Taking it to a garment 1: circles

Vests and sweaters built on circular shapes offer some challenges. Shawls and shoulder wraps are much more forgiving, but garments, particularly if sleeves are added, can provide sizing and fitting challenges. Making a muslin in disposable knit yardage prior to the actual knitting allows for trial placement of armholes and testing of overall measurements prior to charting out garment and sleeve shaping. Slits for the armholes can easily be taped or stitched closed to suit, and in turn trial cut in a different location. Trimming or adding borders to circumference allows for visualizing size grading. This process helps spare the knitter regrets upon completion of the piece.

Drawing large circles is easy and accurate with a “yardstick compass”. Trammel points are available online and at many woodworking supply stores, etc. They convert any standard size yardstick for drawing arcs and circles up to 72 inches dia. Use a longer stick the same width and thickness as a yardstick and draw circles as large as you like. They are usually made of aluminum except for the steel point, measure about  3-1/2 inches in length.

Some beginning guidelines for drafting: 1.Use your bust measurement as the circle’s diameter and draw the corresponding shape. Two or more strips of  freezer paper may be used as the drawing surface, temporarily fused onto the knit yardage, becoming the paper “pattern” for the piece and stabilizing the knit for cutting. 2. Measure your back from arm to arm to determine how far apart to place armholes, or obtain this measurement from any well fitting favorite. 3. Measure armhole depth from top of shoulder to 2-3 inches below armpit . 4. Draw lines for armholes and center horizontally within the body of the circle, shoulder measurement apart. Commercially written patterns are bountiful online and in magazines, and tend to center the armholes vertically as well. I prefer them shifted up a for a less bulky “collar”, and for placement of sleeves  with raglan or traditional caps. Binding off a few stitches at base and casting them on at the top of the slit create a slightly shaped for easing in the sleeve top. 5. Cut “armholes”, remove freezer paper if used, try on for fit, adjust as needed. 6. Back to more math!

I made a series of long sleeved circular sweaters for sale in 2008. Discovered problems with photos in my photo library (new computer). These are an attempt at “restored” shots of one of the first such sweaters. The yarn was a fine Italian mohair.

close up

Back to that pie: a bit of holding

Holding/ short rowing is used to knit each wedge. The basic rule for holding is followed: stitches are brought into work on the carriage side, and into hold opposite the carriage to avoid floats. The greater the number of sections, for either the full circle or a donut, the smoother the curves at the outer circumference, as can be imagined in the form below, which divided into more sections than those 5 in our original calculation.

The “pie slices” begin and end on open stitches, ultimately requiring a join where the radii meet, using whatever method is preferred by the knitter. Assuming the knit carriage is on left and set for hold in the diagrams below, if all stitches are brought into hold except 1 on the carriage side (or number required by calculations for the individual piece), 2 rows are knit, and action is repeated until all needles are in work, the following shape starts to fill in and a miter with pointed edges is created.

If all the needles are in work, and one begins to bring them into hold opposite the carriage, one begins to fill in the shape creating the form below, and a spiral is created, with circumference edges more rounded.

Like shapes may be stacked sequentially. If shaping at the top of the initial triangle wedge is reversed however,  the following begins to occur.

Knit rows in between the triangles begin to create larger holes in center of pie, and a donut occurs. The donut center can be varied, the knit rows between triangles increased to suit. The illustration below shows some of the variables. The plain knit rows are another factor in smoothing that outer circumference.

Oh the math! “magic formula”

There are many knitting programs that will perform the necessary calculations, as well as a variety of knit calculators. The diophantine formula is the basis for what is know to some knitters as the “magic formula”. In the early 1980s Alles Hutchinson authored a small book on the subject. There is a bit of personal leeway in the results, and the formula may be used in calculating even complex shapes with the proviso that one has the patience to break such shapes into series of simpler ones.

There are many online resources for information and calculators to sort out the math, including a triangle calculator

Using the gauge to match the previous post of 4S and 6R per inch the calculation for the pie divided into five triangles  breaks down into the web calculator result pictured below:

The longhand method for same calculation which follows and also translates to: bring into hold 2 stitches for 4 times, 1 stitch for 80 times. Stitches in shaping are proofed as above: 88 stitches shaped over 84 rows.

 

Knitting math and pies

Math is non always fun, and is downright dreaded by some. One instance in knitting wherein basic calculations are required is in obtaining stitch and row gauges. I have known one hand knitter who would purchase yarn (not necessarily the one used in pattern), knit happily away, and try the finished product on everyone she knew until she found an accommodating body shape and size. If the large number of family and friends did not oblige, sweaters were stored until such a correct body appeared. Predictable results require careful measurements and some basic formula calculations.

Using home knitting machines to produce circular forms one resorts to breaking down the round object into pie wedges, which in turn are knit as triangles with straight line outer edges. The outer final circumference curve is controlled in a number of ways, one is by creating a far greater number of pie slices. For this exercise I will work with 5 segments. 

There are some math constants. One example: to find the circumference of a circle its diameter is multiplied by pi = 3.14. If the diameter of our knit is 44 inches, its circumference will measure 44 X 3.14 = 138.16 inches. Using the rule of 5 or less than 5, this measurement is rounded to 138 inches.

The radius becomes the width of the pie wedge. In this instance, it would measure 22 inches. Let us assume our gauge is 4 stitches and 6 rows per inch. The radius is converted to stitches: 22 X 4 = 88 sts. The circumference becomes rows:  138 X 6 = 828 rs.  If subdivided into 5 slices, each slice would be composed of 166 rows.

To knit the pie slice, short row are used ; since they happen every 2 rows, our row number for outer edge is divided by 2, yielding the total of now 83, which in this exercise I will round off to the even # 84.

Approaching “circular knits” on the machine: a series

Circular sweaters and vests have been in the pattern marketplace for a while, and there are a very few online resources for purchasing patterns for machine knitting. My first attempt at one such pattern was a hand knit for my grand- daughter. It began on long circulars and was worked from the outer diameter, with stitches decreased at intervals, eventually bound off at center. Most adult sweaters and vests both in HK and crochet are worked from the center out. A common diagram for such sweaters regardless of approach is seen below, a vest could result by simply omitting the sleeves.

Diagram A

Placement and shapes of sleeves is crucial to fit. A straight sleeve top as seen in dropped shoulder sweaters can result on the sleeve opening occurring on the arm inches below the shoulder, making the top of the circle that forms the collar flop around, and the sweater is hard to keep on (the result in my hand knit). Better shoulder fit and having a cap at the top of the sleeve, whether traditional or raglan, and adjusting back garment width can achieve stability. In large sizes created by simply making the circle larger, the fit becomes very different in the front, and there are other, better ways to achieve a similar look. Calculations involved in planning these garments share common methods with “doilies”, shawls, ruffles, and more.

In hand knit/crochet another approach is to knit a square/rectangle variant, which can begin and end in open stitches. This piece is folded in half, circulars are used to pick up all the open stitches which now become the inner diameter of a circle, and increases are made regularly, evenly across the rows at intervals to achieve the desired outer diameter. The opening created by the folded fabric becomes the armhole, which may have to be partially stitched closed upon completion of the piece depending on size requirements.

Diagram B: red line represents fold

On the home knitting machines evenly spaced increases and decreases are possible but not practical, requiring removal of knit whether on garter bar or ravel cord, with rehanging of all the stitches after adjusting the number of needles in use. Patterning can continue if this is done on plain knit rows, and design shifts are taken into consideration. Though circular knits can be achieved using a ribber, there are distinct differences in tension between the two beds in Japanese machines, not so in Passap knitting. Here again, increasing/decreasing evenly across rows impractical if not impossible. Increases along outer edges of the knit are easy, but the result in a series of triangles meeting and pointing down from garment on that edge, a common sight in the marketplace at the moment, but not so good if a circle is the desired shape. One approach on the machine can be seen in the diagram below. The central shape is shared with the above diagram, but the circle is broken up so the garment becomes a flat construct. “Extra” smaller rectangles on side represent a possible longer cap sleeve. Here the whole piece would be folded in half and seamed. If center shape has straight sides adjustments can be made in seaming for desired armhole measurement. The remaining probem: how to get that outer “diameter” created by the bottom and top of the piece to approach width needed without increases and decreases across rows. With this approach the seams that bring the top and bottom sections together will move toward the front of the garment, so joining method and its visibility is a consideration.

Diagram C

To mesh or not to mesh 4

The following illustrate some of the process involved in planning out fabric akin to the one in the previous post. Black borders outline blocks of 6 stitches/rows,  reflect markings on blank Brother card. In option A: motif is planned and drawn. In this instance it is colored in in green (1), the area it covers will ultimately remain unpunched on card or blank on mylar.   Graph paper may be used to work this out, knit design software, or as in this case, an excel spreadsheet.  A grid is created  with every other square blacked out or colored in (2). Motif is super- imposed on grid (3). Repeat is expanded adding 2 blank rows above each design row (4). Rust squares represent punched holes in card or black squares in mylar.

Option A

Option B: the same motif is lengthened X3 (5). Lace mesh base is drawn out (6). Elongated motif is then superimposed on mesh (7). Electronic patterning on 910 allows for minimal drawing using all black squares, in turn making it necessary to color reverse for lace. Two separate motifs are used, method for programming such repeats is in 910 manual. However,  there are considerations for needle position and pattern selector placement for  this “shortcut” to work properly, the steps are described by Kathleen Kinder and others. I prefer to work with what I “see” in terms of punched holes or squares, this is the method used to develop my previous flower motif swatch. The short supply of mylars may also be a consideration in using them or not for such large, and perhaps limited use design repeats. If interface cables and software are available, other options abound.

Option B

To mesh or not to mesh 3

Many articles were written in the 1980s in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, some finding their way to newsletters published in the USA at the time investigating this subject. With the advent of electronics the process became “easier”. Kathleen Kinder author of several books on Machine Knitting covering myriad topics (one whole text on lace), also authored Electonic Knitting: an Introduction for Brother and Knitmaster Knitters (?1989) that investigated the move from punchcard to electronics, including lace techniques that in the instance of “filet look alikes” introduced superimposing designs as a quicker method to achieve such fabrics. The common motifs used were often that of a heart or a rose.

One of the many confusing things in lace, is that the punched holes or mylar squares do not represent actual holes in the final fabric. Alternate rows of holes represent first transfers to left, then transfer to right. Brother and Studio punchcard sets included with purchase of machines both include pre-punched cards suitable for this type of mesh. Numbers sometimes varied with machine model year. Studio No. L-6, Brother No 17J (also 20G etc.) are 2 such samples and are vertical mirrored images of each other. Superimposed motifs constitute blank areas of card. Depending on preference some readjustments may be required after a test swatch to alter placement of some of the mesh holes. My fabric below was knit using the basic faggot lace Brother mesh, the corresponding “card” close to 180 rows in length to achieve the brick repeat.

a portion of the card

sideways view of resulting fabric, knit side facing

To mesh or not to mesh 2

The  amended “square mesh card”; grey areas indicate more tape use on reverse.  In basic analysis knit “squares” consist of blocks of blanks on card 12 squares tall by 3 wide, essentially removing 6 lace transfers  (holes in all over card) in those locations; this could be done with software and planned ahead of punching any holes. Electronics capable of programming 2 different motifs increase ease in drawing out pattersn as well as the possibilities in planning larger repeats and repeat sequences

th corresponding swatch viewed on purl side after a quick steaming

flipped 90 degrees

To mesh or not to mesh 1

A good online grouping of mesh repeats is one place to start exploring this topic. Most proprietary large pattern books from machine knitting companies include at least a few suitable cards/mylar samples. They can be used for “all over” fabrics, borders, striping in mixed bands of varying styles, etc. I am presently interested in pursuing a filet crochet like structure by superimposing knit areas onto lace mesh using “lo tech” punchcards or mylar sheets. Filet crochet is often built on a system of solid squares on the more open “ground”. Emulating this type to begin with, here is a punchcard for use on Brother KM resulting in a “square mesh”

a lazy way to explore how adding solid areas to any pattern card is to mask a portion of the card using tape ie. in this case painter’s tape on the reverse side; this is not the best long term solution, but OK for “testing the waters” and sorting out the final repeats. Here is the resulting card reverse side

the card was extended for a full, alternating blocks repeat: a first run at a swatch result showed that oops! I am not quite there with alternating blocks of 4: no worries, more tape is on hand. Below is my preferred, sideways view of present fabric. There is a difference in ridges/ lines as viewed horizontally, every other is thicker because of location of transferred stitches. Knitting sequence is 4  rows of transfers with lace carriage, followed by 2 rows knit with KH throughout. A good starting point.