by Katie Noden.
Making the sometimes fondly referred to as idiot cords has also been referred to as spool knitting, corking, French knitting or tomboy knitting. When using a knitting machine the the standard for knitting cords is to operate the carriage so that it knits in one direction, slips in the opposite. Using the e wrap method cast on 3or 4 stitches. Push in the part button on the same side the knit carriage is on ie. if it is on right, push in right part button. Stitches will knit from right to left, slip from left to right creating a float. Since the float is added yarn when knitting is pulled to set it, the gauge on the few stitches will be altered, so it is usually recommended that tension be tightened 1-2 numbers lower than garment tension. The float issue becomes problematic if cording is required that is wider than 4 stitches. Switching to tubular knitting using the ribber will produce tubes of any desired width.
In Japanese machines the ribber knits tighter than main bed, if gauge matters a starting point is to loosen ribber tension by approximately 2 numbers. Larger cords tend to flatten, so if a round tube is desired stuffing may be required in the form of cording, plastic tubing that may be joined using appropriate caps from hardware or even pet supply stores, and a range of wires if the intent is to create sculptural forms.
One exception to tightening the tension when knitting cords is when/if if they are joined to knit edges in the seam as you knit method.
Addressing the float issue in single bed knitting:
with five stitches the floats could be latched up creating a rib stitch. This same operation in tighter or smaller cords may make them swirl.
If a flatter cord will serve the purpose, an alternative is to have the center stitch knitting on the slip rows. One may accomplish this by hand selecting needles or using a card. This will seal the tube in the center or periodically across the knit. The punchcard may be locked on any single row with the appropriate holes punched, and the position planned on the needle bed for knitting. The carriage will knit all stitches in one direction, slip/skip all but the stitches where needles are selected in the opposite. Floats may become design elements in some instances; if sewing onto another piece or hanging onto the knit as it progresses they serve as guidelines for doing so. If they are to be applied vertically to a garment, create a ladder to mark your sewing line.
If you are a gadget collector “hand Knitting cord machines” may make them up to 6 stitches in width with the ease of cranking a handle and with a bit of planning wire beaded tubes may be produced on them as well. Some examples are from Bond, Prym, Wyr for knitting metal mesh, and eons ago some companies including Passap and Singer offered their own automatic cord knitters as well.
A recently published hand-knitting book has many ideas for applied i_cords that could also be used on the machine.
For speed and simplicity, sometimes flat strips of knitting may be substituted for cords in some designs.
Cords or strips may be used to create mock cables, add color interest, as trims, or in the bodies of sweaters or sweater edges. They may be braided, twisted, macraméd etc.
Some published and online resources on subject:
Erica Patberg article in Knitter’s Magazine #104, Fall 2011. She can be found on ravelry. Cords and strips may be used as trims. Long ago versions were published by teachers in the seminar circuits, one may may be found at 1. Ginger Luters is well known to hand knitters for her books such as her “Module Magic”. Apparently she also has published a book on trims,now available on DVD online that from cover photo appears to include some suited for this topic.
The Wyr knitter is very hard to find. I have knit 32 gauge wire on other knitters with success, so that particulat model is not necessary for wire cords as seen in this piece of mine
The top illustration below creates what some demonstrators back in the day would refer to as a heart cable trim. The width of the strips of knit may vary, and the size of the holes need to be accommodated to suit the subsequent threading. The second illustration set results in a more traditional “pretend” cable. I-cord could be used for the second sample. Narrow strips of knitting will curl in however, and in many instances may be substituted for true i-cords. Because each pass of the carriage knits a row as opposed to slipping alternate rows, the knitting is twice as fast. In the instance below a series of holes are created for threading cording (or other chosen material)
The following illustrates threading option with a single length of the cording, which will need to be secured at each end with some stitching. Separate colors could be used on alternate sides for more color variation, and other threading sequences as well
some publications with inspiration photos
its online relative
part of another image
from MonTricot Magazine #26, 2011
A Susan Guagliumi article on the topic, available at her site.
A hand knitting book with many ideas for cord and strip use that could easily be adapted for machine knitting
A commercial foreign knit incorporating cables and woven cords.
From above site:
An inventive approach to automating i_cord knitting.
Knit newspapers by Andreo Vitali.
This photo was actually taken last April. Part of my studio is in my unfinished attic, explaining the foil ceiling and boxes. It oh so truly helps to look UP from your knitting once in a while! I had just begun my lace experiments, things had been going so well in terms of avoiding dropped stitches I was mesmerized by the needle bed and my intact fabric…
Symbols in knitting have evolved considerably through the years since the day when all instructions were long hand and it was abbreviations used that would need de-coding. This is true of cables and lace as well. I came across a magazine graph that led me to explore and think about conversions from hand to machine. This is a pdf of some of my notes in the process dia_cables_card and a photo of the resulting swatch.
In punching and then using the card to knit the sample I initially completely forgot the fact that images are reversed horizontally when a punchcard is used. The fabric is labor intensive. One alternative if the look is liked is to use such techniques in isolated portions of garments as opposed to all over. A “simplified” interpretation of a similar knit pattern may be seen below
slippery rayon: fabric flattens with pressing and remains that way
a couple of twist samples: wool/rayon blend
Fair Isle, any punchcard locked on a single row of every other stitch selection: there were whole books of HK patterns based on this idea, sequence of moving stitches can create a variety of secondary patterns. On the KM fair isle is essentially a slip stitch, short and skinny, tension needs to be loosened considerably to try this, stitches in cables cannot be brought out to “hold” position to ease knitting off on the next row, as this will affect the color pattern. Larger crossings are possible, but more difficult
another FI and cable variant: mistakes are probably from needles that were out just a bit too far and knit in the alternate color
a blast from the past: knit on my metal no punchcard bulky (first KM) and ribber more than 2 decades ago. Ribs at waist and armholes are hand knit twisted rib
I have literally hundreds of machine knit swatches from the days I taught in a design school program. I periodically revisit them and since cables and their look alike relatives have recently caught my attention I thought I would share photos of some of the samples in the next few posts.
They are not necessarily resolved fabrics, some of them are the result of random demo efforts/ stitch play.
In any discipline over decades one cannot help but become aware of how materials and styles cycle, and this is oh so true in fashion and certainly in knitting. For a while more than a decade ago knit i_cord yardage/ tubular yarn was marketed by several manufacturers, and it is now making its reappearance.
One way to create pretend cables in varied color combinations is to apply purchased yarn, or machine knit cording/ tubular knit to the purl facing the knitter side as the piece progresses. The application may be done in an organized manner, using a punch card to select needles on which the yarn will be hung, or more random, even with wide knit strips in contrasting colors
with tubular knit cord in addition to hooking up, anchoring may require some stitching
strips of contrasting color hooked onto the knit in the seam as you knit method
cording may also be inserted into single stitch lace “holes”
or larger holes created through holding techniques
Knit i-cords, ribbon, twisted cording etc. may also be threaded/woven through holes created at cable crossing as a way to add color and dimension to standard cables, mimicking their movement on the fabric. A recent foreign magazine cover including a variant of the above technique