Archive for the ‘Machine knitting (MK)’ Category

Knit charting in Mac Yosemite; visualizing knit cables

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Some previous blog posts on topic

in reviewing the 2011 post I found that the knitting chart maker by Jacquie no longer works in Yosemite due to Java plugins conflicts

Updating to Yosemite has provided some interesting issues for me. The first was Safari pretty much becoming unusable. It took a Mac expert and a chunk of his time to resolve the issue. There are still hiccups in other apps. I thought I would revisit some of the methods I have mentioned as usable in knit charting on Mac via a bit of discussion on cables and visualizing them.

Intwined began having issues in Macs with any custom built stitch libraries in mid year 1973. The last update offered and installed September 1973 has continued to have some functionality issues in later Mac OS versions (Mavericks, and now Yosemite), stripped of any custom stitches built previously, not allowing for their addition. It has become only an occasional go to for me now. Charts  created in the program are easily recognizable.

Inkscape (recommended for creating icons for use in Intwined, a free vector program) will require a  XnQuarts update for Yosemite. Their previous release allowed for its use in Mavericks. is an open source, free charting software with built in stitch libraries that may meet many of your charting needs in any OS version

Excel behaves as in the past (my version:Office 08)

Mac Number has once again deleted some familiar menu options, added new ones.

and some of my accumulated knit symbols from other font sources continue to work on the mac, but are unsupported if using the iPad version of the program, where they appear as the original  keyboard strokes, rather than the assigned symbols

GIMP 2.8.4 (2.8.8 did not), HyperDither, appear functional as in past.

Tracking and visualizing custom cables outside the parameters of built in libraries or fonts/symbols in alternative software, using Numbers 3.5: one of the problems that can be encountered in charting cables is that programs with built in stitch libraries may not provide for cable crossings specific to your pattern. The charts below have not been proofed executable in a swatch at this point in time, are simply a way of exploring drawing methods, my working notes from some quick experiments, not a step by step tutorial. I have no way of confirming results in previous versions of the software or OS.

available “shapes”

To make them editable, click on shape, go to format menu, highlight shapes and lines-> make editable. Click on shape and in turn on format symbol below in the image below, and windows become available for style and arrangement choices

The knit and purl symbols on the left of my first chart utilizing line with arrow shapes are standard ones. The right side uses a dot for purl stitches instead of a line, and that began to make the whole more readable to me. One drawback is “shapes” do not seem to respond to any copy and paste demands and I had to draw each individually. I preferred to place them outside my chart. Guidelines then appear to suit for easy re sizing and the resulting edit may then be dragged and dropped into appropriate location in chart, readjusted as/if needed. Color palettes for drawing appear limited to the built in shades; toggling between available colors may be accessed by clicking on the dots below the pen tool in the first illustration above.  In the chart, purple lines indicate stitches brought forward, yellow the stitches brought to back when working the cables. The number 10 in the left hand column should be a one.

Cleaning up lines and adding color if needed may be done in Photoshop or GIMP; this makes forward stitches a bit clearer

bucket fill provides an added way to follow movement of stitches

Utilizing the pen tool in shapes menu to draw custom cable crosses and filling them using the option within the numbers program  moves toward an all color chart_ far quicker than using lines and bucket fills. The red segment indicates knit stitches traveling in back for the cable cross

A lot of information is available on creating reversible cable fabrics using ribbed configurations. I thought I would play with knit/ purl blocks rather than vertical rib lines. The initial chart was begun in Intwined, bucket filled in Photoshop to extend colors within cable crosses. The red border outlines the pattern repeat. Alternate right side rows are shown; all wrong side rows are worked as the stitches appear (knit stitches are knit, and purl stitches are purled). Here the cell colors happen to be reversed from their use in the above, the yellow is used for knit stitches, the green the purls. I opted to indicate knit stitches by color only, no symbol.

This is the resulting swatch, in a random acrylic yarn, with varying numbers of rows in between cable crossings my plan is to create a scarf in significantly thicker alpaca yarn, a strictly HK fabric. Photo shows both sides of fabric.

Fall knits in my studio

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

I promise myself every year that I will knit fall inventory during the summer, invariably that seems to not happen, and I find myself scrambling during September and October. I have had a line of ruffled edge shawls for some time. This is my way of interpreting some of the recent shapes in clothing into a shawl/vest format. Below are some shots taken on a dress form, with intent to visualize some of the possible ways of wearing it

a graded, smaller version and different color-way

both are knit using multiple strands of very thin, rayon/cotton blends, pattern is tuck stitch, with variant used in the ruffle, which in turned is knit sideways and seamed onto the piece while it is being knit.

another color way

some of my felt hat inventory in progress

Creating knit graph paper on mac, using Excel and Numbers

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Working on Excel 2008_Mac OS

On a work sheet columns are usually standardized to accommodate approximately 9 font characters. Width and height are measured in points and units such as inches or centimeters: 1 point equals approximately 1/72 inch or 0.035 cm. Default row height is app. 13 points. In developing knitting charts smaller units of measurement are preferred. Preferences (general) may be changed from the default (inches) to cm, or the smaller unit mm, and saving. Online conversion between units of measurement and PostScript points may be calculated (if needed) using calculators ie.

general preferences pane

default cell measurements in mm and points

When opening an excel document, to view only one page: on the bar at the top of your spreadsheet click the View menu and then in turn choose Customize Toolbars and Menus. The window below will appear, click on the commands tab.

Scroll down to “Zoom to One Page” on the list, “click and drag” it to your toolbar, releasing your mouse button to place it using the vertical line that appears as your guide to determine its placement.

chart tool bar with icon (to right of red line, click on image for magnification)

on the standard toolbar

If the chart toolbar is in use, left click on arrow at right, the customize toolbars and menus is the second option offered; a right click will allow you to modify toolbars as a first choice, and offers the commands as option 3

Clicking on the icon now in the toolbar will show one work sheet, and adjustments may be made as follows for producing your graph paper or knit chart, clicking again will show multiple sheets once more.

Click on diamond upper left hand corner to select whole sheet, now that the whole sheet is selected to apply your unit choice to the whole document: place your mouse on and hold it between the cells indicated by any 2 of the letters (separator will appear), drag the boundary on the right side to define desired width, repeat the process between any 2 numbered rows to define height

The format menu may also be used; first select the whole sheet, then on home tab, click on format, select format row height or format column width alternately to specify desired measurements The latter method may give better control over unit specs in some instances.

If the intent is to use the program as virtual graph paper on which to add color, symbols etc one may continue editing,  and working with borders and border drawing options line thickness most suitable for printing may be selected, along with types of lines and colors.

Common ratios for knitting are 4:5, 2:3 (height to width) with stitches being usually wider than tall. Single page workbooks to start your chart editing and saving for printing



Selecting the whole document for printing by going for the select all command in a variety of ways did not print the whole document for me, or even recognize content. Whether printing the whole document or part, the print area needs to be hand selected. Click on cell upper left where you want to begin, drag mouse and release on last cell bottom right on which you wish to stop. The selected area will now appear colored blue, and outlined by a broken line. In file menu, choose print area, and in turn to its right “select print area”. File print should in turn be operable now, along with a preview of selected area to be printed.

If you wish to have the graph paper as a permanent file, proceed as above, but from your printer screen select PDF, then save as

An online PDF generator for printing graph paper for knits (including shadow knitting) in 2 ratios and orientations may be found at

Previous posted links and more on using excel for virtual designing of knit charts and motifs

Numbers 3.2.2

I chose to change preference for rulers to point units (options are for centimeter inches and points)

default cell size in cm and points

Click on table at top of your document screen, to right of function icon; select first choice on left, second row

a place to start

Uncheck alternating rows on menus on right, revise options

Click anywhere on screen, use command all to select all table cells. Choose row and column size, typing in your desired values or using arrows provided, hit return. Click anywhere on sheet to get additional markings to appear again. With your mouse, grab and drag  _l symbol on bottom right

and you will also have the benefit of viewing the number of rows and columns in your document. Click on circular target icon on upper left, drag  _l symbol on bottom right, and all units on sheet will be resized to displayed measurements.

For thicker, darker,or even differed colored and types of lines changes are easily made working with borders menus

Clicking on any cell leaves only your graph; selecting print from your file menu prints exactly what appears as the sheet number chosen , and /or have saved; additional adjustment options are offered on right

Click on white part of your sheet, only your chart will be viewable and ready for printing. If a PDF is desired, choose Export to -> PDF from file menu.


In creating charts using symbols I like to use square grids, 28 pts=1.02 cms=.4 in, and working at 50% magnification.


I had  a ravelry request for a punchcard template. In a previous post

I shared a method that got me in the ballpark using a word document, for having a printable, near scale graph. Here is an editable excel workbook resulting in as near as I could get to printing punch card at scale; included are beginning added markings for Brother machines that could easily be altered to suit other makes; lines at side can serve for comments or notes.

Going about printing in a different way: I captured an image from my excel template

saved it, opened the image in photoshop, adjusted image size as below, and when printed the output was nearly dead on in terms of size, and would make tracing motifs from it onto a punchcard over a light box super easy

downloadable punchcard worksheet

In Numbers the closest I could get to punchcard cell size was using point values, 19 for rows, 18 for colums, printing was off.

Another use: creating cell blocks for  custom needle tapes to track actions such as holding that may be used as guides (standard KM needles are 4.5mm apart). My color printer is defunct, so this is the grey version. Color coding may be easily added for more complex fabric manipulations.

Knitting pattern motifs’ translation between KMS

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Joella Knitworks was a publication in the 90s on Passap knitting. A recent ravelry question led me to dig up a copy of an article I wrote for the newsletter in 1998, for anyone interested, here is a PDF copy on topic, using tech 129 joella_whole

My stash of copies of articles spans decades back to the time when both publications and seminars were thriving. I am not certain as to print source for this, but its writer is given credit. Carriage/lock settings for comparable fabrics are given for Superba, Passap, Brother, Studio, Toyota, and their aliases:  KMsettingsPDF

A document I put together from multiple sources when I taught an intro to Passap double bed fabrics workshop handout

more to come….

Miters and spirals: visualizing, charting (and more) 3

Monday, July 21st, 2014

SPLITTING THINGS UP leads to a series of quite different fabrics, sometimes creating interesting secondary solid color shapes when striping is added to any of the forms; repeats will need editing to avoid extra rows to keep the designs balanced, or have them added across their width for extending shapes, such as in creating ruffled effects. I have worked these charts using Numbers, image capture, and resizing and editing again in photoshop if needed. The images below are not intended as a “sit and knit” tutorial, but rather as a start for creating your own designs, on desired number of stitches, I randomly picked 22

some possibilities on method: SPIRAL original shape

splitting in 2 parts

changing positions and stacking, all knit row edited to bottom of repeat

a mirrored segment

added to first repeat, center line double row edited out for knitting

MITER: original repeat

split repeat

moving parts around

areas for adding plain knit rows in desired numbers across the knit (yellow), keeping in mind how this will affect color changing sequences if striping is used to create secondary patterns; repeat usable for machines with color changer on right

mirroring whole repeat horizontally for use with color changer on left

Changing colors at regular intervals including every 2 rows will yield secondary, geometric patterns; all knit rows may be added to the right or left of the shapes maintaining color changes, for different effects; if these are planned in extended “white areas”, the holding sequence needs to be maintained every other row; slip stitch setting may be used to automate, with repeats reworked for use on 24 stitch punchcard machines. I find when exploring any of this initially, working repeats as hand techniques helps me understand necessary sequences and editing before committing to punching holes, filling mylar squares or programming pixels. Swatches and notes, swatches and notes…

Miters and spirals: visualizing, charting (and more) 2

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Visualizing the shapes (using charts in Mac Numbers)

A spiral gore is the first or second half of a miter gore, conversely a miter gore has 2 consecutive  spiral gores, knit in mirror image.

GOING ROUND: numbers 1-12 represent knitting sequence for wedges, thicker lines at segment edges = rows across knit width at end of each sequence, 2 rows or many more depending on planned design shape

Previous posts on related topics:

Miters and spirals: visualizing, charting (and more) 1

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Getting my thoughts together on topic I searched for any of my previous posts that may be related, here is a list

Even in my earliest days as a hand knitter, I liked charting out my sweater shapes ie sleeves, necklines, etc on graph paper and tracking my place by marking appropriate row or every other row on the charted image. Many of the formulas for charting math in garment shaping may be emulated by drawing a line on chart where each square represents a stitch and a row, connecting points, and filling in squares. Averaging out grid shifts is also the guideline to increasing and decreasing for shaping on pixel charts. Though this may be a bit of egg before the chicken, I got sidetracked playing with software yet again.


Working premise: using holding to shape a wedge over 36 rows. Stitch multiples  are brought into hold opposite the carriage (floats will be created if they are brought into hold on carriage side), in the instances below each graph row represents 2 rows knit, my fabric width at the start is 100 sts

Set image size _ pixels equal stitches and rows required

Magnify X 1000 (this is what I prefer for viewing and editing, less magnification may be used)

Activate 1 stitch grid/ show grid/ snap to grid

Make certain whole image is within your window view

Using line shape: click on upper left corner, press shift key_a drawing line will appear with a + symbol at its bottom right_click on first square on the bottom right , a line will appear where black squares represent  # of stitches to be held each row

bucket fill in appropriate side of wedge to represent knit stitches

create a new, larger canvas that will accommodate desired multiple stacked repeats and possible knit rows in between shapes in new window; copy image from the first window, paste  into new window, move it and place in desired location on your  screen

return to first window, flip image vertically (image menu/ select transform and direction)

again copy, paste, move into desired location and insert knit or (patterned) rows (green) when and if desired. On electronic machines the final image would have to be doubled in length, so those “knit row” pixels/squares would have to be adjusted accordingly to half the desired number

Row by row charting for double height to represent each row of actual knitting: the process

starting with a repeat 6X6

convert image to bitmapped (repeat at upper right below is a different one, should match the one being resized)

scale image: click on locked symbol in turn to alter aspect ratio, change both pertinent numbers

the repeat twice as long, 6 X 12

going 3D, possible spiral

eliminating squares

shifting things around in order to add “automatic wraps”, begin knit with COL

in further progress

save in image in format for downloading to machines via cable and knitting using slip stitch setting, or export or screen grab for printing and knitting from chart visually as hand technique. If printing images colored cues may be added for carriage/lock setting or color changes, etc.

the question: what about numbers and excel?


using the line tool (shapes) will get the line in place, shaping is “eyeballed”

knit squares are filled in

so you want to double the height only? Apple for some reason when they  ”upgraded” to the latest version of the program (3.2) has eliminated the split table feature, so the only way I can see is through using table: add rows above or below in the chart, new row will be a copy of selected row


the insert row option will add rows only below selected ones, I have not found a tool equal to the line shape in Numbers

A bit of cables and lace, charting, hk to mk

Monday, July 7th, 2014

For a while there was agreement on “international symbols” for charting knits. With the proliferation of programs now and methods for self charting and publishing using fonts and personal icons things can get a bit confusing. Hand knitting in the circular akin to machine knitting, results in stitches always worked on one side of the fabric, another consideration. In the last Russian pattern in the previous post I was unable to get the repeat to work properly regardless of any common meaning I tried to assign to several of the symbols. I have used Intwined for some charting in the past, am finding it problematic again in Mavericks Mac OS, and my go to for the moment is the latest version of Numbers (3.2), which appears to include changes that make it even more intuitive and easier to use than the previous version. My symbols library includes the Aire river knitting font, and an assortment of wingdings and oddball characters found in some of the Mac’s built in libraries.

my hand knit version

Taking it to the machine: chart’s beginning

tweaking it a bit, taking in consideration only the purl side will be facing

flipping it to achieve same direction transfers as HK

knit on 260 bulky KM

The large hole at the bottom left of the image is not due to a dropped stitch, but rather to yarn breakage. The sample was knit in a worsted weight wool, and I found I needed a far looser tension than I would normally use for the same yarn to allow the double transfers to knit off properly. Eliminating the combinations of knit and purl within any one row as seen in the hand knit version avoided retooling those stitches as well.

A lace “shell” want to be, a few ways

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

I recently saw a semi circular HK shawl pattern that used graduated lace shell motif bands, and went hunting for a possible such repeat with the intent of subsequently knitting it on the machine. Taking into consideration the chart lenght required if using the lace carriage, I began with a “small” hand knit possible repeat

the text (Intwined)

pictured below is a mylar repeat worked out for use with the lace carriage with 2 programming options: A, B. Notations in this instance were made using a free mac program (for my the first time), Skitch, which allows one to work with screenshots and basic image-editing tools all in one place. The middle column of numbers indicate the number of passes required for the lace carriage for each repeat prior to pairs of rows of plain knitting. The transfers are made all in one direction, so the spacing between each set of transfers and knit rows is different from the traditional 2 rows of blanks. I find it easier to have multiple blank rows before selections for transfers as a place to pause, check my stitches, and have clearer starts if knitting needs to be unravelled; this repeat takes that into consideration

option A was knit with a ladder, NOOW set up:

the resulting swatch in acrylic yarn, steamed, fairly straight edges

option B eliminates the ladders, a ridge is created by the transfers highlighting the “shell shape”. The sample clearly illustrates the issue with lace fabrics where transfers are all in one direction: note the resulting bias, which could be a problem or a design feature, depending on  one’s perspective. It is particularly noticeable in the area of the color change. The top yarn is a rayon, the ridge created by the transfers flattened with pressing but is still in evidence, the occasional noticeable problems are operator errors (and laziness in changing bent needles), not pattern ones.

shortening the repeat: I found this one a bit more confusing to follow, black horizontal marks on right edge of mylar are a visual cue to rows on which knitting needs to occur; note there are no occurrences of 2 consecutive blank rows, only singles

the fabric is identical, with the same problems in terms of biasing

taking out the swing, moving in 2 directions, and back to a hand technique: the black squares indicate groups of stitches that will be moved to create lace holes. In the boottom segment selected needles are transferred to the right, lace holes will move in a curve, transfers double up on the same needle location on the bed. In the top segment, beginning with the doubled up stitch from the last transfer to right, direction of transfers is reversed, moving toward left, and always beginning with the same needle position. Markings on mylar on the far right indicate direction in which the stitches are transferred. This repeat is 7 stitches wide by 12 rows in height, could be adjusted to suit. Adjustable transfer tools make the work progress faster.

the corresponding swatch, without blocking, much more “straight”


a mylar repeat for use with lace carriage, 910

in the image on left the repeat is hi-lighted by the green border; in the one on the right there are visual cues  for operations. The vertical lines indicate which side of the bed the lace carriage needs to be placed for the next group of transfers, the horizontal lines mark the end of the transfer sequence, when a single row of knit occurs. Respective carriages need to be taken off the bed after most passes to allow use of the opposing carriage and maintain proper direction of moves, a different sort of “hand technique”. Below is a swatch, the red spot is a poorly corrected dropped stitch.

the technique is manageable for experienced knitters, this was my second try at a hurried repeat (weight adjustments and dropped stitches on first) and photo as I get ready to travel to the opposite coast.

Striping in lace fabrics 1

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Colored stripes combined with lace patterning can produce interesting fabrics. Many variants may be found in Missoni’s knitwear. At times the lace holes themselves may nearly disappear, while the stripes become distorted by the transfers, the change in gauge, and the creation of the holes, which in combination begin to create a bias direction in parts of the knit. Below is a simple sample illustrating some of the above points:

the working chart (Intwined)

the text for hand knitting created by the program the additional knit rows creating garter stitch in part of the pattern provide added texture in a hand knit, but are impractical in a machine knit

Rather than deal with working out the lace transfers for use with the lace carriage for my swatch, I chose to use a multiple transfer tool, and begin with a 7 stitch transfer as opposed to a larger number one. Below are some of the tools that may be used to hand transfer stitches in larger numbers than with the tools usually provided with KMs, a garter bar may be used as well

The image below  shows the fabric as it appears on its knit side. The bottom illustrates the repeat in one color. The red mark indicates where the transfers were made after knitting the first row of each color, the yellow indicates transfers made before each color change. In the former the “twist”  apparent as the transfer knitting is completed, has one yarn wrapping around the other. In the latter, the “twist is all one color”. The yarns used were a rayon and an acrylic, on standard km. If a color changer and lace carriage were to be used in combination, only the second option would be possible (more on that in a later post).

the purl side

Below is a hand knit sample with a wider repeat, adding garter rows. The yarn used was a worsted weigh wool on size 8 needles. Of note is the difference in undulation in bottom and top edges

knit side (red mark here indicates garter stitch row detail)

purl side

a possible use for this pattern might be a center or recurring panel in a wider knit