Ladder lace

The inspiration: part of a magazine photo

A slightly different approach than in last post. The tale begins with a hand knit graph:

expanded to include alternate rows

the “graph” paper version

If a punchcard is to be used, all colored squares represent punched holes. I used my 910, Studio mylar for my swatch. The mylar repeat and programmed numbers:

The approach in the execution is a bit different from the previous samples. In this instance, colored squares represent number of stitches to be moved/ number of prongs on transfer tool to be used; the pairs of transfers are made away from each other, orange to the right, green to the left. The transfers produce 2 empty needles side by side; they are left in work, as the next row is knit they will produce loops on each needle. Side by side loops do not make stitches, so subsequent rows will continue the ladder. It is helpful to use yarn that does not split and get caught in hooks, as that may partially knit on the next pass. Also, rows with loops should be checked to make certain they are in the hooks, not off, before the next row of knitting. Do not release the loops; on the next set of transfers, treat the loop (where circles occur in graph) as you would a stitch, moving it over on its own prong. As with transfer lace, it bears taking the time to knit slowly and prevent errors rather than having to attempt “fixing” large runs due to dropped stitches.

the resulting swatch on the standard KM (2/8 wool)

the punchcard

the related swatch knit on the 260 bulky KM

The yarn is an alpaca too thick for the standard.  I liked at tension 1 for stocking stitch, but I had to increase the tension to  3.. to be able to manage the transfers, especially the ones over by 3 stitches X2.

for a sense of the scale difference between the 2 swatches

The punchcard was made from a roll purchased directly from Hong Kong, advertised specifically for Brother. The roll is continuous, with separations as seen in the image below. Numbering however is for Studio KM systems, so adjustments need to be made for using them on Brother KMs (ie. first selection row will be row 3 as marked in punchcard used in swatch above).

Ladders and Lace

The patterning resulting from creating and manipulating ladders with needles out of work can create interesting open work fabrics. I like to use punchcards or mylars for “automatic” patterning in selecting needles, with carriage set to plain knit,  to help keep track of where to introduce transfers when possible. Microsoft Excel or Mac Numbers remain my favorite “graph papers” for working out repeats at various stages of developing the trial swatches.

A work in progress sketch: 2 side by side repeats, my first “drawing”. Empty circles indicate where I think I want to produce holes, green transfers and orange ones are toward each other, colored squares (orange and green) indicate number of prongs on tool used for transfers: orange transfers are made with single eye tool, green with triple eye one. Needles in greyed out area are left out of work after each transfer to create ladders. Where a lace hole is desired the empty needle is returned to work after its stitch is transferred. The yellow line is the knit every row center stitch of the pattern. The chart does not match the card, which was further edited

the punchcard repeat for the edited final version, including markings showing directions of transfers and ” row 1″

the resulting swatch

have a brick repeat sorted out, not certain about its end use

another card, 2 prong tool used for transfers, arrows on right indicate direction of those transfers, color change indicates its reversal

the resulting fabric: A_ empty needles left in work throughout, B_ as direction of transfers is reversed, the empty needle on top portion is “filled”in by  lifting up purl bar from row below on its adjacent side , C_ 2 adjacent needles are constantly left empty to create ladders, with one needle brought into work for every one taken completely out of work as needed. There are more possibilities. When experimenting it is helpful to keep good notes to insure ability to reproduce the desired effects.

previous post on leaf shaped lace

Back to leaf lace, add rib, and take it to the Passap

The chart below represents the working repeat for a twin leaf that incorporates ribs in fabric. Golden color represents needles in work on ribber or Passap back bed, the numbers in the center of graph the number of needles moved away from center column, toward the wider rib on each side of the repeat. All colored areas within the red border represent black squares on mylar, or single palette color in SP, wincrea, or your means of downloading. The addition of electronics allows for a wider repeat. Air knitting on any machine will help make selection needed for transfers to opposing bed. On the Passap use Tech 129 and color reverse. This results in pushers corresponding to each colored square being selected to their up position: they then in turn may be pushed up slightly to help track the needles that need to be moved. The wider ribs on the sides make it easier to identify repeat center: again, transfers are made away from the single needle, toward the larger group. The front lock stays on N througout. Pushers corresponding to needles on the back bed, not in twin leaf pattern area, need to be completely out of work. Back lock also knits throughout.

the resulting repeat: knit side

the repeat’s purl side

Having only 3 needles at each end of the chosen number of repeats knitting on the ribber or back bed, will create a small rolled edge on each side of the knit, using the irritating property stocking stitch has of curling to purl side to create an “edging”. I have multiple stitch transfer tools for Passap, but found I did much better avoiding dropped stitches doing larger transfers in two moves of fewer needles.

The graph may be modified for use in other electronics. Here the gold represents needles out of work that create ladders. The two stitch ladder helps with definition and with tracking direction of transfers. With ribbers in use cursed dropped stitches and holes may not be noticed until it’ s too late for “repairs”. Again the center numbers reflect the number of stitches requiring movement on that particular row. All colored squares are used for “drawing” the repeat in the design program or on the mylar.

There are many designs available for machine knit leaves that align in a regular, vertical manner. The more varied shapes require a large number of transfer rows for each row knit. One such variant is this:

a second effort with more ladder experimentation

The result is definitely not a twin, but rather a distant relative of the twin leaves, more akin to wheat or fern lace. The design works within the punchcard 24 stitch repeat limit . A central ladder again helps definition. Latching up the ladder on the purl side made it disappear. Playing with ladder spaces between full repeats can vary the fabric considerably. This is the self drawn card used for the swatch, the horizontal heavy lines indicate where the 2 rows of knitting occur. The card uses up the whole 60 rows, all punched holes are identifiable with corresponding row numbers, the card was a touch too long for my scanner.

Patience is a requirement, and yarn color that allows one to see what is actually happening to stitches is a recommendation.

Horizontal “cable”

I live in the East Coast of the United States.

In the 80s there used to be a yearly machine knitting seminar that was fairly well attended. There were droves of machine knitting publications. Susan Lazear, founder of Cochenille, was just beginning to develop her knit design software ideas on the Amiga Computers, and a fellow Californian, who happened to be Japanese, used to travel here with he Pandora box of foreign knit magazines. At the time translating knits from one language to another amounted to guess work and some leaflets. Subsequently there were fliers, then articles, and even books on translating from Japanese to English and one on multiple language translations for knits and crochet.

One year there was a “guess how this was done and you get a prize contest” for a technique appearing on a sweater with only Japanese instructions. The design was dubbed wisteria by some, has been reincarnated as a trim, insertion, bandings on sleeves and cardigans and is beginning to reappear in magazines now again.

Here is one method for this “horizontal cable” created by short rowing across the width of the fabric.  Brother machine needles are A,B, D, E and a lever sets KH for holding in both directions Studio positions follow the alphabet, and use russel levers on each side must be set for holding.  Directions below are for Brother.

Reminder: when the machine is set for holding the needles in B or D positon knit, needles pushed out to E will not knit. Weight is used as needed, watch for dropped stitches particularly along the edges of the sections as the rows of knitting are built up.

1.cast on the desired number of stitches, knit several rows at garment tension, end COR (Carriage on Right)

2.COR, set the carriage not to knit needles in HP (hold position)

3.leave 6 needles at the right of knitting in WP (work position), push remaining needles out to HP (hold position)

4.knit  10 rows over the 6 stitches, ending COR

5.push back 3 needles to D position at the LEFT of the 6 needles now in WP

6.knit one row from right to left (9 needles in WP) end COL (carriage on left). Push the needles now in WP on the far right to HP; 6 needles will remain in WP

7.knit 9 rows on these 6 needles,  end COR

8.repeat steps 5 through 7 across the fabric row until the last 6 needles remain. Knit 10 rows over  these last 6 needles, end COL

9.set the machine to knit needles in hold (holding lever to N), knit 2  or desired number of rows across all the needles

10.holding lever on H. Repeat the procedure from left to right, reversing the sequence.

If the sequence is not reversed a bias fabric will be created. For maximum texture use a yarn with memory ie. wool. Anything that can be “killed” by pressure or ironing will flatten considerably and yield a very different fabric.

My demo samples were made out of colors that would make them easy to find, unlikely to get “permanently borrowed”, so none of these were studies for actual finished garments

this swatch combines a boucle and a rayon; the latter has become flattened over time

this is a wool rayon, knitting is not reversed, resulting in biasing

these samples show same technique, applied to much larger groups of stitches

a segment of a magazine recent garment photo, no origin given as to source, appears to use the above technique

online source for patterns using this technique

more cable like/structures/textures

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

Some “real” cables on KM

2/8 wool

slippery rayon: fabric flattens with pressing and remains that way

a couple of twist samples: wool/rayon blend

Fair Isle, any punchcard locked on a single row of every other stitch selection: there were whole books of HK patterns based on this idea, sequence of moving stitches can create a variety of secondary patterns. On the KM fair isle is essentially a slip stitch, short and skinny, tension needs to be loosened considerably to try this, stitches in cables cannot be brought out to “hold” position to ease knitting off on the next row, as this will affect the color pattern. Larger crossings are possible, but more difficult

another FI and cable variant: mistakes are probably from needles that were out just a bit too far and knit in the alternate color

a blast from the past: knit on my metal no punchcard bulky (first KM) and ribber more than 2 decades ago. Ribs at waist and armholes are hand knit twisted rib

Pretend cables 1

I have literally hundreds of machine knit swatches from the days I taught in a design school program. I periodically revisit them and since cables and their look alike relatives have recently caught my attention I thought I would share photos of some of the samples in the next few posts.

They are not necessarily resolved fabrics, some of them are the result of random demo efforts/ stitch play.

In any discipline over decades one cannot help but become aware of how materials and  styles cycle, and this is oh so true in fashion and certainly in knitting. For a while more than a decade ago knit i_cord yardage/ tubular yarn was marketed by several manufacturers, and it is now making its reappearance.

One way to create pretend cables in varied color combinations is to apply purchased yarn, or machine knit cording/ tubular knit to the purl facing the knitter side as the piece progresses. The application may be done in an organized manner, using a punch card to select needles on which the yarn will be hung, or more random, even with wide knit strips in contrasting colors

purchased yarn

with tubular knit cord in addition to hooking up, anchoring may require some stitching

strips of contrasting color hooked onto the knit in the seam as you knit method

cording may also be inserted into single stitch lace “holes”

or larger holes created through holding techniques

Knit i-cords, ribbon, twisted cording etc. may also be  threaded/woven through holes created at cable crossing as a way to add color and dimension to standard cables, mimicking their movement on the fabric. A recent foreign magazine cover including a variant of the above technique

A simple braided cable (and card)

When creating braided cables one may punch cards to aid in accuracy of twists. Once the principle is established as well as some basic rules, it becomes easier to work with variations of patterns based on the simpler ideas.

Ladders may be used for marking repeat edges as well as for contributing to pattern interest, or for latching up on reverse thus creating “purl stitches” aside cables. They are one of many things guided by personal preference/ taste.

All over cables narrow fabric considerably, looser tension than for stocking stitch in the same yarn is a must.

A place to start experimenting with in terms of row spacing is to cross stitches a minimum of every number of rows equal to the number of stitches crossed, ie. 4 stitch cables every four rows, six stitch cables every 6 rows. Usually for crossings involving more than 6 stitches extra yarn will be needed for the additional stitches to move far enough across the metal bed to complete the cable and knit off properly on the following row.

Preselection allows one to pre plan exactly where repeats occur on the needle bed. If repeat does not center either side of 0 when a card or other form of input is used, removable colored tape or water soluble markers may be used to mark the needle tape between the first and last needle of each repeat. This is not needed if the repeat itself coincides with 24 stitch markings on tape itself, as in the sample below. I actually use punchcard needle tapes on my electronic machines as well for consistency of markings.

A simple braided cable may be created by working with alternating twists on six stitches.

In the image below:

screenshot_15

Program repeat as usual, set to advance normally, KCII if there are needles OOW.

KC carriage remains set for plain knitting throughout

1. when needles are selected take center stitches off first on a 2 prong tool, hold to front and side

2. remove stitches from selected needles on a second tool, place them on the center needles

3. place the held center stitches on the needles now empty

Many cables may be  translated to a punchcard or programmed pattern. It takes a bit of time to sort out the necessary “rules” and attention to detail while knitting is still required, but the process is overall quicker and more accurate.

Passap knitters can perform similar functions, except it is the pushers that are pre-selected for the next row of knit, not the needles themselves. Tech 129, color reverse will bring up pushers to correspond to markings, machine remains set to N throughout, sets of stitches outside the area of cables may easily be transferred to opposing bed for a ribbed version of the fabric. It is necessary to sort out where patterning occurs on the needle bed, non involved pushers on the front bed should be placed completely out of work.

A confession

I have to admit I can and do hand knit but now operate in life is short mode, and have decreased patience for projects that require a huge time commitment (relatively speaking) to complete. At a knitting seminar in the early 90s a demonstrator (who happened to be male) used to tour with a sweater he had “completed on the machine”  that had more than 3,000 (yes, thousand) cables in it: complex twists inside larger diamonds in turn formed by cables. IMO such a garment would be faster done by hand. One of the advantages in hand knitting is that errors are more easily seen since one has the opportunity to observe what happens on the knit side closer to the event. The fixed spacing on the machines that twists must travel can be a challenge in forming fabrics, particularly in all over patterns.

One possible solution is to combine machine and hand knit panels. Hand knit center arans may be joined to plain side and sleeves knit in stocking stitch on the KM (also a solution when larger sizes are required), and stitch patterns may be used in isolated areas or selectively rather than all over the garment. Patterning shifts in the knit/purl ground in garter stitch patterns may produce knit and purl “illusions” of shapes otherwise created by moving stitches in cables.

I have recently been playing with this crossing idea. The original intent was to try it out in an all over pattern in a brick repeat, and only one row of knit in between transfer rows. With yarn at maximum tension, after the first round of transfers the second round of them became impossible to perform. Am still at the drawing board, but the idea may well simply end with a 2 inch patch as opposed to anything larger. Wonder if Barbie is in the market for a lapghan?

Follow up: the new working repeat with 2 rows of knit between cable crossings

a test on standard KM: the ladders were a “surprise”, a by product of the distance the stitches were moved

the same fabric with ladder “floats” being hung on adjacent needles to diminish ladders and produce holes

the stocking stitch fabric top and bottom of this last swatch is considerably wider than its cabled portion, a possible consideration for trims or insertions based on this idea; “you can’t always get what you want” but sometimes one can still quite work with what one gets.

Holding and “cables”

Susan Guagliumi has written 3 books on hand techniques on the knitting machine

her first classic

her previously most recent

published November 2014

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 At her website, some of her articles and Studio KM publications are available for free download. Included are ones discussing a horizontal cable, two color electronic cable. 11/12/15 Please note: site now requires subscription and login, links as posted here as they are will fail to connect.

In creating large scale cables in the pasts tension changes, supplemental threads, and other ways to compensate for moving larger number of stitches on a metal bed (things start to get hairy when crosses become larger than 4X4) have been discussed. An interesting, clear, possible solution  to produce textures or macro cables such as in this piece

may be found in her books and may be viewed in her youtube video. Handknit interpretations that also add lace to the mix may be found in Shirley Paden‘s portfolio photos of garments, she is the author of