Tubular machine knit fabrics: work in progress

This will be another of my WIP (work in progress) posts. I will add information and edit as I have time.

I recently came across this topic in yet another forum, so thought I would share some of my thoughts on it. The technique involves different patterns on 2 opposing beds. Table for 2 offered one option for programming 2 different  knitting machine beds to achieve reversible DBJ or true tubular fair isle. I will be addressing Brother settings for the moment. Things to consider: the piece will be double thickness and 1.5 times the finished weight of one knit in single bed FI. FI technically knits 2 colors for each design row, the ribber at least one for the first piece here, so thinner yarn is probably best. If the main bed is creating a 2 color slip stitch, whether one color at a time (DBJ) or 2 colors together as in traditional FI, the fabric will be shorter and thinner because it gets pulled in by the shorter floats of yarn in areas that do not form knit stitches with that color. Generally, in FI it is good to have end needle selection on, so that the second color gets caught at the edge, and the design does not separate from the rest of the knit at the sides. I knit my sample using KCI on the knit carriage. The ribber is going to knit one row for every 2 passes to complete each design row by knit carriage, so some adjustments in tension both beds need to be made for each side of the tube to be balanced. If the goal is to have the tube open at the bottom, I like to start in waste yarn, and begin tubular while leaving a long end of the first color used so “bind off” can happen by sewing or crocheting the open stitches when the piece is done. The same can be done at the top of the piece, and both ends will match. Setting the needles point to point during tubular knitting will diminish any gap at sides of the knit if tube is made in the traditional set up. Since only one bed knits at a time, needled will not come in contact even if directly opposite.

This fabric shares features with quilted fabrics, except there are no areas where the fabric gets joined to make pockets (needles on both beds knitting on any one pass of the carriages), the goal here is a continuously open tube. Minimal manipulation of carriage settings can be achieved in color separating for the specific fabric. My previous posts on quilting: 1 and 2 , and on color separations for DBJ 

It is always best to start with a simple design that allows one to recognize needle selection. Long verticals can separate at their edges if knit single bed, but I went for a simple pattern of squares to test out my premise and winged it. Thinking color 1 knit left to right, slip right to left and ribber slips when main bed knits right to left, knits when main bed slips left to right. The all blank rows indicate the main bed slipping the width of the involved needle bed. Same applies after any other consecutive color change. My mylar repeat, free drawn End the circular cast on/ waste knitting start  and begun with opposite part buttons pushed in with COR; set change knob to select pattern (KC I), to prepare for move to left toward color changer. Main bed only will knit. With main bed set to knit <–, needles for the first row of pattern are selected, but all stitches knit. The ribber needs to slip <– completing the circle. If in doubt, push up both part levers on ribber.

the start of the tube, needle selection for first pattern row 

after the color change, with COL, change settings once more. The main bed will now knit to right and slips to left based on needle selection, while the ribber now slips to R, knits to L  (the goal here is simple stripe)

the start of a tube is evident if the ribber is dropped a bit the tube dropped off the machinethe FI created on the main bedthe pattern on the reverse, created by ribber

It helps to analyze the carriage actions on knitting the repeats. These charts illustrate the 2 colors knitting alternately with each pair of carriage passes. With any knitting motif, it is worth testing repeats consecutively in height and width to get a sense of what will take place using them on the finished knit. Here 2 lengthwise repeats are shown. The pattern could be planned to start the repeat with the area outlined in red on the right, and a full block would occur at the start of the tube. A bit of editing would make all rectangles equal in height.

So now that I have some blocks, what about other patterns and shapes? ……

In a previous post with exercises on DBJ, 2 separations of the triangular shapes below were offered. Testing the idea of using pre designed jacquard separations for knitting tubular fair isle, I chose to use the 2 alternatives presented. The related information is available in PDF format for punchcard and electronic machines

Here we have the motifs, and 2 methods of color separation for DBJ, charted, drawing each color design row only once

The middle image shows the method for separation achieved automatically in Brother by using the KRC button when using only 2 colors per row. It causes the least (if any) elongation of the motif. Each design row knits only once, programmed as is. If the KRC button is used, none of the other functions including double length are allowed. The separation on the right is the most common color separation, actually knits each design row twice, which elongates the motif. As drawn, it would need to be programmed double length. If the knitting is representational, adjustment may be needed in altering its height prior to downloading it for knitting. I used both separations above  drawn on an old mylar for my second tubular FI attempt, sticking with my thin yarn, and working in small swatches while testing technique ideas. My initial premise was to knit each row twice using double length. The preparation was as already discussed. After the color change and resetting the carriages COL, the first row slips on the ribber, and the main bed knits first design row in the alternate color, seen here in white. As in single bed FI, floats are created in that color between needles knitting it  with COR, before  traveling back to left for the color change, return all main bed needles back to B position with a ruler, ribber comb, or any preferred tool, so that only the ribber only will knit, keeping the knit tubular as you travel back to the color changer.

COL: change colors and repeat. Here are my trial tubes, again in too thin a yarn, but proofing the concept. My mylar was ancient, marked in #2 pencil on its reverse, and I can see a couple of spots that need darkening, but that is not a concern for this exercise

Adding color and expanding the charts to match the B/W versionseach row elongated X 2what knits when setting machine for tubular; in the swatches the blank rows were achieved by manually pushing needles back to B as shown abovethis shows what happens when the first separation is collapsed into what actually gets knit by the carriages in this technique
and the result in repeat in B/W like my swatch

Both elongated repeats are reduced to black and white squares below, with blank rows included to let the carriage do the work, without having to push any needles back to B position, KC set to slip <–  –>. I often work out my separations in color, then fill the colors in with black and white. It is easier for me to draw the black only squares on the mylar or to enter them as pixels, than trying to do that from a colored graph. I am now charting in Mac Numbers, no longer have access to Microsoft office on my new Mac.

DBJ patterns predawn for punchcard machines or provided as charts for electronics may all be used for the FI pattern. The first separation method will yield a surprise. The second method if each row is illustrated only once, needs elongation. In separations where the work is done for you, producing a result like the elongated swatch on the right, the pattern is ready to go.

Creating the separations by hand is time consuming, having software separate the motif, eliminating that design time is quite helpful and more error proof.

The ribber needle selection can be altered to produce patterning with hand needle selection, or with changing the slip lever positions as frequently as every row. That is a post for another day. That said, some things to consider: my own DBJ scarves often involve more than 1200 rows of knitting. The number of carriage or lock passes involved to achieve the same length in increased exponentially should I choose to knit the same designs tubular. If any needles on both brother beds wind up in work at the same time prior to the next row knit, the fabric will seal closed in those areas (another range lovely fabrics, but not the plan here). For the ribber to knit in any other pattern than an easy stripe, one needs to either select needles by hand or add changes in levers possibly as often as every row. If multiple rows are knit on the ribber and then in turn on the main bed, one is actually creating a tapestry technique and there will be small slits at the sides of the knit, depending on the number of rows knit on either bed. It is truly helpful if the software in use or the machine’s console are able to recall last row knit and to take you back to that spot if knitting is interrupted or put off for another day. That is one of the very convenient features of the Passap system providing the battery is still holding the charge. The latter also performs the same function and returns to correct pattern row if one has to unravel rows and the number of unraveled rows is entered into the console. If long, non repetitive in length designs are in use and need to be downloaded in segments (wincrea has such limits), a warning noise when the end of the pattern repeat is reached would be nice to have. In my opinion it’s fun to achieve things because we can, then it becomes a personal choice as to whether the process is worth it, and under what circumstances to use it.  My own accuracy when a lot of hand manipulation or other details are in use, has faded with my increasing age and decreasing attention span. Others can tackle the same with great success, such as seen in some of the wonderful all hand transferred complex machine knit laces found on Ravelry, and then there was the man who used to tour machine knitting seminars with a MK sweater he had made for himself in fine yarn that incorporated over 3,800 (yes, thousands) cables, weaving in and out of each other and in turn in and out of crossing diamonds in a fine yarn (no, no one I know of actually counted them, the count was accepted on faith).

The Passap console has built in color separations for tubular knitting. As with Brother, the simplest fabrics are in one color. For one color fabrics CX/CX (the equivalent result in Brother happens by using opposite part buttons on either bed) is used on both locks.

For 2 color fabric the DM 80 front lock (carriage term equivalent) is set on HX <— while if using the E 6000 one may select KT (knitting technique) 243, with the front bed set to LX (slip). I have had very limited experience with the DM80 decades ago, can only speak for the E6000. The front bed is programmed as for any other pattern. With back lock set to CX (no pattern) or HX (pusher selection for pattern) the function is fixed, the front bed knits to left and slips to right, the back bed slips to left and knits to right to create the tube

Horizontal stripe is the simplest to execute: set the back bed on CX, or put all back bed pushers in work position and set back lock to HX, no arrow key. Pushers up knit, pushers down slip. (in Brother set the appropriate ribber lever to slip in one direction)

Vertical Stripe: “automatic”, bring pushers under every back needle into one up, one down, alternating in work and in rest. Set back lock to HX, left arrow key <—, changing color every 2 rows. The same needle selection is in the same location with each color change, creating the stripe

Bird’s eye backing, manual tech involved/ lock setting change involved:  set back bed pushers alternating one up, one down, thus alternating in work, out of work. Knit 2 rows with the lock on HX, no arrow key, and 2 rows with the locks on HX <—.

Solid color backing is possible: set the front lock is set to LX <— (slip <—). When Tech 243 is in use, after the set up rows are completed, the console gives the prompt for setting up the pushers, all in work, and for HX <—on the back bed. The result is that for 2 rows in the lining color, stitches knit alternately on each bed. The front bed then knits alone in turn for 2 passes;  the color yarn in use creates a float the width of the knit as the locks return to the right, making it the least acceptable variation, and an unbalanced knit. The set up is different for both quilting (BX <—/LX)  or solid color backed DBJ from tubular FI created in this manner.

My Passap manuals have been well used, often technique numbers are surrounded by notes in my scrawl. Techniques perform the color separations for the specific fabric, the accompanying diagrams and directions are suggestions for swatches provided as well in the alternate accompanying manual. Lock settings can be set to suit i.e. tuck substituted for slip, etc. The separation is fixed, but all lock settings are in the hands of the knitter.

2 color circular tucked designs are produced using techniques 162-165, with the frequently unfamiliar settings using OX/DX. As with many other techniques, some may be used with stitch patterns, some not, but if you understand what is happening front bed patterning could be converted to automated pusher or needle selection by entering a planned color separation as a pattern. OX is a combination, tubular tuck setting, paired with DX. OX is a combination of KX (tuck in pattern) and CX (circular). DX is the tubular tuck setting for the back bed. OX and DX will knit needles with a pusher (needle selected on Brother) in work (selected needle), and tuck on needles with no pusher in work (non selected needle) moving from right to left. From left to right the front bed is not knit any stitches (contributing to making the fabric tubular). The back bed knits knits only from left to right, the second side of the tube. E6000 technique 185 with locks set to N/OX will produce tubular FI with long stitch.  For three and four colors where the colors are separated at one row per color  use technique 252, locks set to N/OX. Superimposing patterns for three and four color techniques require entering card reader techniques. With my cable set up, when I was experimenting with reader techniques eons ago, I believe I was successful downloading the pattern for the design from the PC, and entering the card reader technique as a second pattern, via the card reader. I have never tried doing so with additional software, and shy away from any situation where I have to enter commands to get software to work.  Out of the group, 162 is the only one that can be combined with stitch pattern. The console gives cues as when to change lock settings, with some thought similar fabrics could be knit on the Brother KM. The techniques, and my notes, which at this point would need some self interpretation. The UX scribble is in reference to a fabric that slips over needles with pushers selected down from right to left, then tucks over needles with pushers selected down from left to right. Needles with pushers up will always knit. In Brotherese the pattern is knit with opposite function cam buttons  in use slip <–, tuck –>. It will not produce a tubular knit. Worked out patterns for such fabrics were included in some of the Brother punchcard pattern books. 
For tucked 2 color fair isle use technique 185 with lock on N/OX. 

What that means to anyone knitting on Brother machines?

Bowknot/ Butterfly stitch on the machine_ WIP

A recent Pinterest post got me searching out some of the fabrics in this group. In hand knitting, floats creating the butterflies/ bowknots are usually apparent on the knit side. For two such patterns please see http://www.knittingstitchpatterns.com/2014/11/butterfly-bowknots.html

http://www.knittingstitchpatterns.com/2015/04/butterfly.html

https://handlife.ru/vazanie/obemnyy-uzor.html caught my attention. Here we have a combination of knit and purl stitches, with floats formed on the purl side, making the fabric or a “cousin” of it possible on the machineThis is my first experiment with gathered slip stitch floats on purl side of knit. To begin, this chart indicates one punchcard pattern’s full repeat in width.  Four repeats in length would be required (the punchcard minimum repeat in length to achieve smooth continuous card feeding is 36 rows). Punch out blue squares, leaving white ones unpunched. A single repeat (outlined in black, 8 stitches by 12 rows) is for use in electronic patterning, where one may  alternately draw or program white squares, then use color reverse. Red line represents 0 needle position in Brother KM

Pitch on H5, ribber needles are centered between main bed ones, so the “knot” width, represented by white squares, can be even in number. Begin with first needle left of 0 (red line) in work position, continue across ribber bed with every 4th needle in work

The main bed knits in slip stitch pattern for 4 rows, then knits 2 rows across all stitches. Floats are created every blank row throughout, composing the knots or butterflies. The ribber is set to knit (N,<–>N, will pick up stitches only on selected needles.
The fabric is a slip stitch one, so it will be short and narrow. That is something to be considered when planning cast on, bind off, and beginning and ending edges of the piece.
In Japanese machines a ribber comb is recommended. If casting on single bed, start with waste yarn, poke the comb through that, and proceed as you would for any other rib fabric.

My sample is knit on a 910, with white squares drawn. This is what happens when you forget to color reverse. The all blue squares now became “white”, so those 2 rows were slipped, not knit, bringing float repeats closer together  the result with color reverse working out a mylar, electronic (unless DM 80 40 stitch width is in use) repeat for a variation of the fabric knit single bed. The stitch count is odd,  allowing for a center stitch manipulation. KCI is used to make certain the first and last needle knit on each side. Floats created close to edges may be left without hooking them up. The fabric separates slightly along the “bowknot”  edges because color reverse is used, blue squares in chart slip, create floats  when Rows 6 and 12 are reached respectively, that single square becomes a non selected needle, pick up those floats with any preferred toollift them up and onto that single non selected needle, push that needle out to hold
with the next pass the single needle and loops knit off together and become part of the alternating all knit block in the design
the swatches are knit in a 2/15 wool, the fabric might be better served using a thicker yarn. Here the “blocks” creating  “floats” are side by side

For another single bed cousin in different weight yarn, please see previous post 

Fabrics worked single bed with groups of pulled up stitches on the purl side will have some distortion of the stocking stitch side depending on weight of yarn used, the number of rows hooked up, and stitch type. Working on the opposite bed to create the floats produces a more balanced fabric.

My charts often evolve. This may be done on graph paper if there is no access to software. I began adding a space between between each block, thinking about those knit stitches I want to create on the purl ground, hooking stitches up on red squaresadding border stitches and more theory on placement of stitch type
the result actually places “knit” stitches in center of butterfly (magenta arrow), not at its sides, and I see and extra purl stitch (green arrow). Multiple stitch wide borders create unwanted floats on one side
back to the drawing board, and working things out first as hand technique

I began with my carriage on the right (COR), after setting up the repeat on a multiple of 6 stitches +3 as indicated above. The last stitch on either side on both beds is never transferred, and the short loops every other set (rows 5 and 17 in chart) are not hooked up. This will produce a slightly rolled edge on each side. Larger number of border stitches become problematic. The photos were taken while knitting 2 different swatches, so needle tape markings are not the same in all photos. To produce the circular knit, opposite part buttons are pushed in so with carriage on right (COR), the settings would be

Cast on in any preferred method, ending with all stitches on the ribber Configure main bed needles as illustrated in stand alone set up row at the  bottom of chart With carriages traveling from right to left, the main bed knits on those single needles, creating floats between them and the ribber slips. When carriages travel from left to right, only the ribber knits, the main bed slips. Here the carriages have traveled to left, and back to right 
With row counter (RC) set to 000 at the start if knit, hand techniques occur on RC 5, 11, 17, 23, 29, and so on. Hooking up loops and transferring stitches between beds always occurs with carriages on the left (COL). On those rows the floats are hooked up on the center needle of the 5 empty groups. In this photo the ribber is dropped to show what is happening on each bed. The last stitches on each bed are not moved, and those short floats when created on completion of alternate repeat top halves are not hooked upafter the three floats have been hooked up, with COL each time, the in between main bed stitches are transferred back down to ribberCOL: be sure when hooking up floats that all in the series are picked up. The space between the beds is fairly narrow, tool used is purely preference based. Shifting main bed needles forward will provide a visual check for loop count as you go. I bring needles with multiple loops out to hold before transferring to ribber, and then also the transferred stitches on ribber out to hold to insure they will all knit on the next pass from left to right. Patterning occurs on every 6th needle on both beds, with the exception of border stitch groups

this is the needle arrangement / position in my final swatch, knit in 2/8 wool, COR

So what can be automated in process? The knit bed needs to work the stitches that form floats every other row, while the card or mylar need to advance every row. Trying patterns out as an all hand technique helps determine tolerance on the part of the machine and degree of patience available. With thinner yarn, the fabric would be more compressed, and maneuvering stitches more frequent to achieve similar finished size knits, so I switched to a thicker yarn. I found more than 3 rows of floats was too hard for me to manage successfully.  “Air knitting” to determine placement of knitting on any bed prior to patterning helps determine the number of needles in use, especially if edge needle placement or count matters: here is the first pass using my mylareliminating needles to any desired width, leaving only one needle in work on each side of selected needle each bed for this fabric reducing main bed count so only one needle is left on either side of a selected onethat needle (green arrow, gets transferred down to ribber now the number of needles involved on both beds is evident on both beds

While knitting in pattern the ribber pitch is set on P (point to point) to keep stitches on opposing beds centered (P pitch also makes it easier to transfer directly from one bed to the other). If the cast on is for an every other needle rib with stitches then transferred between beds for pattern knitting set up, the cast on and any all rib rows need to be knit in H pitch, with switch to P for transfers and knitting in pattern to be completed. With first row set up on selected segment of needle bed, there are additional steps to take.

This is my working repeat. Since it is 6 stitches wide, it could be worked out on a punchcard, punching out all black squares. On my mylar I marked yellow squares only, with no color reverse
To work consistently with the method described in the larger chart, the first row was manually set up on both beds preparing for pattern with COL: change knob set to KCII (cancel end needle selection, not every needle in work on main bed), KC set to slip <–>, so non selected needles slip with each pass of the carriages, advancing the mylar or card one row. The ribber set to N/N or as below, will knit from left to right. Pre selection row is made traveling to right, ribber only knits

With COR: set RC (row counter) to 000. Make certain proper part (slip) buttons are engaged. MB knits in pattern based on selected needles, ribber knits when moving from left to right. The fabric is tubularHand techniques will now also occur when carriages are on the left, on RC 5, 11, etc as described in hand technique chart, on rows with no needle selection. As in hand tech, transfers and multiple loop containing needles are brought out to hold before moving the carriages from left to right and selecting the needles for the next set of floats with that same pass.

This is my resulting fabric, hand tech shown, short mylar test above was cropped 

A return to Brother ribber and DBJ settings

Ribber settings vary from one brand of machine to another. Here is a review of the Brother carriage features

Back in 2015 I wrote on quilting on the machine, using the carriage representation below. Here lili buttons are positioned for use

I no longer have Adobe programs available to me, for this post my images were created in Mac Pages. I have simplified illustrating button and cam settings in red.

I tend to knit most if not all my rib fabrics with slide lever in the center position (marked lili on carriage, blue dot). This avoids accidental changes when altering the settings for sections of garments or forgetting to reset it ie. if one uses a rib band in a sweater front on one setting and accidentally uses a different one in the back, there will be a difference in width and height between the 2 bands that can be quite noticeable, and is not apparent until the garment pieces are completed and ready for seaming.

If you prefer to start with a 2 X 2 industrial rib, arrange needles to give a neat join at seams, plying yarns may again be required to give the rib more body. A racking cast on may be used, avoiding transfers between beds after an every needle cast on Diana Sullivan  shows one method of working, and illustrates needle arrangement and transitions to main bed knitting well. Alternative needle set ups:

I personally never do 3 circular rows after first cast on row: it will produce a floats on one side of the rib, which may be noticeable in your final fabric on one of the 2 garment sides.

To close holes when transitioning to garment pieces in other than every needle ribs, rack the beds one full turn, knit 2 rows, rack back again, and proceed as needed for desired fabric

The lili buttons on the ribber are representations of an every other needle set up, akin to the 1X1 card use on the main bed. It is essential for an even number of needles to be in use when the lili buttons are in use (pushed in, and turned toward the lili markings on each side of the ribber carriage, R to R, L to L). An easy way to insure the even number is to look at the needle tape markings, which alternate between  dashes and blank spaces between them. A line/ dash and a space make a pair, so if you start with a needle on  a line, the last needle on the opposing side needs to be on a blank space, or vice versa. The holding cam lever remains on N position throughout these illustrations.

simple rib 

Setting for slip stitch: raising levers to P position will result in stitches slipping when the ribber carriage moves in that direction

slip to right slip to left slip in both directions

Setting for tucking on ribber: it is possible to tuck on every needle on either bed when knitting every needle rib, as long as the needle on each side of the stitch forming the tuck loop on the opposing bed is creating a knit stitch, anchoring down those tuck loops on each side.

tuck to left tuck to righttuck in both directions

Double bed patterning DBJ

The most balanced fabrics are achieved when no more than 2 colors on any single design row are used, and the number of rows knit on the ribber total the same as the number of rows knit on the main bed. It is possible to knit designs  with 3 or more colors per row. With Japanese standard machines this would require a color separation, automatic ones are limited to 2 colors per row (Passap built in techniques have a range of other options). The more strands of yarn, the thicker and heavier the fabric, with distortion in the aspect ratio of the design. As with single bed fabrics, double bed slip stitch creates knits that are short and skinny, tuck creates short and wide ones. As stitches slip, tuck, or get longer there will also be “bleed through” of the alternate color on the front, “knit” face of the fabric. In small, balanced repeats this can create a color mix that may make the result either interesting or confusing. Garment swatches need to be larger than usual for single bed. I tend to use at least 80 or 100 stitches/rows on both beds to calculate garments.

When using no more than 2 colors per row, Japanese machines offer the option of a color separation that knits one design row per row, which is an added way to reduce motif elongations in the finished knit. Passap knitters may use tech 179 to achieve the same result.  For different separation methods for double bed fabrics see color separation posts on them.

bird’s eye (lili <-   ->): this is a common type of slip stitch. One pass of the carriage causes every other needle to knit. As the ribber carriage moves back to the starting side, the alternate needles knit, producing a single row of color. This helps double check on color used on last row knit when knitting is interrupted on color changer side. When knit in 2 colors per row the fabric is fairly well balanced

tucked bird’s eye backing (lili <-   ->) with slip pattern on MB: if no cam buttons are pushed in on Main bed, and the carriage is set to normal knit with no pattern selection, lili buttons on ribber will behave as though the 1X1 card is in use, no elongation or other changes are possible without changing levers manually as often as needed

tucked bird’s eye backing (lili <-   ->) as above, with main bed set to tuck the main color and slip the contrast, requires manually resetting cam buttons with each color change, or alternately tucking the main color, knitting the contrast

color 1                                        color 2 

striper (double) backing: fabric is unbalanced, twice as many rows of ribber stitches as main bed ones, the design is elongated, but the fabric is softer and more flexible

single (half) striper backing: fairly well balanced. The ribber knits only one row for each 2 passes of the carriages, so for 2 colors again, there are no extra rows knit. Part button on ribber may be engaged on either sidetubular: either pair of opposite part buttons usedtucked half Milano: when using tuck/slip combinations opposite cam buttons are used i.e. if right tuck cam button is pushed in, then the left slip button is also main bed <–> tucked jacquard: each needle on the ribber knits every row. Needles on the main bed knit in pattern according to punched holes, black squares on mylar, or programmed pixels. Non selected needles tuck. The patterns produced on the back side of the fabric are almost the reverse images of the front. Because so many tuck loops are formed the fabric is “short” and very wide, so cast ons and bind offs need to be planned accordingly

variation: tucking the main color, knitting the contrast, manual cam button reset every 2 rows

solid backing: the part buttons on the ribber are reversed manually on the left side of the machine when the color changes are made. The solid backing color knits on the ribber when both part buttons are down (N<–>N), the second color will be slipped with both the part buttons in the up position.  For an interesting effect use wool for solid back color 2,  other fiber for color 1, and felt result.

2 rows color 12 rows color 2 (solid back color)

See altering a sinker plate for producing this fabric using a second KC to knit rows only on the top bed, no ribber setting changes required.

tuck/plain combo: requires manually changing cam button settings on main bed every 2 rows, change knob remains on pattern selection setting                

2 rows color 1      2 rows color 2

no automatic patterning on main bed, change knob on N for English or half fisherman rib: tuck every needle either direction on ribber only

full fisherman rib: tuck every needle alternately on both beds, in opposite carriage directions (below = L/R, or use R/L)

I have for decades and in my posts referred to this part as the ribber sinker plate; technically it is called the connecting arm in the Brother literature. There were slight differences between model years for them as well. Later connecting arms were branded with the number 2, earlier ones were not. 

For knitting DBJ with the unmarked connecting arm, it was suggested in later manuals that an accessory be used: the result with the plate in place is a change in the height of the metal from the needles with stitches in work as seen below with the plate secured in place

more on non repetitive dbj images and ribber parts and settings : http://alessandrina.com/2018/09/03/two-color-dbj-non-repetitive-images/

http://alessandrina.com/2018/04/15/ribber-fabrics-produced-with-2-knit-carriages-selecting-needles/

 

Revisiting drop / release stitch lace 1

Hand knitters may be familiar with drop stitch patterns where the yarn is wrapped multiple times around the knitting needle, followed by knit stitch(es). On the next row, when the wrap is reached, the extra wraps are dropped off the needle, and the remaining single loop is knit in the regular manner. On the knitting machine this technique is called drive and mesh lace, release stitch or summer fair isle by Passap, and drop stitch lace in some of the pattern books. Drive lace typically has lines of patterning where loops are formed between rows of all knit stitches. The main fabric, usually stockinette, is knitted and produced by either bed. Selected needles knit pattern stitches on the other bed for one or more rows, then are dropped from those needles, unraveling back to their starting point, creating the larger, open stitches. Sometimes a distinction is made between terms used, in drive lace the bulk of the punchcard is left blank, there are far fewer marks than in drive lace. In mesh lace the balance of holes to punched or blank areas is 50/50 or more punched areas than blanks, often the “holes” or black squares are side by side. Drive lace marks out the shape of the pattern, mesh forms the background. Blank rows across the width of the repeat allows the knitting of plain rows between dropped stitch including ones, separating the the series of holes, or stabilizing the fabric.

Both types of mesh may be combined in the same fabric, with dropping planned on same rows. The diamond on the left represents drive lace, the one on the right a mesh version. On the right, solid “lines” echo the shape. Repeat is suitable for punchcard, but may be altered to suit for both cards and electronics.

revised with fewer single dots, solid lines in ground

The fabric may be created both as a hand technique or using automated patterning. In sources that show loops being formed on the ribber, stitches are released by uncoupling the ribber carriages and moving the it across the knitting and then back to its original spot, thus dropping the stitches. In studio machines the P carriage may be used to drop stitches, see previous posts on modifying one for use on Brother KM.

The tension setting on the patterning bed affects the loop size and its tension is frequently one to three numbers looser than the all knit bed tension. In Brother machines the ribber knits at a tighter gauge than main bed, so take that into consideration and adjust it when knitting all knit rows on every needle on the ribber, where the tension may need to be loosened one or more numbers than when knitting same yarn in stocking stitch on the main bed. Matching tensions numbers on both beds may provide enough of a difference in stitch size for loop formation. The difference in gauge between the beds also merits calculating adjustments when knitting in circular or U format.

Releasing stitches may happen after every pattern row, after groups of pattern rows (such as bubbles or check patterns), or even at times when knitting is completed. With groups of pattern rows I have had better results with more frequent stitch release. Two types of mesh can be created. “Stockinette” mesh has an equal number of rows on both beds. The result is enlarged “stocking” stitches  along with narrower, single bed ones on any one row. Half Milano mesh has a horizontal ridge on the purl side with 2 rows knit on the all knit fabric bed, to every one row on the patterning bed. One of the rows has the patterning bed slip every needle, with the ribber only knitting, the second row forms the combination size stitches as discussed previously. In patterning in Brother KMs this would need to have such rows added to the programmed design. The fabric is a bit more “stable”. Passap offers multiple techniques for dropping stitches, often referred to as summer fair isle and using 2 colors per row. Different looks are achieved by changing built in technique number, as well as when using a stitch ditcher on every row knit, as opposed to using “empty” passes of locks to drop the stitches.

Previous posts on topic: http://alessandrina.com/2012/09/24/working-out-the-kinks-in-my-drop-stitch-lace-saga/
http://alessandrina.com/2013/10/16/drop-stitch-lace-2-colors-per-row-passap-km/
http://alessandrina.com/2013/10/19/drop-stitch-lace-2-colors-per-row-japanese-machines/
http://alessandrina.com/2015/06/14/geometric-shapes-in-drop-stitch-lace-brother-km/
knitting patterns with no blank knit rows between loop formation http://alessandrina.com/2015/06/16/geometric-shapes-in-drop-stitch-lace-2-brother-km/
http://alessandrina.com/2015/06/18/geometric-shapes-in-drop-stitch-lace-3-end-release/

stitch dropping tools
http://alessandrina.com/2012/09/21/knit-bubbles-and-stitch-ditchersdumpers/
http://alessandrina.com/2015/06/10/brother-kms-pile-knitting-ribbed-stitch-dropping-tools/

anther related fabric: http://alessandrina.com/2017/10/18/revisiting-knit-bubbles-brother-km/

using ribber cast on comb for an open cast on single (either) bed http://alessandrina.com/2017/02/14/ribber-cast-on-comb-open-stitch-single-bed-cast-on/

Working with positive and negative space variations: the repeat is suitable for any machine, my sample is executed on Brother KM. Since alternate, all blank rows have no needle selection, before knitting that row (ribber only will knit), dropping stitches knit on the main bed on the previous row will not alter pattern

using any method you prefer, set up knitting so all stitches are on the ribber. If you prefer to set up complete repeats prior to watching, “air knitting” prior to ribber set up or using position option on the main bed if that is available, will help achieve that  set knit carriage to KC II (used when patterning does not occur on every needle across needle bed), both part buttons pushed in for free pass to opposite side of km, no knitting occurs but first row of pattern knitting is selected. Ribber is set to N<–> throughoutas the carriages now move to opposite side, selected needles on the main bed pick up loops, non selected needles stay empty. Ribber knits every stitch using a ribber cast on comb, stitch “dumper”, or other tool, move needles holding stitches forward to drop loops, and return empty needles to work position (B)as carriages move to opposite side, needles are selected for next row of knit stitches to be knit on main bed carriages now move to opposite side, loops are picked up on selected needles all needles are now not selected,  above stitches/ loops are dropped, needles are returned to B position before the next carriages’ passcarriages move to opposite side, selecting pattern needlescarriages move to opposite side, picking up loops

before carriages move again, drop stitches formed. Watch loops after they are dropped, if tugging on knit is not enough to pull them out of way of needles returning to patterning, take a tool or something like a credit card. Slide it from one side to the other between the beds, thus keeping loops clear away from main bed 

In summary; assuming one is starting on right side of machine COR
step 1.  <-carriages select needles that will form loops
step 2.  ->carriages knit picking up loops
step 3.  drop loops just formed, returning all empty needles to B position
step 4+   repeat 1-3 for entire length of piece

My sample was knit in a slightly fuzzy wool. Smooth, thinner yarns result in longer stitches whose patterns get read more easily. Because wool has “memory” the vertical edges tend to roll to purl side, and return to rolling even after heavy pressing and steaming. There are a couple of spots where no long stitch was created due to markings on mylar not being dark enough.

Other things to consider: this fabric widens when blocked, so cast on, bind off, and beginning and ending edges need to accommodate that. This particular design creates a fairly balanced fabric. In many drop stitch fabrics, it is recommended that edges contain stitches dropped in pattern in order to maintain vertical length at edges. To achieve that, first and last needles on both sides should be on the main bed. That said, having an all knit border (stitches knitting only on ribber, no dropped stitches) may work well in your pattern, or pull edges in too tightly when compared to the all over motif released repeats. Testing on your swatch can be achieved easily by simply taking some needles on the main bed out of work on one side, thus creating the “all knit border”. The latter can happen by accident if not all needles are returned to B position properly after dropping stitches.

It is possible to produce drop stitch on the bulky machine, or depending on the yarn, knitting with heavier yarn on EON on the standard machine. The resulting “patterns” happen with varying the number of rows used to knit in each color, which has not been addressed in previous posts. I prefer to use patterning on the top bed to select needles, but this pattern may also be knit as a hand technique, using the ribber to produce the loops that will be dropped. This page from the ribber techniques book reviews the baseline process and settings

purl side shown first for each segment, followed by its knit

Changing fiber content affects scale of resulting patterns and dropped stitches, the yellow is a wool rayon, less than ⅔ in width than the purple cotton variation

If using punchcard machines, factory issue punch cards provided with the KM  may be usedPlaiting is also possible, but depending on color choice the pattern may become muddied

A slip stitch edge may be planned to keep edges of items such as scarves from rolling

consider top and bottom edgings that include the technique (illustrated in previous post)Adding complexity: dropped stitches may be combined with other stitch types, shown here in combination with tuck stitch on the main bed, dropped loops created on ribber

An alternative way to produce this fabric on Brother is to use the knit carriage with no yarn to do the “stitch ditching”. The basic design programmed into any brother machine, electronic or punchcard will need to be altered. The intended design in my sample is a 4 X 4 square, colors represent what would be punched holes, black squares, or pixels. Simple block patterns such as these may be released upon completion of each “square” series, in this case, after 4 row segments.  

Two rows are added at the top of each “square”, one repeating the motif width, the next completely free of any markings

Rows 5 and 6, 11 and 12 are not part of the original repeat. The 5th design row provides needle selection, traveling from right to left. When the carriage passes  in turn from left to right with no yarn, those preselected needles will drop while preselecting a blank design row (6) that allows the carriage to return to left hand side. As it moves back to left, the carriage will preselect the first row of the design. With COL yarn is picked up in order to knit the next set of dropped stitches. A color change may be made while the carriage is on the left.

Begin with all stitches transferred and in work on the ribber only. Every needle will be in work on both beds for the remaining fabric. Ribber half pitch lever is on H. With COR set change knob to KC, preselecting from right to left for first row to be knit after pushing in in both part buttons. This allows the KC to travel to left without forming any loops or stitches, but preselecting first row of pattern. Change color if using more that one color, knit 4 rows. “color 3 (or 2) can be an empty feeder. Change to color “empty” so yarn(s) in use are held until picked up again and there is no yarn in the ribber’s sinker plate yarn feeder. There are 2 options for dropping stitches. One is to disengage the KC from ribber, it will be picked up again as you move into the color changer to pick up yarn once more. The other is to keep the carriages paired, set the ribber to slip for 2 rows, then back to knit as you return to the color changer, pick up yarn again, and continue to knit. If row count is important ie in making a garment, the row counter gets turned off for the 2 rows when stitches are dropped, remember to turn it back on when knitting the next 4 pattern rows. I personally find this fussier and more error prone than other methods I have described. My swatch is knit in acrylic thin yarns, and lightly steamed, so bubbles have flattened out considerably. The fabric is a relative to that shown in the ribber techniques book page 23 , created by picking loops up on the ribber combined with racking.

This is my ayab repeat, this time executed by configuring the knitting to begin on  the last pattern row 16 for that first preselection row from left to right instead of altering the repeat itself


Lace patterns may be used for drop stitch following a similar “no yarn” method. Program the pattern in the usual manner. Set change knob to KC II cancelling end needle selection, the knit carriage to slip <– –> and continue knitting until all needles are in B position. At that point disconnect main bed and ribber carriages, unthread the yarn or have it held for you in yarn changer.  Set the main carriage to knit, move across needles in B, dropping them since no yarn is in use.  Bring the disconnected carriage across the knitting again, reconnect to the ribber carriage and rethread. Set KC to slip again, repeating the process. As an alternative for dropping stitches,  leave KC set to slip, push all needles out to hold. With no yarn in feeder any loops will be dropped.  Make the the 2 passes with KC only as described, reconnect carriages, rethread, and continue until no needles are selected again.

Tuck cards may also be used. Plain knit rows between series of tucked rows make for an easy to identify spot for dropping stitches. Since in such cards you are working with punched holes or black squares, the empty knit only carriage may be taken across with no yarn, dropping the complete, all knit row. It is not necessary to change the knit carriage setting from tuck to slip to do so. Tuck is an alternative option for a free pass as well, and realizing that helps avoid errors in patterning by missing resetting the cam buttons between the two functions.