Symbols to punchcard 1

In the chart below pattern repeats take into account the punchcard limitation of 24 stitch maximum repeat. In the sections separated by the color stripe, the bottom shows a purl side symbol chart for slip stitch, the center the purl side symbol chart for brioche/ tuck stitch, the top the repeat punched out for use on the KM with black dots representing punched holes. Keeping in mind there is a 36 row minimum for the card to roll adequately through reader, this repeat would need to be punched 9 times. If one wants to use the color changes in other than totally random manner, then the pattern repeat must be an even number of rows in height. One option is to use double length, but unless the yarn used in the repeat below is very thin, for tuck stitch that may be beyond the limit of the KM. I also prefer when knitting lengths of fabric not to use elongation; for me that makes it easier to correct mistakes. A reminder: the punchcard selection mirrors the design horizontally (particularly noticeable in letters), so the hand knit repeat need not be reversed for a match.

Below is a more manageable tuck repeat reconsidered for color changes (shown in change of ground behind punched holes). The first row selection needs to be from right to left toward the color changer in Japanese machines (Passap is on right, but console takes that into account). This is not the only color change sequence possible, only a place to start.

With very rare exceptions, tuck stitches generally must have a knit stitch/punched hole on either side of the unpunched square. This is because side by side loops jump off on the next pass, rather than knitting off in a group, making a long float in in some cases an interesting mess. Because slip stitch skips needles creating floats rather than depositing loops in needle hooks, the tolerance for side by side slipped stitches if far greater, and the number of rows that the individual stitches are not knit is limited by the strength of the yarn, and the tolerance in the machine. Both tuck and slip stitch fabrics benefit from being evenly weighted, with weights being moved up regularly during knitting. Canceling end needle selection and having the pattern repeats line up with tuck/slip on each edge may produce interesting side edges. If texture is the goal yarns that can be “killed” by pressing/steaming should be avoided.

Hand to machine, symbols 2

The symbol below usually represents a single increase. In hand knitting such increases may be achieved anywhere in any one row. In machine knitting however,  this may only be done with any ease at garment edges. Machine knitters may be familiar with calling what is depicted below a full fashioned increase. To achieve the latter,  a multiple prong tool is used to move the chosen stitches a number over to the right or to the left. On the machine, the resulting empty needle then needs to be “filled” unless lace holes created without doing so are part of the design; this may be done by picking up the purl bar from the row below. The blue dots represents the HK symbol, the pink the same symbol as it might be represented for MK to achieve the same result. The machine knit illustrations in this series do not factor in automatic patterning: rather,  they show how the stitches would be hand tooled on the machine to achieve similar fabrics.

single increase

brioche/tuck stitch: the first 2 image series show “normal” orientation, the  3rd and 4th series the twisted in front of knit version. In MK the elongated stitch is twisted and returned to its needle; similar fabric may be created  purely through hand technique by using holding on single needles in desired locations. Tucked rows in KM programming are unpunched squares in card, white “squares” in mylars or computer downloads. Using the repeat below, in electronics it is possible to “draw” only the 3 tucked squares, and use color reverse.

slip stitch: the first 2 image series show “normal” orientation. In machine knitting the slipped, elongated stitch is created on knit side, with the remaining “floats/bars” remaining on the purl. In the 3rd and 4th image series the elongated stitch moves to the back of the work, while the “floats/bars” move to knit side of the fabric and form a pattern on it. As with tuck stitches,  rows for slip in KM programming are unpunched squares in card, white “squares” in mylars or computer downloads. Using the repeat below, in electronics it is possible to “draw” only the 2 slipped squares, and use color reverse. Because in this fabric the needles are skipped, not filled with loops, multiple punched holes or white squares may occur side by side. If the goal is to achieve the skip stitch floats appearing on the knit side, retooling by hand is required on all skipped needles prior to the next all knit row.

stitches woven through stitches: because of the fixed width stitches must travel with any crossings on the machine there are limits as to how far they are able to move across the bed within any one row. Cables come to mind immediately in terms of stitches crossing; another type of cross weaves stitches through others singly or in sets, which may also be done within rows of long stitches. In the illustration below, one stitch crosses through the center of another. If one is trying to match the hand knit fabric version, then the direction of the “weaving” is reversed as it would be in the case of cabling. Light colors and thick yarn help make the results more visible. This is strictly a hand technique; however, for greater accuracy and speed one may program card or electronics to select either the needle that comes off first, or the pair of needles involved involved with the cross.

an alternative symbol sometimes seem for this stitch

a simply repeat illustrated for KM: since the whole ground is purl, symbols for purl need not be used


November 2015 PS: the charts such as the one immediately above were created using Intwined Pattern Studio and my own custom made stitch symbols. The program on Mac not long after became unusable due to the presence of custom made stitches in library, took multiple efforts to restore without their presence, and there have been no updates since then to address this, or any of the other issues. More information and reviews may be found on ravelry.

Hand to machine knitting symbols1

One of the critical differences in viewing work as it progresses on the knitting machine, is that the “front” view of the fabric unless the work is removed from the needles through a variety of techniques and turned over on the needle bed, is the purl side. Early machine manufacturer punchcard book publications made an effort to help hand knitters make the transition. A chart from brother publishing knit_sym96 illustrates one such effort. Here the middle icon in the how to work column is the stitch formation one would need to achieve on the MK to get the same “look” as the HK samples. Some symbols apply to both types of knitting, some should be mirrored horizontally to make sense, and in the case of the crossing stitches at top right of the second column there is a bit of confused identity.

Over the years there has been an interesting transition from hand written stitch by stitch instructions to the introduction of symbols ranging from home grown on graph paper, to simple word processing and later software generated ones. Some international differences occurred in published works, and international agreed upon symbols for both knit and crochet eventually evolved. There are many design programs on the market now, I have linked to some in past posts. As knitters have venues for publishing their own repeats and patterns and tools have multiplied, symbols do not always necessarily have the same meaning, and stitch codes are no longer universal.

I have been wanting to find a way other than using excel to build a stitch library usable for machine knitters in an easily accessible program that  would do some of the “work” for me. I have experimented with 2 programs. One was knitbird, which I would not recommend for this purpose, the other Intwined Studio which is proving far more flexible and worth the modest investment for me. I work on MacOS10.8, the Intwined version for this OS is beta. There are some small glitches, but this is a tool worth exploring. The option is there to add one’s own symbols to the stitch library. I have begun working on a machine knitting set with icons created in a combination of other programs and Inkscape, the one suggested in the tutorial by the developer. Some charts created with Intwined may be seen in my previous post on sideways pleated skirts. Below is a chart including some MK symbols in my personal library, also using the option to color background for them in program itself rather than editing the chart image after the fact.

To download Inkscape: site. The work around to get the program to work in Mac OS10.8 may be found here.

The combination of color with symbols in published patterns for both hand knit and crochet is beginning to proliferate. I find the visual color cues help track patterns more easily, have done it in HK in the past, one such example is my chain cable experiment in my January 3rd post.

Some illustrations for lace symbols HK vs MK may be found in my post February 25, 2012 “back to lace”.

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.


Knit terms: translations

Prior to google translate, google chrome, etc. barring having friends that spoke the language and knit, here were some resources for translations

Brother : Japanese symbols for knitting (booklet)
Key to Japanese patterns by Jody Foster (booklet)
Japanese for machine knitters by Mary weaver  (book 1983)
Knitting Languages by Margaret Heathman (book 1996) includes10 languages

Online: 1 tata-tatao for japanese basics and charts; 2 for dancingbarefoot’s japanese pattern tutorials, and 3’s multiple language contributions.

From HK to MK

Symbols in knitting have evolved considerably through the years since the day when all instructions were long hand and it was abbreviations used that would need de-coding. This is true of cables and lace as well. I came across a magazine graph that led me to explore and think about conversions from hand to machine. This is a pdf of some of my notes in the process dia_cables_card and a photo of the resulting swatch.

In punching and then using the card to knit the sample I initially completely forgot the fact that images are reversed horizontally when a punchcard is used. The fabric is labor intensive. One alternative if the look is liked is to use such techniques in isolated portions of garments as opposed to all over. A “simplified” interpretation of a similar knit pattern may be seen below

Aran knits: a new thread

Cables seem to be in vogue once again in myriad permutations. They pose some interesting issues when created in machine knitting. Interweave Knits Winter 2011 published an article on “Cables 101” that includes a way to color code and graph cable crossings. Some complex variants for those who like KM hand techniques may be found at Knit, not Knit , their courses here. “Back in the day” of regular, world wide machine knitting seminars several authors provided collections of machine knit cables including George Le Warre at Passap universities (copyrighted, George presently in England).

Simple crossings are a good place to begin and produce texture. If one is not interested in freeform but rather constant, recurring patterns it is possible to use punchcards to produce visual cues when stitch twists and crossings are to occur. This is not an option in Studio Machines, easy on Brother because of the fact that needles pre select, and Passap pushers may be used for a similar set of clues with a bit more fiddling.

When color coding information for referencing as one works, it is possible to be generous with symbols or edit down to bare elements. For example, one way to approach a schematic follows below, where knit stitches are illustrated as well as cable crossings. Red indicates stitches moved to the front, and the green indicates those traveling to back in each cable set. In hand knitting vertical or horizontal bars would represent knit and purl stitches. Since these are identical in this HK graph, they could all be eliminated


B the isolated repeat

The choice then remains whether or not to revert the crossings to match the HK pattern. One way to do that is simply to reverse positions for colors. The mantra becomes “red moves first, green moves second and over red”.

With all machines if the knit carriage is left set for normal knit, even if the patterning option is engaged (KCI or KCII if there are any needles out of work) needles will be selected, but the fabric produced is stocking stitch. The usual considerations are in order: the number viewed on the card outside the machine corresponds to the design row being read by the reader, but the punchcard holes in view are not necessarily the same as the design row selected. Because one is producing the cables on the purl side of the knit, if hand knitting charts are used the cables themselves will be  mirrored. In many instances this may not matter, but if one is using the twists for representational crosses ie. in trees, owls, diamonds and other geometric shapes, it is a good idea to scan the repeat, mirror the image vertically, and then begin translating it into machine knit interpretations. Relatively easy with simple scanning and printing software (ie. the flip horizontal function in Preview, a bit harder by hand.

When I can I color code my cards: ie. with lace I draw a line across the card when I reach each knit row sequence with color pencil. This provides me with an easy to follow visual cue as to when the rows must occur, and also facilitates returning to previous selection sequence when mistakes in patterning occur.

Some basics: with a punchcard there is no row length limitation, but repeats are limited to 24 or a factor thereof. In this particular use wherever needles are selected, one has a visual reminder to move those needles in the desired direction.

I used the cards below to illustrate the idea in my intro to knitting classes. When needle selection occurs in the first, remove the selected stitches off the machine with a 3 prong tool in each desired location, then insert a second 3 prong tool back through front of those same stitches, in turn removing from the initial tool used. Rotate the  twice transferred stitches 180 degrees consistently either clockwise or counter-clock wise throughout, and return them to their original position on the needle bed. The result is a consistently textured fabric with no counting stitches or rows between repeats.

a swatch using it

This card begins to address regular cable crossings, mine was punched in repeat the full 60 rows. A color may be assigned to help with opposing twists’ directions ie. to left (pink) or to right (green) when the corresponding color bar appears just above the card reader.