Machine knit cables: using patterning as a guide to transfers

If you have a machine which selects needles to the forward position, you may use a punchcard, mylar sheet or program to select needles for indicating cable placements. On the single bed, the selected needles act as the signal to actually create the cable crosses. Working double bed, the needle selection on the row before the cables are crossed may serve to remind you to put extra needles in work on the ribber, thus providing extra yarn for the crossings. Previous posts on topic

Keeping crossings all in the same direction and having ladders to mark vertical placements makes the process far easier. The stitches on either side of the cable may be knit, dropped every X# of rows and latched up to create a purl ridge on either side of the cable, at times there is enough slack in the ladder created to achieve the same. End needle selection needs to be cancelled (KCII) in any pattern with needles out of work. In simple patterns using selection to keep track, ladders are not needed to stay in a clear vertical.

An alternative repeat for combining 2X2 cables and 2 twisted stitches is illustrated below. The repeat is suitable for punchcard use, must be drawn in multiples to meet machine requirements (at least 36 rows in length). Spacing between twists and crossings may be far more varied in machines that use mylars or programs

punchcard repeatfor an all over pattern

twists and crosses

for a 22 stitch repeat or vertical panel, with ladders added


22 st repeat

If using the ribber, stitches marked for “ladders” may actually be transferred to the ribber to create the purl ridges on either side of the cables and twists.

Pile knitting

I live in the northeast US, and the past few weeks have been taken up by a whole lot of time moving snow and not knitting or even thinking about knitting. A raveler however, recently asked about pile knitting which got me contemplating knit fabrics again. I thought I would start a thread here on some of the techniques and possibilities involved, editing and adding further information as I can.

Pile knitting may be done on any machine. The quality of the fabric varies, depending on the method and yarns used. Loops are often created every other row, and “normally do not pull out”. They may be made either on the main bed, or on the ribber. Some of the techniques result in a much looser fabric than others. In those instances, using a ground yarn that will felt, and slightly felting the finished knit will make the fabric much more stable. If it is to be used in garments, by default, it is best to make those pieces larger than required, and  to plan to use them in cut and sew use.

Beginning with the machine manuals and suggestions:

Two weights of yarn are used: a lightweight yarn for the pile, and a fine yarn for the background. The usual set up is for every needle rib, half pitch . The finer yarn is threaded into the auxiliary feeder.

Studio machines use the P Carriage with the P pressor attached to drop the loops. If using a punchcard or mylar, the punched holes create the design, the unpunched holed knit the ground. Singer P carriage information (from SRP60N ribber manual) singer_PCarriage

knit sample



Toyota had a small accessory offered for knitting pile using the ribber and the simulknit setting. Both yarns knit on the main bed, the ribber only catches loops in the “S” yarn. Manual available for Toyota pile knitter 

Kathleen Kinder was credited with first using FI designs for pile knitting, resulting in loops being created every row rather than every other. In the method, loops are still required to be dropped after every row. Cards with bold areas of each color are most suitable. Since the fabric has a tendency to spread horizontally, doubling the length may become necessary if the goal is to retain more of the motif shape.

A natural follow up is to use double jacquard cards and color separations to achieve multiple color pile. A color changer is a must when using multiple colors. Loops will be formed every row here as well, may be dropped every row, or just before each time the color is changed.

Pre selection of needles in Brother poses an interesting problem: patterning needs to be retained, dropping stitches disrupts it, and there is no accessory such as the P Carriage to make the process quicker. One option for altering the P carriage for use on Brother was offered here

Cables in color

Fair isle, like any slip stitch fabric is “shorter and skinnier” than any produced using the same yarn colors in plain knitting, single bed. Cables also narrow the fabric considerably. Begin with tension set at least 1-2 numbers looser than usual, and make tension swatches large enough to include all cable variations. After the cable crossings, be sure to return the needles to correct pattern selection before knitting the next row. Do not pull the whole group out to holding (E), as the whole group will then knit the color in the B feeder, and you will have a striped “mistake” on the next row knit. Leaving any needles OOW in the knit will select the needle on each side of the ladder to come forward, knitting the color in the B feeder. This may not work for you in terms of how the motif is affected by the vertical line created. If ladders are required, the vertical line in the B color may be eliminated by canceling end needle selection (KC II), or by dropping those stitches before you cable (which will give you a bit extra yarn for those crossed stitches). Ladders may be also latched up is you like, but watch where those floats are going in the fabric.

Making your own cards: try to control the length of the floats. Pre punched cards with lots of punched holes can produce areas to be cabled by selectively masking areas with tape (both sides of cards). Conversely, you may punch diamonds, squares, etc. in the center of other shapes  that would normally have floats too long for FI, to produce a B feeder color area for cabling.

Like color, most often, needs to land on like color, so stitches need to move further than they would in a one color knit. Reversible ribbed cables share the principle of like needing to land on like (knit on knit, purl on purl). Starting out with a single row punched card, mylar, or program repeat, with the card locked, provides a quick test for tension, keeping track of patterns, etc. There are many, so at least initially, cabling on a constant number of rows apart, may help avoid errors.

beginning to visualize the crosses

FI cables2

another of my “quick reference – some to try” handouts