Carpet or pile stitch knitting on Passap and Brother KMs 1

Pile, carpet, or loop stitch are terms used for a raised relief fabric made on KMs using both beds, with or without programmed patterning motifs on either bed. Two color patterns are sometimes also called “punch pile”. Depending on machine brand and on thickness of yarn, loops may be formed every row or every other, varying the pile density. Beds are always at half pitch, the same setting used for every needle rib. The “needle rule” is disregarded. First and last needle are always on the non patterning bed, to anchor down any loops close to the edge of the fabric. In machines with automatic end needle selection, the function is cancelled. Some yarns and designs will even tolerate loops being dropped at the end of knitting. Sometimes dropping them every few rows will work. If any yarn splitting or fussy knitting off because of fiber content occurs, then dropping stitches may be needed after every row of loops formed. If using multiple colors of yarn on either of these 2 brands, having them equal gauge/weight is helpful.

The Passap knitting machines as well as the Brother, did not have a built in yarn feeder to facilitate knitting this fabric such as that possible in the Studio brand. Particularly with the advent of the E6000 Passap model, for a while there was keen interest in how to produce similar fabrics. Susanna Lewis was among the first to describe knitting pile across multiple brands, whether punchcard models, or, later, electronics.

The fabric loops are created with one pass of the carriage, the next row of knitting is intended to anchor down those loops, and with no needle or pusher selection, no stitches knit on the patterning bed. This fact gives one the opportunity to drop loops without disturbing pattern selection. Some of my drop stitch lace previous blog posts discuss designing such fabrics. Color separations are required. The E 6000 console performs many of these automatically, one simply has to plug in the appropriate “technique” number. The default DBJ separation made by the console in Brother electronics may not be used because blank rows for no needle selection need to be added in order to attempt the long loop or stitch fabrics. This in turn requires the knitter to do the work. Design rows are expanded

  • Graph        Motif        Color
  • Row 1        Row 1       Color 1
  • Row 2        Row 1       Color 2
  • a blank row is inserted  on top of each of the separated rows, so for each 2 color design row, there will now be 4 charted rows

The E 6000 has some built in technique choice options for knitting and automatically adding blank rows in charts where needed. This allows for the locks, empty of any yarn, to travel from and then back to the color changer achieving stitch dropping. My preference is to work with stitch dropping tools instead of the extra rows “knit” without yarn. Also, if the goal is to work between KM brands, keeping the separations more compact is practical, particularly if one plans to use the end chart with a punchcard or a mylar sheet for programming.

I had tried some pile fabrics on the E 6000 in the past, found the knitting a bit loose for my liking, but by lightly felting (wool yarn) the result, I had a stable, attractive fabric that could easily be cut and sewn in combination with other knit companion DBJ fabrics. Another option in wearables to add stability may be an iron on knit interfacing used on areas of pile knit. This time I pushed the back bed tension as much as physically possible with the yarn used, and was happier with the result. The only problem I encountered was in thinking I could knit a few extra rows on the back bed only before dropping the knit off the machine for inspection. The old adage still applies: if more than a row or 2 are to be knit across all stitches on any single machine bed, each yarn has an optimum tension required for stitches to form properly. Pushing limits will lead to problems. I had a lovely lock jam. For wide ribs the same principle applies: the more stitches on either bed, the closer tension on that bed to what number would apply to single bed stocking stitch on that bed.

CARPET STITCH KNITTING ON PASSAP E-6000 with release stitch tool. Use any 2 color fairisle pattern from the pattern book that accompanies the machine. Both Passap manuals are now available for free download online. I randomly chose # 1407 for my test. Start with all stitches on the back bed. If you have done ribbing, transfer front bed stitches to back. For test swatches, if open stitches do not matter, it is possible to do a quick single bed cast on on the Passap in a couple of ways, the “broken toe” cast on will work across brands. Have an extra needle and pusher each side on back bed when setting up work for patterning. Back bed tension as tight as possible, front bed 1 – 1.5 tension numbers looser than back bed. As always test small swatch before committing to a larger one.

One color carpet stitch:  Technique 256. Black strippers are recommended. I rarely if ever use black, go for orange first, sometimes combining with one blue or switching to 2 blues if the fabric calls for it. Ignore console instructions. Back bed is set to FX  left arrow key <–, not BX as instructed. Do not use the AX setting by mistake. FX will tuck right to left, knit left to right (toward the color changer, which in Passap sits on the right side rather than on the left as in Brother machines). Knit rows help anchor loops. Back bed pushers are in 1 up, 1 down set up. Using one arrow key means the same selection is repeated for 2 rows before the switch is made to the adjacent pusher and the corresponding needle.  The front bed is set to LX (slip) throughout. Racking handle is down (setting for every needle rib).  Two rows are knit, then the front bed stitches are dropped (Passap knitting beds are in reverse position to Japanese machines set up with their ribbers). If loops are long they may need to be pushed between the beds before knitting the next row. Passap machines have pushers for this purpose, in Brother rulers or any number of tools may be used for the same purpose.

Two color carpet stitch:  Technique 185, black (or other) strippers, 184 may also be used, its graphic gives the added reminder for EO pusher set up on back bed. Back bed setting is the same as for the one color pattern, Front bed knits in LX throughout. In theory stitches may be dropped every 4 rows. Some yarns may split and catch the alternate color requiring dropping after each color is used, others will tolerate much less frequent dropping. It is all an experiment to start with.

Again: the back bed tension must be as tight as possible, the front bed at least 1.5 tension numbers higher until tests determine what is best for the yarn being used. Multiple strands of some thinner yarn may also be worth a shot. Weights are needed on the knitting, no matter what brand machine is in use.

One color trial: back tension too loose, note change in texture after tightening back lock tension; the loops are formed on the purl side

passap front 1col

passap back 1col

the 2 color version, with adjusted tension on back bed

Passap front2col

note vertical stripes in backing
passap back 2col

At the end of knitting pile, add anchoring rows of knit on back bed only (tension may need to be changed after a couple of rows), proceed as preferred.

Previous posts with info on accessories useful for dropping stitches and loops 1, 2, 3.

Combining tuck stitches with lace 2 (automating them)

Working with 2 carriages when both are selecting needles brings up some interesting issues. Studio machines are able in most instances to select and knit in the same row. Brother pre selects needles for the subsequent row, and on that row, while knitting the preselection, once again, selection is made for the next pattern row to be knit.

A couple of my earlier posts on topic knitting with 2 carriages and a lace round doily that combines lace with slip stitch selection to emulate holding for creating the needed spiral.

Following up on the previous post, now attempting to automate the stitch, some of the logic needs in needle selection needs to be explored. The chart as drawn below simply addresses functions that may create the desired fabric. It is incorrect in terms of accuracy in actual knitting it

theory

 symbols used

theory symbols

reworking the repeat for use with mylar

mylar selection

 the drawn mylar repeat, numbers reflect placement on my sheet

mylar repeat

mylar symbols2

When both carriages are in use for pattern selection, they will both engage the belt. While either carriage is in use, the alternate one needs to be off the needle bed, or the belt may actually break as one carriage holds it in fixed position, while the other tugs at it toward the fixed spot from the opposite side of the machine. Lace extension rails are used on both sides. There were variations over the years, including a pair to fit the bulky 260 KM. They are not always exchangeable between models, need to sit properly on the machine for carriages to be stable while stored to the side, and also for moving them off and onto the machine easily.

Pre punched standard Brother lace cards usually begin with the lace carriage selecting the first pattern row moving from the left side to the right. As with any lace or tuck fabric, knitting begins with waste yarn that is weighted evenly, and any edge treatment of choice. On the 910, because of the preselection factor, and to keep the pattern continuous in proper order, the knit carriage is removed from the right side of the machine, and the lace carriage does a preselection row from right to left. That will be its start and return position for the remainder of the fabric. The knit carriage is returned in turn to its home on the right end of the machine, on the extension rail.

Two types of fabric are being created. The goal is to have the edge stitches knitting throughout. To accomplish this, if the LC is in use, eliminate any end needle selection by pushing needles back to B; when the KC is in use, if the end needle is not selected, to get it to knit, it needs to be pushed out to E. The pattern sequence is an easy one when up and running, with 2 passes of the LC, and 4 of the KC, as seen in the charts above.

The knit side is shown below, the arrow locating the larger eyelet points to operator error: I had a stitch caught on a gate peg, and was not aware of the problem for several rows. The extra loop of yarn can actually be seen. Tuck fabrics are often far more interesting on the purl than on the knit side

mylar_knit1

the purl side with arrow indicating the same problem spot

mylar_purl1

The question that follows is how to program the same design for use with a punchcard machine. Here things get a bit more confusing. The electronic machines advance the program or card a single row for each carriage pass, no matter their direction or sequence. When the punchcard carriage is at rest on either side and the alternate carriage moves toward it, the card does not advance, so the needle selection stays the same, is repeated for a second time. A bit more planning is required and the repeat needs to be shortened to accommodate for this fact.

The chart below shows the amended repeat for punching a card. The first selection row is made with the card locked, and the LC moving from left to right. The card is then released, LC moves to left, transferring stitches selected the previous row to the left, while selecting those for the first row of tuck. The next row, using the alternate carriage, begins the ongoing sequence

punchcard chartA

actions of the carriages with each pass

what carriages do

The actual punched holes are shown below. The writing on the card is a ghost from a previous experiment. The red line marks starting row 1 for Brother knitting, blue border outlines a single repeat. A minimum of 3 repeats are needed for continuous reading by the KM

punchcardFabrics with color changes every 2 rows such as mazes and mosaics are easily knit on the electronic with 2 carriages. If worked on a punchcard machine, they would have to be executed using a yarn changer and only the knit carriage, unless the design motif is redrawn to factor in the issue discussed above. A previous post, part of a thread on mazes and mosaics, with a punchcard swatch photo.

The first preselection row in any patterning that involves color or carriage changes every 2 rows, is usually done toward the side of the machine that holds either the color changer, or the carriage next in use. As seen above, there are exceptions to that “rule” as well.

Combining tuck stitches with lace 1

A simple chart, from a random Japanese publication

tuck and lacethe isolated repeat outlined

tuck and lace2

symbols used

symbols1

of note: in the above pattern, all transfers are in the same direction. My test swatches were knit on bulky 260 KM. Held stitches form loops on top of needles brought out to E position. The original stitch formerly in the needle hook grows in length, behind the newly formed loops. When patterning is automated using the tuck cam setting, the non selected needle will not be worked. The original stitch gets longer here as well, while the loops that in the hand technique rest on top of the needles, will now be held in the hook of the needle along with the last knit stitch. The latter fact is the limiting factor determining the number of rows that may actually be tucked, especially on Japanese machines. Yarn used and needle gauge also matter. Tucked fabrics, like lace, need to be weighted evenly for loops formed to knit off properly.

How to for my swatches:

knit base row (s), set up repeat so some stitches knit every row on each side creating a border, set machine to hold stitches

row 1: transfer every 4th stitch to the right. If you are in the habit of pulling needles holding multiples stitches to D before knitting the next row after transferring multiple stitches onto a single needle, this is ruled out when the carriage is set for holding, as those stitches would then not knit as intended on the next pass. To produce an eyelet, emptied needles are returned to B position after each transfer sequence

rows 2, 3, 4 bring alternate every 4th needle as shown in chart into hold, knit 3 rows

row 5: push held needles back into work (D on brother km),  knit one row across all needles. Held stitches will knit off as a group, check that they have done so uniformly

rows 6, 7, 8: transfer alternate every 4th needle out to hold, knit 3 rows

row 9: begin sequence again, repeating rows 1-8

When transfers are made in a single direction, the fabric will bias in the direction of those transfers. In the bottom section of the photo below, the resulting lean to the left is easily seen. If a bias leaning fabric is desired, this is an easy way to get there. However, if the goal is to achieve a balanced fabric, then the transfers need to happen in opposite directions as seen in the top segment of the swatch.

knit swatchthe new working repeat

new_repeat

directions

the number of held/tuck stitch rows has been changed to 4 rather than 3. When the row that knits off the loops occurs, the total number of knit rows for the sequence will be an odd one, resulting in the carriage being at opposite sides of the needle bed at the end of each pattern repeat. Transferring stitches may then be made toward the carriage: COR – transfer to right, COL transfer to left. This makes it easier to track direction when working the fabric as a hand technique.

Next up: automating the pattern for standard gauge machines using the lace carriage, and tuck patterning in the knit carriage as well.

Fall knits in my studio

I promise myself every year that I will knit fall inventory during the summer, invariably that seems to not happen, and I find myself scrambling during September and October. I have had a line of ruffled edge shawls for some time. This is my way of interpreting some of the recent shapes in clothing into a shawl/vest format. Below are some shots taken on a dress form, with intent to visualize some of the possible ways of wearing it

a graded, smaller version and different color-way

both are knit using multiple strands of very thin, rayon/cotton blends, pattern is tuck stitch, with variant used in the ruffle, which in turned is knit sideways and seamed onto the piece while it is being knit.

another color way

some of my felt hat inventory in progress

More “circles from squares”

My latest wraps based on this principle are from a variety of fibers, and  knit on the Passap 6000;  the Passap allows for more tucked rows,  which in turn  provide the wider width for the “ruffle” at the top and bottom of the piece

altering the height of the “bottom ruffle” to about half  changes the angles in the drape in the front

my previous posts on topic of attempting to achieve circular knits on the machine:

http://alessandrina.com/2011/06/24/taking-it-to-a-garment/

http://alessandrina.com/2011/06/25/taking-it-to-a-garment-2-donuts/

http://alessandrina.com/2011/06/30/taking-it-to-a-garment-3a-2/

http://alessandrina.com/2011/07/03/taking-it-to-a-garment-3b/

http://alessandrina.com/2013/07/09/5059/

A bit of fair isle

Fair isle accessories, scarves in particular, can be problematic. I tend to make most of my scarves in the 64-72 inch length after blocking, lining them would result in a very heavy scarf. Knit has a tendency to curl to the purl side in length, and toward the knit top and bottom. Rayon chenille is a customer favorite, knitting it double bed in any DBJ variant is nearly impossible on my E 6000 because of shedding and electronic eye reading errors (I would consider ladder DBJ), and I was left with finding a short float pattern that might look acceptable on its reverse, and lie flat. Weaving draft charts can be a great source for repeats for geometric FI knitting. The pattern used below is an adaptation of one. The first swatch (1) looked fine. The long one followed it. When I ironed it however, I noticed not only a missing black square or 2 in my mylar repeat (hidden by the fuzz of the chenille in the first swatch), but how lovely to have a totally curved, far longer edge (if only that was what I wanted)! On analyzing the possible cause I noticed the repeat had many more stitches knit in the chenille than the wool along that edge. Back to the drawing board: the repeat was sorted out using high contrast, smooth yarns (3 and 4), and the pattern was adjusted to a different location on the needle bed.

Then, I thought I might introduce a border. The chenille is thicker than the wool, so any hem or stocking stitch edge was too wide. I would have preferred to chain behind the knit to help flatten the bottom and top edges, and ran into yarn breakage galore. The final piece was made using 1X1 FI in the chenille “solid” color stripe to keep a balanced width and fabric thickness, and cast on and bound off edges were rehung and “bound off” again, to help cut down on their rolling toward the knit. The finished scarf measures 8″X69″, both knit and purl sides are shown below, side edge lengths now match.

Assuming one uses a crochet cast on and binds off around gate pegs at the top, a chain is created at both ends, akin to that created in crochet, and one can idetntify a front loop, a back loop, and the whole chain. Any of the 3 may be “rehung” onto the KM, and the options are to knit a row and bind off again, or simply bind off again, for different looks that start to emulate single crochet a bit and can help stabilize edges or decorate them.It is helpful to keep notes as to sequence used and which side is facing with each re hanging.  Audrey Palmer at one point authored the Empisal book of linked edgings ISBN 0969485905. Intended for use with the empisal (later = Studio) linker, there are lots of interesting uses for combinations of essentially find off techniques, and some resurfaced when she published her books on knit weaving.

the same pattern knit on Passap, using tech 129 and 138; there is noticeable difference in width and openness of fabric with yarn weight change, and at top with tucking for twice as many rows

a scarf knit in pattern, using tech 138, double bed on Passap KM; light weight and drape allow it to be wrapped and worn in multiple ways; knit in 16/2 cotton, measures 11 X 76 inches partially blocked

Tuck and slip color striping

There is a very early Brother “how to” publication, which can now be found available for free online

The diagrams accompanying some of the tuck and slip patterns illustrating how the color changes combined with the stitch type affect the knit presented the information in an interesting manner. With both tuck and slip the unworked needles’ stitches get longer (unpunched holes, white squares), carrying up the last color knit in them until they are knit off again. If the subsequent color change is in the same color as at the start of the sequence, the in-between color (dark in diagrams) travels behind the longer stitches in slip, or is caught in with interim loops in tuck. The swatch photos show the knit side, the charts the purl side in symbols and  color change sequences

slip stitch

tuck stitch

More stitch types and techniques are represented as well in the publication as well.

Back to circles from squares

I actually posted on the topic of circular garments in knitting in June-August 2011. Hard to believe 2 years have gone by since I last played with this idea. Here is a version knit on the Passap, using tuck stitches both single and double bed, awaiting seaming and blocking (alpaca/silk)

a detail shot

and swatching for a variation on edging  with cotton, using rib tuck and slip throughout

side 1

side 2

viewed on a dress form

the other on a hanger prior to washing and blocking

in process of blocking, 40 inches diameter in this orientation

the blue cousin, 38 inches in diameter

>>>

Symbols to punchcard 1

In the chart below pattern repeats take into account the punchcard limitation of 24 stitch maximum repeat. In the sections separated by the color stripe, the bottom shows a purl side symbol chart for slip stitch, the center the purl side symbol chart for brioche/ tuck stitch, the top the repeat punched out for use on the KM with black dots representing punched holes. Keeping in mind there is a 36 row minimum for the card to roll adequately through reader, this repeat would need to be punched 9 times. If one wants to use the color changes in other than totally random manner, then the pattern repeat must be an even number of rows in height. One option is to use double length, but unless the yarn used in the repeat below is very thin, for tuck stitch that may be beyond the limit of the KM. I also prefer when knitting lengths of fabric not to use elongation; for me that makes it easier to correct mistakes. A reminder: the punchcard selection mirrors the design horizontally (particularly noticeable in letters), so the hand knit repeat need not be reversed for a match.

Below is a more manageable tuck repeat reconsidered for color changes (shown in change of ground behind punched holes). The first row selection needs to be from right to left toward the color changer in Japanese machines (Passap is on right, but console takes that into account). This is not the only color change sequence possible, only a place to start.

With very rare exceptions, tuck stitches generally must have a knit stitch/punched hole on either side of the unpunched square. This is because side by side loops jump off on the next pass, rather than knitting off in a group, making a long float in in some cases an interesting mess. Because slip stitch skips needles creating floats rather than depositing loops in needle hooks, the tolerance for side by side slipped stitches if far greater, and the number of rows that the individual stitches are not knit is limited by the strength of the yarn, and the tolerance in the machine. Both tuck and slip stitch fabrics benefit from being evenly weighted, with weights being moved up regularly during knitting. Canceling end needle selection and having the pattern repeats line up with tuck/slip on each edge may produce interesting side edges. If texture is the goal yarns that can be “killed” by pressing/steaming should be avoided.

Knitting continues

I have been working on a series of tuck reversible chenille scarves. Color changing occurs every 2 rows. I do use 2 carriages. IMO the brother 2 color single bed changer was one of the worst designed accessories ever. The chenille is cranky, knitting is slow, and one is looking at the back of the knit so pattern is not immediately obvious to the eye. These are a few colorways

thinking I had the knitting down, got to # 12 scarf, realized I needed to knit 10 more rows after canceling needle selection, “corrected” for row count, finished knitting the pattern, completed the edging and realized the “corrected” rows were off and that this whole scarf has a mystery repeat. Here is an image of the front of the piece after unraveling edging and back to a row ready for rehanging next to a previously knit “how it should look”

it is an interesting variation of the pattern repeat, but without fiddling with starting rows, I have no clear idea how to duplicate it should I want to. Knitting rooms seem to have days when they are full of goblins.

I have some issues with my back and right arm, was looking for an easier way to manage the knitting of these things and the reach required to get the carriages off the beds while knitting with the opposing one, and had forgotten about this particular “stand”. A few years ago I broke my right shoulder, and as I began to regain use of the arm I went looking for an adjustable height, stable KM “stand”. A friend found this for me. It is what I can only be described as an ancient, asylum quality hospital bedside stand. It is probably at least part iron since magnets stick to its metal parts, very heavy, has a huge adjustable height range, and does not budge during knitting in spite of the fact it is on wheels, while it is easily moved when one wants to do so. It was “free” as well, an added bonus.

When knitting fabrics single bed I do not work with the ribber engaged, have no idea if the added weight would be an issue or if the clearance is adequate for attaching it to the “stand”, but using the ribber clamps with the main bed at an angle seems to make crankier fabrics easier to knit. The  crank for raising/lowering the height easily stores lace extension rails.

A kitchen timer is handy to get an accurate gauge as to how long the items actually take to knit from beginning to completion in helping set retail prices for new items, and kitchen scales to weigh cones before and after (grams or ounces) aid not just to gauge cost of materials, but also to be certain that yarn quantity is adequate to finish the piece.

In static season some of the problems with yarn management or electronic KM pattern shifts can be resolved by both having a grounding wire, and using a humidifier. One such model may be seen in the lower left of the photo, is very inexpensive, designed for use in nurseries, on the noisy side, but requires no special care other than occasionally cleaning out the water container, and uses tap water.

Canned air can help remove fiber dust during knitting so it does not become part of the finished piece when using a brush or small vacuum is impractical, it is best not to use it in places where the fuzz is likely to get blown into springs and electronic parts however.

Paper towel holders can serve as yarn cone holders for ones that tip over easily, and the extra straight arm they sometimes have in models similar to the one below can help hold upright yarn wound on tubes of various sizes, an alternative to the usual horizontal ways of managing such.

Craft ribbon holders can serve same purpose if one wants to feed tubes horizontally in addition to the old super low tech tricks of HK needles poked through a variety of holders with caps to help secure them in place

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