Not all parts are created equal

A recent forum discussion brought up the possibility of exchanging sinker plates between models. This is often possible, with some adjustments at times being required. The images below show the one sinker plate I know of with truly distinct parts, made for the 892E, 894, 4.5 mm Brother punchcard models that had a thread lace capability like that seen in the bulky 260 machines.

the illustrations on operation and parts from the manual

The bottom view in the first photo shows the distinct brushes and their white plastic “arms” (for lack of the technical name). The red line on the right shows the span and “nub” that may not align properly on the knit carriage if there is a huge disparity in model years. I knit using a lot of “fussy” yarns, substitute tuck wheels for the brushes usually on far right and left of image as viewed here to avoid problems sometimes caused by the bristles getting damaged and worn with use. Some people actually remove the same brushes altogether, but I have not had good results doing so. The three screws above the wheels on each side are used to adjust the space between the sinker plate and the gate pegs if needed. When the gap is too small yarn may get caught, when too great stitches may not knit off properly. Generally loosening the only the 2 side screws is enough to allow movement of the sinker plate in relationship to the gate pegs. It is helpful to have an old credit card or other “tool” to help hold the correct spacing while screws get tightened back up with carriage in its knitting position on the main bed.

This view shows the front of the sinker plate; the white plastic “arms” may be seen at the top of the image, 2 other distinct features on this model were the 2 metal pieces marked on the right

BTW: though some compatibility charts online list the 910 series as having thread lace capability, they indeed do not. I will try to find information on later models, and share here.

Quilting on the Brother KM 2, solid color back DBJ

Quilting books may give inspiration for varied shapes. The illustration below is a diamond variant, another may be found in the brother ribber technique book (p 33, different color and KC knitting sequence).

On orange rows the main bed knits lots of needles, selects sealing stitches for next row of knitting, on green rows the ribber does most of the knitting, and will select the stitches the main bed will knit on the subsequent row, and so on

KC row direction does not necessarily matter in single color fabrics as long part buttons in both beds are set appropriately, unless double length is used, in which case KC row needs to be toward the color changer and the design needs to be in 2 row “color” repeats whether as actually punched, “drawn” and programmed, or with elongations used. The above repeat is suitable for punchcard machines as well. If knit without elongation one may use the same carriage settings as the previous sample above. KC –> with card/pattern locked, knit one row to right, set card/pattern to advance, opposite part buttons in use, results in knitting tubular for nearly square diamond shapes. The “stuffing” below is small cut up pieces of waste knitting.

For longer diamonds or 2 color knitting, KC<– row is toward color changer. Settings on ribber need to be changed manually every 2 rows for both single color and 2 color patterning.

When lots of needles are selected on MB, knit 2 rs using settings pictured on left, the ribber slips for 2 rows. If only a few needles are selected, knit 2 rs with settings pictured on right. The ribber will knit all needles, MB only those providing the outline of the shape in the front of the knit, sealing the layers. All ribber carriage slip setting changes happen with carriage on left, prior to the next pair of knit rows, before or after the color change. Errors are less likely if a sequence of the steps involved is developed and followed.

settings, col 1               settings, col 2

The sample below was knit in 2/48 cash wool at T 3/3 using the above repeat. The fabric is sheer, and the joined sections of fabric are lacey.

This method allows for knitting large shapes without the distortion resulting from many double bed techniques. A series of swatches using the technique:

front view

rear view

Once the principles are worked out, a very thin yarn or monofilament in front, with a thicker or contrasting color in back may be used to with viewable inclusions against a the ground, a wool backing and a non felting front can achieve interesting blister like looks without some of the issues of double bed blisters and patterning, large shapes of plain knit could be contrasted against all rib background, and so on

a few more experiments

a monofilament cocoon with paillettes in its pockets

Knitting again, more block stitch, ribber clamp variants

Two more of my scarves, rayon chenille, knit single bed

still working out the last repeat, now double bed

more studies

the final scarf detail for fabric on bottom left knit in tencel and Nomi Lee, 8″ X 63″, + 4 ” i-cord fringe; a detail shot

and yet another variant, knit in alpaca/silk blend and Tencel, 9″ X 58″ + 4 ” i-cord fringe

A recent raverly post brought up the use for the brother double bed color changer, which may actually be used on both bulky machines and on standard ones. The placement for the setting plate needs to be swapped when switching from one gauge to another

The knob on the left under my text is what screws into place to anchor the setting place in either spot. There is no single bed color changer for the bulky. This color changer may be used to knit single bed fabrics as long as they are weighted enough (ribber cast on comb through waste yarn single bed), since there are no wheels and brushes on the ribber sinker plate. There are limits to the amount of texture one may create, and having the ribber engaged reduces visibility, but the trade off is speed. The 2 carriage trick on the 260 is a problem because the punchcard machines do not advance a row when the opposing carriage makes its first pass in the opposite direction of the last row knit.

And,  speaking of ribbers and clamps, not all clamps are created equal though they may appear to be doing their job until some attachments cause problems.

Studio (shorter) vs Brother in place

Brother standard on top of bulky clamp, its taller cousin

Quilting on the knitting machine 1

SINGLE BED QUILTING for straight edged pockets, hand technique only: leave needles OOW creating vertical ladders in location to correspond to side edges of pockets, have a loose tension row (at least 2 numbers higher, more if possible) to mark their tops. Both will serve to pick up stitches, loose rows help for turning of any hem when joinings begin.

Knit half the length of the fabric required (create small hem that will in turn be at lower edge of the finished piece if preferred), continue knitting, picking up ladder loops closest to bottom turn prior to each pass of the carriage, continue until the loose tension row is reached, pick up all stitches as in a hem to seal the knit pockets, repeating the process throughout.

Hand technique combined with punchcard: slip stitches are a familiar tool in marking rows for picking up hems such as at the top of knitted skirts. They can also serve to create pick up bars, and the slightly narrower, shorter lining for a quilted fabric. Nearly all stitches and rows in card need to be punched, empty spots (non selected needles) will skip, creating marking “floats” for rehanging after completion of the first half of the piece. KC pattern selection is on, part <—>.

Non selected needles on the second half of the piece will give a clue as to where to hang the floats, in turn bringing selected needles out to holding if desired. KC: needle selection is left on, no part buttons, carriage is now set to knit every row throughout. The fabric will be knit together in those spots on the next pass of the carriage. Decisions can be made as to whether to do this every row or every other. A self drawn possibility is below on left in which instance all white squares would need to be punched out, a possible factory pre punched on right.

Not to be forgotten is appliqué, where separate shapes may be knit and joined onto the ground (knit in any desired stitch) technique by a seam as you knit method.

DOUBLE BED QUILTING: carriage settings on brother are for circular knitting. Cast on for every needle rib with a familiar yarn, knit one or 2 rows, and to make a trial piece, set main carriage to slip to right, ribber carriage to slip to left. The ribber tends to knit tighter than the main bed, since large numbers of needles will be knitting side by side, the tension should be loosened at least one or 2 numbers while on the main bed the tension used should be closer to that used for the same yarn when knitting stocking stitch. Bring every X needle on main bed to hold position, knit 2 rows, and repeat to the desired length of the pocket. When the latter is reached, lower the ribber slightly, “stuff” pocket, bring all needles to hold position, the needle set up is with needles at halfway between each other (racking handle H as for every needle cast on ), so main bed may be brought to hold as well, knit 2 rows, and repeat process adjusting cam settings. The same principle applies here whether on patterning is used or not. With slip setting non-selected needles (B pos) slip, do not knit, and needles in D position or holding in hand tech, will knit and in this fabric seal the fabric. In the chart the symbols represent the stitches as they  are formed on each bed to create a tube. The carriage icons show that  opposite part buttons are in use on both beds. The ribber (odd numbered, white rows) knits left to right, slips right to left, MB (yellow rows) slips left to right, knits right to left, creating a tube.

Automating the function brings us to another color separation of sorts. In single color quilting using simple tubular setting: Knitmaster machines work a bit differently than Brother, so cards/ mylars would have to be designed accordingly, Passap has some built in techs that can help with this. The settings below are for brother, and the card, for narrow vertical tubes. Width between punched holes could be adjusted to any factor of  and up to every 24. Every row or every other row can be marked. Cast on for every needle rib. In this repeat when rows with no needle selection occur at its top , set both carriages to knit 2 rows (or bring all needles manually out to hold) to seal pockets. MB is set to slip in one direction, will knit on even rows, slip on odd rows as punched. The ribber is set to slip from right to left, and and knit from left to right. With carriages at KM’s left insert the card, lock on row 1. KC –> knit 1 row in rib from left to right, release card, and continue knitting. In Brother machines the tucking lever must be in the down, N position as well. When possible, tension on the main bed should be as loose as it will allow, if stuffing the pockets is planned. Without wadding the face can have a crumpled look with a smooth back.

a small test with a 15 stitch wide pocket

Going further in automating the repeat: this card portion includes the sealing rows (1 and 2): extend repetitions of rows 3 and 4 until length of desired pocket is reached for your DIY repeat. The ribber is set to slip from right to left, and and knit from left to right, the main carriage to knit from left to right, and to slip from right to left (opposite part buttons). With carriages at right insert the card, lock on row 1. KC <–, knit 1 row in rib from right  to left, release card (or mylar), and continue knitting to desired length.

a test  of the repeat

Vertical striper (ladderback) backing on Brother KM

If one chooses to hand manipulate needle selection on either bed and to bring needles to be knit off out to hold with machine set to slip, one can be in charge of knit stitches to happen wherever one chooses. Automating any of it may speed things up, but comes with built in KM limitations. lili buttons enable every other needle selection on the Brother ribber carriage, behave in the same manner as when using the following card repeat single bed. Both buttons are pushed in, turned toward the lili markings  <-   ->, and the ribber carriage is set to slip in both directions

The usual rule when working with lili <-   ->  is to have an even number of needles in work on the ribber bed. The markings on the corresponding needle tape consist of dashes with spaces between them. For an even number of needles, if the first needle is positioned over a dash, then the last must be positioned over a blank space. The charts below take into consideration duplicate rows, knit first away from, and then back to the color changer, for striping every 2 rows. Dashes and spaces on the needle tape are shown in the yellow row in chart with first needle on a “dash”. Patterning is fixed, beginning with second needle from the left when traveling from left to right, and second needle from the right as when traveling from right to left. This is true whether one starts on a blank or dash needle tape position. Needles (colored squares in repeat) are numbered reflecting the sequence in which they are knit as the ribber carriage moves in the direction of arrows

If an odd number of needles is in use, the same needles will slip/knit respectively. Grey squares represent the needle location for which the ribber carriage thinks it is selecting, including the missing needle location to keep the number of stitches even. Unless settings are changed patterning is fixed on the same stitches.

To create vertical stripes using slipstitch, this would need to be the repeat, not “automatically” possible on the ribber

“Fooling the machine” into thinking an even number of needles are in work by bringing an extra needle in work carriage side on left, the knitting happens on the needles represented by yellow squares, but the carriage thinks it is knitting the pink repeat

To knit: *COL: color 1 (orange) knits as set up for 2 rows. Before knitting with color 2 (green), COL, bring an extra needle into work before moving from left to right. COR: drop extra empty needle on left OOW, knit to left returning to color changer, change colors* repeat process throughout. Check regularly to make sure that the empty needle on the ribber as you bring it in/out of work does not pick up yarn and become an unintended increase. Having an extra needle in work on both sides of the fabric on the main bed will insure end stitches knit and side edges are “clean”

The fabric swatch illustrates the vertical striping. The operator error = horizontal stripe could become a design feature. The thin yarn clearly shows the lengthening of slipped stitches, and why some DBJ fabrics are referred to as “long stitch” ones, with color bleed or grin through from colors traveling behind them. The plain rib at the bottom is significantly wider than areas where slipstitch is used, an issue if plain rib is to be combined with DBJ created with slipped stitches. On the knit side in this instance, the fabric is knit stripes. When using the color changer starting with waste yarn and testing yarns, gives one the opportunity to make any adjustments necessary including on occasion doing a bit of metal bending where needed.

this backing was used in one of the swatch segments seen in my May 4th post

Block stitch separations

“Pinning” has become part of my daily routine. This image was pinned by someone else, and brought back memories of my block stitch scarves, along with the  temptation for working out a new repeat, similar to that seen in the top of this jacket credited to Forquet.

Following are some ideas for developing designs for these fabrics, the basic principles work for both punchcard and electronics. Using the motif in a punchcard will make the striping surrounding it fixed, and involves a lot of punching holes. On a mylar or in a download the width of the ground behind the shape can be easily changed, and only the non selecting, “empty ” squares need be drawn or entered into a program that is capable of color reverse. One needs to be mindful of the size in of the overall repeat when faced with so much “blank space”.

Until one sorts out what happens with the stitches, where the colors are placed during knitting, it is a good idea to start with a simple shape. I use excel as my “graph” paper when I want to easily play with color on a grid. Below is a simple motif as a design start, beside it an expanded graph leaving every other row blank. Some books suggest erasing on horizontal EOR stripes, I prefer the visual cues in the method below. The yellow marks the rows on which the motif will be created.

There are a number of ways to go on from this point. Layering the repeat on a colored ground can give a sense of the resulting shape, help plan the type of overall pattern repeat, and insure that enough rows are allowed to travel to and from the color changer. For sampling I prefer to work on an electronic machine, using the elongation feature and color reverse to minimize drawing in lots of black. The grid on the left shows the above split motif layered over a striped ground. In the center grid, the motif separation color becomes white/ blank, color one (yellow) is different than on left simply to allow the white to become more visible. I use 2 carriages as opposed to the color changer when knitting these fabrics, so the L and R row markings help insure that indeed there are enough rows in the repeat for both carriages to travel to and from each side, with stripes lining up where required. The blank squares represent slipped stitches, and they normally are left blank whether in a card, mylar, or program, all other colored squares are knit stitches, corresponding to punched holes, black squares on mylar. On the far right is all that is required to be filled in with a mylar sheet or program capable of lengthening X2 and color reverse. The marks are actually the same as the expanded motif first shown above. For a punchcard the same motif on the far right could be drawn this way centered, and every other square surrounding the now black lines would need to become a punched hole.

Looking at the graph: color 2 will slip in locations where needles are not selected (white squares). The stitches on non selected needles get longer in the front of the fabric, the alternate color floats behind them. The next color change will knit the held stitches off, so the motif color in the above design will actually be “green” in the final fabric. Because the colors on either side of the motif are actually knitting every stitch and every row, there will be some distortion in striping around the motif, and potentially even some “bubbling” in those areas

The next choice becomes sorting out how far apart to place motifs from each other, and in what distribution on the resulting fabric. Both are subject to personal preference and taste. Below is only one of many such possible layouts

if elongation is not possible or to be avoided, then the option below shows a possible repeat, including a “punchcard” 24 stitch version. Where color reverse is not an option, all but the white squares must be marked/ programmed, and in the case of a punchcard, all but the white squares would need to be punched

It is also possible to offset/ shift the color of motifs themselves so they would alternate colors between the 2 striping colors as well

The following chart illustrates the idea: the magenta stripes are not part of the repeat, they are markers to show where the slip stitches for the alternate color need to occur in the repeats

As for the motif that started this thread: below is the test swatch so far, obviously in a different gauge and repeat, but in the same spirit. An issue is the long float on the back/purl side spanning 8 stitches. If the goal is to produce an unlined item, these could pose a problem in wearing it. Hooking up the floats up may be too time consuming in production, an added stitch in the non motif color (see marked dots) on either side of the central bar may solve the problem, but alter the design. There is lots more to consider and play with (yarn colors in these swatches are chosen for throw away tests, not any type of final item) .

more swatches, repeats old and new

The final, new scarf fabric: knit on Passap, every needle rib, tencel and “Nomi Lee”.

The top and bottom edging to be worked out; the fabric is soft, drapes well, and has no side curl.


Mosaics and mazes: drawing motifs

Knitting any fabric on the machine becomes easier if one thinks of black squares as knit stitches (selected needles on Brother), white squares as in this instance as either slipped, or at times tucked stitches (non selected needles). Each number on the grids below represents 2 consecutive rows of knitting. The design may be elongated in the drawing of the final repeat itself prior to punching holes, marking mylar or pixels, or elongated in the built in setting for the KM used, whether electronic or punchcard. Color changes are required every 2 rows.

the grids

The patterns may be created by drawing shapes on the dotted grids, or “erasing” squares on the lined grids if more extended lines are desired. Some of the “rules” for mosaics were discussed in my previous post on the subject last October. A few more to consider in drawing your own:

color 1 is represented in row 1 and all odd numbered rows

color 2 is represented by row 2 and all even numbered rows

long horizontal lines in mazes usually occur on odd numbered rows

even numbered rows usually have no more than 2 black squares marked side by side

on odd numbered rows white squares slip

on even numbered rows black squares slip

odd numbered rows are knitted in the main color (black squares)

even rows are knitted in contrast color (white squares)

I think of row one/ odd rows as needing to knit black squares, row 2 and even rows having to knit white squares rather than marking in the traditional manner for slipped stitches on each row

a quickly drawn motif

checking out the motif in repeat

marking the knit stitches in odd rows

marking the knit stitches in even rows

markings for all knit stitches

the red squares show the alternative markings for electronic KMs with color reverse

In knitting the pattern, the selection row is made in a non patterning row toward the color changer. Unless each row is marked twice, the motif as above must be elongated X2

Test swatches for  the resulting fabric, knit and purl side shown respectively; note the lack of visibility of pattern where there is low contrast between the 2 colors used, and the short floats on the reverse. Slip setting is used, though in row 11 the 2 side by side non knitting squares may not pose a problem in knitting using tuck setting.

There is an online generator for patterns in this family by Laura Kogler. The image below shows one such generated pattern, in turn saved and gridded in photoshop

Below are images processing the above design “by the rules”, based on red squares in the generated design. Figure 1 is the isolated repeat, figure 2 shows the stitches to be knit in color 1, figure 3 the stitches to be knit in color 2, in figure 4 the black dots represent punched holes, the red squares the areas that may be marked if the KM is capable of color reverse, length must be doubled here as well, with color changed every 2 rows, selection row toward the color changer

the resulting fabric using slip setting, rows 4 and 5 make motif problematic for tuck setting

Working with the white squares in the generated design, now knitting the white on odd rows, the red on even: the grid on left shows the isolated repeat. In the grid on the right, the black dots equal the punched holes in the card, the white squares the mylar markings for use with color reverse. This motif would work in tuck <-> as well

the 2 fabrics side by side, showing in this instance a slight difference in the overall repeat in the last swatch; in the left sample green is color one, in the right one white is color l

the same motif knit in the tuck setting is wider, both sides are shown below

If the yarn used is capable of being blocked fairly flat, because of the short floats, finished items in these fabrics may not need to be folded over or lined as traditional FI items often do.

Double jacquard 3/ single bed multi color slip

Double jacquard knitting allows one to design and knit multiple color patterns without the worry of floats. The color changer (standard machines hold a limit is of 4 colors at any one time) and the ribber are required.  The ribber knits the floats into a second layer of fabric on the ribber side, resulting in the term double knit. Often the main bed is set to slip throughout. Slipped (or first row tuck) stitches become elongated until non selected stitches knit off. The more the colors in any one row, the more all the stitches on the front face of the fabric must stretch in order to accommodate the number of colors laid behind in the backing fabric.  The elongated stitches may allow for the other colors to be seen, and this is often referred to as “grin / bleed through”. Different ribber settings may help with some of the elongation (depending on separation method) and grin through issues. The same principles used for DBJ separations apply to single bed multiple color slip stitch, and creating the initial swatches single bed can serve as a test for  the DBJ pattern separation. In the series below some of the potential issues become obvious

the design repeat

The simplest color separation expands each row of the design to X times its original length based on the number of colors per row; in this case, 3 design rows expand to 6. In addition, in order to knit the fabric, the elongation function (X2) must be used, and each color for each design row will be knit twice, with color changes every 2 rows. This is necessary if the color changer is to be used, since it takes 2 passes of the knit carriage to travel away from and back to it in order to pick up the next color. The result is a very elongated design. It is possible to knit same motif without elongation, but then the yarn needs to be cut and changed on the appropriate side and  each row, creating side edges not suitable for garments. One can separate any design with this method, and the motif may even have an odd number of rows. The sequence below is for the expansion of the  first 2 motif rows

Exp Graph..Motif…….Color…

Row 1        Row 1       Color 1

Row 2       Row 1       Color 2

Row 3       Row 1       Color 3

Row 4       Row 2       Color 1

Row 5       Row 2       Color 2

Row 6       Row 3       Color 3

The graph below shows the motif in repeat, the next column the color separation, with expanded rows, and in the third the black indicates the knit stitches (black squares on mylar, punched holes in card)

Testing the design single bed slip stitch: the resulting fabric is dense, with lots of floats, and narrow in final width, with little if any stretch. In the knit swatch: elongation is marked, would remain so even if the fabric were  knit double bed and settings on ribber to reduce elongation were used

There are 2 other options for separating colors that deal with the problem of elongation, but they do not work on every design. The separation on the left is set up in sequential 2 two row units. In a 3 color pattern each row of the design expands into 6. The selection row is made toward the color changer. The separation on the right also retains knit scale. In using either one must often be willing to adapt and edit the original design motif. The total number of rows is the same as the previous method, but the sequence for color one is split as seen in numbers beside color column in chart. The selection row is made away from the color changer, knitting a single row in pattern for color 1. In these separation methods the motif must have an even number of rows

The respective resulting swatches: the elongation problem is solved, but the repeat is off in the upper third of design. Some separation programs  are able to scan through your design and  locate the problem areas, even shuffle the order in which the colors are knit in order to allow the separation to work, but manual solutions may be quite time consuming or at times not possible

A redesign: one method to avoid pattern shift problems and insure success is to use units in the design that are 2 stitches high, as seen in the motif  and its separation below.

In knitting the selection row is made toward the color changer. In rows where color 3 is not represented, only the first and last needles are selected,  and manually pushed back to B position. Eliminating end needle selection can cause problems at outer edge of other colors, eliminating blank rows from graph and knitting would require much more attention to where in repeat one is actually working, and lead to possible frequent mistakes in color sequence.

the resulting fabric, knit and purl views