Punch card book symbols and samples: work in progress

A number of variables need to be considered when adapting punchcard patterns for use on electronic knitting machines. These images pertain to Brother use, but the principles are shared between KM brands. I will add more information as time goes on. Online free downloads for magazines, manuals, etc. may be found at
some additions of late include designs in 12, 18, and 30 stitch repeats in addition to the familiar 24 and 40 ones, and to help with interpretations of symbols:  Japanese symbols for machine knitters 

 As the transition was made from manual machines, to pushbutton, and then to punchcard selection systems, the early collections included diagrams of  symbols familiar to hand knitters, and interestingly worded text that disappeared or was reduced in later punchcard books. I am presenting information in the order in which it appeared in this particular collection’s paper version, I have not found this volume in the above mentioned sources for free download. Images are gathered from more than the one source, so there is some repetition of information


Punchcards may be used to guide one for hand techniques, here a version of e wrap is used on selected needles for weaving  effect, diagram on upper left is for a different fabric. Punchcard may also be used to help track twisted stitches , cables , and racking This is a 2 carriages patterning operation, so lace extension rails must be used, with each carriage disengaged from the belt while the other is moving across the knitting and back to its resting place. 


Below each punchcard, the repeat the is identified in numbers for stitches and rows. The cards presented are the minimum length required for the card to roll smoothly within the reader when joined for continuous knitting (at least 36 rows). Electronic knitters may isolate the individual, smallest repeat, draw only the squares that appear as white in the cards, enter them via mylar or download, and use color reverse.

Skip is aka slip or part. These cards would work for tuck stitch as well, may even tolerate elongation, depending on yarn thickness.

Opposite cam buttons are in use, the fabric changes appearance depending on which of the 2 stitch types is forward, so if instructions with cards are to be followed, then the starting side for pattern in this instance should be COR. Both tuck buttons (or slip) may be used as well, for a different fabric. If the tuck or slip texture is created over an even number of rows (2, 4), changing colors for each paired row sequences can create some interesting color patterns with very short floats akin to planned mosaics and mazes. 

The fair isle patters below are actually poor choices in terms of float control, pushing its limits. It is usually recommended that floats be no wider than 5 stitches, and even then, they may have to be controlled to make the finished garment easier to wear. 

Brother only produces a transfer lace (as opposed to studio simple lace, where the carriage transfers and knits with each pass of the carriage). The lace carriage is the one advancing the punchcard. The knit carriage does not select needles, but rather, knits 2 (or more) plain knit rows

Lace card markings, including for fine lace. In the latter, stitches are transferred and shared between pairs of needles, best knit in a light color, with smooth yarn so surface texture becomes more noticeable.

Lace point cams may be used on the punchcard machine to create vertical bands of lace. This is also achievable on the electronic by programming for knit stitches between vertical (or horizontal bands).

Tuck (left) and weaving (right) may be combined with lace. In these fabrics both carriages are selecting needles, so extension rails must be used. The two column on the left of the cards indicate movements for the lace carriage on left, and the knit carriage on right. Straight arrows indicate single carriage passes, curved ones 2.

Yet another fabric using 2 carriages selecting needles for patterning

Here the “openness” is created by having the appropriate needles out of work, creating ladders in those spaces. Some interesting results can be obtained by transferring the recommended out of work needles’ stitches to the ribber. “air knitting” can help with verifying proper needle placement is in use

to match location of out of work needles to markings for punchcards, which are often given with lines delineating 0 needle position, the image will need to be mirrored horizontally

Suitable for tuck and possibly tolerant of elongation as well:

Punchcard machines mirror motifs when knit. This may not be noticed when copying small repeats, but it becomes more evident in larger ones. For knitting on the 910, the supplied motif would need to be mirrored when programmed to retain the intended direction.

Here are 2 FI samples: the one on the left is fairly evenly distributed, so little if any difference is noticed, the one on the right sends the biker to a different forest

reversal of lettering

and when you think that that is all sorted out in your head, there are these in slip stitch, the direction of stitches matches, because the purl side is used, images reverse on the knit side 

the mirrored punchcards the punchcard change knob has selections for single motif and pattern knitting (KC)

the 910 has settings KC I and II, KC II cancels end needle selection, while in punchcard machines this has to be done manually if the pattern stitch requires it. One such example  is when any patterns are made with needles out of work. End needle selection would make the needles on each side of the empty space select forward and create a knit stitch. In tuck or slip, that would be an out of pattern knit stitch, in FI, a vertical line of the color in the B feeder would appear along on each side of the OOW needles.

Ribber settings and symbols for Brother machines 

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