Japanese punchcard motifs used in Passap E 6000 machines

How years do fly! In “cleaning up” PDFs I found the following, which is actually composed of saved scans of an article I wrote in 1998 (is it really 2011 now?) in my amiga/commodore computer days. The “series” never did happen, the newsletter has long been out of print. The subject was E6000 knitting from Japanese knitting pattern repeats. Binder1

Large scale mesh, breaking rules

Want such a mesh, without hand techniques or extra steps.
In both slip and tuck every space that has a hole, black square, etc. that brings a needle out to to D position (for some unfathomable reason Brother needle positions go A,B,D,E, poor C got skipped) will actually knit. In slip the non selected needles gets skipped, in tuck the non selected needles will hold a loop until that needle is returned to D position.  Side by side loops are troublesome in any stitch type. That aside, tuck can be employed to sequentially lay down loops in some patterns where the lace carriage ultimately moves to produce side by side empty needles. The usual caution with such fabrics: extension rails must be used. Yarn needs to be “friendly” enough to not break easily, and since stitches travel across a wider gap than in single eyelet lace, tension needs to be looser as well. Small changes can make a big difference, and so can patience. I am saving the failed attempts for future felting experiments.

In the fabric below the lace carriage is set for normal lace, the KH carriage to select pattern (KC) and both tuck buttons are depressed. Each carriage works in sequences of 4 rows throughout. For me this experiment will probably fall in the “now that I’ve done it, broken several rules and have one good result  I am over it” category.

Some observations: top bind off as seen in the swatch below, was tight for the fabric. To maximize width, bind off should be around at least 2 gate pegs, even 3 if needed. This allows for completing the task on the machine without adding more work and incorporating hand techniques. Same is worth considering in tuck fabric: the nature of tuck is to be short and fat, lace wants to open up, so this fabric definitely will want to spread. The top approximate 1/3 of the swatch images show use of the same white yarn, knit in  standard single needle mesh. The size difference in “holes” created with the tuck method is easily seen. The white is a 2/8 wool, the other a 16/2 mystery fiber I usually use as waste yarn. The punchcard itself follows as well.

Next on the to do list: “filet crochet” simulations in machine knitting.

knit side
purl side
large scale mesh

Look Ma, missing holes! A saga begins…

Transferring any one stitch to the adjacent needle will create a loop in that empty needle on the next pass of the knit carriage, and form that loop into a completed stitch on the second KH pass as it travels back to its original position. There are some constants in knit fabrics. For example, in lace if all transfers are made in one direction, particularly in meshes, the fabric biases. Great if you want a bias fabric, not so if the original plan was to produce a balanced one. The cure: to alternate direction of transfers sequentially, or in series. If done in series the result is a vertical zig zag with movement in edges of fabric to echo the bias direction in the knit.
If two adjacent needles (or more) are left empty, the first KH pass will create loops on those same needles. Without the knitter’s intervention and manipulation of at least some of those loops the space rather than creating holes, will be producing “ladders”. Ladder fabrics whether in combination with lace holes or not can be interesting, often involve hand techniques to make them more so, but the topic of the moment is transfer lace.
For knit stitches to form in/with the single second pass of the knit carriage, at least every other needle must have a loop or stitch on it. If two adjacent needles are are empty one of several ways to achieve a larger round hole is to knit the first row, drop off one of the 2 “loops” created, continue knitting; this technique will create a secondary smaller hole in fabric, it is a matter of preference as to whether this effect is acceptable.
To avoid a secondary “hole”, the method I prefer is to insert a one eyed transfer tool back to front through the dropped off yarn, twist 180 degrees either direction, forming an “e”, and rehang the twisted stitch on the empty needle, thus “casting” that stitch on. This technique is sometimes used for buttonholes (not the best for that purpose). It is one way to bring the familiar e wrap used at the beginning of some knits into the body of a swatch/ garment. As the second knit row is copleted the larger, “round” hole is now achieved.
In “automatic” slip small slits/holes appear where sequential rows of knitting occur, creating secondary patterns (seen in dolilies).
It is up to the knitter to decide which trade offs are acceptable ones. “Automating” functions adds to design time and sorting out modifications to repeats, but can speed up the final knitting process and facilitate accuracy when one transits from swatch to garment construction.
Lace cards can be planned to incorporate some larger holes, adding hand techniques to the mix.
And then there is the purposeful loss of holes, ie. in fine lace where yarn is not transferred to but rather shared with the adjacent needle, creating a textured look rather than a hole filled one, unless very thin yarn is in use.

Lace: from electronic repeat to punchcard

At about the time I began my recent lace obsession, and pre my trying to actually use excel instead of simply knowing it lived in my computer, a friend was trying to work on a lace repeat that was found online as part of Staceyjoy’s knitting stitch portfolio, now part of the site. As a result, the downloadable pdf below bears the name it does, includes my how/to suggestions for the journey from electronic single repeat to punchcard, and the resulting swatch. One additional tip: when working with copies it is good to mark tops and bottoms clearly, especially if combining pieces of patterns so as to avoid marking/punching and vertical mirroring mistakes.

redlipstick PDF

So many machines…lace knitting

There are several brand KMs still around and in use, most are no longer being manufactured. Questions often come up on using one KM brand pattern card on another. Card readers inside the machine are below eye level, so exterior number/other markings on cards or mylars reflect that, providing the knitter with a visual cue as to where they “are” in the repeat. If machines pre select,  the needle selection may not bear any relationship to actual design row on the punched card or mylar as opposed to what one “sees”.  In addition to this variable in lace one often has 2 carriages in use. It is possible to develop cards etc. from lace hand knitting graphs, but there is enough “going on” so a good place where to start experimenting is with pre drawn ones. Lace preselection on any single row may have no obvious relationship to where the lace hole will ultimately end up.

Here are some random facts gathered from both sources and experience, they are applicable only if the knit carriage is set for plain knitting and no other function ie. slip or tuck is involved; plain knit rows do not advance the card reading mechanisms. In mixed structure fabrics the rules change.

the Brother and Toyota lace cards can be used on studio punchcard machines as long as they are patterns which have 2 blank rows after each transfer sequence

Brother and Toyota have u shaped arrows to identify when to knit with the knit carriage, both brands read cards 7 rows down

the first row on Brother is transferred from right to left, while on Toyota it is transferred from left to right; Brother and Toyota cards are interchangeable provided the card is mirrored vertically (or a simple cheat: use carriages on opposite sides of usual)

for Studio knitting find the row number of the U shaped arrow and circle the 2nd and 3d row below that row that number to identify rows in which carriage is changed/set to knit

Brother ends with 2 blank rows

Studio starts with 2 blank rows

on Studio begin brother card by locking card 4 rows before row 1, on row 3

Brother/Knitking lace carriage does not carry yarn, does not knit or trip the row counter; the stitches get transferred in the direction that the lace carriage is being pushed

Studio/Singer has a lace carriage available that transfers as it knits; on more complex laces one is sometimes instructed to set the carriage not to knit for a specified number of rows, the yarn may be removed, other adjustments are often required

though Studio and Brother lace cards are not directly interchangeable; aside from the numbering issue the transfer method is different, so a studio lace card “working” on brother or vice versa is a happy accident and likely to result in a “different” fabric

Brother information is applicable to its “new” clone, Taitexma

A few references :

Machine Knitting: the Technique of Lace by  Kathleen Kinder
Knitting Lace and A Machine Knitter’s guide to Creating Fabrics by Susanna Lewis
Machine Knitting: the Technique of Pattern Card Design by Denise Musk
John Allen’s Treasury of Machine Knitting Stitches
The Harmony Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches (their Colorful Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches does not include lace)
322 Machine Knitting Stitches (Sterling Publishing,1988)
Both Brother and Studio published punchcard volumes, now out of print.

Knitting with 2 carriages

Recently there has been a lot of press about a particular personality using 2 carriages in her knitting. This is not a new idea. Some points to ponder: if color changing is required there many ways to deal with it, beginning with doing it manually and devising a yarn holder of sorts to slip into the space where the needle retainer bar sits. Then there are color changers, an absolute necessity in double bed work for DBJ. Not all machine models have changers that will work on both beds, Brother happens to be one that does not. Though Passap Autocolor will change colors automatically, the Brother single bed one is operated by one’s fingers pushing buttons, is a bit fussy, and it is really good not to hit an empty holder and go across with “no yarn”, since the object is usually not to have knitting fall off and onto floor.
Extra KH carriages are a bigger expense than color changers. Many production knitters have back ups for their machine models. It is obviously best if both carriages are same model year. Sometimes sequential model ones may be used, and all that may be required is a sinker plate adjustment, other times the carriages are incompatible with the new knitting beds though changes may appear to be small ones to the eye.
Unless I specify otherwise, my comments usually pertain to Brother KMs.
Aside from the fact that punchcard models have no power source, the pattern rotation is also different and that needs to be taken into consideration when punching holes in the card. Electronic machines advance a design row for each carriage pass on each side. Punchcard models do not.
In knitting stripes the second carriage may house a thinner or thicker yarn, same yarn at different tension, or hold the alternate color for frequent color changes.  It may also be used with different cam settings than the other ie one for fair isle, the other for weaving or tuck, etc.
If combining stitch types a clear understanding of how punchcard holes and mylar or computer interface “squares” relate to needle selection and fabric formation is helpful, and boils down to planning selection for needles one actually wants knitting. Patterning sequences must happen so each carriage makes an even number of passes, and returns home to its “side” for “automatic” use. Lace extension rails must be used and the alternate carriage be off the needle bed to avoid belt breakage.

The image below is a lo tech “color changer” marketed decades ago. Old credit cards can be used for a DIY version.

Doilies: Lace meets hold and goes round

There is an excellent online resource for the Bond Machine. Techniques are applicable to other KM models for those who enjoy hand techniques. The round lace tablecloth series provides a number of “doily” charts. Here is a working graph for a Brother electronic  910 “inspired” by them. The stitch width total which forms the radius of the circle reflects the 60 max width on the mylar. Slip setting in both cam buttons is used on the KH for automatic shaping: end needle selection is cancelled. It is critical that carriages be off the machine and on the lace extension rails while the alternate carriage is in use as they both engage the timing belt, and the latter can be broken if pulled in opposing directions at same time. If drawing  on the back of mylar, image below may be drawn as is, and number 1 pattern case “A” reverse lever to up position. Repeat design principles are shared in creating edgings, ruffles, and more.

One of the critical differences when using 2 carriages to select patterns, is that with the electronics on machines such as the 910 each carriage pass advances the design repeat one row. With Brother punchcards the first pass of the second carriage does not as it makes its first “trip” from the opposite side. Back in 02 exchanges with a fellow member of an Australian Yahoo Group, OzMKers, led to her final edit of the punchcard repeat resulting in the following (half actual card shown).

A limited production item

This shawl has a rhythmic, simplified lace repeat allowing for consideration in making it as a limited edition production item. It begins and ends on live stitches, which in turn are joined in seam as you knit fashion as border is created. The transfers in the border regularly switch directions creating a reverse bias that in turn may be blocked into pointed edges.