Brother KMs: punchcards and their use

I have recently become involved in a year long project at UMass Lowell, will share details as they develop. Most of my blog posts are written for those who already have a basic knowledge of techniques. Since I may soon be involved in teaching basics to non knitters, I am in the process of getting some informational notes together, and thought I would share them here as well. The information is Brother brand specific.

The punchcard reader sits on the far right of the knitting machine; it actually reads 7 rows below row visible at eye level on machine exterior, establishing a numerical relationship between motif repeat design rows and those viewed

reader

cards may be purchased pre punched (1), as individual 24X60 blanks, or in continuous rolls (2); a card punch (3) is used to punch holes card_suppliesrows: for any card to roll in a continuous pattern vertically (rows), cards are joined to form a roll. A minimum of 36 punched rows are required. Snaps are used to join the beginning and end of a single card, or multiple cards sequentially. There are excellent, free downloads now for pattern books including designs for all varieties of mk fabrics. It is possible to have the machine knit rows in double length ‘automatically’, it is the only built in possible alteration of pattern. Masking or cello tape is a temporary solution to testing repeat variants or to repair errors (both sides of card), otherwise re punching of the whole card is required for any changes

stitches: the maximum repeat width (stitches) is 24, 24 squares, one line on the card. On Brother KMs the repeat is centered with 12 stitches on either side of the center “0” marking (2). The needle position indicator is marked in thick and thin lines (1), each representing one whole design row repeat in width. If one wishes to shift motifs on the knit piece, invisibly join designs, etc., the only alternative is to determine the width and needle locations required, and then to shift the knitting position on the bed by repeat or its segments.

needle tape

motifs must fit together within the 24 stitch limit, so individually they must be factors of that number: 1,2,3,4,6,8,12,24 (height calculations must have a minimum of 36 rows punched, so a different math is involved there as well)

anatomy of a card: all squares are punched top and bottom for 2 rows each. They are not part of the design, overlap the first and last pairs of rows respectively when snaps are in place, so the design motif remains continuous

any image will be reversed on the knit side, of note in planning lettering or motifs where direction matters. With the change knob set to KC or SM punched holes in the card will preselect needles to B position, unpunched holes will leave them in B position. A 24 stitch repeat with needle selection for row 1 (card is from a set supplied by Brother with machine purchases)

anatomy

the extra markings on the needle tape are water soluble ink marks from one of my projects to help track techniques.

working with motifs in networks with 24 stitch limit: checkerboard is formed with the isolated motif, original measures 8 stitches by 16 rows; repeats in charts below are outlined in green, colored squares correspond to holes punched in card

checkerboardadding simple patternsadding shapestaggering horizontally for brick repeat (now too wide for card)horizontal staggerstaggering vertically for half drop repeat, (row adjustment)vertical staggercheckerboard begun with an 8 stitch repeatstraighthalf drop: repeat begins to change in width half dropbrick bricktriangle triangleadded larger repeat variationsvariation 1

variation 2

variation 4

Electronic machines are able to use punchcard designs as well. Only one pattern repeat needs to be programmed. Factors of available maximum width in stitch repeats depending on machine brand:

24: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12   30: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 15   40:1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20  60: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30