Return to circles, knit and crochet “pies” 1

I began a series of posts on miters and spirals created on the knitting machine back in 2011. The oldest posts, 12, and 3 begin to address creating flat circles in machine knitting using holding techniques.

Hand knitting in circular format and crochet share some similarities. There are 2 methods of constructing circular work in crochet. 1: in rounds, (akin to knit miters in shape) where the end of each circular row is joined up to its own beginning to form a ring. A new starting chain (s) is formed to take the row up to the proper height for the next row to remain constant. Depending on the pattern, one has the option of continuing by turning the work or not at the end of each row. Doing so allows the opportunity of altering textures and working in the fronts or backs of stitches. 2: in spirals. Rather than joining the ring, one continues on by going into the tops of the posts in the previous row.

With spirals it is useful to mark the beginning of each round. Knitting markers shaped like safety pins are handy for that purpose. A line of contrasting color can also be created using a separate strand of yarn and alternating carrying it back or to the front prior to forming the first stitch in the new row.

As with knitting, crocheted circles are not true circles, but rather, they are polygons. The way to make shapes more circular is to scramble the increase points, putting them in different starting positions in each round (always spacing them equally and keeping the formula). Within limits one may make the starting number of stitches in the first round a multiple of the number of segments in the finished shape.

With the creation of a flat circle in mind, the number of stitches needed depends on the height of the stitch. The taller the stitch, the greater the number of stitches required. If the stitch stays the same throughout, the number of stitches added on each round is constant. Test work regularly at intervals as the work grows by placing it on a firm, flat surface, to see if working only one stitch into each stitch is required / enough at that point to maintain the shape. The more segments, the smoother the circumference.

Unlike in hand knitting, the first loop on the hook does not count as a stitch until you make it into something.

Spirals or miters knit on the machine begin with their radius; one possible construction method may be inferred from these images

Spreadsheet programs such as Excel and Numbers have pie charts and other tools that can help visualize or even plan the work with symbols. Unlike machine knitting, both crochet and hand knitting may begin and grow from the center out or from the outside in. Calculated shaping with increases or decreases along circumferences at different points on the pie create the desired shape. For the purposes of this discussion I will address stitches in US terms. There are various published guidelines with some variations. Fiber content and matching gauge (if required) may need editing of the numbers, but, as starting points:
Single Crochet [sc] : Start with 6 sc and increase 6 sc in each round so that the total stitch count in each round is a multiple of 6
Half Double Crochet [hdc] : multiple of 8
Double Crochet [dc] : Multiple of 12
Treble [tr]: multiple of 16

Some symbols and number of stitches required in base rows in table form, for working from center out:
the more wedges in the pie, the smoother the circumference no matter what the method. Single crochet is worked in 6 wedgesdouble crochet in 12 wedgeswedges may be reduced to simple line segments rounds may also be created to log in and track more details adding wedge outlines before filling in symbols

single crochet worked with slip stitch at the end of each row will produce  points similar to those seen in miters in machine knitting

spirals produce a rounder shape double crochet echoes the forms 

Building your own charts requires vector programs to allow for rotation of symbols around an axis. My chart was quickly produced in Inkscape, which is free to download for both Mac and PC users. Mac users in addition will also need to download XQuartz to run the program. I created the chart with my own symbols and freeform laid them down while viewing the grid. It turned out however, that there are 2 published videos on how to use the program for charting crochet stitches, part 1 and part 2 by StitchesNScraps.com

Two YouTube videos on topic:  using Illustrator CS 5.1, Marnie Mac Lean’s video, and using StitchWorksSoftware. An online generator by Stitch Fiddle, and its associated video.

if donuts are the goal: find your round 

An example: in single crochet, if round 3 had been completed, there would be 18 completed stitches. Chain 18, either slip stitch or continue in spiral to match count at that point. For round 4: increase every 4th, round 5: every fifth, round 6: every 6th, round 7: every 7th stitch.

A few sites to see for crochet tutorials:
magic ring start : no chain stitches, no center hole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLUaywX0-WE
working in spirals
http://snovej.com/archives/freeform-crochet-spiral
a nice ending https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_sW4xX_O70https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_sW4xX_O70
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L_rtWt78Jw&t=32s
crocheting a flat circle in single crochet: note the start “magic circle”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oDubbFVE3Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZiCnCGP_NQ
changing colors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8cLufFeenU

I tend to swatch in easy to see colors, “friendly” yarn, and use tools that allow moving in and out of stitches easily until I have techniques sorted out. When knitting circles in the round, things get a bit more complex, particularly if one begins to introduce items such as round yokes with patterns into garments where gauge matters significantly.

Some of the same principles may be used in hand knitting. For magic loop start with circular needles: KNITFreedom, and on DPs Webs yarn

Ribber cast on comb/ open stitch single bed cast on

My first encounter using a ribber cast on comb for open edge single bed knitting was in using the Passap machine. Its use for this purpose is possible on other brands as well. It provides an easy way to deal with waste yarn and weight application on ribbed fabrics.  I like using ribber cast on combs when knitting single bed to distribute weight evenly across pieces if needed. A second comb may be inserted as knitting grows. Weights may then be removed and moved up, and so on. Unevenly distributing weight causes elongated stitches in those areas, and makes shaped knitting unpredictable unless the ratio of weight to width of knitting is maintained. Here the topic is using the ribber comb in single bed open cast on and hanging hems.

My Japanese machines are used chiefly for production of single bed items, so usually they are ribber free. Balancing the ribber on older KMs can be fussy, so once the ribber is up, working, and well balanced, my recommendation is to leave it in place if it is going to be used on a regular basis.

For this technique use a cast on comb appropriate for your knitting machine’s gauge ie 4.5mm, 5mm, etc., brand is not relevant, only tooth spacing is. It is possible to cut ribber cast on combs into different widths for use when knitting is planned on fewer stitches than those accommodated by their available commercial widths. In the yarn used in my swatches, I found knitting the first row at stocking stitch tension created large enough stitches for later picking up and hanging the hem. Test your yarn, if necessary use a looser tension for the “cast on” row, and evaluate any inside hem “drop” if looser stitch size is used.

Remove wire from comb. Bring the comb up and between needles to be used, and  re insert wire. Needles and latches will need to travel easily under the wire when the first knit row takes place. 

The knit carriage will not clear the comb properly because of the location of its brushes, etc. For the “cast on” row, exchange the sinker plate on your knit carriage for that normally used with the ribber. The first photo below shows the approximate location for the comb during the first row knit. Needles are centered between the teeth, the teeth themselves line up with gate pegs. The comb needs to be manually held in place, since there is no opposing bed in use to help balance it. The latter would ease the process in wider pieces of knit. The ribber sinker plate has no brushes or wheels to anchor knitting on the knitting bed; any rows knit single bed using it, will need to have needles brought out to hold position prior to knitting each row for all stitches to be formed properly

the comb in positiona pass is made slowly with the ribber sinker plate in place the comb is droppedbring all needles out to hold position knit one more row, returning to starting positionchange sinker plate on knit carriage, proceed with hemthe comb will then need to be lifted up to close the hemfirst rest a knitting needle or similar tool on the open hem  lift comb up enclosing knitting needle, add weightslift comb perpendicular to needles, move it forward sightly for a better view of stitchesneedles (red dot) need to enter the stitches through their center (yellow highlight), not their side (orange highlight) or stitches will later drop; push needles through the center of each stitch on comb continue across the bed 

remove wire from comb, lift it up and offremove weights and knitting needle; wrap cut yarn end around last needle on that side pick up from row below to fill in “missing single stitch” on opposite sidecomplete hem with looser joining row, return to standard tension, continue knitting 

To achieve joining hems in this manner with the ribber in place, though possible on both beds, it is quickest to cast on the back bed (Passap) or on the knit bed (Brother, etc.). Hold the appropriate ribber comb with the bump(s) up facing you, so that the teeth line up as shown above, with the flow combs/ gate pegs, and the needled can come through the gaps. Leave the wire in, hold the bump(s) against the front bed/ ribber, and tilts the comb against the back/ knit bed. Hold the comb high enough to take the lock or carriage across. Take the locks / carriages across to opposite side, drop the comb and weigh it, knit 2 rows on Passap before using strippers. In Japanese kms drop the ribber, switch sinker plates, and continue to knit on the main bed.

“bump”: Passap comb“bumps”: Brother comb 

For other purposes and an edge similar to a “weaving cast on” executed on Japanese machines use EON for the “cast on row”, then bring into work and add the rest of the needles prior to knitting the second row.

Machine knit hems 2

Hems 1: previous post. Guidelines generally given for stocking stitch hems do not take into consideration if the body of the knit is going to be considerably narrower or wider than stocking stitch, and whether the purl side of the fabric is to be used as the “public side”. In the latter case the solution is simply to reverse tension changes for the inside to the outside of the hem. For wider or narrower fabrics the number of stitches for the hems may need to be recalculated, depending on whether a series of simple tension adjustments can solve the problem. Fiber content, yarn weight, even color can affect results, so always test a swatch. It is possible to knit tubular hems using the ribber, but here the discussion is for single bed only.

Hems at the beginning: cast on and knit several rows of waste yarn, ending with ravel cord. Following step 1 below: set the stitch dial one number lower than that used originally in stockinette knitting. Knit the number of rows required for the inside of the hem. Loosen tension by 2 numbers for one row  (helps get a neater turning row). Tighten tension by one to original stockinette tension, and proceed as indicated in steps 2 and 3 below. Illustrations are from Brother techniques Book, pp. 16 and 17.

Picot hems: odd number of needles are required. 1: Cast on an odd number of stitches and knit several rows of waste knitting followed by 1 row knit with ravel cord. Set the stitch dial one full number (guideline) tighter than the main yarn and knit as many rows as required for the depth of the hem.  2: Picots are made by transferring stitches onto adjacent needles, making transfers to either left or right (shown in illustrations below). 3: Reset stitch dial to stockinette tension and knit the same number of rows. 4: Place the sinker loops on the corresponding needles, making sure to pick up the edge sinker loop as well. Directions usually say to pull our ravel cord at this point,  I like to knit a few rows and to make certain things have knit properly before removing the cord. 5: set the stitch dial 2-3 whole numbers higher than the stocking stitch tension and knit one row. This keeps the joining row from bulging out due to its double thickness. 6: Reset tension dial to stocking stitch tension and continue to knit.
After transfers, always check that proper transfers have indeed been made, and that each needle holds 2 stitches. Bringing all needles out to E before knitting the next row helps facilitate a visual check.

Hems with the 1X1 needle arrangement below will often require at least one more row for the outside of the hem than for the backing, since the EON produced stitches will grow in size and lengthen when the fabric is set
In step number 3 the e wrapped row essentially casts on on those empty needles, so that when the following row is knit, full stitches are formed on each needle, and when the hem is folded any appearance of eyelets is minimized.

for illustration the e wrap row in a contrasting color (white is acrylic fiber)continuing to knit hem exterior after some pressing hem interior

Alternate method to step 3, producing a picot at the turn of the hem: bring empty needles out to hold position, knit across to opposite side. With the first pass loops will form on empty needles, with the second pass reversing direction, an eyelet is formed and full knitting is restored for the outside hem. The EON knitting tends to grow in length. I  prefer to reduce EON tension by at least 2 numbers. Test on a swatch to determine the percentage of total rows needed to place the picot at the hem fold rather than having it roll out to the knit side, it will vary depending on yarn used.

For the picot hem transfers using the lace carriage: after knitting with waste yarn and ravel cord, knit half the depth of the hem. Place the Lace carriage opposite the knit carriage, on either the left or right hand side. Starting with the second needle from either side, bring forward every other needle to D position using the 1X1 needle pusher. End needles must be in B position. Move the lace carriage to opposite side, every other stitch will now be transferred onto the adjacent needle. Remove the carriage by using the release button, and continue to knit as described above.

Again, I like to knit several rows after picking up stitches, completing the hem, before removing ravel cord and waste yarn.

If you prefer not to use waste yarn, for inside hem on every needle  (method 1 from the previous post). If using the comb: e wrap eon on an odd number of needles, hang cast on comb with teeth pointing away from you, proceed as below.Using the cast on comb to speed up rehanging stitches to close hem: a foreign language video showing its use on mock rib at the top of socks. The method can be used for any configuration needle set ups. It is possible to use ribber cast on combs for same purpose, I will address that in another post. When EON loops are used to join hem, the inside of the hem will “drop” some when set, so fewer rows are required on the inside hem.

When hanging any hem, one stitch is lost on the side of the cut yarn end. Also, on the knot side the stitch may be less noticeable, so you want to make certain that that outside loop/ stitch is also included in the count (green arrow)

I like to secure the main color yarn end as seen below around the adjoining empty needle as seen below

continue knittingforgot ravel cord? find outside of last stitch knit  in waste yarn, opposite  yarn ends clip stitch, pull out “ravel cord”, continue knitting

Note: ravel cord ideally should be smooth, non shedding fiber, and strong enough not to break when pulled on. If like fibers are used and they shed as the cord is removed, you may have tiny fibers of the contrasting color permanently mating with your garment yarn. Check for any knots in cord at the each side of the knit before pulling it out.