WORK IN PROGRESS
More than 6 years ago I produced a series of scarves that were double sided, reversible, and were considered “manly” by some of the customers at my shows. Some were one color, some in 2. I found an early post with no clear instructions for them, but with this image and that of a punchcard marked for a racking pattern (given below). Coincidentally the question of checkerboard rib knit patterns came to light in a forum, and I found myself reviewing the technique, with part of the intent to reproduce this fabric. I have, over the years, been terrible at keeping good notes (if any). At times what I was working on was so “obvious” I had confidence I could rely on my memory. At others my attitude once the problems were worked out and a limited one of a kind series was produced, was that I was “done” with that particular fabric. Now here I am, years later, with a mystery pattern on my hands and a time consuming quest, wishing I had documentation for how on earth I achieved it
Definitely not “there” yet:
Early translations from the Japanese or German manuals did not always communicate clearly the meaning of symbols or actions required to be taken by the knitter. A bit clearer meaning may be gleaned from these instructions in Brother Punchcard Pattern Volume 5. The hatch marks on the racking symbol indicate the number of pitches the ribber is moved in either direction. The number of stitches moved corresponds to the number of needles in work on the ribber.
Recommended settings for English rib with no patterning or racking for fisherman rib recommended Brother ribber “needle rule”
Adjustments to needle rule may be needed depending on fabric. If only one bed is knitting while the other is tucking, having first and last needle in work on knitting bed. In English (aka half fisherman rib) only one (either) bed tucks. Directions marked with green #6 on left are from the Brother Ribber techniques. The remaining images are for single color racked checkerboard pattern from Brother Punchcard Pattern book #5. No pattern card is involved, the every other needle arrangement suggested on the right accommodates slightly thicker yarns. Half pitch setting is used.
In the above instance the main bed is not performing any patterning function, it is knitting on every needle in work. On a punchcard machine, a card may be used to track racking positions. With the carriage set as usual for patterning and needle selection but with no cam buttons pushed in, the main bed will continue to knit stocking stitch. No rows are punched, and the numbers on the card in the colored columns indicate the racking position for corresponding rows. The “card” on the left is designed to match racking positions and carriage travel directions (colored arrows) to mirror those in the publications. Since a 36 row minimum is recommended for continuous punchcard use, the “card” on the right has added a 4 row segment for each segment of racking directions. The full repeat is now 40 rows rather than 32 in height. The numbered columns on the far right are as they would appear on standard blank Brother punchcards. The number one is at the level of the first visible row while the card reader drum is actually selecting for the first design row. End needle selection is canceled (KCII on electronics). The first move as indicated by arrows is to the right, so the first row is preselected from right to left. The card is then set to advance normally and released. If any errors are made treat card adjustments as you would in any other fabric.
Adding main bed needle selection for selective patterning: the actual punchcard here includes annotated changes in racking sequences from 5/4 pitch positions at its start, to 5/6 racking positions for the top half of the completed repeat on its left side. It may be used as is, or set to double length either for use with a single color, or combined with color changes every 2 rows.
The card as punched may be used in many ways. In past experiments I have shown that not changing the racking pitch for a single row while keeping the two alternating pitches constant created scale like textures rather than check patterns
here again for a 16 row sequence
On fabrics with racking enlarge stitch size by1/2 to one full number to accommodate the stretch needed in racking the stitches.
Color changes: fabrics made in full fisherman rib are reversible, while those in half fisherman are not. In full fisherman rib in order to knit a specific color, that color must knit for two rows, and tuck for 2 rows alternately. In Passap AX with pushers and arrow keys must be used, in Brother ribber needles would need to be hand selected to proper position on every row.
Yarns used should be soft and have some stretch. Every other needle patterning may be used with slightly thicker yarns.
Racking in the same pairs of pitches ie. 4-5, 4-5 with no added actions taken, produces vertical columns, akin to results in any fabric that repeats same functions in same locations on needle bed
I knit my first “checks” sample on a 930 electronic programming a single repeat to match the card used double length. The goal: the check sample pictured in punchcard pattern book 5
In programs or machines that allow for memos that correspond to design rows for each repeat, enter racking pitch number beginning with design row number 1, continue to 32 or more as needed. The racking sequence is changed at the halfway point of the full repeat.
Added experiments: using the same electronic repeat above, here I worked *20 rows racking every row between positions 4 and 5. One row was then knit on all stitches on the top bed** (I pushed needles out manually rather than changing cam settings), repeated * to**. The fabric reminds me of racked herringbone, the “checkers” are distortedChanging color every 2 rows shows the same leans in fabric. I have had intermittent problems with my ribber, stitches begin to simply not be picked up by the main bed and are dropped for no apparent reason A very different fabric is created using the repeat and instructions below *Knit 2 rows, rack 1 pitch to left; knit 2 rows, rack 1 pitch to right to RC 20 (or preferred row count); knit 1 row continuing in pattern to opposite side without racking**. Repeat * to**. One repeat of the 2 sequences is 42 rows in height. At row 1 of each new (here 21 row) sequence, the carriage starts on the opposite side Changing colors every 2 rows is possible. The racking will begin with the carriages on alternate sides of the machine after the single row knit without racking. In segment 1 racking occurs on the left, color changer side, and on segment 2 racking occurs on the right, opposite the color changer.
“Full” fisherman rib with patterning on both beds: on Passap the back bed is capable of many more patterning choices than in Japanese machines, and strippers help hold loops in place on the needle beds. The Passap “needle rule” places the first needle in work on the front bed, the last on the back bed. This is also variable depending on fabric being knitted. Using the repeat
tech 129: (black square tuck for single row) on front bed. Set up back bed after prep rows, making sure pushers are the same work/rest position as on the front bed *Knit 2 rows, rack to left, knit 2 rows, rack to right to preferred row count ie RC 20; knit 1 row still in pattern, without racking**. Repeat * to**. One repeat of the 2 sequences is 42 rows in height. The resulting pattern is reversible.” This swatch was knit with with bottom 3 blocks using AX on back lock, N in front. The back bed pusher set up is doing the patterning. The top 3 blocks are set to pattern selection on both beds, using AX, arrow keys, and KX on front lock. Using technique 130 will double the height of the repeat, working each row twice.
On Brother the second bed selected needles will face tuck needles on main bed. This creates a knit stitch on one bed, holding down the tuck loops on the other, allowing for side by side tuck loops on opposing beds. Such selections would need to be made on the ribber manually. Both beds are set to tuck . The needles on ribber immediately below the ones tucked on the main bed are brought to E position and face the tuck needles on the main bed, while its non selected needles will tuck. Rack before pushing those needles (black dots) that will be knit up to E position. The Brother settings for full fisherman suggested in their Ribber Techniques Book and manuals produce a “circular” tuck stitch, with each bed tucking and alternately knitting on all stitches in opposite directions, so the cam button set up is different than when one is planning textures in varied patternsIt is also possible to produce “checks” without any racking at all. On the Passap, this sample was produced eliminating racking completely. The front lock was set to knit throughout / N, the back lock alone did the work. Pushers were selected 6 up, 6 down, the lock set to AX and key for an even multiple rows divisible by 4. I used 24-32 to get a sense of scale. The arrow key was cancelled for the next 2 rows AX 0 to switch the pushers. The working repeat became *32 rows AX , 2 rows AX 0* with the front bed programmed
Here the front bed is programmed for the repeat below, technique 130 (black squares tuck for 2 rowsAfter the initial prep on the front of the bed, prior to knitting the first pattern row, pushers were manually selected on the back bed to match the pusher work/rest position selection on the front bed. Their position will change as the back lock moves to left. After 12 rows, the arrow key was cancelled for the next 2 rows to AX 0 to switch the pushers. The working repeat became *12 rows AX, 2 rows AX 0* with the front bed programmed, and its lock set to KX. The back bed produces a “checkerboard”, the front bed produces checks as well, but in a vertical alignment
A similar half fisherman (only one bed tucking) fabric may be produced on Brother machines by automating patterning and switching “beds”. The main bed is set to tuck in both the directions, the ribber is set to knit throughout. My sample was pretty much a disaster at the start. After trying different carriages, switching out needle retainer bars on the main bed, checking alignment, and every trick I could think of I was rewarded with stitches simply not being picked up at intervals by the main bed. Time for a break for both operator and machine
a bit more success:
Below is my electronic repeat, 12 stitches by 56 rows in height. It is intended to mimic the work done by the pushers on the Passap. Alternate groups of 6 stitches will knit (black squares) or tuck (white squares) for 2 consecutive rows. At the center and the top of the full repeat the two extra rows of squares result in alternate groups of stitches tucking or knitting for 4 rows, contributing to the shift in the color and texture of the checks.
Passap specials: the idea of hand selecting needles every row while watching multiple loops tucking on both beds and even adding racking is far too daunting to my mind. Highly textured patterns patterns are far more easily produced in machines that allow for a greater range of patterning on both beds. To review, E6000 tuck settings:
N, EX: same on both locks, may be used without pushers or console
KX and AX: tuck in both directions
OX and DX: tubular tuck. FB: tucks right to left, free pass left to right, BB is opposite
The FX setting is incorporated into several techniques used with KX, 104, 105, 112, 113, 167, 259, 260. Some techniques adding back lock settings: 106, 114,145, 158, 167, 168, 190. Techniques 259, 260, 269, 270 use racking; 200, 212 require manual changing of arrow keys; 284 uses the U100 transfer carriage in combination with fisherman rib for an embossed effect.
Using FX setting with pushers full fisherman rib can be combined with full needle rib or half fisherman rib on the opposite bed.
Technique 167 : use FX/KX
Front bed pushers are always selected up from right to left by the console independent of pattern, so they will knit. Set up pushers on back bed in pattern after first row of pattern, make certain they are in the opposite arrangement of work/rest positions on front bed. EX knits on all needles from left to right. Black squares represent knit stitches, white tuck ones. Making lock changes at the start of the repeat: knit 14 rows,* Knit 2 rows FX <–/KX, followed by 12 rows FX 0/KX** Repeat* to ** One full repeat of the 2 sequences is 28 rows. The original BW building block is 6 stitches wide, 7 rows high, pairs of each form the unit used to form the larger repeat blocks
My chart for my full working repeat test sample: dots represent pushers, green highlights rows with lock changes for pusher reversal. The latter are made here on RC13 and 14 rather than RC 1 and 2
Getting back to that scarf and reversible checks, I finally sorted out how to and a repeat in a different number of stitches and rows. Technique 180: disregard console directions. Set up with1 extra needle and pusher on back bed at each side. Pusher selection on back bed as described below matching half the number of stitches in the full repeat starting on the right side of the back bed. End with single pusher on far left in the opposite work/rest position of pushers in group to its immediate right. Reset the front lock row counter manually at the end of each full repeat (24 for mine) back to 000. As an option one may choose to knit half a repeat at top and bottom of the piece piece. My first swatch is testing one full repeat + a few rows. My full “checkerboard” repeat is 24 stitches wide by 24 rows high, composed in turn of a of 4 blocks 12 stitches wide by 12 rows high. The AX <— setting changes pusher selection every 2 rows, the AX 0 rows reverse pusher selection, resulting in the shift in patterning on the back bed. Knit the first 24 rows (full repeat #) with no lock change, I found it easier to reset arrow key at the start of the repeat on RC 1 and 2, rather than RC 23-24. The single BW building units are units are 6 stitches wide by 6 high with blocks 4 producing the 12W X12H repeat segmentsA working chart for the full repeat: Black dots = pushers in their work/rest positions, numbers on right = full repeat in rows