In an effort to respond to a request I have had via my blog, I am sharing information on this topic as I have time to explore it. My first attempt when up and running with the software, was to to reproduce an earlier sample I had created as a color separation originally intended for a hand knit shadow knit experiment.
Patterns predawn for shadow knitting, appear to be one published source for interesting 2 color drop stitch variations. What about geometric shapes or developing your own designs? Designs created using this technique lengthen considerably when off the machine, since both color sets of stitches become elongated as they are dropped, thus creating the long stitches, that should be a consideration in planning your design. If your goal is a circle, the design motif may have to be closer to an egg laid horizontally, rather than a true circle. The fabric also widens considerably when blocked and off the machine, making cast on and bin off methods consideration another necessity. Design repeats may be drawn in Paintbrush or GIMP (both freeware), or Photoshop. I have been a longtime GIMP user, and prefer to use that in tiling repeats as opposed to the copy and paste features in Paintbrush.
In my how to posts on designing your own 2 color drop stitch lace, part of the color separation required elongating the design X 2. Please disregard step by step directions if viewing those posts. Starting side in Ayab for needle selection always needs to be from left to right, and elongation of the motif is not required when using the Ayab circular option.
This was my first working repeat, A = repeat charted out, B the working bitmap or png (which would be the only requirement for the mylar), C the image tiled for the chosen number of stitches (Ayab requires the repeat be programmed for the width of your knit piece). D is the image elongated, not usable for this fabric, it results on too much elongation. If you would like a knit border on either side, that can be achieved by having extra stitch(es) in work on the ribber.
the results up to the point in which I had a yarn caught in brushes and stitches dropping on the left of the needle bed
Drop stitch lace has been referred to over the years in other terms as well, such as release stitch, drive and mesh lace, and summer fair isle in Passapese. Passap knitters will recognize the results from this first method are akin to those produced using Technique 185.
Getting started: stitches intended to be dropped may be created on either bed. If the ribber is used to create loops, then the technique is a manual one. Using the main bed in Japanese machines to program dropped stitches increases accuracy and ease.
If you are swatching and testing, a permanent cast on is not necessary. The broken toe cast on is one of the two quickest on the Japanese machines in terms of casting on on either bed. It is fondly called that, because if ribber cast on comb and weights are in the wrong place so that the wrong loops are dropped, everything falls to the floor, and likely on your toes. There is an online video by Diana Sullivan that shows its use for a tighter cast on row in 1X1 rib, but the use here is for a different purpose.
Since for this fabric you are knitting an “every needle rib”, cast on a fairly tight zig zag row. The ribber comb wire needs to be placed so that it holds down the stitches on the bed on which you need to keep them. The principle and results are akin to the first row knit when you use a single bed cast on comb, and the second pass, with the first knit row anchors open loops before your continue to knit. Any loops not secured by the comb will result in dropped stitches. Any fabric, any time, when 2 stitches are empty side by side, stitches are not formed, and yarn is dropped creating a float or ladder. The red lines represent the wire on top of the ribber loops in the zig zag row. You can check by dropping just a few loops before hanging your weights on the comb. The red line indicates the ribber wire, placed so released knitting will be left on the ribber, black lines your zig zag, blue dots the teeth of your ribber cast on comb
zig zag row showing placement of cast on comb teeth, on each side of MB needles
with wire in place, anchoring ribber stitches testing out dropping a few stitches all stitches now on ribber in preparation for dropping stitches created on main bed
It is possible to also use a wired cast on comb for an open stitch cast on on either bed, illustrated below for top bed only. Remove wire from comb. Bring the comb up and between needles to be used, and re-insert wire. Needles and latches will need to travel easily under the wire when the first knit row takes place.
The knit carriage will not clear the comb properly because of the location of its brushes, etc. For the “cast on” row, exchange the sinker plate on your knit carriage for that normally used with the ribber. The first photo below shows the approximate location for the comb during the first row knit. Needles are centered between the teeth, the teeth themselves line up with gate pegs. The comb needs to be manually held in place, since there is no opposing bed in use to help balance it. The latter would ease the process in wider pieces of knit. The ribber sinker plate has no brushes or wheels to anchor knitting on the knitting bed; any rows knit single bed using it, will need to have needles brought out to hold position prior to knitting each row for all stitches to be formed properly
the comb in positiona pass is made slowly with the ribber sinker plate in place the comb is droppedbring all needles out to hold position knit one more row, returning to starting positionchange sinker plate on knit carriage if needed, proceed with knitting
To use the same method with ribber in place: hold the appropriate ribber comb with the bump(s) up facing you, so that the teeth line up as shown above, with the gate pegs, and so the needles can come through the gaps. Leave the wire in, hold the bump(s) against the ribber, and tilt the comb against knit bed. Hold the comb high enough to take the carriages across to opposite side, move carriages to other side, drop the comb and weigh it. If continuing on the top bed only drop the ribber, switch sinker plates, and continue to knit.
For other purposes and an edge similar to a “weaving cast on” executed on Japanese machines use EON for the “cast on row”, then bring into work and add the rest of the needles prior to knitting the second row. Use a cast on comb appropriate for your knitting machine’s gauge ie 4.5mm, 5mm, etc., brand is not relevant, only tooth spacing is. It is possible to cut ribber cast on combs into different widths for use when knitting is planned on fewer stitches than those accommodated by their available commercial widths.
As for dropping those loops that will form the long stitches, one can do so “manually” with improvised tools. For more “automatic” dropping of stitches using knit carriage in Brother patterning, one may punch a card or draw a mylar with a method akin to color separation that will allow for a pass of the KH carriage across the knit with no yarn in feeder, “color 2” is actually “no yarn/empty”, while establishing the proper needle selection on its return. The ribber would need to be reset to slip, or the ribber carriage separated from the knit one for the 2 passes to and from the color changer. This is the “scariest” option by far, more error prone, and not applicable in this method of creating the fabric. Without a specific “tool”, all stitches can be brought to E and back to B with a ruler, piece of garter bar, ribber cast on comb, or other handy toy. Dropping stitches is done while carriages are on the left when using Ayab circular setting, after the return to the color changer side. It is possible to modify the Studio accessory used to drop stitches
For 2 color drop stitch using the circular Ayab setting, the main bed is set to slip in both directions. Because not all needles on the main bed are used for patterning on every row, the KC II setting on the change knob is used, eliminating end needle selection on the 910. The ribber is set to knit every row
Ayab: begin your design repeat on your first row, choose its circular setting in machine type pull down menu on right
First design row is preselected left to right
Main bed is set to slip <— —> , change knob on KC II (end needle selection is cancelled)
Ribber is set to knit <— —> for the duration
COL: as you go from the left to right, needles are preselected on the top bed, they will knit, picking up loops that you will in turn drop on the subsequent passes of the knit carriage from right to left.
COR, the KC knits on preselected needles as it moves to the left. Clear the color changer, set up your next color. Drop the stitches knit on that last pass
It may be necessary to push those loops down between the beds before you next pass, remember to pull down on your knitting periodically, visually check needle alignment on the main bed (all needles in B in work area)
*With new color move to right, preselecting the next row of loops
Knit right to left, picking up loops on preselected needles, change colors, drop stitches,** and repeat * to ** steps in 2 row rotations
It is possible using the circular setting to drop only one of the 2 colors, whether ground or shape. I began dropping the white ground. I used to encourage students at developing a tune/ repeat in their head when regular actions needed to be taken so here it was “white, knit, drop”, “brown = erase, go back”. 1: white travels to right, needles are pre selected; 2: white travels to left, picking up loops 3: on left, change color, drop stitches. For brown: 1. travel to right, needles are preselected 2: on the right, before traveling back to left push all selected needles back to B, only the ribber knits on the way back to left, so brown will have knit 2 rows with no dropped stitches. I ran out of brown yarn, started over with the blue and white, planning on having the shape drop the stitches. there is a difference in the fabric width with the change in distribution of stitches. I stopped knitting not due to any mis patterning, but because I encountered another Ayab behavior the original 910 never had, but may be well known to punchcard knitters. Due to a yarn mast issue I moved the knit carriage back to disentangle the yarn, and lo and behold the pattern advanced a row. At that point I stopped knitting.
Not fond of stripes? prefer one color? the sample below was worked on 40 stitches in width, using the repeat charted for 56 stitches. For single color drop stitch use an image double length, and single setting in the Ayab software. The process is the same: *preselect stitches left to right, knit on selected needles right to left, drop loops just picked up traveling to left**, repeat from * to **. Settings are the same as for the 2 color drop stitch, but the elongation depending on the number of stitches dropped is not as noticeable. The texture in my swatch is not as noticeable after a quick press, the yarn is an acrylic blend. The repeat illustrated is wider, but I worked it on only the center 40 stitches. As always in slip stitch the black squares knit, those are the stitches that are dropped. To reverse use Ayab action Invert prior to knitting
Sources of inspiration from studio publications vary, patterns designed for pile knitting make for suitable one color drop stitch. A partial punchcard repeat
and a punchcard pattern book, where markings emulate eyelets
Note that in #2 card, there is a solid row at the very start of the card that is a design row (third all punched). In Ayab again, first row preselection is left to right, you will be picking up loops on preselected needles going from right to left and then dropping them, so that first row needs to have punched holes or black squares/pixels in it. The color separation is essentially done for you in the source image, so do not use circular in Ayab, but rather, use “single” setting and follow instructions for creating the fabric as described above, with no color changes. The blank punchcard row matches the no selection row created manually in the double length image as stitches are manually dropped and needles are returned to B.