to reduce Excel's security paranoia of macros. Each version of Excel has a slightly different approach to enabling macros, see the Microsoft website on these pages for details (Excel 2000, Excel XP (2002), Excel 2003 and Excel 2007). We would suggest security is set to "Medium", although you might also choose "Low".