Knit bubbles and “stitch ditchers/dumpers”

I encountered a photo of a commercial sweater not too long ago while knit surfing the web

and a bubble blanket available at Nordstrom’s during 2012

I had already been considering laces other than transfer for yarns that have been too crotchety to knit in that particular technique, and my Passap has been knitting idol for far too long.  The fabric above seems to alter between purl and knit sequences that would would require transferring all stitches to opposite bed for every other pattern sequence: out of my range of patience and time. The number of fabrics involving “lace” produced using the ribber involves a series of names with sometimes variations simply being specific to the technique performed on a particular brand, though possible on all.On the list: drive lace, pick rib, summer fair isle, drop stitch lace, etc. The above commercially produced knits seemed to be good candidates for drop stitch lace.

Since I recently posted on knitting long loops/stitches single bed, it seems natural to follow up that post as well with creating long stitches using the ribber, and using automatic patterning as well. The following photo is familiar to most Brother users:

In this instance the fabric is produced as a hand technique, requiring racking and row counting. The process is easier if all stitches are transferred to ribber in Japanese KMs or back bed on Passap, and long stitches are then created by selected stitches knitting on the opposing bed, and in turn being dropped. Punching a card, drawing on a mylar, or downloading to machines makes it possible to do so in pattern much more easily.

Punchcard books have several useable examples for such patterns. Two methods of release are used. One is end release, where the pattern is knit until the piece is completed, and stitches are dropped then. This works in friendly yarns and continuous repeats uninterrupted by rows of stocking stitch. If the design is interrupted, then regular dropping of stitches whether at the end of the repeat or intermittently throughout is either required or preferable, depending on the design.

As for dropping those loops that will form the long stitches, one can do so “manually” with improvised tools. For more “automatic” dropping of stitches using knit carriage in Brother patterning, one may punch a card or draw a mylar with a method akin to color separation that will allow for  a pass of the KH carriage across the knit with no yarn in feeder, “color 2” is actually “no yarn/empty”, while establishing the proper needle selection on its return. Studio selects and knits in same row, so needle selection disruption is not an issue, and in Passap techniques are built into the console that allow for “free/no yarn” passes. Both instances involve extra “knit” rows per item. As another alternative tools may be used that help the stitch ditching process. Studio had their P carriage, and Brother their own “D slider” for the bulky KM.

Studio/ Bro Bulky viewed from front

Studio/ Bro Bulky viewed from back

Passap’s need was anwered by an Australian woman: Faye Butcher,  who developed the item shown below. Such tools were often discussed in seminars and publications of the time, in conjunction with pile or “carpet” knitting, so “P” for such knitting in Studio, and “carpet stitch tool” for Passap, seen below

front view

rear view

in use on front rail

If patterning for long stitches occurs on the front bed, the Passap tool sits on rail where you see it in photo, it will release all stitches from needles in its path. Often directions for using it recommend its use  for 2 passes with locks on right. Passap preselects pushers for the next row of knitting as Brother preselects needles, pushers are below the rail, so in theory they should be unaffected by passes of its travels. Once things are up, going, and “working” I have found it possible to align the tool as seen in photo ahead of the next lock pass, so on right of lock from left to right, to its left from right to left, a bit of pressure will keep it in its place, and stitches are released each pass of the lock. This may result in having to operate the lock with one hand. There is also an optimum speed: if movement is not smooth and regular and needles are jostled, pusher selection may be altered in response, thus resulting in a patterning “mistake” on the next row. Challenging yarns may make this method impossible.

Some samples follow: the yarn used was acrylic, I attempted to press it on swatch completion, and this flattened the fabric considerably. Of note: the disparity in width between the stockinette portions of the swatches, and the dropped stitch segments

too open

a bit closer, much more so before steaming

a “mistake” that may lead to a future accessory, with some revising and planning

I am using Stitch Painter to plot out my repeats, exporting files as .cut files, using win crea to import cuts and download to console with a cable purchased from England. I replaced an ill tower dell with a 64 bit dell laptop half its age, and am now running windows XP instead of 98! My leaps into the present technologies/software are made using apple products. Technique 129 will work, color may need to be reversed using the alter loop, or within wincrea depending on how the pattern is drawn in the original graph, but that is a topic for another day (see april 2011 post: a bit on Passap for some information on Tech129). Back lock on N throughout, front lock on LX (slip/part on main bed for Japanese KMs). Single bed slip and tuck stitches may also produce “bubbles” of a different quality.

Coincidentally the 10th anniversary issue of Knitty has just been released, arriving in my virtual mailbox this am. There are 2 patterns in the issue that may be of interest, one is tin roof, the other employs ribbed/bobble/bubble for hand knitters. Another hand knit version by Kieran Foley may be found here

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