Filling empty needles after transfers

Trying to get a movement in the fabric for an upper and lower border, echoing that of the leaves, I came up with the solution below. The first set of graphics represents how to fill in an empty needle, the pink again is the view as it may be on the KM, and the empty needle is filled in by picking up the purl ridge of the adjacent stitch.

Working with the 12 stitch repeat used in the previous samples: the green here represents the out of work needle, the golden color the stitches involved in the transfers, with the addition of 2 all knit rows at the top. Moving stitches on these last 2 rows is optional. The circles on blue represent the needles that are temporarily emptied with each move, then in turn filled as illustrated above. A single row of knitting remains along the ladder edge, keeping the ladder space smoother and free of uneven holes.

Those lace holes may be kept to create a very different fabric, as seen in the sample below, which includes some operator error. Transfers take place every 2 rows to allow formation of stitches on the emptied needles.

Other variations ie. repeating transfers from same side in reverse order atop each repeat, etc., vary the look and slant of the swatch. Understanding how the lace carriage works will help explain why some types of transfers do better in the realm of hand techniques.

More on those slanting lace leaves

What follows is not a formal pattern, rather an illustration of the process I sometimes use to solve needs in my own knitting.

On 2 needles and growing my version of the HK slanting leaves scarf: knit on US #8 needles, yarn is 60%silk and 40% wool

hand knit graph to download

Translating this pattern for use with lace carriage is impractical for a range of reasons.  A beginning analysis of the pattern for possible hand transfer or for development of a “cheating” punchcard  for use with hand techniques is seen below. Numbered circles = stitch placement in repeat where the lace hole needs to occur, the second number illustrates the number of stitches that need to be moved over on the needle bed and the direction of the move

Bunches of these help, the multiple transfer 7 prong tools were made and marketed for Brother, Studio, Empisal (4.5mm), and even Passap at one point (needle space on Passap is different, they also had a wider range of transfer tools than those for Japanese KMs)

tools of the trade in required transfer configurations

sample knit from looking at a graph

first punchcard to help with needle selection:

Numbers on left show how many stitches need to be moved to create the hole in the place where the needle is selected; they do not reflect design rows directly, since the card is read seven rows below eye level; large arrows indicate direction for moving stitch groups, with the horizontal colored stripe showing the beginning of each new transfer sequence; vertical blue rows show placement for needles out of work, and the resulting ladder. The garter stitches in the hand knit have been eliminated.

The above card worked, but if one has a bulky, limited prongs on transfer tools, or short attention span an even easier approach might be to have all needles placements required for move on each row selected

the second punchcard

Now come attempts at a possible border trying to “match” top and bottom of knit: would prefer not to have  to deal with issues of mirroring in center  vertical and  horizontal axis of scarf to get top and bottom to “match” . There is enough else to track.

not liking the size of the ladders

The swatch below is a bit closer to “like” and to eliminating the ridge at the center of the “triangles” that is formed if transfers occur in the usual manner and “hole” is then filled in with a purl ridge to eliminate it. The “ladder line” below is marked, showing results from different attempts to fill in the empty needles resulting from moving the stitches. Top and bottom edgings are created by chaining as one would do a chain stitch cast on, behind the knitting on the needle bed, in front of the knit side of the fabric. If knit on the bulky a garter edging could be hand knit first, placed on the KM, the piece knit in turn, then taken off onto HK needles again for adding garter stitch rows at the other end.

Getting closer to goal: ladder space more uniform, “linked” border rather than chained one above, still need to sort out how many repeats without the leaf lace “veins” to work at top and bottom of “scarf

HK and MK variants of leaves may be found in a variety of sources. Some HK samples include a twin leaf verion. A very quick sketch of a possible adaptation for use with punchcard development as described above, using the 24 stitch repeat limitation, red = NOOW follows

one trouble spot: Row2, where 2 holes line up one on each side of the “ladder”

Back to lace

Recently I came across a photo in a magazine with what I thought of at the time as an unusual knit leaf. One of my first instincts upon viewing such patters is often to explore whether I might be able to reproduce the knit on the machine more quickly, and whether in addition there may be a way to “automate the design” by coming up with a repeat that would work with use of the lace carriage. I will share some of many ways to explore such transitions in  a series of posts. As written they will specifically apply to knitting on Brother/Knitking/Taitexma brand knitting machines.

The original “culprit” pattern:

One way to interpret those triple stitches leaning to right and left in HK is to knit three together for right leaning, and slip, knit two together, PSSO for left leaning on RS (“right” /knit side). The same steps on the KM would involve moving around of those triple stitches to achieve the correct lean of the leaf edge on the knit side of the fabric. The number of rows for transfers to achieve a similar look make the fabric impractical to knit using a lace carriage on the KM, so back to hand knitting.

In yet another instance of “it’s a small world” since I first came up on the repeat and began looking for interpretations, I did find several hand knit patterns on ravelry and some magazines using the same or similar motif.

The pattern repeat in my first hand knit sample in a 4.5/inch gauge wool

In turn this led to my developing my own repeat design, which is now on 2 needles, becoming a scarf for my grand daughter, which can be shared in future.

I work predominantly on a Mac, OS Lion. Last year finally got turned on to using excel for knit design after finding excellent online tutorials such as those by Marnie MacLean and Fleegle’s blog. Over the past week I finally got around to playing with iWork, using Numbers instead of excel, and in conjunction with Pages have come up with final images such as the ones below. Am pretty much flying by the seat of my pants in this, so I can’t really share a step by step method, but have been pleased with the instinctive qualities of the Apple programs and the results.

In subsequent graphs: blue represents knit as it appears and may be worked on the knit side, while pink represents how the knit appears and may be worked on the purl side, and as such on the KM to achieve the same design

Common Lace transfers and symbols

moving multiple stitches

now: starting to play with a hand knit repeat with the intent of translating it for use on the KM: triple stitches in one location in any single row are eliminated, as well as sets of double lace holes in any single row while retaining the diagonally slanting leaf motif

garter stich will be eliminated by adding a needle out of work in its place, creating a ladder space between  repeats; repeat will be adjusted to work within restraints of a punchcard limitations in terms of stitch width and row height requirements, more on next post.

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The making of the cords

Making the sometimes fondly referred to as idiot cords has also been referred to as spool knitting, corking, French knitting or tomboy knitting. When using a knitting machine the the standard for knitting cords is to operate the carriage so that it knits in one direction, slips in the opposite. Using the e wrap method cast on 3or 4 stitches. Push in the part button on the same side the knit carriage is on ie. if it is on right, push in right part button. Stitches will knit from right to left, slip from left to right creating a float. Since the float is added yarn when knitting is pulled to set it, the gauge on the few stitches will be altered, so it is usually recommended that tension be tightened 1-2 numbers lower than garment tension. The float issue becomes problematic if cording is required that is wider than 4 stitches. Switching to tubular knitting using the ribber will produce tubes of any desired width.
In Japanese machines the ribber knits tighter than main bed, if gauge matters a starting point is to loosen ribber tension by approximately 2 numbers. Larger cords tend to flatten, so if a round tube is desired stuffing may be required in the form of cording, plastic tubing that may be joined using appropriate caps from hardware or even pet supply stores, and a range of wires if the intent is to create sculptural forms.
One exception to tightening the tension when knitting cords is when/if if they are joined to knit edges in the seam as you knit method.
Addressing the float issue in single bed knitting:
with five stitches the floats could be latched up creating a rib stitch. This same operation in tighter or smaller cords may make them swirl.
If a flatter cord will serve the purpose, an alternative is to have the center stitch knitting on the slip rows. One may accomplish this by hand selecting needles or using a card. This will seal the tube in the center or periodically across the knit. The punchcard may be locked on any single row with the appropriate holes punched, and the position planned on the needle bed for knitting. The carriage will knit all stitches in one direction, slip/skip all but the stitches where needles are selected in the opposite. Floats may become design elements in some instances; if sewing onto another piece or hanging onto the knit as it progresses they serve as guidelines for doing so. If they are to be applied vertically to a garment, create a ladder to mark your sewing line.
If you are a gadget collector “hand Knitting cord machines” may make them up to 6 stitches in width with the ease of cranking a handle and with a bit of planning wire beaded tubes may be produced on them as well. Some examples are from Bond, Prym, Wyr for knitting metal mesh, and eons ago some companies including Passap and Singer offered their own automatic cord knitters as well.
A recently published hand-knitting book has many ideas for applied i_cords that could also be used on the machine.


For speed and simplicity, sometimes flat strips of knitting may be substituted for cords in some designs.
Cords or strips may be used to create mock cables, add color interest, as trims, or in the bodies of sweaters or sweater edges. They may be braided, twisted, macraméd etc.
Some published and online resources on subject:
Erica Patberg article in Knitter’s Magazine #104, Fall 2011. She can be found on ravelry. Cords and strips may be used as trims. Long ago versions were published by teachers in the seminar circuits, one may may be found at 1. Ginger Luters is well known to hand knitters for her books such as her “Module Magic”. Apparently she also has published a book on trims,now available on DVD online that from cover photo appears to include some suited for this topic.

A page that gives a bit of history and illustrations of spool knitters for crafts/ hand knitting may be found at Hub Pages, and on “circular knitting machines” at How to get what you want.

The Wyr knitter is very hard to find. I have knit 32 gauge wire on other knitters with success, so that particulat model is not necessary for wire cords as seen in this piece of mine

A curly cord version may be found at Techknitting. More ideas and a knitter at Bond America. And lastly, something to make with those Barbie Knitters.

Barbara Walker

A DVD stitch compendium salute to Barbara and an interview with her. Most reviews online describe as it being most suitable for beginning knitters, a sample video from series may be found on youtube. For a treasure of her treasury patterns including some cable stitches, one may visit The Walker Treasury Project. The groups’s photo stream may be found in Flickr.