Taking knitting machines apart

Once in a while, beyond deep cleaning, even taking the machine apart may be needed. I tackled my own punchcard machine recently, here are photos of the action in progress
Needles now back in, needle retainer bar restoration left to go. In case you choose to tackle the process on your own, some clear instructions may be found at Knittsings for Brother machines , and on Susan Guagliumi’s blog for Studio brand

For folks that prefer videos Roberta Rose Kelly has a series of maintenance related ones on youtube.

Matching patterns across sweater body and sleeves

There is a resurgence of circular yokes on the runways and market at the moment. My previous post discussed some of the considerations in knitting them. For those not up to working that particular way, there are variation in carrying the patterns around the body in “continuous” lines.

If raglan shaping is used, angular lines are created where patterns meet. All knit is essentially vertical striping. Raglan shaping should match both front and back of sleeve, the wider the raglan shape, the less sharp the stripe intersection. Striping in a traditional cap sleeve creates designs that move horizontally across combined body and arm at rest.

When designing a sweater with a shaped sleeve cap, knit a sample of your stripe pattern. An online stripe generator can help visualize stripe formulas, color ways, etc. If knitting fair isle use row counts for FI pattern height for stripe placement. It is helpful to have a 1 row, 1 stitch graph to plot repeats out. It does not matter if the grid is square or rectangular, providing that vertical and horizontal numbers are based on your gauge. Draw a line from armhole point to armhole on both pattern and sleeve, and there is your match. Work stripe pattern up from armhole line for your cap,  down from line for sleeve repeats.

In my theoretical sweaters the sleeve’s wrist edge is technically below the armhole to waistline length, so stripes need to be plotted accordingly, from armhole down.  The same method is used if single motifs or other variations in striping are involved. For single motifs, if matching them in body and sleeve cap, begin by designing them so they fit in the cap’s crown. Place motif in body and sleeve on same line, and plan the remainder of the sweater calculating from the armhole as for stripes, basing placement on numbers of rows in each design segment.

A collection of references to visit online:
Ravellings on the knitted sleeve By Jenna Wilson
math calculators for knitting
“magic formula” http://www.getknitting.com/ak_0603triangle.aspx


A bit of holding 4: intarsia and more

Picture knitting / intarsia may at times be achieved using holding techniques. As in any such knitting, supplies include extras such as bobbins, clothespins or weighted clips, but no separate carriage. If the ribber is in use and one is working on a large piece, ribber covers allow the yarns to hang in front of the ribber bed.

Some of the rules for accomplishing this using short rows: it is helpful to work from a chart. Two row sequences are required, so having the working chart double length makes the process easier to visualize. “Follow” knitting direction with any tool to determine that the pattern is executable, with no long floats or slits.

The bottom of any diagonal lines is always knit first.

Needles are brought out to hold on the carriage side, pushed back into work opposite the carriage; one exception to this rule is if “automatic wrapping” is used. In the latter one less needle is brought into hold than needed opposite the carriage, the row is knit, then with the carriage on the alternate side the first needle in hold next to stitches just knit is brought out to hold, resulting in a “wrap” and correcting the count to the desired number. Any number of needles may be pushed back into work at any time. More than single stitches brought to hold on the carriage side will produce floats.

When knitting shapes the only needles in work are those being worked to create that shape.

Base rows of knitting, whether in waste yarn or as part of the pattern, are needed prior to working in hold.

Remember that you are working on the purl side, so any image will be flipped horizontally on the knit side. Reverse chart horizontally before working it if direction matters.

Begin with a simple shape. Letters indicate knitting sequence for short row sections. Patterning in these charts begins with COR, bold lines separate areas of plain knitting, letters indicate order for executing short row segments. The fabric produced lies flat, with no noticeable 3D protrusions.



screenshot_07marking sequences with numbers is easier for me to follow; color changes help define segments, do not reflect final colors in design diamond_29


a super mini swatch: holes are typical both in intarsia and in short rows if no wrapping occursIMG_2439be prepared to weave in a lot of yarn endsIMG_2901going larger, note “steps” created when larger number of needle groups are used500_717stripes500_716more complex geometry:  line drawing on “graph paper”complex_30the start of color placement screenshot_01sequence for executing segments at completion of designcomplex_number_01in actual knitting the pattern must be elongated X2

I find it helpful to use familiar yarn and to work variations of a familiar shape prior to taking on more complex patterns. Below is a cousin of the first shape illustrated in this post, with pattern worked beginning COL, repeated across the row, increments in number of stitches worked in short rows, but mirrorred on both shape sides (shown in first swatch segment).

screenshot_01filling in to produce a flat fabric, with straight sides: bottom segmentscreenshot_02top segmentscreenshot_04the amended chartscreenshot_05

Some of the same shapes may be placed on a shaped edge. The repeat will likely need some editing; arrows indicate direction of knitting for that row. If the background color is used for casting on and binding off, then the isolated shape floats on the ground, and the horizontal line of contrast color is eliminated.

screenshot_18edge 1creating an outline of shape with Color 1screenshot_23edge_21

horizontal rotation to achieve “leaf” shapescreenshot_05melding shapesno wrap_28don’t like wrapping? for smaller holes offset return to work position upper half of shape by one needle less at the start, added at endno wrap_28knitting direction leaf_25stacking shapes, with bound off stitchesstacking leaves



the yarn used is an acrylic, so pressing helps to make the shapes lie flat. Once again, using wool or any other yarn with “memory” will result in considerable curl at side ant top and bottom of knit piece, so that is a consideration in putting in the effort. The more striping, the more yarn ends to weave in and row counts to watch. Using space dyed or sock yarns may produce pleasing though unplanned stripe patterns in any of the shapes. My samples are not resolved final fabrics. There are many inspiring patterns available for purchase or at times free on the internet for hand knitting, usually in garter stitch as well as holding, resulting in a nearly square gauge, flat lying knit.

Taking it to garments: accessories are easiest, since gauge may not be significant. Shawl shapes in HK are often knit on circular needles, without the constraint of the fixed number of needles on any particular model KM. Sometimes, with adjustments, the same shapes may be rotated sideways on the KM. Segment sizes may differ due to the resulting change in gauge. Sampling techniques and shapes in smaller versions helps work out the kinks.

Sources for inspiration: large scale shapes


more details, varying concentration and placement

free pattern

for purchase on ravelry

Cellular automata charts for knitting, etc.

I have written before on the fact that since my knitting is done primarily on a Brother 910 and a Brother punchcard models, I am ever curious re and exploring ways to produce charted images that will allow me to knit patterns via mylars or punchcards, with an occasional wincrea download to my Passap via an ancient laptop. My eternal wish list to date has included the option to download to a hacked Brother model I already own, or to my Passap, directly from my Mac (presently Mavericks OS). Mathematical knits via hacked or commercial knitting machine use have been explored by some, including Claire Williams  and Fabienne. With the help of online generators, even with a lack of understanding of the math involved, one can produce charts for knitting or other textile applications.

Wolfram  site is a resource for both Mac and Windows platform users who are interested in math, computation and its visual results. There is a downloadable CDF player that allows exploration of documents and provides for download, CDF format explained, demonstrations projects, search for cellular automata. Below are some samples obtained through browsing the site. In some instances show mesh option will provide a gridded motif, show scale will indicate “stitch counts”


then there is this

screenshot_31an isolated segment
screenshot_30the image  in Photoshop (CS3) photoshop no gridas it appears with program’s self color adjusted grid photoshop gridGIMPGIMP_cellular2creating a colored grid grid for easier countsgimp color grid

see previous blogposts on isolating repeats, drawing additional markings, and other uses for GIMP.

A visual guide to  automata “rules”

QR codes for knitting (2) or other textile techniques: “happy holidays” a few ways

I reviewed, edited, and added information to an earlier blog post on QR codes and knitting earlier today. The results from the same steps in processing the generated images may be applied to any fiber technique which results from using counted, single units.  In light of the coming season I thought I would offer some “happy holidays” variants. In assembling them, I found an additional free online generator that allows for far more control on output code pixel dimensions than others I have previously experimented with.

aztec (smallest unit possible 100 pixels square)QRA100onto the morovia website the “blanket” sizeQR150getting back to knittable, less than punchcard widthscreenshot_45QR21a less than 50 wide repeat for mylar, and surprise!screenshot_53QR49

Holding stitches/ short rows

I am planning a thread on motifs and miters, here is a brief review of holding stitches in preparation: short rows are just that. Instead if going the full width of your stitches across, you knit only a portion of the stitches on the machine, turn, and go back to the beginning, which results in one portion of the fabric knitting more rows than the other side or fabric. It is also referred to as partial knitting. It is used to create many angles and curves. The machine’s knit carriage needs to be set appropriately; needles pulled the furthest position (E_Brother_holding lever, D _ Studio _Russell levers, Passap will need pusher adjustments) will not knit. To return stitches to work in increments push stitches back into upper working position (C or D depending on machine brand). In patterned knitting stitches must be returned to the proper position for patterning with a transfer tool. In Brother machines needles need to be arranged manually in proper location for the pattern to knit correctly, Studio machines will do it automatically since they select and knit on the same row. When using holding with the lace carriage held stitches are knit back to A using ravel cord, and returned to the needle hooks in work position when they need to be knit. Because knit row sequences are in pairs (or more) there will be slits or “holes” perceived at the edge of the held knitting, these can be considered a design feature or nearly eliminated by “wrapping” first adjacent held needle before knitting the second row, or knitting one stitch less than the required amount toward the held stitches, and then bringing the remaining needle into work before knitting back. Bringing more that one needle into hold on the carriage side will create “floats, so multiple stitches are usually brought into hold opposite the carriage. Knits often tend to stretch more in width than in length, so in garments such as pleated skirts, it is likely the piece (knit sideways) will grow in length and tighten in width, with tension and garment weight providing 2 more factors. Large swatches and having them rest in the position in which the knit in the final piece will be worn are a necessity in calculations. Some references:

Settings and images of wrapping to avoid holes http://www.getknitting.com/mk_holdposition.aspx.

Calculating frills and triangles online http://www.getknitting.com/mk_0603frilled.aspx http://www.getknitting.com/ak_0603triangle.aspx

Short row one side only http://needlesofsteel.blogspot.com/2008/10/short-rowing-part-1-one-side-only.html. Diagonal corner http://needlesofsteel.blogspot.com/2008/10/short-rowing-part-2-knitting-diagonal.html. Short rowing 2 sides at once http://needlesofsteel.blogspot.com/2008/11/short-rowing-part-3-both-sides-at-once.html.

Shaping shoulders and necklines (Studio) Knitting: see http://www.guagliumi.com/free_stuff/downloads.html for PDF download info

Machine Geometrics – Susan Guagliumi – Threads magazine, April-May 1987, pp 66-71.

A ravelry post on topic with hints for hand knitting by Rox Knits http://www.ravelry.com/twir/86/ask-a-knitter-26

TechKnitting on HK topic http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2009/10/basic-short-rows-theory-and-method.html  http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2009/10/short-rows-method.html