Thanks for all the positive feedback on the lace series! I had no idea it would get such a response - I'm trying to catch up with emails, but in the meantime, cheers to everyone who said such lovely things, and big thanks to everyone who's provided clarifications and otherwise picked up my slack. To answer a common question, I do not use any kind of knitting software, either for drafting patterns, for sizing, for chart-making or for drawing the illustrations. I've never tried Sweater Wizard, et al, though I know lots of people have good experiences with them - I guess I'm just a luddite in that I don't quite trust them. Then, too, in the patterns I'm trying to work out right now, there are lots of fiddly little details that couldn't really be translated - gauge math and sizing math are easy enough that pen and paper work fine for me, and it's a lot easier for me to visualize exactly what I want that way.
I draw all my charts in PhotoShop CS like this: create a 25x25px jpg for every symbol you use. Open those up and copy and paste them as needed into a new layer in a blank document with gridlines every 25px. To get a printing grid, open a blank 25x25px document, draw a 1px line at the very top and at the very left side, flatten it and save it as a jpg. Choose "select all", set it as a pattern, go back to your chart, and fill a new layer with the pattern. Then choose "select color" in that layer, choose "highlight", and hit clear or delete to take away the white background and leave only the black grid visible. The same process can be done with a 250x250px grid and thicker lines to mark off every 10 squares. Flatten the image and resize at the end.
The diagrams I do are all drawn in Illustrator CS - I just take an ellipse and subtract a smaller ellipse from it to get a stitch shape. I fiddle with it until it until it looks right, and then create "building blocks" - stitches arranged as in k2tog, stitches arranged as in ssk, etc - and then just duplicate and paste away. I futz as I go to make sure everything lines up and looks right, and occasionally you need to scissor and slice to get things in the right arrangement, but they're pretty easy and quick to make.
Thanks for your generous comments about the stockings, too! I did knit two, but the first one had a lot of issues I was still working out and wasn't very pretty. That's why it's hidden inside the boot :)
The lace series picks back up tomorrow, I think - it takes me a couple days to get each entry together. In the meantime, check this out:
The center panel of the sampler stole, seven and a half repeats of the pattern, is done. What a difference a bit of pinning makes, eh? Here's what it looks like on the needle:
The garter stitch base creates a very compact, very drawn-in fabric (even more exaggerated since I'm using US0s instead of the US2s called for), and the unstretched piece is ripply and sort of...nipply, for lack of a better word. I've pinned it out only gently for the photo above - it's got a couple inches still in it in either direction, I think - but it already measures about 13x32 inches. There are two small (I think about 150 rows each) borders on either short side, and then the edging to go.
My mom's birthday is the 23rd. If I get serious about this and start knitting like usual (rather than lazily knitting a row here and a row there once in a while), it might be doable.