Knitting in pattern with 2 carriages, Brother punchcard KMs

I touched on knitting with 2 carriages in some previous posts:

If 2 carriages are in use for patterning extension rails are a must. For this discussion we are excluding the lace carriage as the #2, the intent is to use 2 knit carriages with each set to desired cam functions. As one carriage is put to rest and the other one is set to move from the opposite side, the card does not advance, so the last row selected is repeated one more time. In one of those lightbulb moments today (any excuse not to do laundry) it occurred to me that starting out with an odd number repeat pre punched card, coming from the opposite direction at the end of each odd row repeat, an even numbered repeat would actually be knit. The card below is Brother issue with all standard knitting machines. Card number (2 in this instance) may vary, depending on year of purchase. Color changes here as well would have to be planned for an every even number of rows, so respective carriages can travel to and from each side.


The swatch below begins with locked selection row on punchcard row marked #1 (standard location); tuck setting is used in first 2 segments, FI on third; pattern produced is “OK”, but not actually tucking for 4 consecutive rows; note how much narrower FI is than tuck. Tuck tends to be short and fat, slip and fair isle short and skinny when compared to plain knit in same yarns 500_326


Since Brother preselects for the next row of knitting, setting the first selection row one locked below the usual spot on in this case #48 got me what I wanted, each color now tucking for 4 rows



Then something a bit more exciting occurred to me; one is an odd number, so any card where single rows are punched could be executed in theory, changing color every 2 rows (remembering to start with first selection row one row below # 1 row mark on card). This sample was knit with 2 carriages, using a maze card, illustrated in a previous post , in which each row had been punched only one time, requiring for the repeat to be elongated X2 500_319500_320

the image from the previous postgrey_slip

Using 2 carriages allows for combining yarns using different tensions, cam settings, fiber content, or sometimes using materials that the single bed color changer is not “friendly” with. Also, there is no pushing the wrong button, causing errors in sequence, or dropped knitting if no yarn is picked up.

A punchcard carriage may be used on electronic machines. I work on a KH892, and a 910. The 910 is from a much earlier model year than the punchcard machine. The back rail for the KH to travel on, is a different shape, with slits as opposed to smooth, and a bit more raised. The electronic carriage set on KC locks on the belt, and advances the card appropriately, but the fit is quite snug, making it hard to push, while the 892 behaved well on the 910. If borrowing carriages and sinker plates from different model years or type of machine to use on another, proceed with caution and listen to your machine. Sometimes the span of time between model issues is irrelevant, even if model years are only a year apart, and the swap is not the best for successful knitting, may “work” in one direction, but not as well in the other.

sample back rails: 910 910892rail2

Working with generated mazes: GIMP charting 2

My previous posts on using gimp to generates charts and images suitable for knitting: 1, 2, 3, 4 . I am working in Mac OS 10.10 now, so there may be some variations in results from earlier OS or for Windows versions users.

the edited repeat from the previous postcropped

It is possible to knit this design in DBJ with the same separation as for knitting it as a maze, both are 2 color slip stitch patterns, the maze separation is less laborious. To process for use in DBJ, the image needs initially to be doubled in length. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a new gimp document, several times the size of the repeat, select and copy the corrected repeat , in turn pasting it in the new, larger canvas. I used 40 by 60; color 1 is red, color 2, white, most of my charting is done at 1,000 times magnification

copy and paste

drawing a vertical line in non pertinent color to border areas having several rows with no second color present, as seen below, may help define end or start of selections when attempting to invert colors. Color invert may be achieved in RGB mode, not indexed. Below the inversion occurs on “even numbered” every other rows. The program in my OS now showed the previously red squares in blue, the alternate squares in black.

After using color invert, non pertinent color (blue) may be erased (using pencil tool, each square on grid is a single pixel) as well as those yellow “border” squares. In the image below the black squares on the left represent all holes that will be punched out in card. One drawback in this program, because of the scale using single pixels, is that no text to include row numbers, etc. is possible. The final repeat is 10S X 44 R.

If one wants to avoid using double length in the automated machine settings, the image of holes to be punched may be doubled in length. To do so color mode needs to be changed to indexed (4 colors) to retain image clarity.screenshot_19


 fabric knit in DBJ, long stitch on left, bird’s eye backing on right 500_2355

Maze and mosaic knitting, my previous posts: drawing motifs, from design to pattern (Excel), from pre punched cards,  and references and pubs. The repeat worked out for slip stitch, and edited down to 2 colors. Again, the black squares on the left represent all holes that will be punched out in card.

screenshot_21-mazeTo further mark the repeats in blocks, making chart easier to follow in absence of numbers, the subject of drawing straight lines comes up. Most of the online tutorials for using gimp are for its Windows version. The pencil tool may be used. Normally, tool options are displayed in a window attached under the Toolbox as soon as you activate a tool. If they are not (Mac), you can access them from the image menu bar through Windows → Dockable Windows → Tool Options, which opens the option window of the selected tool. In theory “Ctrl:This key changes the pencil to a Color PickerShift: This key places the pencil tool into straight line mode. Holding Shift while clicking Button 1 will generate a straight line. Consecutive clicks will continue drawing straight lines that originate from the end of the last line.” On my Mac I worked out this method: first select color and pencil tool. Place a pencil dot where you want the line to start. If you press the shift key, a cross hair will appear, press the command key in turn as well for straight line mode, click where you want the line to end. Consecutive clicks will continue drawing straight lines that originate from the end of the last line. Pressing both the shift and the command one at once after the initial pencil mark will call up the color picker and require a color selection and an OK.

windows: dockable itemswindows_dockable dialogues

gimp lines

separation for maze knitting 10S X 22R, elongate X2
maze_needsX2 borderknit as a single bed slip stitch, changing colors every 2 rowsscreenshot_01as dbj 500_2361

The dropped stitches were a problem when using the ribber on one of my two 910s, that adventure can be the topic for another post.

Working with generated mazes: GIMP charting 1

Laura Kroegler shares an online generator for “mosaics”unikatissima offers them for mazes and cellular automata. Representations of such patterns have cropped up in relation to hacked knitting machines and electronic downloads such as those seen in the Claire Williams blog, and in published information by Fabienne, who of late also has a kickstarter project. Such patterns may be charted for hand knitting or for use on punchcard machines once the size of the repeat is taken into consideration. Mirroring either vertically or horizontally can make the image far more interesting, but that has to be a consideration in planning if the stitch repeat has a constraint of 24 stitch limit. A beginning unit 6 stitches wide will allow for the horizontal mirror to be repeated twice on the punchcard. The minimum punchcard length is 36 rows. The maximum scroll down to height in the Kroegler generator is 20, so for the least punching, an 18 row max would “fit”. The caveat here is that if the generated pattern is to be knit as DBJ or as single bed slip stitch, those 18 rows need to be color separated accordingly. For the design to be charted out easily, it may be saved, and then in turn gridded in Photoshop or Gimp with grid matching stitch size in the generated pattern preview (ie below note X and Y values are 5 X 5, so grid used would be 5 X 5 pixels as well).
After reviewing the tiled generated pattern, the image may be carefully captured from screen and saved. I worked with an 8 stitch repeat for my tests. Below are screen grabs of the resulting patterns after some of the various options offered were tried. Mirroring this repeat horizontally, makes it too wide for a punchcard (16 X 2=32).






using a 5X5 grid after capturing a portion of another generated image, using a simple 8X8 repeat, outlining single repeats, thinking punchcard machinescreenshot_34

checking the result tiled to predict possible knit “look”screenshot_28

If working with a 6 stitch repeat, horizontal mirroring becomes possible for punchcard machines, perhaps making things more interesting; the program can generate a single repeat as a png, and punching holes is a drag so maybe length remains on the short side in anticipation of the punching holes and color separating for knitting the motif as either DBJ or single bed slip stitch, so here goes: having the generated image produced so each stitch and row is represented by a single pixel allows one to work within any program preset to superimpose a 1X1 grid:screenshot_07

screenshot_08my saved png, supposedly for an 8X12 repeatnewgridded in gimp, revealed as  11W X 23 Hscreenshot_09

testing tiling: oops!screenshot_10

the trimmed repeat, eliminating double lines, 10 St W X 22 Rows Hcropped

tiled, looking closer to originalcropped_tiled

and then there is the knitting of it….

For the latest version of gimp use on Mac, version history may be found at gimp website, for Mac Yosemite and Mavericks’ latest information on version 2.8.14 .

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.

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.

Mosaics and mazes from “FI” “universal” patterns

Many punchcards that obey the usual restrictions for tuck in particular may be used to create “random” mazes and mosaics. Test swatches will show differences in surface texture, patterning, width and height of knit, and it is useful to use clearly contrasting colors to study how the structure of the fabric is affected by the different techniques. One series follows: swatches were knit as a class demo, for easy visibility, not as studies for finished garments or accessories. They were produces on Brother punchcard KMs, with a single bed color changer. Electronic KMs advance a row for each pass of the carriage regardless of its beginning position/side, so such fabrics are produced more quickly and easily if an electronic and 2 compatible carriages are available for use. Yet another pattern variation would be to use opposing buttons for tuck/slip, that was not done in the samples below.

FI pattern front with a bit of bleed through where floats were hung up on back

FI back

tuck 1 color front

tuck 1 color back

slip 1 color front

slip 1 color back with a few stitches that got away

tuck 2 color front

2color tuck back

slip 2 color front

slip 2 color back

last but not least slip stitch adding a third color front, still changing colors every 2 rows

slip stitch 3 color back

Mosaics and Mazes: knitting on the machines

Two great books on the subjects by Kathleen Kinder:

another article/printable PDF resource by Susan Guagliumi (this link no longer works, subscription and log in are presently required on her site for access to her free pubs)

Susanna Lewis:  “A machine knitter’s guide to creating fabrics” pp. 71-78, 1986. “Designing your mosaics” and “Figurative designs in machine knitting”  published in To and Fro Magazine, and presented at Passap University app. 1992

Denise Musk: “The technique of Slipstitch” pp. 36-46 1989

Barbara Walker Mosaic knitting companion CD by Morgan Hicks 381 motifs “charted and converted for your electronic knitting machine or crochet, .pat or .pcx format”.


Mosaics and Mazes: Hand Knitting

Interweave knits (HK) offers 2 events a year in their KnittingLab per year, and they are upcoming in the next couple of months. Of late in print, runway, and online another fabric getting lots of attention is that created by knit mosaics and mazes. A workshop is offered by Interweave at their seminars. Some books on the subject include

the standard (some samples may be seen here)

while crochet is getting nearly equal time including several publications such as this at Annie’s Attic

and writings and DVDs by Lili Chin including through Interweave

The hand knit versions incorporate garter rows, crochet working through posts, and there is interesting surface textural variation in addition to the overall patterning. Choices may be made for using the technique in seamless 2 color  pattern fields, in bands, trims, or all over designs. One may add striping within either color. In hand knitting purl stitches may also be added to the mix. Of course then the question follows: can these be done on the knitting machine?