Carpet or pile stitch knitting on Passap and Brother KMs 1

Pile, carpet, or loop stitch are terms used for a raised relief fabric made on KMs using both beds, with or without programmed patterning motifs on either bed. Two color patterns are sometimes also called “punch pile”. Depending on machine brand and on thickness of yarn, loops may be formed every row or every other, varying the pile density. Beds are always at half pitch, the same setting used for every needle rib. The “needle rule” is disregarded. First and last needle are always on the non patterning bed, to anchor down any loops close to the edge of the fabric. In machines with automatic end needle selection, the function is cancelled. Some yarns and designs will even tolerate loops being dropped at the end of knitting. Sometimes dropping them every few rows will work. If any yarn splitting or fussy knitting off because of fiber content occurs, then dropping stitches may be needed after every row of loops formed. If using multiple colors of yarn on either of these 2 brands, having them equal gauge/weight is helpful.

The Passap knitting machines as well as the Brother, did not have a built in yarn feeder to facilitate knitting this fabric such as that possible in the Studio brand. Particularly with the advent of the E6000 Passap model, for a while there was keen interest in how to produce similar fabrics. Susanna Lewis was among the first to describe knitting pile across multiple brands, whether punchcard models, or, later, electronics.

The fabric loops are created with one pass of the carriage, the next row of knitting is intended to anchor down those loops, and with no needle or pusher selection, no stitches knit on the patterning bed. This fact gives one the opportunity to drop loops without disturbing pattern selection. Some of my drop stitch lace previous blog posts discuss designing such fabrics. Color separations are required. The E 6000 console performs many of these automatically, one simply has to plug in the appropriate “technique” number. The default DBJ separation made by the console in Brother electronics may not be used because blank rows for no needle selection need to be added in order to attempt the long loop or stitch fabrics. This in turn requires the knitter to do the work. Design rows are expanded

  • Graph        Motif        Color
  • Row 1        Row 1       Color 1
  • Row 2        Row 1       Color 2
  • a blank row is inserted  on top of each of the separated rows, so for each 2 color design row, there will now be 4 charted rows

The E 6000 has some built in technique choice options for knitting and automatically adding blank rows in charts where needed. This allows for the locks, empty of any yarn, to travel from and then back to the color changer achieving stitch dropping. My preference is to work with stitch dropping tools instead of the extra rows “knit” without yarn. Also, if the goal is to work between KM brands, keeping the separations more compact is practical, particularly if one plans to use the end chart with a punchcard or a mylar sheet for programming.

I had tried some pile fabrics on the E 6000 in the past, found the knitting a bit loose for my liking, but by lightly felting (wool yarn) the result, I had a stable, attractive fabric that could easily be cut and sewn in combination with other knit companion DBJ fabrics. Another option in wearables to add stability may be an iron on knit interfacing used on areas of pile knit. This time I pushed the back bed tension as much as physically possible with the yarn used, and was happier with the result. The only problem I encountered was in thinking I could knit a few extra rows on the back bed only before dropping the knit off the machine for inspection. The old adage still applies: if more than a row or 2 are to be knit across all stitches on any single machine bed, each yarn has an optimum tension required for stitches to form properly. Pushing limits will lead to problems. I had a lovely lock jam. For wide ribs the same principle applies: the more stitches on either bed, the closer tension on that bed to what number would apply to single bed stocking stitch on that bed.

CARPET STITCH KNITTING ON PASSAP E-6000 with release stitch tool. Use any 2 color fairisle pattern from the pattern book that accompanies the machine. Both Passap manuals are now available for free download online. I randomly chose # 1407 for my test. Start with all stitches on the back bed. If you have done ribbing, transfer front bed stitches to back. For test swatches, if open stitches do not matter, it is possible to do a quick single bed cast on on the Passap in a couple of ways, the “broken toe” cast on will work across brands. Have an extra needle and pusher each side on back bed when setting up work for patterning. Back bed tension as tight as possible, front bed 1 – 1.5 tension numbers looser than back bed. As always test small swatch before committing to a larger one.

One color carpet stitch:  Technique 256. Black strippers are recommended. I rarely if ever use black, go for orange first, sometimes combining with one blue or switching to 2 blues if the fabric calls for it. Ignore console instructions. Back bed is set to FX  left arrow key <–, not BX as instructed. Do not use the AX setting by mistake. FX will tuck right to left, knit left to right (toward the color changer, which in Passap sits on the right side rather than on the left as in Brother machines). Knit rows help anchor loops. Back bed pushers are in 1 up, 1 down set up. Using one arrow key means the same selection is repeated for 2 rows before the switch is made to the adjacent pusher and the corresponding needle.  The front bed is set to LX (slip) throughout. Racking handle is down (setting for every needle rib).  Two rows are knit, then the front bed stitches are dropped (Passap knitting beds are in reverse position to Japanese machines set up with their ribbers). If loops are long they may need to be pushed between the beds before knitting the next row. Passap machines have pushers for this purpose, in Brother rulers or any number of tools may be used for the same purpose.

Two color carpet stitch:  Technique 185, black (or other) strippers, 184 may also be used, its graphic gives the added reminder for EO pusher set up on back bed. Back bed setting is the same as for the one color pattern, Front bed knits in LX throughout. In theory stitches may be dropped every 4 rows. Some yarns may split and catch the alternate color requiring dropping after each color is used, others will tolerate much less frequent dropping. It is all an experiment to start with.

Again: the back bed tension must be as tight as possible, the front bed at least 1.5 tension numbers higher until tests determine what is best for the yarn being used. Multiple strands of some thinner yarn may also be worth a shot. Weights are needed on the knitting, no matter what brand machine is in use.

One color trial: back tension too loose, note change in texture after tightening back lock tension; the loops are formed on the purl side

passap front 1col

passap back 1col

the 2 color version, with adjusted tension on back bed

Passap front2col

note vertical stripes in backing
passap back 2col

At the end of knitting pile, add anchoring rows of knit on back bed only (tension may need to be changed after a couple of rows), proceed as preferred.

Previous posts with info on accessories useful for dropping stitches and loops 1, 2, 3.

Geometric shapes in drop stitch lace 3, end release

I began to think about color separations again, in reference to pile knitting, and returned to the chart used in the circular shape in the #1 blog post in this thread. While studying it, it occurred to me that the fabric might be created by releasing the stitches at the end of the knitting. Brother  punchcard books (now downloadable for free online), at the back usually had a page with “lace like patterns by KR” illustrating some of the possibilities in what I have been referring to as drop stitch lace. Once again, all stitches are transferred to the non patterning bed. Selected needles whether by hand or by the machine, are in this instance, not released until the very top of the piece is reached. In long pieces of this type of lace, I find dropping stitches at regular intervals rather then waiting until the end helps things run smoothly, and gives one the episodic opportunity to evaluate proper stitch formation, to move up weights, etc. I found in my first swatch my inexpensive grey wool was really sticky and kept trying to knit with the white after the color was changed, explaining the mess on the left of the purl side image. Also, it pays to have some weight on, or at least to keep an eye on, the color changer side. As yarn colors are carried up (every 2 rows) between color changes, if they are not long enough they will pull in the fabric on that side. If the end product is to be gathered at one end i.e. in a skirt, that could be an asset, but not so if the intent is to have it lie flat.

The pattern is programmed beginning on a row with black squares in it, ends on a blank row. Selection row in this instance is done from right to left (toward the color changer), the next color is picked up, and the process repeats every 2 rows. At the desired height I like to have the ribber knit the last row on only its needles, before the stitches on main bed are dropped across the width of the knit. Tugging on the comb and weights will speed things up. The fabric grows significantly in length, so watch where those weights are headed.

my first try, purl side500_991

knit side500_994

Along with changing the “nasty” grey yarn in the next swatch, I moved the knit further away from the color changer, and things went very smoothly. If where the repeat is placed in the knit matters however, then the needle bed would need to be programmable as well to change the center needle position

500_992

500_993

the illusion knit inspired method of charting and working the released stitches does not work for this technique, the result is simply very large, striped, single color per 2 rows, loose stitches500_995

Geometric shapes in drop stitch lace 2, Brother KM

Occasionally I do play with hand knitting and charting for it. A couple of years ago I wrote on the topic of  illusion / shadow knitting. The repeat is 24 stitches wide, so it is suitable for use on punchcard machines as well.

a chart from that blog posttry_drop_stitch

the resulting hand knit, on purl side
IMG_0823

While working out the circle in the previous post it occurred to me that the results were quite similar to shadow knits, where depending on the angle from which the fabric is viewed, images begin to appear in the striped fabric. The above chart is missing those all blank rows that result in no needle selection. The solution for using this type of color separation for drop stitch on the machine is to use double length. Other KM settings  remain the same as in the previous post. The first selection row is from left to right. The big difference is that once again, there will be the same needle selection on the next row. With some needles in B and some in D, a slider or pusher will not move across the needle bed. In the past I tried to drop stitches selectively on the main bed with rulers or whatever was handy. Now, instead, I found pushing the whole row back to B, allowed me to use my new tool to move back and forth across the needle bed, making faster work of the process, and returning needles in position for the next main bed row to be selected on the first pass, knit on the second. The swatch was casually steamed

knit side 500_987

purl side, viewed as it would appear in a sideways knit 500_988

Without the “tool”, all stitches can be brought to E and back to B with a ruler, piece of garter bar, ribber cast on comb, or other handy toy. Dropping stitches is done while carriages are on the right, they return to the left knitting only on the ribber. In the previous post, the ribber only knit first, both beds knit on the second row, and stitches were in turn dropped with carriages and yarn on the color changer side (L), after no needle pre selection across the main bed.

Geometric shapes in drop stitch lace 1, Brother KM

These pattern repeats may become quite large, and are suitable for designing and downloading with software. Testing repeats in a small section to start with, insures methods and accuracy when planning the larger ones. Here I would prefer a wider, brick repeat, however, I am working with a mylar on a 910 so in this test I settled for a vertical repeat, the result shown below. The pattern reminds me of shadow knits.

knit side500_986

purl side500flipped

purl side, as it would appear in a sideways knit500

charting things outcircle drop stitch

As it stands, the repeat is 32 stitches wide, 32 rows high. The colored 3 row segments on right, if collapsed would result in an all black row, with no overlap. Colors are changed every 2 rows unless the repeat is designed differently. Care is needed on the color changer side, making certain both colors are not picked up together as the color is changed, resulting in the ribber knitting both yarns together. KCII is used, canceling needle selection. An extra needle is put into work at each end on the main bed. This fabric widens considerably, so casting on and binding off need special consideration. Before pattern knitting starts, all stitches must be on ribber bed alone, with needles in work, but empty, on main bed.

I chose to knit my swatch with first row selection from left to right. The KC is set to slip <—>, the ribber N<—>N throughout. This knits all stitches on the ribber, selects needles for main bed stitches to be knit on the next row. On RC 2, selected stitches will knit, while preselection for the next row will place all main bed needles in B position as the carriage moves to left, leaving them ready to get “dropped”. Use your tool of choice to drop stitches and return them to B position once again.  Color is changed, and sequence repeats.

Previous blog posts on topic: 2 colors per row, Japanese machines, on the Passap, an edging, stitch dropping tools, and occasional bits of info in other threads, ie. on drop stitch “bubbles”.

Brother KMs “pile knitting”/ ribbed stitch dropping tools

I am pondering returning to some drop stitch lace experiments on my Brother KM, have blogged previously on drop stitch lace, and some of the tools that can help speed up the technique. Studio has marketed a “pile knitting” accessory usable for this purpose, still being manufactured. A recent web search revealed its cost is presently in the range of approximately 13 to 20 dollars per unit. As is, the tool does not work on the brother machine. One of the critical differences between brands is in the shape of the rear rail. Brother kms in addition have an elevated metal piece at center of km, behind the rear rail and in front of the belt, as seen below in 2 of their different models, that hinders smooth movement by a tool across the length of the space it rests on.extra metalIssues with using the tool as manufactured: its back “rail” (1) is taller than the front (2), keeping the unit from sitting flat on the Brother bed, and also striking the metal rectangle pictured above. The front parts (3) and (4) do not align properly with the metal bed, and further interfere with use. studio p carriage:presser

Some sliding of the tool along the Brother metal bed, comparing the placement for areas within which the needles need to move, led to my altering the carriage by trimming the rear rail (1). Initially I used a hand held electric sander, followed by a nail file to “even” things out rather than making any effort to cut the plastic.

In my revision (1) is now shorter than (2), rather than taller, and flush with the top of the curved ridges between both.

cut_offmm

full altered_500

the Brother Bulky 260 “D slider” was supplied with bulky kms1So far I have tried out the altered Studio tool out on solid color knitting with hand needle selection. All knitting needs to be on ribber if the main bed is going to make stitches for pile, drop/ long stitch (aka mesh in some references) lace. For a test: with both KC buttons selected to slip, hand select needles for long stitches, put out to holding and knit across all needles. Selected stitches only will have caught loops on the main bed, all stitches knit on the ribber. Using the tool now that needles are back in B on the main bed, passing it from Right to Left brings all needles out to D, traveling back from Left to Right with it realigns them in B, dropping them. B is the needle position for needle selection on rows with no punched holes, black squares or pixels, when programmed patterning is used on the machine.

Instructions in the studio manual showing it in use, with all parts in place. A reminder: Studio needle positions are A, B, C, D, while Brother skipped the third letter of the alphabet, using A, B, D, E on its beds.studio directions

A block lace pattern on KM 3 (punchcard, LC, HT)

This is the original lace working repeat as seen in previous post. It needs to be reduced in repeat width, with segments then moved to accommodate the required changes in height as well

original repeatgetting things down to 12 sts repeat width, eliminating sts and rows: easy task with software and virtual “graph paper”minus rowsthe segments, collaged together; black squares now to become  punched holesrepeat_cardmarking out borders to suit mylar or brand of blank punchcard makes placing the markings for transfers accurately easier ie.

every 5 squares every5                           every 6 squares                           every6

chart with actions of lace carriage included, the 14 stitch by 24 rows electronic repeat now reduced to a 12 stitch by 16 row repeat; see previous post for symbols keyLCactiona brief test of the resulting fabric: blue circles highlight a couple of the intersecting spots where the punchcard produced lace fabric looks different from the electronic version, because of its shortened and narrowed repeats marked

A block lace pattern on KM 2 (electronic LC, HT)

Sometimes I begin by analyzing the moves on large print paper to get a sense of the direction for the required transfer moves. This pattern is fairly straightforward, single moves to the right or to the left. What makes it different is what I have referred to as the knit side “chain” in the previous post. To achieve this, sets of stitches are transferred, doubled up, and moved back to the original position to create the proper eyelet placement.

Tension may have to be adjusted to accommodate the double travel of stitches. If it is just a tad off and occasional stitches sit on a closed latch, that may not be noticed, and runs in lace are no fun. Edge stitches get fussy as the knitting grows, edge weights moved up at regular intervals can help with that problem. Where 2 stitches need to move to their right or left, I have chosen to do so by hand rather than relying on the lace carriage to move them onto the single needle, and in turn back onto the center one of the group of 3.  My initial notes on paper:PAPER SKETCHAssigning colors for transfer, charting in excel: green to left, pink to right, checking where markings need to be for full KM repeat:FULL REPEAT

Expanding the repeat, adding 2 blank rows between pairs of transfers with the intent to white out square for “wrong” transfer rows places transfers to right on wrong chart rowwrong

all markings, shifted to proper locationfull mylar

symbols used: black squares = mylar markingschart symbols

The lace carriage begins on left as usual, makes 4 passes before each 2 rows knit. The first sequence hand transfer occurs on row 2 of the 4 LC passes. The second sequence hand transfer on row 1 of 4 passes. After the 3 onto one hand transfer, be certain all 3 needles line up in B position before the lace carriage makes its transfers as well.

the resulting fabric’s knit side 500_954

purl side 500_955

A block lace pattern on the KM 1

A friend recently posted a forum query on a published pattern that has led to my exploring another hand to machine knit transfer lace. The “flemish block lace” design from the second treasury of knitting patterns by Barbara Walker, p. 270 seemed to be the lace pattern motif used. Here is a partial detail from the fabric that began the discussion

try to copy

Below is a chart for the Walker repeat produced with Intwined. The repeat is a multiple of 14 + 3 border stitches, the first row is purl, but I could not enter an all purl for row one and not have the remaining symbols altered by the program, which assumes in lace the first row is knitflemish block lacethe program’s generated HK instructions for one repeat plus 3 border stitches screenshot_04In attempting the machine knit version I chose to use the HK chart for my transfers as it stood, the directions of the transfers being mirrored vertically did not matter to me.

This design has “chains” traveling along some of the edges of the diagonal shapes. A lot of moving stitches in groups of 2 or 3 is required to achieve the look. It may be possible to achieve the fabric knitting with the aid of a lace carriage,  but planning the punchcard or electronic repeat and correcting any dropped stitches pose special challenges. My first samples were knit on the bulky KM, working in width of the 17 sts illustrated above.

I began to test transfers by moving stitches every row. Interesting things happen when single rows are knit on the machine as opposed to the traditional 2 in multiple transfer lace, as well as the resulting shape being half the number of rows long. The eyelet yarn lies single, without the twist usually seen, and begins to look more like ladders (see previous posts on zig zag ladder lace).

knit sideIMG_1938purl sideIMG_1939

with 2 knit rows between transfers (the missing eyelet in marked spot is due to operator error) the familiar look of multiple transfer lace appears1940

IMG_1941

below the swatch image is flipped horizontally for a different perspective, approaching the original hand knit inspiration1940looking at charting differently, back to Excel: single repeat

BW repeat_12

                    checking alignment, adding border stitches4 repeatbw                                                adding colorcolored repeat

moves                    checking alignment, adding border stitches4 repeat color2The next consideration might be how to make executing the pattern easier on a standard machine. Needle pre selection may be used to guide hand transfers. Working out the electronic repeat, represented by black squares:isolating mylar rep                                         the transfer directions

transfers                        the chart in repeat , including bordersmylarx4_borderthere is no transfer on row 3 of repeat next to border on chart left, it is omitted in bottom of chart, shown on top half. End needle selection is cancelled throughout. The resulting test swatch, one operator error transfer missing on mid left:

                                                    knit side 500_1945                                                     purl side500_1944One of the issues I encountered during the initial tests was that of occasional needles “sneaking”/ dropping back on the machine, so ladders rather than eyelets were formed. The needle retainer bar is old, and I like to work lace with the ribber off and a tilted main bed, explaining the possible cause.

A lace WIP

A WIP using punchcard developed in previous post . I missed a dropped stitch and wound up with a glorious run and giant hole, one of the ultimate joys of lace knitting. I find repairing such is more easily done if the knit is dropped off the machine, pressed lightly, and knitting is unraveled to the point where it can be re-hung on an all knit row. Lace traditionally is shown blocked, perhaps to maximize the eyelet pattern. If “left alone” it can have an interesting 3 dimensional surface. The latter is more likely to be retained if one uses a yarn with “memory”, such as wool, and knits the fabric in as low a tension as possible.

The images below show my WIP, and the difference in the untreated vs. the pressed and steamed portions of the piece. The yarn is a hand/ machine knitting super-wash wool/ polyamide blend. The manufacturer’s suggested machine knitting tension was 7-5, my cowl in progress is knit at 8.2 to make the transfers manageable.

IMG_500_913

IMG_500_914

“Button holes” and “make many – increase” “lace”

An image often found on Pinterest, with its source attributed to a Vero Moda garment and accompanied by a “how to” request, led me to give “designing” it a shot. Here, I believe, 2 layers of a garment are pictured, resulting in the stocking stitch knit that appears behind the eyelets.augudAnalyzing the fabric: a wide rib is created, and in use are the equivalent of “buttonholes” with fewer cast on than bound off stitches to create the narrowing effect, and multiple stitches from one in order to restore stitch count and returning width. This fabric is not “practical” on the machine, but here is one possible solution that could easily be adapted for groupings in varying sizes.

My chart, showing 4 repeats (black border) and 3 starting rows. Green numbers indicate the repeat’s width (20 stitches), and height (12 rows). repeatX4_31the symbols used

screenshot_30

my unblocked sample, knit on 32 stitches in worsted weight acrylic, using #8 needles

IMG_1907