Revisiting knitting with 2 carriages single bed, 910 vs Ayab so far

Work in progress

The question has often been asked as to why knit with 2 carriages. For me, it  became a personal favorite for knitting fabrics requiring color changes every even number of rows. I tend to push the limit with materials, and found the Brother single bed color changer to be quirky. When using 2 KCs there is no pushing the wrong button for the proper color in the sequence, or accidental choosing of an empty slot and dropping the knitting. Some of the loops at color changer side edge or yarn getting caught in wheels or hooks is also eliminated. Each carriage can be set for a completely different function from the other with no manual cam button changes ie single color knitting vs FI, its own tension depending on desired effect or fiber (ie striped shadow pleats), etc. Floats along the vertical edges of the knit as a result of the striping happen on both sides rather than all on the color changer side. The principles apply when using the lace carriage and combining it with tuck, slip or FI settings in the KC. If one is following a published punchcard pattern for such fabrics, frequently there are guidelines as to when to change colors, but no explanation as to why the cards are punched the way they are, so understanding what happens enables one to interpret directions for electronics. When going from published 2 carriage punchcard machine repeats to electronic, the repeat needs to be adjusted to compensate for the change to row by row selection. In punchcard machines the needle selection does not advance when you switch to operating the carriages from the opposite sides, so the pattern for those rows knits twice.

Many of the stitch world books seemed more concerned with larger repeats than with some of the more labor intensive, specialty fabrics. The punchcard books, now downloadable for free are worth having and studying no matter what your machine. They do need to be brand specific. Studio and Toyota ones may be used, but adjustments may have to be made in terms of starting rows, or even flipping the card over vertically.  Download links for punchcard patterns, with symbols used and pattern samples can be found in my previous post

I have added an new category to my side bar to make this topic search easier: Patterning with 2 knit carriages .  Included are color separations for some fabrics suitable for this method of knitting.

I am presently knitting my samples on an altered 910, using an EMS kit purchased last December. I have had selection problems related to my hardware, but some of the 2 carriage operation or lack thereof has been evaluated and duplicated by others. My successful experiments with 2 single bed carriages selecting so far:

Lace and slip stitch: both carriages selecting in their usual positions 
<http://alessandrina.com/2018/03/05/lace-edgings-on-brother-machines/>
Start with 2 knit rows in programmed pattern 
with KC on left, preselect to right, set to slip <— —>, knit first 2 all knit rows, ending with KC on right, proceed with selection with LC on left
Will not work if the pattern is adjusted so KC knits the first 2 rows and parks on left, with attempted use of LC from right. LC will not select. 
Operating LC with KC plain knitting (no pattern selection) may be done with LC selecting from either side, with repeat adjustment <http://alessandrina.com/2018/03/05/lace-edgings-on-brother-machines/>

Lace and weaving: 
<http://alessandrina.com/2018/01/02/lace-punchcards-meet-ayab/>
both carriages selecting in their usual positions 

Lace and tuck stitch: the fabric worked out for use with mylar sheet

Ayab actions for carriages, use LC on left, KC / tuck <– –> on right
a charted ayab repeat for my swatch 

I came across this image on a pinboard, and imagining the possibility of knitting it led me back to a previous post illustrating a similar stitch structure, knit on an unaltered 910. The pin:


working out the first repeat in the blogpost

The swatch (sideways view) shows the repeat as illustrated in the upper segment of the above chart, and then lengthened X 2, with color changes every 4 rows (the length X2 is not presently an available action in Ayab)

In the past, when I tried to knit with 2 KCs, one on the left an one on the right, both selecting needles, I was unsuccessful, but in light of the above experiments I decided to test the idea with the RKC (the one that would operate from the right) selecting and then knitting the first 2 rows of color, in turn resting on right side. I then operated the second KC from the left, alternating carriages every 2 rows. Knitting at a slower speed and moving each carriage perilously far out on the extension rails did the trick.

To use the repeat in Ayab, in order to keep the proper color sequence, the last design row is shifted down to row 1 position. There is an error in the repeat, marked by arrows I did not notice until I had completed the swatch. The repeat may be used as is, and color reversed via action inverse in Ayab, or color reversed prior to loading the image, which I chose to do personally. 

This is grabbed from the ayab screen: the knitting is actually mirrored automatically by the software, so what is shown onscreen is what appears on the knit side of the finished piece. Something to keep in mind in situations where placement and direction might have some importance. 

Things to notice in swatch : as already mentioned, there is an error in the repeat in terms of my intention. Placement for the slip stitch blocks could certainly be planned for an asymmetrical effect, varied in size, and more.  Slip stitch is significantly narrower than stocking stitch. That would need to be allowed for were the stitch to be used in a garment or gauge dependent knit. 

Examining the purl side of the knit, which is facing as one machine knits: the intentionally dropped stitches at the start  on both sides are there because I had cast on extra stitches that were outside the parameters of the programmed repeat width. The left side edge, next to LKC (left knit carriage) is visibly shorter than the right. The two yarns used were of different thicknesses but knit at the same tension. The LKC would have merited from a looser tension, and an edge weight on the very last stitch on that side would help with adjusting the length the white edge “floats” from one color change to the other as stripes are created . Handling of side floats in striped knitting is dependent on the row height of such stripes.  
There are a great number of interesting ribber fabrics that can only be knit by manually changing the ribber settings to slip in both directions, so that the main bed only knits for X # of rows, with the ribber carriage periodically set to knit again. If the function happens for an even number of rows at a time and in both directions, the sinker plate for the KC may be altered for use with the ribber in the up position, to knit the main bed stitches only. Its change knob should be set to KC I to insure that the first and last stitch are knit. I knit this sample using the altered KC selecting from the right, the KC engaged with the ribber sinker plate selecting from the left. I will address the altering process and steps involved in the knitting in a separate post. 

 

Lace edgings on Brother machines

The initial goal here is to produce a knit fabric using lace transfers in the familiar way, but the knit carriage will now be set to slip <–>, selecting needles with each pass. In routine lace patterning the KC is set for plain knit, does not preselect needles, advance the mylar, punchcard, or other electronic patterning.

If this image, where all blue squares represent knit stitches and white squares unworked ones, was provided with the intent of its being produced as a piece of knit on the machine, the initial approach might be to use a single prong tool to move the edge of the blue in one stitch to the right for a decrease, and out one needle to the left for an increase. When the decrease is made on the bottom curve, the needle from which the stitch was taken is put back out of work. When an increase is made, a stitch is moved to work on left, and the last stitch on that side is transferred onto it. As knitting continues, that now empty needle location will create an eyelet.

I decided to wing it for the first swatches. This illustrates the same knit shape. Blue rows represent all knit rows and stitches, the empty pairs of rows leave areas to insert lace eyelets in pattern.

Arrows indicate the movement of the lace carriage on left, knit carriage on right. Red squares now represent transfers to right, green ones transfers to left

A second transfer to the right is included in the pattern close to the left edge of the trim to create eyelets next to the decreases, matching those eyelets created by stitches moving out in the increase segment of the chart

A theoretical series of right and left transfers is then inserted, creating a shape in the center of the trim’s width

Now reducing it all to black and white squares or pixels for first preselection from right hand side using an electronic. This repeat is not suitable for use in a punchcard machine even though it is 24 stitches wide. Electronics advance a design row with each pass of the carriage when cam buttons are pushed in and with both carriages set to needle select. Punchcard machines in those circumstances do not advance when the alternate carriage is brought into work from the opposite side. This charted repeat is usable as is on an unaltered 910, with the first preselection row from right to left. LC operates from the left, KC from the right.

For use with Ayab software two other things need consideration. Ayab mirrors lace repeats, so either mirror the repeat of the original design, or choose action mirror in the software prior to knitting. This is a screen grab of the repeat used for my initial swatch test. I later changed the section where the diamonds cross in at the center of the eyelet repeats In addition: those first 2 rows need to be all knit, so the top row of the design was moved down to row 1 position.
KC preselects left to right, knits black squares to left, preselects same needle selection again to knit those same stitches traveling back to its home on the right, creating the two knit rows that in “normal lace” would be worked with the KC simply set to knit.  As the KC now knits the second row, it preselects needles for the first row of transfers, rests on the right
LC transfers to right as it travels to left, preselects the next row of transfers. As it moves back to left it transfers to left, preselects for first of 2 all knit rows, rests on left
The sequence is repeated  until the piece reaches the required length.
End needle selection is off on both carriages. As LC travels to left, because of no end needle selection, the first needle on the right is not selected. An option is to manually pull that needle out to insure it knits. I decided I actually preferred the chain created by those single stitches knitting only every other row, but was not happy with the elongated stitches on alternate rows edge stitches on the increase side. These would be the carriage actions To review: end needle selection is off on both carriages. As LC travels to left, because of no end needle selection, the first needle on the right is not selected. An option is to manually pull that needle out to insure it knits. I decided I actually preferred the chain created by those single stitches knitting only every other row. I had a serious yarn tangle on the right about halfway up the swatch, with some of the evidence visible in the approximate center of the swatch photo 

changing that crossing of the diamond outlines, still winging it

My fiber is now a crisp cotton, unmarked weight, tension 8, and it is much easier to observe areas that may still be a problem to me as the designer. Ideally I would prefer the lines created by the transfers marked in cyan to match the quality of those immediately below or to the ascending part of the diamond on their opposite side, that would require changes in the transfers sequences and space between knit rows. The LC non selected stitches on the straight creating an every other row slipped stitch are still something I like.  The difference on the edge stitches in the ascending angle are happening because with each transfer out, there is a single thickness of yarn on the new edge stitch and moving the stitch over a needles space elongates it. Longer loops btw are also created when single increases are made by bringing needles into work on the carriage side prior to knitting a row across all needles. In the trim’s decrease edges, the transfers in each new edge stitch have double the yarn thickness contributing to a different appearance, highlighted with magenta arrows. There are 2 rows that have no edge transfers programmed intentionally in the center before reversing direction, so that area has no resulting edge eyelet.  The last shot at adjusting the repeat, with improvement in those cyan marked areas. Plain knit rows may be added between each repeat, the edge of the knit will be different than in the remaining trim on each side

Going back to the wheel that has already been invented, how can pre drawn published mk lace repeats be used instead of “winging it” endlessly or not having the confidence to perform the necessary assigning symbols and proceeding with the required separation? Still trying to work with a pattern that knits for 2 rows, transfers for 2, a chart from Stitch World:marking the 2 all knit rows that will be plain knit by programming black squares The pattern is actually for an all over lace. All the transfers in the central diamond actually are happening in the same direction. If the repeat was programmed in the usual manner, beginning with LC on the left, those transfers on the first design row and in the whole of the center diamond shape would all be to the left. I can live with them all being to the right, and would be interested in more eyelets at the edge of the trim. Here is a new repeat, with the increased eyelets at the curved edge Remember if using ayab to mirror the above repeat (seen on right) prior to preparing to knit it There is a disruption for 2 rows in the very center of the diamond, where no increases or decreases occur on the shaped edge prior to reversing the shaping. It was there in the earlier sample marked with arrows as well, but not as noticeable where the edge was created with the addition of single eyelets on increase and decrease rows.

Not finding any other candidates to alter for this purpose in stitch world at the moment I am left with the option of going back to the Brother punchcard book collections, and reviewing what needs to be changed for those same patterns that work so well with the KC set to plain knit but are now to be knit with the KC set to slip <—–>……

3/7/18

a lace punchcard repeat with transfers in opposite directions Assigning colors to transfers: red to left, blue to right. In theory the same repeat could be used flipped horizontally for operating the lace carriage from the right. Yellow lines highlight the 2 blank rows in card that will be replaced by black squares/ pixels (remember rules are different for slip and lace in punchcard knitting)Since the goal is a trim, things are rearranged for knitting to begin on the full 24 stitches There are 2 ways to get the above repeat to work, one is by adding extra blank rows. I chose to reverse positions for transfers, moving left transfers upon row, and red down one row. With lace carriage operating from the left this is my new repeat, with edge shaping added for trim edgeKC is set to slip after the first preselection row, first set of transfers is selected on its second pass to the right. The first transfers with the LC are made to the right, the second set to the left. If knitting the repeat using Ayab remember the above is mirrored by the software, so choose action mirror prior to configuring

I knit a swatch using the thinner yarn again. The difference in increasing angle can be seen here as well, the pattern is short, so the outer curve of the trim reflects that 

This would be my test repeat for knitting the same trim in ayab with the LC operating from the right. The software would mirror it, no action needed. The last row is shifted to the bottom to allow for the knit carriage finding a home on the left. First row knit would preselect 2 needles only, with KC then set to slip in both directions, the next two rows should knit, preselecting the first row of transfers to be made by the LC operating from the right.

I am unable to test the repeat. I have had intermittent problems with patterning in the sofware from the time I installed the kit. In multiple efforts and restarts I am now getting no selection at all or wrong selection with LC operating from right, while rows advance in the software and beeps continue. I have knit lace with the LC on the right before, but not with the KC selecting needles as well. Possible solutions and causes to be determined. 3/8/18 I have been told upon testing by others the same issues have been encountered that I did when using the KC to select from left and the LC from right, and the problem appears to be the result of a bug in the software to be addressed in future updates.

3/10/18: an adaptation of Susanna’s automatically shaped trim for Brother KM, p. 223 of “A Machine Knitter’s Guide to Creating Fabrics”. This chart shows the first rows of the published punchcard. Please note: using my own lace carriage, when I tested canceling end needle selection, the problem was not solved. Brother setting recommendations made for a similar transfer pattern in an edging published by them, are given and repeat is pictured at end of my post.


Row 1: LC moves to right, no needles selected
Row 2: LC moves to left, preselects next row of transfers
Row 3: LC moves to right, transfers preselected needles to right (red dots), selects needles (if any) for next pass to left
Row 4: LC travels to and transfers to left (green dots), preselects for first row to be knit by KC In this particular pattern the direction of the arrows match the direction of the transfers with movements of LC operating from left
Row 5: KC from right, set to slip <—  —> knits all needles in D position, repeats the same selection as it travels to left (yellow marks)
Row 6: KC travels back to right, in the second shaped knit row, preselects for the next transfers to be made by the LC
Row 7: LC travels to and transfers to right, preselects for next row of transfers
Row 8: LC travels to left, transferring to left if any needles have been preselected on the previous pass, and the process continues

The numbers on the punchcard chart do not reflect actual row numbers in knitting because when row 4, 10, etc is reached, on the next pass (a blank row in the card), the card does not advance and the previous selection is repeated. For each carriage to make an even number of passes to travel to and from its original position, the total length of the repeat must be an even number of rows.

Here are the 24 stitch repeats adjusted for knitting on the electronic. A for an unaltered 910, B indicating direction of transfers (red to right, green to left). Arrows mark the problem row, and my solution to it C on the far right, along with the repeat adjusted for use with Ayab.the ayab screen image for working the edging  Both KC and LC are set not to select first and last needles in my directions. When the decreases start to happen on the left of the chart, because the end needle selection for transfer to right again does not happen in areas marked with magenta arrows,  there is an extra stitch that remains on the left that does not get transferred (orange dot) so it is not knit off and simply get held as subsequent rows of knitting take place. Restoring needle selection in the LC is not a solution for the problem, so the final repeat has been amended by me to get that edge transfer. The pattern starts on  cast on 20, not the full 24 stitches. Ayab knitters: use the LC to begin selection from left. The first pass will select for a knit row, push those needles back to B, and the LC will select for transfers to right on the next row as it moves to the left. When knitting is to take place there is a clear distinction in the number of selected needles (black squares). The KC will be set to slip <–  –>. Make certain to remember to return the remaining 4 of the 24 total stitches back to B so the full repeat is in work on the needle bed before continuing in pattern, otherwise there will be needles there to accept stitches moved over for increases to left.

The two extra passes of the LC in this method result in a 2 stitch border on the increasing and decreasing angles of the piece, creating a much nicer edge than that in the samples at the top of the post. The eyelet so close to the right edge stitch which also winds up being slipped every other row made for very messy loose stitches in the thicker cotton that I could not control. The sample did better when I pulled the non selected needles on knit rows out to hold prior to moving across them with KC. 

When working on electronics the 24 stitch limit in width for the repeat is no longer there, extra knit stitches may be easily added to the right of the pairs of eyelets along the non shaped edge. Having those extra stitches knit on the right side of the repeat made it possible for me to use my cotton again, giving me a controllable edge on that side without having to pull stitches out to make them knit. To my eye, I find the extra passes with the LC and those extra knit stitches on the right are well worth the effort and planning in the finished piece

the ayab repeat  

Something to try: I found instructions ascribed to Brother
for another version of an edging using a pattern that has the same eyelet sequences along the shaped edgings. Their recommendation for a 950i is to remove the non selection mechanism on the lace carriage, and mention was made of the “rubber wheels on the carriage” being uppermost, allowing the end needles to be selected. My lace carriage has fixed, old fashioned brushes, not rubber wheels, and my eliminating end needle selection did not solve the problem with that single stitch in the center of the repeat. And if there is not enough to keep track of, this also combines fine lace and traditional transfer lace, would work fine as just lace.

3/15/18 after more testing I have come to the conclusion that end needle selection cancellation on my 910 LC is working properly, but is not operative when I am working with the my Ayab interface.

Woven Lace: a brother punchcard to electronic

This is actually a reworking of a previous post. I usually sit on any post for a while, returning to it, editing multiple times out of view, and publish when satisfied with occasional return visits. Thanks to comments from another Ravelry member, I realized after my first “quick” publication on 589 that I needed to take another look at my thinking on this particular card from the very start.  I chose to stay public during editing to show that no matter the level of skill or time spent knitting, sorting out issues for any particular design or fabric can take time, sometimes obstinacy, and that at times the simplest route is taking good notes during the actual process for the most direct results in terms of clarity.

I have been knitting a long time. Sometimes things seem so obvious to me as I work, that I do not take notes. I still have a swatch from my teaching days that fell into that category, and that I have never been able to duplicate. With the 910 and the limited availability of space on mylars, I sometimes erase too quickly, and now that my charts are being created in a new and not yet habitual and familiar to me programs (Numbers, in high Sierra and Pages) wonderful, “surprise” variables can happen. So tips to self: keep step by step notes to return to as a reference, choose order of steps top down or bottom up and stick to one or the other, try not to scrawl randomly and everywhere on any one sheet of paper (never mind keeping it legible), don’t recycle papers with such notes when you think you are done, and watch those autosaves and revert options in Numbers and Pages. Then there’re the added factors of occasional WordPress crashes during saves, taking what one assumes as familiar for granted, and of simply putting even single, lone black square in the wrong place on a mylar sheet. I found with this series merely editing information in the software was not enough. Some of the errors became easier to see when matching the software theory to actually taking notes the old fashioned way with each carriage pass on the 910.

Some information on punchcards, their use, and pattern repeats may be of help to any of you who have not used a card before. The previous post included a reference to this punchcard from a Brother punchcard book in its combining weaving and lace section. I began with the assumption that knit carriage would operate from right, and lace carriage from left, their traditional placement in most lace knitting

its supposed related swatch

Analyzing the card, sorting out possible repeats follows, since mylars or bitmaps for download often only require a single repeat of the pattern. If you are not used to doing this, sometimes beginning with recognizable vertical ones first is a bit easier.

the apparent width and card height repeat

Going from lots of dots to far fewer ones can be dizzying. The punchcard multiple vertical repeat on the left is double checked to insure that all marks are in the correct placement on my chart. Black dots for EON needle selection, red ones for lace transfers. Here things get checked off twice, particularly for lace holes. Lace cards are the hardest to copy and place pixels or black squares accurately, simply because their markings are so few. I usually begin on the left hand side of punchcards to  isolate my repeats. The number markings in the center image reflect those found on the far right of Brother punchcards. The #1 on the factory cards represents where the card reader teeth are reading the holes on the interior of the machine, not at the operator’s eye level on the machine’s exterior. That is also the reason why in any fabric, needle selection does not match expected design row. On the far right,  a single repeat in height is isolated further. The same sort of check should be done when punching cards from published images. Blowing up the source and printing can help with accuracy. 

Operating carriages for even number row sequences is is the most convenient. The assumption on the basis of the arrows in card 589 is that each carriage makes 2 passes, operating in a continuous loop. That simply did not work for me in terms of producing 2 rows of lace followed by 2 more in any other pattern when operating LC from left, and KC from right.

If punching a card, verify your final punching by holding black paper behind the punched holes. In this instance there is an obvious mistake on the third row of holes. I am at the end of a very long punchcard roll. Some of the new rolls are wonderfully sturdy material, but the roll can retain a curl that may make it easy for the card to roll back into the reader unless joined into a tube (resulting in patterning errors), and making it hard to feed its starting rows  into “punching machines”. The rolls are marketed for Brother use, and numbered separated into “standard” lengths with blank segments between them.  Those markings may however,  be for Studio machines use (seen here, at row 5),  with row one on the right actually being 2 rows too low for Brother, so as punched LC  first preselection row would need to happen on row 3.589 begins with lace transfers. A second option, is to begin with a weaving pattern, with the KC on the left for the first selection row, and beginning your pattern reading 2 more rows up from the lace starting line in the punchcard. Markings on the side of the image above have nothing to do with actual starting rows. Pencil lines are outlining individual repeats, have no other reference. Numbers and other necessary marks would require adding by hand. If hesitant, #1 marking on right may be double checked by overlaying a factory pre punched card over your own.

Beginning the mylar conversion : my adjusted repeat checking squares vs holes again

The end needle selection needs to be cancelled on lace rows to avoid transfers or dropped stitches on the edges of the piece. If a needle is selected, manually push it back to B. If patterning ie tuck, slip, or FI are used on alternate groups of rows, then end needle selection is preferred. In weaving,  2 side by side stitches drop a float, so keeping the EON selection on both sides gives a better edge. Invariably, some operator involvement is needed altering end needle position, no matter the setting for it on either carriage.

Even with a lot of knitting and design experience results are not immediate. I ran into issues when I first tried to knit on the 910 with a later, “final” repeat selection being correct, but the technique failing, resulting in a loopy mess. In weaving, weaving brushes need to be moving freely, so check them, unscrew them, remove any fluff, and air knit, making certain they are down and turning at the same rate in both directions. Tuck wheels if movable, should be in the forward position, lined up with all other wheels or brushes on your sinker plate. To isolate the problems further: test lace with your knit carriage selecting,  but no cam buttons pushed in. The KC will knit for 2 rows across LC transfers, creating only the lace pattern involved. Your mylar markings get checked, also offering an opportunity to sort out why stitches may drop, and if you indeed have patience to combine techniques for more than a few rows. It is easy enough with an EON needle pusher to test both weaving yarn and needed ground yarn tension. If that is successful as well, then issues occurring with patterning may be from other causes. They were in my case. I had to switch sinker plates in my knit carriage to get weaving to work properly. I failed, however, at combining the final repeat with tucking, even with the KC set to tuck immediately after the transfers, and to knit every needle in the opposite direction.  I tested the carriage, sinker plate, and patterning with EON tuck only with different designs, and had no problem. At such a point I would abandon that fabric combination with the particular mylar repeat.

Returning to actions on the punchcard: the preselection row can be confusing in any translations. The last row in the card takes care of lining up repeats for us as it is rolled continuously in the drum, but there can be oddness to the eye when only a small repeat is singled out. Looking at the image of the repeats tiled allows one to choose a different starting row, rather than lace markings. The direction of transfers raises the quest to yet another level. This was my progression in editing and moving starting row for beginning the fabric with a weave start rather than a lace one: the numbers in my charts reflect carriage passes and direction, not completed row counts as they might appear on KM counter

Pass 1: COL, KC, N for knit row, slip <—> for free pass that selects only, move carriage—>
Pass 2COR, KC, EON pre selected, set card to advance normally, lay in weaving yarn, KC will move  <— will weave first row, preselect  second weaving row
Pass 3: COL, KC weaves second row EON, preselects firs row of lace on its way to right —>
Pass 4: COL , LC transfers to right, repeats previous row’s selection, moves to —>
Pass 5COR, LC no transfer happens on empty needle selected for the second time by the previous row, selects for the next row of transfers, moves <—
Pass 6: COL, LC transfers pre selected row to right, preselects first EON row for weaving, moves —>, release it, return it to left
Pass 7COR, KC, EON, lay in weaving yarn, KC will move  <— will weave first row, preselect  second weaving row
Pass 8: COL, KC weaves second row EON, preselects firs row of lace on its way to right —>
Pass 9: COL , LC transfers to right, repeats previous row’s selection moves to —>
Pass 10COR, LC no transfer happens on empty needle selected for the second time by the previous row, selects for the next row of transfers, moves <—
Pass 11: COL, LC transfers pre selected row to right, preselects first EON row for weaving, moves —>, release it, return it to left.  This row matches design row 1, and is starting the repeat sequence again
Passes 2-11 complete 10 rows of knitting, as well as the first vertical repeat as drawn

My chart has had multiple drafts, which included using software to insert a row to allow for that repeated selection as the carriages switched sides. The goal is to keep the 2 lace transfers to the right, with LC beginning each sequence on the left side, ending on the right, matching the punchcard movements listed above.  Keeping things as simple as possible is something I at times forget to do. After several drafts, here is a simpler way to look at things. In D black squares with dots indicate stitch that will be transferred on the next pass of the LC, the yellow squares the location of the eyelets. All pattern repeats with the KC preselecting for the first row of knitting on the left, with the change knob set to either KC I or KC II

the 10 row repeat and its mylar companion

In actual knitting of this stitch combination,  since needles preselect for the next row knit, once the pattern is set up correctly, it is easy to recognize when carriage changes are required by looking at the number of needles selected. EON rows are for weaving, starting on right. Few needles selected are for lace, starting on left. Lace transfers happen on the stitches selected the previous row, in the direction in which the carriage is moving, here transfers are all to the right. Grey squares indicate repeated selections, black squares with yellow dots indicate stitches transferred to the right on the next pass of the LC. The mylar repeat would only require the black squares

Below the repeat in the chart is used, knit first on my punchcard KM, then on my 910, but it misses the mark in terms of matching the swatch in the pattern book

This is the result I was still trying to get back to. The first lace pattern test swatch: gotta love dropped stitches in lace!

no tucking allowed in combo with lace, but not a carriage or mylar problemweaving test: fails were from a problem sinker plate weaving lever in one direction only, hand technique success was with change of sinker plate lace and weave with 2 different weight yarns and, hallelujah!

Taking another look at the original punchcard and those arrows on the left hand side, a detail I had originally missed. Both carriages operate from the right side, for 2 rows each, switching their place on the machine bed. Arrows for design row 1 begin above red line. Transfers are all first to left, then to right. The card advances a single row for each carriage pass. With carriages operating on the same side, the punchcard advances one row for each carriage pass. Operating the LC from the left, and releasing it when it is on the right as in the previous fabric produces the desired results. The blank row on rows 3 and 8 allow the LC to travel to right, making selection for the transfer to left on the next row

the  10 row repeat and its mylar companion

the actions

the fabric, again!

Reworking the repeat in order to use the LC for four passes, beginning and ending on the left hand side of the machine, its usual home

the now 12 row repeat and its mylar companion

the actions the fabric again, in lace only repeat 

For reproducing the fabric using Ayab software: please see http://alessandrina.com/2018/01/02/lace-punchcards-meet-ayab/

 

Knitting in pattern with 2 carriages vs color changer, Brother punchcard KMs 2

After my recent attempt to resurrect my single bed color changer and frustration with my 910 behaving “flaky” when reading mylar sheets drawn using template marking pencils (perhaps, because over time of some of the marks flaking off the surface of the mylar, with changes their density as a result), I went back to the idea of using my punchcard machine. I pulled out an old friend, illustrated in my post http://alessandrina.com/2012/10/15/mosaics-and-mazes-from-design-to-pattern/ , had forgotten about my other post http://alessandrina.com/2016/08/25/knitting-in-pattern-with-2-carriages-brother-punchcard-kms/ and actually came up with a second alternative for starting to knit with 2 carriages. Here is a bit more description: I began with a card punched with repeats that are single rows in height, and would normally have to be elongated for use with a color changer. Since 2 carriages are used, starting side does not necessarily matter. With COR, color 1, carriage set to KC, card set on row 1 but not locked, but rather, set to advance normally. The first carriage then is moved to the opposite side of the bed (in this case the left). The second carriage is now placed on the extension rail on the right, cam settings set for choice stitch to be worked (in this first case tuck or slip). It is threaded with the second color, is used to knit 2 rows of col 2, returns to right. The carriage on the left now comes off the rail on that side and onto the needle bed, with cam buttons set for appropriate stitch type, it travels to right,  and then back to its starting point. Yarn weight alters the appearance of any fabric considerably. As always, slip is short and thin, tuck short and wide.

The same method may be used with any punchcard requiring color changes every X even number of rows. FI can be knit with 2 separate sets of colors in each carriage, or with one carriage set to select but with no cam buttons engaged for solid color stripes between motif repeats (it will plain knit, with color in A feeder, the card keeps advancing). Cam settings may be combined for different or opposing textures or stitch types without any manual changes to cam buttons. Of course, also helps if your punchcard is punched correctly to start with ;-). Problems in the slip stitch red and white segment were due to tension adjustments being needed for stitches to knit off properly. 

Lastly, there has never been a single bed 2 color changer for the 260 bulky. Extension rails for the bulky machine were manufactured at one point. If a second carriage for the bulky is available as well as the rails, working this way opens up a range of complex fabrics for execution more easily.

And then, buyer beware! I am still experimenting with a patterned ruffle. So I tried the card first with 2 carriages, but the design was different than one of my aged swatches using the same card.

I went back to the color changer, assuming this yarn pair might work in it, and it did, but here is the resulting fabric, so it would appear the above is technically twice as long. Frankly, when the color changer works, when only one carriage cam setting is used or very few changes are needed, and if you don’t do things like push the wrong button, have your yarns happily mating or causing loops in all your brushes as they travel from the yarn changer side, it may even be quicker than using 2 carriages. What is possible may not produce what you originally intended, but sometimes the surprise can be a very pleasant one. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board to accommodate for the techniques and yarns involved. Pictured below is part of the working repeat, whited out areas are not punched for these swatches, they are covered with cellophane. Denise Musk’s book on the technique of slipstitch provided the source/ inspiration for the experiments. For the second swatch, the card was flipped over vertically. 

Areas of the knit placement on needle bed may be changed to suit. I like working within the 24 stitch marking on the needle tape for this sort of work. Flipping the card vertically when using the color changer in this instance will allow that, and begins each row with knit stitches (every hole punched on right in image above), and patterned knitting and needle selection stops shy of the “slipped” stitches (unpunched areas on left). In using the slipstitch setting this may not make a significant difference, since the yarn threads stay in front of the gate pegs. This repeat is also suitable for tuck setting. The yarn gets laid in hooks as the non punched area of the repeat is cleared. While not knitting or necessarily affecting the pattern, this can cause added issues with loops and yarn tangles on that side (one may be noted in photo of purl side of swatch below). Seam as you knit can also now occur on the opposite side, away from yarn ends and color changer.

Purl side showing loop at non knitting (or punched) side, and edge curl on the left may actually be used as a “design feature”. The density of the tuck stitch helps keep it in place.

the knit side 

an “oldie” of mine, using the technique in a single color 

4/6/17

I am getting along better with the color changer by making different yarn choices, so I now have a WIP, and am going about a shawl design backwards: ruffle first, body later. Reasoning: seam as you knit should be easier if not taking place during ruffle knitting. If the latter is not bound off it may be continued with body knitting taken off on scrap yarn if needed to facilitate doing so. BTW, as with all knitting that uses patterning on only part of the knitting on the machine, end needle selection must be cancelled on the knitting undercarriage. Any reverse movement of the carriage will advance the card a pattern row, so that is an added possibility for errors as the knit grows in length. The pattern has 18 row segments, 36 for the full repeat. For 36 passes of the carriage, only 8 full rows of knitting take place. Every individual has their own design process. I tend not to sketch, but rather to make decisions as each piece grows. As for some math? 800 rows would actually take 3600 passes of the carriage, the shawl requirements tbd. (3276 on completion).

A previous post with notes on color changers: http://alessandrina.com/2014/01/26/some-notes-on-machine-knitting-color-changers/

Older model machines had no provision for a second yarn mast, and an accessory was available for mounting on their left side. Having the yarn in that position brings it closer to the changer and seems to help with undesired looping and sliding within the changer’s wheels. This shows the carriage traveling toward the extension rail, with auxiliary mast in place

If the ribber setting plate needs to be moved forward in order to balance your ribber when in use, setting it as close to the needle bed as possible or even removing it may be needed if it starts to catch and hold the yarn

 the “finished” ruffle; HK markers every 20 repeats to help track rows knitand being joined on with “seam as you knit” technique
the finished shawl after a successful truce with  my color changer 

going green the series grows 

Knitting in pattern with 2 carriages, Brother punchcard KMs 1

I touched on knitting with 2 carriages in some previous posts:
http://alessandrina.com/2011/03/30/knitting-with-2-carriages/
http://alessandrina.com/2011/03/29/lace-meets-hold-and-goes-round/
http://alessandrina.com/2015/03/31/combining-tuck-stitches-with-lace-2-automating-them/

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.

punchcard

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

500_327

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

500_325

500_324

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

More slip stitch experiments

Slip stitch fabrics are capable of creating interesting textures. When blocks of stitches are slipped, the floats that may appear on the purl side are considered problematic by some knitters. One solution is to work using mosaic and maze “floatless FI” designs. This was addressed in previous posts, including color separation methods for planning them, and a variety of knit swatches.   The images below have often appeared in knitting boards on Pinterest, I am returning to the slipstitch design thread.

source

missoni combo

source

lyst combo

I decided to plan a “square” shape to sort out the technique; it could easily adapted to a diamond one. By necessity, larger repeats need to be executed on an electronic machine whether via mylar or download program. The plan is to change colors by any means available, usually every 2 or every 4 rows, requiring a motif repeat that totals an even number of rows. In hand knitting garter stitches can become part of the resulting texture, but they are impractical here. Often commercial knits are produced on machines that can automate many more functions and textures per row. The Missoni sweater is a fine knit, and on a detailed examination, reveals lace eyelets in the some of the stripes in addition to plain knit and slipped stitches. Not impossible to do on a standard KM “home” electronic, but simplest way to add lace eyelets would be via hand transfers.

my starting chart

repeat start

 checking that that repeats line up

multiple repeats

possible mylar repeats

mylar repeats

I drew the top repeat above onto mylar for use on a 910. The sample swatch was knit using 2 carriages (and lace extension rails). I selected R 1 from right to left, with the carriage that was to remain on that side, and began knitting with the second carriage, placed on the right, holding the alternate color. There are a few ways to achieve the pre selection row, depending on the choice of start to the fabric, and whether a color changer as opposed to a second carriage is in use.  Contrasting colors help see and understand stitch formation. For the bottom of the swatch I used double length as well as color reverse, with color (carriage) changes every 4 rows. The top of the swatch is knit with color changes every 2 rows. Slip stitch is short and thin. Since there are more stitches slipped on the bottom of the swatch, the fabric is pulled in in those areas, making the knit on either side “bubble” in a way that the top of the swatch, does not, and resulting shapes no longer appear as straight lines horizontally.

striped slip ksidepurl side

striped slip p side

The single width blocks that form the stitch pattern are usable for tuck knitting as well. Whether the motif may be elongated on standard machines depends on yarn thickness used. Tuck stitch fabric tends to be short and fat, so the finished knit piece will be wider than the slip stitch version.

Taking this shape to a punchcard requires editing, and results are quite different. One sample idea, moving stitch groups around to fit a 24 stitch repeat:

punchcard repeatAll the white squares would need to be punched to form knit stitches, the yellow left unpunched, to form the slipped ones, the look of the fabric would be very different.

Previous blog posts on related topics: tuck and slip color striping , block stitch color separations 

As for creating “solid” block shapes: an initial repeat is charted below, 16 W X 24 H. Black blocks are drawn on mylar or downloaded, color reverse is used, no elongation. Knitting starts with base rows knit in the color that will form the “block” on the knit side of the finished fabric

block shape

the knit side

block_front

and the purl, note floats as wide as the “block”

block_back

Block stitch separations

“Pinning” has become part of my daily routine. This image was pinned by someone else, and brought back memories of my block stitch scarves, along with the  temptation for working out a new repeat, similar to that seen in the top of this jacket credited to Forquet.

Following are some ideas for developing designs for these fabrics, the basic principles work for both punchcard and electronics. Using the motif in a punchcard will make the striping surrounding it fixed, and involves a lot of punching holes. On a mylar or in a download the width of the ground behind the shape can be easily changed, and only the non selecting, “empty ” squares need be drawn or entered into a program that is capable of color reverse. One needs to be mindful of the size in of the overall repeat when faced with so much “blank space”.

Until one sorts out what happens with the stitches, where the colors are placed during knitting, it is a good idea to start with a simple shape. I use excel as my “graph” paper when I want to easily play with color on a grid. Below is a simple motif as a design start, beside it an expanded graph leaving every other row blank. Some books suggest erasing on horizontal EOR stripes, I prefer the visual cues in the method below. The yellow marks the rows on which the motif will be created.

There are a number of ways to go on from this point. Layering the repeat on a colored ground can give a sense of the resulting shape, help plan the type of overall pattern repeat, and insure that enough rows are allowed to travel to and from the color changer. For sampling I prefer to work on an electronic machine, using the elongation feature and color reverse to minimize drawing in lots of black. The grid on the left shows the above split motif layered over a striped ground. In the center grid, the motif separation color becomes white/ blank, color one (yellow) is different than on left simply to allow the white to become more visible. I use 2 carriages as opposed to the color changer when knitting these fabrics, so the L and R row markings help insure that indeed there are enough rows in the repeat for both carriages to travel to and from each side, with stripes lining up where required. The blank squares represent slipped stitches, and they normally are left blank whether in a card, mylar, or program, all other colored squares are knit stitches, corresponding to punched holes, black squares on mylar. On the far right is all that is required to be filled in with a mylar sheet or program capable of lengthening X2 and color reverse. The marks are actually the same as the expanded motif first shown above. For a punchcard the same motif on the far right could be drawn this way centered, and every other square surrounding the now black lines would need to become a punched hole.

Looking at the graph: color 2 will slip in locations where needles are not selected (white squares). The stitches on non selected needles get longer in the front of the fabric, the alternate color floats behind them. The next color change will knit the held stitches off, so the motif color in the above design will actually be “green” in the final fabric. Because the colors on either side of the motif are actually knitting every stitch and every row, there will be some distortion in striping around the motif, and potentially even some “bubbling” in those areas

The next choice becomes sorting out how far apart to place motifs from each other, and in what distribution on the resulting fabric. Both are subject to personal preference and taste. Below is only one of many such possible layouts

if elongation is not possible or to be avoided, then the option below shows a possible repeat, including a “punchcard” 24 stitch version. Where color reverse is not an option, all but the white squares must be marked/ programmed, and in the case of a punchcard, all but the white squares would need to be punched

It is also possible to offset/ shift the color of motifs themselves so they would alternate colors between the 2 striping colors as well

The following chart illustrates the idea: the magenta stripes are not part of the repeat, they are markers to show where the slip stitches for the alternate color need to occur in the repeats

As for the motif that started this thread: below is the test swatch so far, obviously in a different gauge and repeat, but in the same spirit. An issue is the long float on the back/purl side spanning 8 stitches. If the goal is to produce an unlined item, these could pose a problem in wearing it. Hooking up the floats up may be too time consuming in production, an added stitch in the non motif color (see marked dots) on either side of the central bar may solve the problem, but alter the design. There is lots more to consider and play with (yarn colors in these swatches are chosen for throw away tests, not any type of final item) .

more swatches, repeats old and new

The final, new scarf fabric: knit on Passap, every needle rib, tencel and “Nomi Lee”.

The top and bottom edging to be worked out; the fabric is soft, drapes well, and has no side curl.

.

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

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.