Revisiting pleats on the knitting machine: single bed


work in progress 

I am recently pondering self folding shapes, which begin with pleating. Presently, in fashion and knitwear, skirts and clothing with ruffled or folded fabric variations abound. In 2013 I wrote a post including downloadable files of one of my early handouts and working notes. This is the same information
It is possible to knit shadow pleats combining them with holding position to knit wedges which will produce a more circular shape . The shaping can occur in both thick and thin areas.

When working in stocking stitch, if a soft looking pleat is desired, the knitted fabric is simply folded to form the pleat and joined to keep the fold. Crisper folds require the added techniques described above. In hand knitting fold lines are created by slipping stitches on the fold line on the “public side”. Assuming the latter is the knit side of the fabric, this is often indicated by “sl 1 with yarn in back” for front fold line (and as another slip st  option, for with yarn in front for back fold line). A purl stitch is more commonly worked on the same side of the knit for the opposing, inner fold. Both the slipped stitch and the purl one are purled on the return purl row pass. It is also possible to work the former purl stitch as a purl, resulting in a garter stitch is fold inner fold.

To review, parts of pleats: 

knife pleats may be put next to each other, and pointing to the right (S) or the left (Z)

Box pleats are composed of alternating right and left knife pleats, pointing away from each other. Inverted box pleats are composed of one left and one right knife pleat, pointing toward each other.

Accordion pleas are a series of knife pleats in which the back of one pleat forms the face of the next 

The subsequent posts followed with the information in on pleated skirts made with lace carriage transfers (from Brother Knitting Techniques Book ) as well as on ribbed folding fabrics, and automating pleats single bed (‘holding’/slip stitch shaping).

Some authors and publications include hems in the category of pleats as “horizontal”. To my mind they merit their own category. Some related techniques that may be used at the bottom, in the body of the knit, at the top, or only on part of the surface may be found in my previous posts hems 1, hems 2, and ruching .

Pleats: ribbed , folding fabrics

I created the illustrations/ charts below in Mac Pages, which has changed quite a bit since the Mavericks upgrade. With Apple’s continued efforts to make programs more compatible between devices, many features I preferred for designing my charts  in previous OS, are now defunct.

RIBBED, FOLDING PLEATS result from varying the needle arrangement on both beds, usually in every needle rib. As with any knit fabric, the knit piece will fold toward the purl side along the length of the piece, not away from it. The bend can be put permanently into the fabric by leaving one or more consecutive needles on the same bed out of work. The non working needle(s) will create a narrow vertical column of stocking stitch on the opposite bed which will roll itself toward its purl surface. By spacing the groups of non working needles alternately between the beds, the fabric will immediately fold into pleats when taken off the machine. The same principle could be applied to hand knitting. The symbols: black dots indicate needles out of work, purple arrows the direction of the fold in the resulting fabric, | the needles in work on either bed, any machine.

Sharp angles occur when there are enough needles in work on both beds to allow the fabric to fold over itself crisply before it is forced by next group of out of work needles to fold once again in the opposite direction

needle arrangementalternating direction of folds to create sharp or knife pleats

folds up as

repeat above configuration across the needle bed, going as narrow or as wide as desired

double sharp or box pleats  are a variation where the direction of every other pleat is reversed, extra stitch groups may be added between pleats to vary their spacing

added stitch group represented by star, stitch count varied to suit

star

stars add

fold up as

box_sharp

accordion sharp pleats out of work needles evenly staggered on both beds

accordion

 fold up as

accordion sharp

Putting out of work needles on one bed close to out of work needles on the other will not allow the fabric to fold over completely before reversing direction, and will result in rounded or rolled, rather than sharp pleats. There should be one full needle rib stitch between needles out of work, highlighted below in red. Repeating the same selection results in rolled single pleats 

rolled

fold up as
curved knife

double rolled pleats mirror needle groups

double rolled

fold up as

curve1

in accordion rolled OOW needles are spaced evenly on both beds

accordion rolled

fold up as

sunray roundTypes of pleats, their width, spacing and mixing with stretches of every needle rib, may be used in whole garments or garment details ie cuffs, peplums, single fold large pleats in skirts and jackets, etc.

Brother Ribber Techniques Book page 37 illustration

page37

Some considerations:

Normal shaping procedures are not practical in these fabrics. Tension changes are used from loose to tight to achieve shaping from wider at bottom to narrower at top, requiring extended swatches. The larger the finished items, such as skirts, are more predictable in result if the test swatch is a large one. A minimum of 100 rows for gauging is recommended. A test segment is made for each tension change. Swatches should be allowed to rest after being treated like the finished garment will be: blocked, pressed, washed, etc., then hung vertically and allowed to rest. After deciding the length, 2-4 inches need to be subtracted from the desired measurement to allow for “drop” that is likely in the finished piece over time.

The fabric may look a bit different on one side than the other, either works as the exterior of the piece, is a matter of preference.

These are knits where the clicks between numbers on tension dials on machines come into use. In addition to the usual gauge calculations for knitting garments, a bit more math is needed.

The number of needles used need to be divisible by the number of stitches used for any pleat.

Joining on inner folds rather than outer ones produces better results. Having an extra stitch at joining edges, with seaming using half a stitch on each side, will keep pleat widths constant.

The larger the pleat, the more bulk is created. Most skirts will require 3 panels with one seam worn on center back. Yokes may be added to decrease bulk rather than having pleats meet at waistline.

Ribbers on Japanese machines tend to knit tighter than main beds. At times an increase of 2 tension numbers may be required to get stitch sizes created by both beds to approach being equal. The other factor to consider is that the wider the plain knit vertical portion of the pleats, for stitches to knit off properly, the more the tension needs to approach the # used to knit the same yarn in stocking stitch on the respective single bed. Tolerance varies between machines.

Experimentation is needed even before knitting the large swatches. It pays to be familiar with both your ribber and your yarn before trying these fabrics, and to keep good notes.

Folded / true pleats occur when the groups of NOOW (needles out of work) that make the fold lines are spaced far enough apart so that the underlap of the pleat is quite wide. Rolled/ mock pleats occur when the groups of NOOW that form the fold lines are fairly close together.  Stockinette/rib combinations: vertical columns of stocking stitches are created, sometimes combined with ribbed ones. The fabric lies flat and does not fold.

Double jacquard is usually an every needle rib fabric, so pleats can be created in conjunction with it, even planned to occur within specific areas of the design repeat. Consider yarn weight and backing technique in planning for drape.

A series of needle arrangements to try, including one worked on every other needle, which requires the pitch change from P to H. Charts were created as combined tables using Mac Numbers 5/2018

Review of terms often used: full pitch = the needles of one bed are exactly opposite the needles of the other bed. Passap = racking handle up. Half pitch = the needles of one bed are directly opposite the gate pegs of the opposite bed. Passap = racking handle down. FNR: full needle rib = within the working area all needles on both beds are in working position, with the beds set at half pitch. 1X1 rib set up= within the work area every other needle on both beds is in work in alternating positions, ribber set to full pitch. Tubular cast on is often used for fabrics of this type, in both FNR and 1X1 rib set ups.

“True” pleats have three components: the face, the fold over or turn back, and the underside; they are formed by folding a piece of knitted fabric over. “Mock pleats”  are produced by varying stitch patterns. Sometimes the terms S and Z are used in reference to how the pleat folds, with S pleats pointing the the right and Z pointing to the left. The fold over bulk is something that needs to be planned or even compensated for when creating garments ie such as skirts, where yokes are often added to minimize bulk at waist and hips.

Studio tips and techniques #36, by Terry Burns, is now available for free download online and begins to cover Double bed pleated skirts  tt-36-double_bed_skirts

Pleats: automating “pleating”, single bed

This post was originally written in 2013. I found myself reviewing it in 2018, and editing it with the intent to attempt a pleat sample using the Ayab interface. In those days I was using Intwined for some of my charts. The program has since been unsupported for Mac, without upgrades and a series of problems that led to my switching over to excel completely for my charts, and now to Numbers in the latest Mac OS.

I work primarily on multiple model Brother machines, in this instance the 910. Some of the information provided below may need tweaking for use in other brand KMs. “Automation” of some holding functions may be achieved using slip setting to knit required stitches. Below is the mylar sheet repeat used for my samples swatches. The setup is on working needles 21L, 19R, program for color reverse and twice the height; KCII (cancel end needle selection); first row needle selection from left to right, and with carriage ending on the right the first set of needles selected will be those that knit, the remaining bed will slip. This is opposite to the configuration familiar in holding, where needles out to E are held, those in B or D will knit (Brother needle position jumped the letter C, they are  A,B,D,E). In this type of knitting all needles in use on the bed should be cleared with each pass of the carriage.

I have gotten used to keeping programming numbers for  locations on mylar around a square to correspond to the lights surrounding the house icon on the 910, and worked with the following 2 options for my test swatches

In the samples below the first set of every other stitch/ black square in the increasing/decreasing angles were slipped on the non selected needles to create/mark the inner purl fold , the second set in the area that does straight knitting tucked on non selected needles to create/mark the knit outer fold. For the latter to occur, the cam buttons need to be switched to tuck <-> for 2 rows, and then back to slip <-> for the remaining knit repeat. Small holes are created at edges of slipped areas as miters are created, as would appear were the fabric created tthrough holding.

A: the alternate fold areas as they appear on the machine during knitting

the fabric after some casual steaming shown on the knit side, the pleating just about doubling on itself

B: with the added knit rows, the swatch before steaming

here is the purl side after some steaming showing the change in overlap

its knit side

both fabrics allowed to “hang”

The look may be varied considerably by changing the sequencing of the number of knit stitches, and the number of plain knit rows between the EON slipped or tucked ones. Electronics facilitate that, and with machines capable of accepting programming of the whole needle bed, there is even greater freedom. The sample above was knit loosely in acrylic, the holes would be less apparent in a tighter knit. If bothersome, they may in theory be “avoided” by factoring in “wrapping” if every row of the repeat is drawn rather than every other. With only 60 squares available on the mylar it is possible to go twice as wide and produce fabric width that may suffice for a skirt’s length. With software that allows for programming the width of the needle bed, possibilities expand even more. When going double wide with a repeat such as the one above, some  problems result not so much in the inner fold slipped rows, but in the outer fold of the tuck ones. As in nearly any knitting when needles have 2 side by side loops resting on them, these loops will create a float/ ladder, so the tuck rows will essentially behave like the slipped ones as the double loops are dropped rather than anchored on the subsequent pass of the carriage. In the configuration here if the double wide button is used, one way to solve that issue would be to bring consistently the same of either of the 2 non selected needles out to D or E position (still faster than hand selecting repeats by hand for holding), resulting in knit stitches and single tuck loops.

5/18/18  Working out the kinks: the same repeat redrawn to factor in reduction of the eyelets at edges of slipped areas: a partial graph showing “automatic wrap”. However, the “wrap” will fail with color reverse, and that first row would have only one stitch knitting. If double wide is used, then the wrap will happen around 2 needles, creating yet another “float”. 

its color reverse 

Plain knit rows (blanks on mylar) may be added at the bottom or top of the repeat to change pleat depth. Here is an amended repeat, discarding the “automatic wrap” idea, first prior to color reverse, then after

 
Those all blank rows would result in no stitches being knit, essentially a 2 row “free” carriage pass, and are removed. The repeat is  now also capable of being knit twice as wide if desired, adding the hand technique on tuck folds

Below the edited repeat begins design using one pixel per stitch and per row. “Automatic” wrap happens as one row is knit, while the next preselects an extra needle. The yarn travels under the extra needle prior to its being knit on the next pass from the opposite side. There will still be an eyelet, a bit larger than hand wrapping, but smaller than without any wrap at all. The EON pixels in the center of the shape are tucked. For that to happen the knit carriage needs to have the cam buttons switched from slip to tuck, and back to slip after the 2 row sequence. The fabric fold out to the knit side. The EON (every other needle) set at the top of the shape are knit is slip stitch setting, resulting in the fabric folding in to the purl side. Process could be reversed to have each fold to the opposite side of the knit.

The carriage needs to be on the opposite side of increases in the number of stitches worked. Here the first preselection row should be from left to right, with carriage traveling to and from right for the subsequent pairs of rows. 

More variations: the slip stitch configuration below is changed to the same EON selection for 2 rows. The same could be done for the tuck fold. For this repeat, the first preselection row should be from right to left, making that the side the knit carriage returns to after each pair of rows knit. The sample was knit in a too thin acrylic. Both eyelets and their “wraps are visible, as well as the direction of folds.

These are pleats in a skirt made eons ago, that have retained the fold over the course of many a year 

An added alternative for fold lines: create outside crease transferring EON to make a row of eyelets, create inside crease by knitting the desired row double row of  with 2 strands of  garment yarn. “Automatic” repeat must be adjusted accordingly, whether by re drawing or punching, or using cam settings for the correct stitch formation.

Seaming should be planned on the inner fold of the fabric, depending on whether the purl or knit side is used as the “public” side, the least visible join being one that is grafted ie with kitchener stitch.

The same principles may be applied to punchcard knitting but because the repeat size is 24 stitches the resulting fabric is one suitable for portions of garments/ accessories, in details such as ruffles and edgings. Punched holes would match the black squares in the color reversed repeats.  “Air” knitting helps determine exact needle location required , and to decide which side the first row must be selected prior to actual knitting. The image below shows the start of only one possible partial repeat based on the last one above

I usually sample my repeats by using hand selection and holding before committing to drawing on mylar or punching holes. The former are hard to get, the latter time consuming to punch, and “repairs” are more difficult when there are that many holes side by side. An even number of rows is required in this technique.

Pleats: machine knit double and single bed

This is the latest type of fabric to cross my radar. One publication readily available online is at Susan Guagliumi’s website (log in and sign up required initially). My own in progress notes/ideas Pleats in full needle rib2, and SINGLE BED PLEATS. Some single bed pleating may be automated. Revisions, additions and photos will follow.