A lace mesh series WIP 2: using GIMP

Eons ago I owned a BitKnitter for my Passap machine, and to this day I miss it and some of the other Cochenille software that is no longer available, especially when working with multiple colors for color separations of any sort. When using it for downloading the resulting motif, picking the same exact color for each “square” on the grid was a necessity for accuracy. If “only” black was involved, the same guide applied. Working in GIMP one can set the color mode to fewer colors to start with, reducing the palette. This can limit your editing ability sometimes, and switching between modes may be required. I tend to go autopilot when I work on color separations for any purpose and work with built in colors rather than custom.

It is helpful to have previous experience with any program as well as with basic knitting  before tackling and combining large scale designs and  fabrics such as lace. This is not a step by step how to use GIMP (search for my other posts on topic), merely an illustration of my experiment in working with superimposing an image onto a mesh grid.

To start with: a 1 X 1 grid is set up. “Black squares” become single pixels in downloads. For the grid to be visible, I prefer to work in at least a 500X magnification. Because I do not own a hacked machine I am unable to provide a corresponding test swatch to the final chart.

The resulting image may be tiled to produce a large enough mesh ground, the grid needs to be turned off for this step

The tiled image will appear on a different part of the screen, shown in both versions below, I realized reviewing the above that the width was for more pixels than could be programmed on a 200 needle machine, I resized its width to 120 pixels

here the grid is removed for further processing the goal is to retain the black squares for the end bmp, so the ground is filled with a color that will later be removed gridded again if and when needed today’s image is a letter (20 pixels by 24), produced in a new file from one of my built in computer fonts. I happened to be working in RGB mode the same image as it would appear in indexed mode

 

Here some edges “clean up” has been worked with grid on, then removed for tripling the motif length (now 72 pixels) and pasting on the “mesh” ground 

Switching to indexed colors (6) if you have worked in RGB to this point, it may make cleaning up of edges easier.  I flood filled to insure only one red was in use. Below the A is selected and copied for paste onto the “mesh”. Magnification reduction to 500X makes the whole file more easily viewed on my mac

the A pasted in placewhite color fill leaving only black squaresnot happy with edges
feeling better, with the exception of the left side bottom of right leg of Aone last bit of clean up, switching between magnification  as needed happier grid removed, image magnification reduction to 100X for export as bmp and download to KM

Things become more complicated with more complex shapes. This is part of a filet crochet chart, and a rose now becomes my goal

use selection editor or fuzzy selectpaste and move to “best” spot not quite a rose

Back to the drawing board: the mesh and knitting method are altered. For a possible knitting method option see http://alessandrina.com/2017/07/28/unconventional-uses-for-punchcards-2-thread-lace-cards-for-filet-mesh/  The ground “mesh” is now composed of every other stitch, alternating every other row. The “rose is not lengthened. “Stitches” need to be “cleaned up” to approximate a more recognizable shape.

 When satisfied, export in format for download.

 

A lace mesh series WIP 1

This is a work in progress (WIP) post, subject to future additions and editing.

These patterns are suitable for punchcard machines. Individual repeats in excel illustrations are outlined in red. They in turn are the minimal repeat information for electronic machines. The lace carriage always begins on left, transfers are made during either 2 or 4 LC pass rows. In the first repeat below the LC operates for 4 rows, KC follows for 2 rows knit. For a fabric using it see post 

This repeat appears in my pre punched factory basic packs as both #17 and #20. The lace carriage is used for 2 passes and then for 4 alternately, as indicated on the left side of punchcard. The 2 passes will make transfers to left, the 4 make transfers to right. See previous lace posts for further info on lace selection methods and accompanying charting. 

More variations and swatch photos: all patterns unless otherwise stated are knit with 4 passes of the lace carriage from left, followed by 2 rows knit

In this instance there are several vertical spaces between punched holes, creating the knit vertical stripe.  The spacing can be adjusted to suit, but if “mock crochet” is the goal, superimposing an image onto an every other needle mesh gives better results. It is possible to have 2 punched holes side by side on alternate rows, but not in the same row for stitches to knit properly without intervention on the next pair of all knit rows. In patterns such as the first and third below, stitches are transferred onto the adjacent needle in one direction, then both stitches are transferred back onto the previously emptied needle. The transferred stitch then sits on the front of the work (duplicating the look in hand knitting), instead of remaining on the adjacent stitch on the purl side of the fabric. With transfers in the same direction, the swatch biased after relaxing

a mylar marking error as drawn (3A)
the intended repeat (3B)

The above swatch and the one below are similar, transfers occur in the opposite direction, so vertical columns of stacked stitches occur in the alternate columns of the finished fabric. I had some transfer issues in similar spots in both fabrics, have not analyzed the possible direct cause. As seen below, the dropped stitches did not result in the frequent large holes often seen in lace knitting. Pins and red dot indicate problem spots, which could be repaired with careful stitching at the end of knitting. The best prevention of the problem is to visually check after sets of transfers to make certain all stitches have indeed been moved properly.

LC is used alternately for 2, and then 4 passes between knit rows (5)

transfers create a sort of “shape”, highlighted in photo; the LC operates in sequences of 4 rows, followed by 2 rows, and repeat (6)

this one is a bit trickier, LC operates for 4 rows resulting in side by side transfers; in the first trial yarn caught up on gate pegs, dropped stitches, etc
after reducing KC tension and adjusting amount of weight 

Mylar repeats can be very small, it is easy to be one stitch off in entering data; here one blank row was added to left (a possibility for intentional vertical stripes of knitting) and the program was one row short on right of single repeat

with the corrected program 

the “variations” repeats in summary
Adding geometric forms to mesh: a working MK chart for a cousin to the fabric link provided at the top of this post, the underlying mesh repeat is the same as that for card 17the corresponding punched holes; 2 LC passes for transfers to left (purl side), 4 LC passes for transfers to right (purl side) throughout on Brother KMchart flipped horizontally, suitable for hand knitting the swatch, MK, knit side 

Note: the appearance of the “straight line” edges is altered by the formation of the eyelets along the sides as well as the top of the shape. As more shapes are played with, some adjustments may need to be made in punched holes after knitting a test swatch.

Custom shapes become a bit more complex. So I like the circle in the previous experiment, but I want to accomplish it with traditional lace transfers. I previously discussed a possible approach to filet mesh. This is the swatch where there is one row knit for each row of eyelets, discussed more recently

Below is the result from working with a traditional mesh, where there are 2 rows of knitting to form each eyelet. The third row in the “design” on punchcard is needed for the lace carriage to travel to its proper place for alternating direction of transfers, is not technically a knit row. The fabric is wider and longer than that above, and there is some elongation of the “circle”. Large patterns are mylar and punchcard real estate hogs. The swatch for slightly more than a single repeat with red dots indicating where one square in the mylar did not have a dark enough mark, resulting in a missing eyelet 

the mesh 

A: is my desired shape 17 units by 17, B: that shape elongated X 2 (17 X 34), to try to approximate elongation with knitting 2 rows for each set of eyelets. It is drawn on a square, not a rectangular or gauge specific grid however, so if that is a consideration in the design, it would have to be a case of “back to the drawing board”. C: the shape elongated X 3 (17 X 51), for placement on the mesh, and D shows it in my desired spot. Lace gauge is harder to gauge because of stretch in the final fabric, and the changes subject to pressing and blocking depending on yarn fiber content. Because transfers in this method occur on rows 1 and 2 to the left, 3 and 4 to the right, no pure straight edges along design borders can be achieved. If simple superimposing a large shape on the mesh is possible, there may be even more distortion along those edges. Ultimately a lot of this boils down to personal preference and patience.

For single vertical line(s) in mesh whether single, at regular intervals, or for use in pattern transitions place repeats as shown where eyelets are desired. Markings for Brother row 1 selection on right of chartFor directions on using lace mesh to create pleated skirts please see post http://alessandrina.com/2017/08/16/pleats-created-with-lace-transfers/

Unconventional uses for punchcards 2: thread lace cards for “filet” mesh


Mock filet crochet machine knit lace has surfaced in a ravelry blog of late. The sample in question was made by Tanya Cunningham, using a hacked knitting machine and software to download the repeat. Sometimes punchcard machines or early electronic users feel left out of creating particular fabrics. If one can settle for working with simpler and far smaller repeats however, one can achieve interesting results in that scale.  Several years ago I wrote a series of posts on lace meshes and lace patterns inspired by filet crochet, this link will take you to them. There also has been a thread lace  ravelry “thread”, and today’s avoidance of housework led me to thinking about pre drawn thread lace patterns to create filet mesh.

What to look for a first experiment (Brother machines only): large unpunched areas creating motifs, with no side by side punched holes, and no more than 2 consecutive punched rows. Some samples are provided in stock cards that come with machine purchase. One such

The lace carriage (LC) selects on first pass, transfers on the second. It advances the card with each pass of the carriage if is operated consistently from the same side. If 2 knit carriages (KC) set to select needles for any technique are in use in punchcard machines, as one is put to rest and the other one begins to move from the opposite side, the card does not advance on the first pass, so selection for the previous row is repeated one more time. If all lace transfers are made in the same direction the resulting fabric will bias. For balanced lace fabrics, the direction of the transfers needs to be reversed, whether in alternating series of rows, or with every other set of transfers. In a situation such as this, the LC makes one set of transfers operating from the left, with the next set of transfers operating from the right. For the correct set up, the first row selection with the card locked is made on the row jut below the one marked #1 (in this instance that would be row #40), then the card is set to advance as usual. If the first selection row is made with the card set to below the #1 line, the card needs to be already joined with snaps into a drum or the card reader will be selecting the all punched row which is normally part of the overlap that sits over the last 2 rows of the pattern repeat.

I began with my LC on the left for transfers to the left, and alternately placed it on the right after knit row(s) for transfers to the right. A “simple” lace is produced with only one row knit between transfers, a more complex lace if 2 rows are knit between them. The LC moves left to right, transfers back to left. If the knit carriage is used for one pass only, it stays on left. The LC is now taken off the machine and moved to the right, used for 2 rows, and will be removed from bed to ready it for its return to the left side. The KC follows with one pass from left to right. The LC is returned to left and operated for 2 rows, starting the sequence over again. The LC is always moving toward the KC to select, and away from it to transfer.

Brother knitters are used to knitting 2 rows after lace transfers. It can be done with this card as well. The problem here is that when knitting for 2 rows, the knit carriage consistently returns to the same side, so that when transfers need to be made from its starting side with the LC, the KC needs to come off the machine until after transfers are made. There is a lot more juggling of carriages and keeping track of what needs to be where. The elongation that occurs with 2 rows knit after each set of transfers, and the difference in the appearance in the yarn forming the eyelets (single/magenta arrow vs crossed/glow green arrow strands) for the respective methods is shown below.

another Brother card, more possibilities

The above shows long vertical lines of transfers are possible in design motivs (punched holes). Adding shapes to all over mesh may require some editing along edges where the shapes meet the mesh. Varying size swatches are recommended before commitment to any large piece. As always punched errors may be taped over. Red squares in the image below reflect holes missing in card if the goal is a smoother circular shape. When this technique is used, selection, transfers, and knitting occur in each single, completed row of the design.

note differences in circle sides
an amended, wider repeat 

The slight bias zig zag at the top of the swatch results from a missing reverse direction transfer before continuing with plain knitting and binding off. Ultimately whether the final fabric is worth the effort in making it is a personal choice. Sometimes small swatches work like a dream, and when large pieces are produced, problems multiply or the result is disappointing. In the past I have also tried to use thread lace inspired patterns for drop stitch lace (ribber fabric), but have found the result far more subtle than expected. As always yarn and color choice make a significant difference. The yarn used in these samples is a 2/15 wool blend, knit at tension 6.

BTW: Studio pattern books have multiple sections of published 24 stitch thread lace patterns. Not all Brother machines have the capacity for knitting this type of fabric, so not all of their publications include “suitable patterns”. If one understands what punched holes vs unpunched do, some of the Brother weaving and “pick rib” (perhaps another post’s topic) can be used as is or adapted.
electronic http://machineknittingetc.com/knit-in-punch-lace-silver-m…
punchcard http://machineknittingetc.com/pattern-library-for-punchca…

previous blog notes on thread lace http://alessandrina.com/2016/11/03/thread-lace-on-brother-km/

 

Tuck lace trims (and fabrics 2)

Working between electronic and punchcard machines needs to take into account that repeats on a punchcard KM must be a factor of 24 (2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12). An electronic tuck stitch repeat 

Since it is seven stitches wide, if punched accordingly it would occupy 21 out of 24 stitch units on a punchcard, so as is (unless those extra needles on the far right and left are left out of work for ladders) it would not be suitable for an all over fabric. It can however, be used for a trim. If the latter is the intent, only one series of vertical repeats as seen below needs to be punched. The numbers below the image indicate Brother needle tape markings. This is a 6 row tuck fabric, so thinner yarns should be used if the pattern is automated, as tuck loops build up in needle hooks. If you wish to experiment with slightly thicker yarns, decrease the unpunched areas to 4 rows, or execute using holding. Held stitches sit on top of the needle shank, tolerance is determined by how many rows it either takes for knit stitches on sides of the loops jumping off needles, or accumulated loops being unable to knit off consistently on the next all knit pass. To test yarn out, try the technique by using holding, then punch your card. Automating makes the process less prone to error and faster if great lengths of a trim are needed. 

Using the trim as the cast on edge for a garment: determine the length required after a technique test. Knit a bit extra and remove on waste yarn, so more may be added or some be unravelled if needed or you wish to change the configuration using it as your cast on. Rehang and cast on later when it is completed. The flared out portions of the trim will be used to “cast on” the edge of the piece, continuing with some needles out of work

an attempt at line drawing the “trim” sideways

Using the curved out edge of the trim, hang stitches half if possible, or one full stitch away from its edge as illustrated below. Knit 4 rows. With a tool pick up all ladder loops created by NOOW (RC 1-4) and hang on center empty needle. Knit rows (RC 5, 6), hang ladder loops on still empty needles, knit across all needle, continue with garment

needle arrangementpicking up loops 

The yarn is a cotton, and appears to have a tendency toward biasing on knit rows as seen in the tendency to lean in one direction in above photos. It has no stretch, so stitches that knit off several tuck loops remain  elongated. A look at the structure on the purl side:

In Brother knitting when needles are out of work, the automatic end needle selection  may interfere with the pattern, and this is a consideration in many knits. Intro to all over tuck “lace” patterns: one to try. Two 8 st repeats shown, suitable for all kms 

Single bed: arrange the needles as shown. Cast on and knit a few rows, set knob to KCII, knit one row. Push in both tuck buttons, and knit desired number of rows.

Double bed: OOW needles on main bed will now be in use on the ribber Set half pitch lever on H, racking indicator on 5. Cast on desired number of stitches, knit base rows. Set half pitch lever on P, transfer stitches between beds arranging them as shown with NOOW on both beds. Set change knob to KCII, knit one row. Push in both tuck buttons, knit in pattern for desired number of rows.

Machine knitting yarns info

More of my class notes, assembled from various sourcesThese guidelines  were provided for knitting using Jaggerspun yarns. I have no affiliation with the company. I do still continue to use some of lines, and have a great appreciation for all their yarns. Their wool used to be the required fiber in my knit labs at RISD until students began to understand some of the basics in stitch construction. I have permission from the company to share content.

GIMP, Inkscape, Numbers: updates Mac OS Sierra

I very recently updated to Mac OS Sierra, version 10.12.5. I use Gimp to process images and for some of my knit charting. The last version I had installed was stable in the previous OS, but cranky in Sierra. The latest version 2.8.22 download can be found at the developer site. So far it is downloaded by me, but not yet tested. X Quartz, necessary for using Inkscape is still unchanged, release version 2.7.11.

If you have been using Excel for charting, and wish to import files into the latest version of Numbers for any reason, Numbers will open files created in  Microsoft Excel – Office Open XML (.xlsx) and Office 97 or later (.xls). To import any spreadsheet file from Finder, right-click on the file, then click “Open with… > Numbers.” If Numbers is the only spreadsheet application on your Mac, you can simply double-click. If you are already in the Numbers for Mac app, choose File > Open, then click on the file you want to work on. If a file is grayed out, it isn’t in an acceptable format. Excel.xlsb files are such an example. Save document again in .xlsx or .xl format for the Numbers import.

“Crochet” meets machine knitting techniques: working with short rows

Another Ravelry thread recently looked at knitting this pattern, from an old Knittax pattern book

I found this in a different manual, with similar structure, and “english” directions

symbols used in Knittax patterns 

On the purl side this creates structures that emulate crocheted shells. My first attempts at trying to knit anything like this were in thin yarn, and I had enough issues to give up for the moment. Things worked out much better when I switched to a sport weight yarn that seemed to like knitting at T 10 for stocking stitch. With NOOW set up, my sample was knit at T 9. Waste yarn and ravel cord are often a good way to start, but not always necessary, same is true of weight. I began with a crochet cast on, every needle, multiple of 4 st + 2, then dropped the alternate pairs of needles between the first and last 2 pairs of needles in work, pulling the needles back to A position, determining the width of my “shells”

Working from right to left, starting with COR; the first pair of needles on carriage side in work, remaining needles away from carriage are in hold position moving toward left, the adjacent needle in the first pair in hold gets wrapped; be sure to retain proper positions for knitting and holding the first wrap completed, needles in position to continue the process is repeated X number of times. I chose to wrap X 5, which requires 10 rows of knitting, making the row counter usable to track rows in easy increments. When wraps are completed, push wrapped needle and its partner into work, knit one row make certain all the loops have knit off , wrap the first needle to their left, bring pair on the right to hold continue for your desired number of wrapsreturn wrapped needle and its partner to work position, knit one row, wrap next single needle on left remember to bring needles to right of the pair just knit into holdrepeat to end of row. Reverse process moving from left to right (in progress photo). I found a single tooth from a claw weight on pair of stitches doing all the knitting helpful. 

The resulting swatch knit side its purl side

Variations can include the number of needles used for knit stitches or ladders width created from NOOW, yarn choices, etc.

here the technique is used for a trim, both sides shown  trying to imagine process  chart format 

online inspiration: a youtube shawl , and techniques that use holding while moving across the needle bed in similar manner, though not necessarily producing “crochet like” fabrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR_7Ys9KIaU&t=4s    http://postila.ru/post/29275341  http://alessandrina.com/?s=wisteria

“Crochet” meets machine knitting techniques: tuck lace trims (and fabrics 1)

Any discussion of crochet like fabrics on home knitting machines, whether single or double bed, invariably lead to looking at gathered loops, whether created as a hand technique using holding, or automated by using the tuck setting. The function of the card remains the same when cam buttons are engaged, regardless of whether knitting single or double bed. In Brother machines punched holes result in needles being selected to D position (brother has no C), those needles will knit (second color in FI, thin yarn in thread lace / B feeder). Unpunched areas remain in B position, and will tuck or slip, (color 1/A feeder FI, both yarns together in thread lace) based on cam settings. Another Brother feature is that the needle tape to help with markings for stitch counts, pattern repeats, etc. centers between 2 # 1 needle positions. This can cause some confusion when translating patterns from other makers that rely on needle position numbers only for their directions.

I often use punchcard designs on my electronic machines after isolating the repeat, most often for the sake of speed and convenience. Swapping out the needle tape for the electronic with one for a punchcard machine makes identifying and placing repeats easier. In Brother punchcard machines tapes the heavy solid line, followed by a thin line on alternate sides, reflect each 24 stitch repeat. Repeats on these KMs are fixed, there is no option for altering starting position. When using electronics in some patterns, aside from the added convenience of color reverse for minimal “drawing”, it is helpful to know that the punchcard design reflects what happens on the purl side, so letters, etc are reversed on the knit side. As a result, when translating for electronics, some patterns may also require being flipped horizontally. Using the markings on needle tape is pointless if tape is not properly centered. Check needle “bow” mark at 100 on left side, the last needle on that side should rest directly in its center. As retainer bar begins to loosen a bit from wear, tape may start shifting position, and cello may be needed to anchor it in place

Marking colors have varied over the years

“Trims” can be any width, from narrow to wider bands. Punching cards is enough work so that it is worthwhile to get as many functions or fabrics out of each card as possible. Software makes it easy to check for repeat tiling, or simply copy card with black paper behind it, cut it up and cello together to sort out needle placement. I chart mostly in Excel, old fashioned colored pencils and graph paper work just fine if any software is unavailable

self drawn punchcard for Brotherside by side repeatsin this instance, left side needs some adjustment 

got a prepunched card? tucks occurring for 3 rowsfor an all over pattern,  or trim choosing section of repeat Studio card (use appropriate starting row for machine)same needle arrangement, tucks will now occur for 4 rows

Love your ribber? use any tuck lace appropriate card. Transfer any or all of the needles to be left in A position (OOW) on main bed onto the ribber, and you will have a pattern combining knit and purl stitches. Use waste yarn, ravel cord, and ribber comb with weights through waste yarn. Cast ons and bind offs may require planning and choice depending on yarn used and the number of rows tucking. These in turn result in stretch and diminished length proportionately in the body of the finished fabric. After casting on and setting up both beds, set ribber on P (so needles on both beds are directly opposite each other) to center ribber created vertical columns between those on opposite bed.