Block stitch separations

“Pinning” has become part of my daily routine. This image was pinned by someone else, and brought back memories of my block stitch scarves, along with the  temptation for working out a new repeat, similar to that seen in the top of this jacket credited to Forquet.

Following are some ideas for developing designs for these fabrics, the basic principles work for both punchcard and electronics. Using the motif in a punchcard will make the striping surrounding it fixed, and involves a lot of punching holes. On a mylar or in a download the width of the ground behind the shape can be easily changed, and only the non selecting, “empty ” squares need be drawn or entered into a program that is capable of color reverse. One needs to be mindful of the size in of the overall repeat when faced with so much “blank space”.

Until one sorts out what happens with the stitches, where the colors are placed during knitting, it is a good idea to start with a simple shape. I use excel as my “graph” paper when I want to easily play with color on a grid. Below is a simple motif as a design start, beside it an expanded graph leaving every other row blank. Some books suggest erasing on horizontal EOR stripes, I prefer the visual cues in the method below. The yellow marks the rows on which the motif will be created.

There are a number of ways to go on from this point. Layering the repeat on a colored ground can give a sense of the resulting shape, help plan the type of overall pattern repeat, and insure that enough rows are allowed to travel to and from the color changer. For sampling I prefer to work on an electronic machine, using the elongation feature and color reverse to minimize drawing in lots of black. The grid on the left shows the above split motif layered over a striped ground. In the center grid, the motif separation color becomes white/ blank, color one (yellow) is different than on left simply to allow the white to become more visible. I use 2 carriages as opposed to the color changer when knitting these fabrics, so the L and R row markings help insure that indeed there are enough rows in the repeat for both carriages to travel to and from each side, with stripes lining up where required. The blank squares represent slipped stitches, and they normally are left blank whether in a card, mylar, or program, all other colored squares are knit stitches, corresponding to punched holes, black squares on mylar. On the far right is all that is required to be filled in with a mylar sheet or program capable of lengthening X2 and color reverse. The marks are actually the same as the expanded motif first shown above. For a punchcard the same motif on the far right could be drawn this way centered, and every other square surrounding the now black lines would need to become a punched hole.

Looking at the graph: color 2 will slip in locations where needles are not selected (white squares). The stitches on non selected needles get longer in the front of the fabric, the alternate color floats behind them. The next color change will knit the held stitches off, so the motif color in the above design will actually be “green” in the final fabric. Because the colors on either side of the motif are actually knitting every stitch and every row, there will be some distortion in striping around the motif, and potentially even some “bubbling” in those areas

The next choice becomes sorting out how far apart to place motifs from each other, and in what distribution on the resulting fabric. Both are subject to personal preference and taste. Below is only one of many such possible layouts

if elongation is not possible or to be avoided, then the option below shows a possible repeat, including a “punchcard” 24 stitch version. Where color reverse is not an option, all but the white squares must be marked/ programmed, and in the case of a punchcard, all but the white squares would need to be punched

It is also possible to offset/ shift the color of motifs themselves so they would alternate colors between the 2 striping colors as well

The following chart illustrates the idea: the magenta stripes are not part of the repeat, they are markers to show where the slip stitches for the alternate color need to occur in the repeats

As for the motif that started this thread: below is the test swatch so far, obviously in a different gauge and repeat, but in the same spirit. An issue is the long float on the back/purl side spanning 8 stitches. If the goal is to produce an unlined item, these could pose a problem in wearing it. Hooking up the floats up may be too time consuming in production, an added stitch in the non motif color (see marked dots) on either side of the central bar may solve the problem, but alter the design. There is lots more to consider and play with (yarn colors in these swatches are chosen for throw away tests, not any type of final item) .

more swatches, repeats old and new

The final, new scarf fabric: knit on Passap, every needle rib, tencel and “Nomi Lee”.

The top and bottom edging to be worked out; the fabric is soft, drapes well, and has no side curl.

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Mosaics and mazes: drawing motifs

Knitting any fabric on the machine becomes easier if one thinks of black squares as knit stitches (selected needles on Brother), white squares as in this instance as either slipped, or at times tucked stitches (non selected needles). Each number on the grids below represents 2 consecutive rows of knitting. The design may be elongated in the drawing of the final repeat itself prior to punching holes, marking mylar or pixels, or elongated in the built in setting for the KM used, whether electronic or punchcard. Color changes are required every 2 rows.

the grids

The patterns may be created by drawing shapes on the dotted grids, or “erasing” squares on the lined grids if more extended lines are desired. Some of the “rules” for mosaics were discussed in my previous post on the subject last October. A few more to consider in drawing your own:

color 1 is represented in row 1 and all odd numbered rows

color 2 is represented by row 2 and all even numbered rows

long horizontal lines in mazes usually occur on odd numbered rows

even numbered rows usually have no more than 2 black squares marked side by side

on odd numbered rows white squares slip

on even numbered rows black squares slip

odd numbered rows are knitted in the main color (black squares)

even rows are knitted in contrast color (white squares)

I think of row one/ odd rows as needing to knit black squares, row 2 and even rows having to knit white squares rather than marking in the traditional manner for slipped stitches on each row

a quickly drawn motif

checking out the motif in repeat

marking the knit stitches in odd rows

marking the knit stitches in even rows

markings for all knit stitches

the red squares show the alternative markings for electronic KMs with color reverse

In knitting the pattern, the selection row is made in a non patterning row toward the color changer. Unless each row is marked twice, the motif as above must be elongated X2

Test swatches for  the resulting fabric, knit and purl side shown respectively; note the lack of visibility of pattern where there is low contrast between the 2 colors used, and the short floats on the reverse. Slip setting is used, though in row 11 the 2 side by side non knitting squares may not pose a problem in knitting using tuck setting.

There is an online generator for patterns in this family by Laura Kogler. The image below shows one such generated pattern, in turn saved and gridded in photoshop

Below are images processing the above design “by the rules”, based on red squares in the generated design. Figure 1 is the isolated repeat, figure 2 shows the stitches to be knit in color 1, figure 3 the stitches to be knit in color 2, in figure 4 the black dots represent punched holes, the red squares the areas that may be marked if the KM is capable of color reverse, length must be doubled here as well, with color changed every 2 rows, selection row toward the color changer

the resulting fabric using slip setting, rows 4 and 5 make motif problematic for tuck setting

Working with the white squares in the generated design, now knitting the white on odd rows, the red on even: the grid on left shows the isolated repeat. In the grid on the right, the black dots equal the punched holes in the card, the white squares the mylar markings for use with color reverse. This motif would work in tuck <-> as well

the 2 fabrics side by side, showing in this instance a slight difference in the overall repeat in the last swatch; in the left sample green is color one, in the right one white is color l

the same motif knit in the tuck setting is wider, both sides are shown below

If the yarn used is capable of being blocked fairly flat, because of the short floats, finished items in these fabrics may not need to be folded over or lined as traditional FI items often do.

Double jacquard 3/ single bed multi color slip

Double jacquard knitting allows one to design and knit multiple color patterns without the worry of floats. The color changer (standard machines hold a limit is of 4 colors at any one time) and the ribber are required.  The ribber knits the floats into a second layer of fabric on the ribber side, resulting in the term double knit. Often the main bed is set to slip throughout. Slipped (or first row tuck) stitches become elongated until non selected stitches knit off. The more the colors in any one row, the more all the stitches on the front face of the fabric must stretch in order to accommodate the number of colors laid behind in the backing fabric.  The elongated stitches may allow for the other colors to be seen, and this is often referred to as “grin / bleed through”. Different ribber settings may help with some of the elongation (depending on separation method) and grin through issues. The same principles used for DBJ separations apply to single bed multiple color slip stitch, and creating the initial swatches single bed can serve as a test for  the DBJ pattern separation. In the series below some of the potential issues become obvious

the design repeat

The simplest color separation expands each row of the design to X times its original length based on the number of colors per row; in this case, 3 design rows expand to 6. In addition, in order to knit the fabric, the elongation function (X2) must be used, and each color for each design row will be knit twice, with color changes every 2 rows. This is necessary if the color changer is to be used, since it takes 2 passes of the knit carriage to travel away from and back to it in order to pick up the next color. The result is a very elongated design. It is possible to knit same motif without elongation, but then the yarn needs to be cut and changed on the appropriate side and  each row, creating side edges not suitable for garments. One can separate any design with this method, and the motif may even have an odd number of rows. The sequence below is for the expansion of the  first 2 motif rows

Exp Graph..Motif…….Color…

Row 1        Row 1       Color 1

Row 2       Row 1       Color 2

Row 3       Row 1       Color 3

Row 4       Row 2       Color 1

Row 5       Row 2       Color 2

Row 6       Row 3       Color 3

The graph below shows the motif in repeat, the next column the color separation, with expanded rows, and in the third the black indicates the knit stitches (black squares on mylar, punched holes in card)

Testing the design single bed slip stitch: the resulting fabric is dense, with lots of floats, and narrow in final width, with little if any stretch. In the knit swatch: elongation is marked, would remain so even if the fabric were  knit double bed and settings on ribber to reduce elongation were used

There are 2 other options for separating colors that deal with the problem of elongation, but they do not work on every design. The separation on the left is set up in sequential 2 two row units. In a 3 color pattern each row of the design expands into 6. The selection row is made toward the color changer. The separation on the right also retains knit scale. In using either one must often be willing to adapt and edit the original design motif. The total number of rows is the same as the previous method, but the sequence for color one is split as seen in numbers beside color column in chart. The selection row is made away from the color changer, knitting a single row in pattern for color 1. In these separation methods the motif must have an even number of rows

The respective resulting swatches: the elongation problem is solved, but the repeat is off in the upper third of design. Some separation programs  are able to scan through your design and  locate the problem areas, even shuffle the order in which the colors are knit in order to allow the separation to work, but manual solutions may be quite time consuming or at times not possible

A redesign: one method to avoid pattern shift problems and insure success is to use units in the design that are 2 stitches high, as seen in the motif  and its separation below.

In knitting the selection row is made toward the color changer. In rows where color 3 is not represented, only the first and last needles are selected,  and manually pushed back to B position. Eliminating end needle selection can cause problems at outer edge of other colors, eliminating blank rows from graph and knitting would require much more attention to where in repeat one is actually working, and lead to possible frequent mistakes in color sequence.

the resulting fabric, knit and purl views

Double Jacquard 2

The Passap Handbook for the Deco by Bernadette A Ernakovich was an excellent guide to exploring the qualities of changing lock settings on the hand, feel, look, and in shape alterations on the original design, a simple triangle, when using them. In knitting any fabric, distinctions need to be made between what is doable vs practical. Japanese machines are less tolerant than Passap for repeated functions on the same needles, and the numbers of stitches and of rows, if attempting to duplicate textures, often need to be adjusted or reduced. Some very interesting fabrics may be achieved by hand changing ribber carriage settings on the Brother KM, which are made far easier on the E 6000 because of  its collection of lock settings in conjunction with arrow keys on the back bed. I amended the “Passap” triangle to the smaller repeat below

electronic

punchcard (40 rows of punched repeat actually required for functional length)

This document DBJtest includes directions on using the design repeat as is, or separated for DBJ work by 2 different methods for both punchcard and electronics: color separations.  Swatch photos are below, this type of exercise shows how the resulting fabric may share a single design, but is changed sometimes surprisingly by changes in ribber settings

the front/knit side

its rear view

Added techniques: for vertical striper backing see subsequent May 14th post

Double jacquard1

Because of recent changes in my life, I may be in the position of attempting to explain to some new knitters how DBJ “works”, and to offer them some suggestions on managing  the making of it. Since the machine I will be involved with is a Brother electronic specifically, I am gathering notes that are pertinent to that brand. I thought I would share some of my working notes here. The set below was gathered more than 2 decades ago, so I cannot add a specific bibliography, and information that may be gleaned from manuals is not included. This is the start of an ongoing series: 1.some DBJ rules for 2 color work, Brother machines, some adjustments need be made for more colors or for use on other brand KMs

knit slowly, watching edge stitches to ensure that they are knitting off properly. If they are not, hang the side weights on the work, and move them up every 20-30 rows

clear the end stitches on every row, be especially watchful in wide pieces, failure to do so may cause mis patterning or dropped stitches at edges

listen for the click when changing colors. On brother machines the carriage must be  taken far enough to the left for the click to occur, lining up the connecting plate for the yarn change. If color is changed without going far enough, you may either knit with the same yarn or no yarn

thread all four yarn holders, then if the wrong button is pressed you will only knit a row in the wrong color instead of dropping your work to the floor

check your yarn change before you knit each row for correct color or the possibility of 2 yarns traveling together

weigh the work evenly

be certain selection row is in correct direction (with pattern locked on punchcard), or you may end up with stripes rather than a pattern design

if you need to stop work , leave with carriage on right, it makes it easier to identify which color was last used in your sequence

do not use fully fashioned decreases as this affects the pattern near the edge stitches

reduce weights to correspond tho the number of needles in use when decreasing

work multiple decreases ie at underarms with carriage on the right, this way both sides may be shaped at once using the main yarn on right, the next color on left, thus avoiding long floats

if the design is not an all over one, continue in Jacquard for remainder of fabric, using a repeat that has 2 rows marked/punched, 2 rows un marked/punched throughout

ribs in single strands of garment yarn may be foo soft or wide, for 1X1 ribs try adding an extra strand of yarn. When completed, pick up the heel of the adjacent stitches to fill in empty needles, and knit 2 circular rows before continuing in jacquard

2X2 ribs are better suited to single strands of yarn; at the top of the rib bring the empty needles into work, rack to the left and knit 2 circular rows, rack to the right and continue in jacquard

full needle ribs are usually wider than jacquard, as an alternative the piece could be started on waste knitting, and rehung on fewer stitches, then in turn knitting the rib

the lili buttons represent an every other needle set up, so an even number of needles is required; the needle position indicators on the  ribber tape and the corresponding space between them help track pairs/ even numbers of needles in work

racking handle on P: the knit and purl needles are point to point, directly opposite each other, on H the purl needles are are halfway between each pair of needles on the opposite bed, and the latter is most often the basic needle arrangement for doouble jacquard; check needle alignment before knitting planned fabric to avoid needle damage, etc

vertical striper backing on brother kms is possible, but needs a bit of added manipulation and its own specific directions for needle set up

for thicker fabrics the needle arrangement on ribber may be for 1X1 rib, 1X3, or other configuration, pitch on P. The larger the number of needles on either bed, the closer the tension on that bed to the tension suitable for that yarn in plain stocking stitch. In this instance, the ribber tension is tightened up by one or 2 numbers. If the ribber needles are in ever groups ie 2X2, 4X4, 4X2, etc, then the lili setting may be used. This sometimes helps if the effect on the knit side tend to show noticeable vertical lines along the sides/length of the stitches created on the ribber.

Color reduction/conversions, Mac Os

A recent forum post brought up the question that rises periodically on how to reduce colors in photographs, scans, etc. so as to be able to in turn use the image in a low resolution medium such as knit. There are very many ways to achieve this. The post had specifically asked for low cost or free alternatives using Mac software, so I began playing, and compiled the following document detailing some of my process, addressing large scale, non repetitive images in Color reductions for knitting.The document samples were simple, straightforward conversions, with no further “tweaking”.

Mac Os: iPhoto, Preview, further software downloads:

Free:   img2trak, HyperDither, XnConvert

99 cents One bit Camera

Free to try, $39.95 to buy GraphicConverter, the developer site

A tutorial for owners of Photoshop

With thanks to my test subjects: Rocco

and my sofa fabric

An online service that will do the conversion for you: Knitpro, and a free service github.

Mosaics and mazes: machine knits_ from design to pattern

Maze patterns have long vertical and horizontal lines broken by regular gaps and the pattern lines change course from the vertical to horizontal, and vice versa. Maze cards can be identified by completely punched sections, some alternating with every other square marked for two rows, usually geometrically shaped. Areas of stocking stitch produce horizontal colored stripes, and alternating pattern stitches that slip or tuck cause the vertical stripes, which are sometimes pulled nearly diagonal by the influence of tuck or slip. The fabric will be unbalanced because the number of needles slipping or tucking will not be the same on every row. Odd rows form 2 color horizontal stripes, even rows vertical stripes, with color changes occurring every 2 rows.

Mosaics have a brick arrangement (tessellae), with clear perimeters and cores, and stepped diagonals (frets) that are partially formed bricks, their positive and negative spaces are created by the use of contrasting colors. The stripe sequence is not as obvious. The punchcard looks even less like the original design.

In single bed work the reverse of the fabric will show the original design in the texture of its slip or tuck stitches. There  usually will be no floats longer than one or two stitches.

The knit side may look like fair isle but the back lacks the usual long floats, hence the name “float-less fair isle”

The row gauge is compressed. Tuck fabrics are short and fat, slip ones tend to be short and thin. Some patterns elongate in washing. The tension used is usually one number higher or more than that used for stocking stitch for slip patterns to reduce their narrowing, tuck patterns may also have to be adjusted to suit. Smooth yarns in contrasting colors are the easiest to establish and test the pattern, then the choices can be far more personal.

Designing your own: traditional “rules”

  1. if scale matters consider that the height of 2 rows may equal the width of one stitch
  2. start small, let each square on your graph whether on graph paper, in a design program or spread sheet/vector program cell equal one stitch, each line on graph represents 2 rowsof knitting, when knitting the pattern double length specific to KM may be used .The unfilled squares represent the lighter color/color1, the colored squares represent the dark/color2
  3. no more than one stitch to tuck, two to slip at a time
  4. row 1 and all odd numbered rows (most stitches knit) can have any number of squares marked, the slipped (tuck, or slip/part tuck in alternating directions) are represented by blank grids (no more than 2 side by side for slip, single for tuck), they are generally knit in the lighter color/color1
  5. even numbered rows must have single squares marked, they are generally knit in the darker color/color 2, there should be no more than 2 “light squares”/ unpunched holes side by side, the slipped (tuck, or part/slip tuck in alternating directions) are represented by marked grids
  6. vertical lines must begin and end on odd numbered rows
  7. vertical lines must always consist of an odd number of rows in total
  8. the finished design must be an even number of rows to allow for traveling back and forth to color changer for picking up and carrying the subsequent color
  9. if the design is not to be elongated check to see that every light square to be worked in the dark color is present in the row below, that every dark square in the row to be worked in the light color is also present in the row below

Susanna’s chapter on mosaics has information on fabrics where “rules” get broken. Changing the order of the colors or introducing a third color may yield pleasant surprises. Knitting is started on a non patterning row with first row selection toward the color changer in Japanese machines. If you have a machine that preselects needles: color must always change when the needle selection changes. Four movements of the carriage are required to produce two rows of knitting.

One approach with a design that breaks some rules:

masking alternate rows and “separating them”: odd rows knitting in color 1

dark squares get punched out/ drawn, light ones tuck or slip depending on cam settings

color 2 knitting even rows:

light squares are punched out/drawn and will knit, dark squares ones tuck or slip depending on cam settings

colored areas below are those to be punched overall

I used Excel to eliminate yellow fill on odd rows, darker fill on even. Many articles on this subject date back to graph paper, pencil and eraser days. Quick color fills including empty make the process quicker with software. Still finding the image above  confusing, it may be easier to decide what to draw on the card/mylar if all areas to be punched are dark, blank squares can then be more easily identified and marked, punching everything else or coloring them in and using color reverse if your machine has that ability. In the image below the lighter color is replaced by a darker one

the resulting card

the fabric in slip and tuck settings (breaking the usual rule), some of the tuck rows have a bit of color scrambling

slip stitch front

the back

tuck front

tuck back

one may also start process with point grids, which are of 2 types

in turn pattern may be drawn over them

staggered units may require some clean up and “erasing”, as represented by pink squares

when shape is what one desires, color separation follows as for the design at beginning of post

Susanna Lewis at one time did publish a technique that could be entered in the E6000 that essentially did the separation; wincrea does not presently download techniques, there are other programs that can, and/or a combination of card reader sheet  and computer download may be used, but that is for another day.