Lace knitting tips, to mesh or not to mesh 7

Early versions of the Brother Lace Carriage (LC) for machines such as the 830 did not have the capacity to control end needle selection. If any needles were selected for transfer to an end needle not in use in the piece, the LC still will attempt to move that stitch, and if no needle hook is there to accept it, the stitch will drop. Where an and needle has been selected on either or both edges, the option that remains for folks with no automatic way to cancel end needle selection is to push those needles back to B position by hand. Since selection is likely to not happen every row, it may be an easy thing to forget as the length of the piece grows.
Later LC models include mechanisms like those seen in punchcard knit carriages that override the selection made by the patterning device on the end needles.

There were also point cams, that help to change the spacing between vertical lengths of design repeats. For images of the Lace carriage and use of point cams please see post 2017/10/05/lace-point-cams-…brother-machines

Electronic carriages are equipped with a magnet, and must always travel past the center needle 0 position center mark on the needle tape. Markings on factory punchcards give clues as to which carriage to use and for how many passes. They also may vary depending on the year the punchcards or mylars were issued. To review, here are some of the markings commonly found

Generally, it is best to use a yarn that is smooth, has some stretch, and does not break easily. Because the yarn will be transferred to and from or in addition also be shared between needles, some extra yarn may be needed for proper stitch formation. In overall meshes, it is best to start testing using a tension at least one whole number higher than when using the same yarn for stocking stitch.  Too loose a tension can result in dropped stitches or loops getting hung up on gate pegs, too tight and the stitches will not knit off properly or drop, or the yarn may even break. When eyelets are few in number, adjustments in tension may not be needed.

It is best to start with waste yarn and ravel cord, then casting on and knitting at least 2 rows before beginning to use the LC. The cast on will need to stretch to accommodate the growth in width which increases with increasing numbers of eyelets. The same applies to the bind off. One option for matching both is seen in this “answer lady”  video.

In most punchcard repeats, if when the row of transfers is completed there are two or more empty needles side by side, troubleshooting is required to solve the problem unless are intentionally planned in the design, with deliberate adjustments to components of the overall pattern repeat.

The needles need to be in good condition, with latches that open and close smoothly and easily. Also, check for any bent gate pegs, and use a tool to even out the spacing between them if needed.

The traditional placement is for the LC on the left, the KC (knit carriage) on the right, but there are patterns that can work with their placement reversed or even swapped at regular intervals as knitting progresses.

Bringing needles out to E before the all knit row may help avoid additional dropped stitches when there are multiple stitches on any needles. Though knitting may proceed smoothly, checking the work frequently visually will make rescues of problem areas possible as opposed to having to restart the project. It test swatches are hard to knit, it is likely the problems will multiply when a larger group of needles is in use and the project should be put aside.

Because there are so few markings in lace, the lace card does not necessarily resemble the finished stitch appearance. Needle pre-selection does not make as much sense as in other types of patterns. Where knit stitches occur in vertical stripes may also not be immediately evident. Some shifting on the needle bed rather than centering may be required to have a cleaner edge, which also matters in seaming.

There are a definite top and bottom direction to lace, so in knitting scarves or sleeves that is a consideration. One solution is to knit 2 pieces in mirrored directions with many possibilities for methods to join them. No top-down on sleeves if you wish to match the body and it has been knit from its bottom-up.

It is possible to use short rows combined with lace patterns, but any shapes created are likely to change visually, so planning is required unless those changes are suitable. Traditional holding by changing the knit carriage setting may not be used. Needles to be put in hold need to be knit back to A position and brought back into work as needed. Ravel cord or any tightly twisted cotton may be used. If needles have a tendency to slide forward when holding large sections or at the hold starting side as the piece progresses, some tape may need to be placed in front of the needle butts on the metal bed to hold those needles in place. These illustrations of the process are from an early Brother machine manual As with any knitting, there are times where nothing seems to work for no good reason after intervals of smooth knitting and no other changes, and a break is best for both operator and machine.

The greater the number of eyelets in the pattern, the wider the finished knitting. Blocking in some form will usually be required to set the stitches, and may be required if the piece grows in length and narrows as it is worn or hung when stored.

Out of habit I usually leave weaving and tuck brushes in use for all my knitting, but particularly when creating textured stitches and lace.
Gauge swatches should be larger than usual, all in the pattern, and treated as the final piece will be in terms of pressing, blocking, washing, and allowed to rest prior to obtaining measurements for garment calculations.

When stitch symbols first appeared in Japanese publications they were represented as the stitch formation occurred on the knit side of the fabric, which could cause confusion since in machine knitting we are looking at the purl side. Eventually, Nihon publications made the transition and other pubs followed.

I have been blogging for years and sometimes return to topics after long absences. In terms of more information on lace design and some tips on translating hand knitting instructions for machine knitting please see: 2013/07/23/from-hand-knit-lace-chart-to-punchcard-1/
2013/07/24/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-2/
2013/07/26/from-lace-chart-…3-adding-stripes/
2013/07/27/frome-lace-chart…-4-a-border-tale/
2013/07/29/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-5-to-electronic/
2013/08/29/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-6-to-electronic/

A punchcard tale: after the chevron post, single color sideways chevrons appealed to me. Two variations from a Brother Punchcard VolumeA= the full 24 stitches wide repeat, half the required height for the punchcard user. B= the single electronic repeat. C= the single electronic repeat tiled X3, checking to see that pixels actually line up properly.
Punchcard markings of note: A= design row 1, B= mark for first row visible on the exterior of the machine, the card reader is actually reading 7 rows down, C= typical markings for the direction of the LC movement on that row, and for knit rowsThe two rows at the bottom of the card reflect the overlap when punchcard snaps are in use to keep the pattern continuous.Looking at it in more detail Column identification at the bottom of the chart: A= direction of the lace carriage, pixels or punched holes preselect on that carriage pass
B= direction of transfers; note there are extra blank rows where their direction is reversed indicated also by the change in the color of the arrows. Multiple rows in one direction only, happening here in series of 5, will result in bias knitting. As bias is reversed, the zigzag shape begins to be created.
C= markings for 2 rows worked with the  knit carriage, the pattern does not advance on those rows on any machine
D= markings on factory punchcard
E= design rows
When working with electronics, the actions need to match those indicated on the factory design beginning with row one punchcard marking on the right.
The width of the planned swatch or piece may be programmed for use with the single motif setting in img2track or the required default in Ayab. Adding a blank square at each end ensures the end needle will knit on every row, no pushing back needles by hand will be required.Changing fibers opens up a brand new world: this swatch (unblocked) is knit in a tightly twisted rayon, edges also begin to create clearer shapes than that achieved by knitting the same design using wool.Spacing out the zigzags, another 24X30 repeat. This is the minimum repeat for electronic KMs as well, knit stitch spacing (white squares) can be planned to suit Once again, one must be aware of whether the lace repeat needs to be mirrored on the specific model machine. I initially forgot to do this on my 930, which results in an erroneous repeat if the lace carriage is operated from the left. Planning the placement on the needle bed controls the number of knit stitches on either side of the resulting mesh shape.  Today the rayon was having no part of knitting properly, this swatch is once again in wool. 

At one point I shared ideas for automating mesh patterns in lace edgings using the LC and the KC (knit carriage) set for slip stitch

Changing the above repeat for a zigzag border: in my first experiment, I tried keeping the number of eyelets in the zigzags across rows constant, did not like the visual “extra” line away from the edge, was happier with my second try. This fabric would do better with a yarn that can be blocked to shape, the wool used here is a tad too thin. There will be some tendency on the part of the eyelets on the very edge to appear smaller as the edge stitches are stretched into shape. It appears I also have a needle that needs to be changedThe transfers of the stitches by the LC while using the knit carriage set to slip in both directions to create the knit rows, will automatically create increases and decreases along the left edge. Due to this fact, there will be one less eyelet in each transferred row than the number of pixels/punched holes in its corresponding pattern row. The knit carriage in this instance preselects rows for the lace carriage, the lace carriage preselects all needles required on its way back to the left for the knit carriage to knit on its next pass. This chart attempts to show movements of the carriages and location of stitches after they have been moved along with eyelet symbols in their locations after the transfers The pattern repeat on the left below is as I drew it and intended it, on the right, it is mirrored for use to knit it on my 930The first preselection row is from right to left, the knit is centered with 10 stitches on each side of 0. I canceled end needle selection on both carriages. The first row is knit, when the KC reaches the left side, set it to slip in both directions. As it returns to the right it will knit a second row on all needles in work, and preselect for the first LC pass. Extension rails must be used as both carriages will lock onto the belt for pattern selection. At the start of the piece, as the LC moves from left to right it will transfer preselected needles to the right. On its return to the left, it preselects needles that will knit as the KC returns to action from the right. Each carriage in this design makes alternating pairs of passes.
When the top half of the pattern repeat is reached, the LC makes its pass to the right on a blank design row. As it does it preselects for the next row of transfers, which are made to the left as the LC returns to its home there (A). Though the Brother LC does not knit and transfer on the same row as the Studio one can, it is able to transfer and preselect for the next row of knitting (B).The above fact allows for planning transfers in both directions while still keeping the routine at 2 passes for each carriage to and from their original home. Based on that, here is another trim with eyelets in alternating directions along the side opposite the zigzag shape. The repeat is now adjusted to 22 stitches X 48 rows to accommodate the reversing eyelets arrangement. It is shown here mirrored for download to my 930. There is a blank square at the top right corner, the corresponding stitch will be cast on by the knit carriage on its move to the left, and transferred automatically when there is a return to transfers at the bottom of the design repeat. The yarn used or the swatch is a 2/18 wool-silk. There will be 2 stitches on each needle (A) at the very edge where stitches are transferred for decreases and look different than where the edge stitch is simply moved one needle to its left (B), leaving behind an empty needle. A parallel, similar difference is also noted at the inner edge of the zigzag shape. The sample is pictured turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise, its bottom edge appears on the right

To mesh or not to mesh 6: chevrons

While creating the test swatches for a version of single bed 3D scales using the lace carriage I was intrigued by the chevron effect that became more obvious with color changes The fabric was capable of changing considerably in look and width that could be encouraged to remain more permanent with blocking. There is a visible asymmetry, with one side of the chevron actually containing an extra eyelet. Still trying to retain the 24 stitches in width design constraint, I began to work with simply counting eyelet transfers matching in number, guessing rather than planning. Tiling the repeats can help get a sense of how things line up horizontally and vertically. Electronic repeats can be minimal unless one is programming the pattern as a single motif that includes edge knit stitches etc when downloading via cable to an electronic or using Ayab interface.A and B continue to produce uneven numbers of eyelets on each half of the resulting “V” shapes. The greater the number row repeats of eyelets in a single direction, the more the resulting bias. If asymmetry is the goal, then this may meet the need. I knit most of the swatches on 48 stitches, with more needles added on the right if needed to ensure the edge stitch will be a knit one. Larger shapes require wider tests. The photo is rotated to reduce its length on the page This effort produced uneven sides of the Vs, and the eyelets along one of the vertical center column were not properly formed, resulting in an added knit stitch The added eyelets in pattern C produce an interesting change from a sort of V shape to more of a W, but the fabric is still unbalanced Back to the drawing board: a different mesh, with eyelets in alternating numbers, resulting in a  more balanced fabric. Here the charted repeat is shown X2, side by side.Different day, same yarns, both were having none of it. When knitting progresses in this manner, it’s a good time for the machine and its operator to practice social distancing.  The quality of the lines produced by the mesh was different and heavier than the one I was seeking, though the number of eyelets remained constant on both sides of the center stitches, alternating on the alternate pairs of design rows. Back to charting things out in Numbers: though the LC, usually (but not always) starts located on the left, preselects on its first pass to the right, and begins to transfer to the left on its second pass back to the left, in order to visualize the direction,  the repeat is mirrored. Cyan cells indicate transfers to the left, magenta transfers to the right. This 24 stitch repeat shows where 2 transfers wind up on a single needle while an extra knit stitch is also formed in the blank vertical column, seen in swatch above. In programming an electronic KM the black pixels alone with 2 blank rows above the second set of transfers is enough. I like to program repeats that are a bit larger, and usually will tile them as well, looking for any errors my eye might notice before any actual knitting Using electronics one may expand or reduce the number of stitches in the repeat to reach an estimated equal number of eyelets With any mesh, the number of knit rows may be varied between each pair of transfers. My swatch was knit using a 26 stitch repeat widthThe cast on used is a temporary one. In final pieces, the quality of any bind off and cast on should be tested as well to accommodate the changes in width lace fabrics may have, increasing exponentially on the number of total eyelets. The knitting this time went smoothly. The eyelet count was as planned. That said, I was 6 stitches away from completing the bind off when the yarn simply ran away from me and chose not to make any effort at rehanging the piece. In the top blue stripe, the number of knit rows between transfers was increased from 2 to 4, while in the top white stripe I alternated between 4 and 2 rows of knitting. Playing with such intervals between transfer rows of transfers can produce interesting differences and perhaps a more static quality in the fabric after blocking the completed item. The knit carriage is set to N, so it has no effect on the advancement of the programmed lace pattern.
As often can happen in machine knitting, another day, same yarns, same tension, same operator and stitches drop, get hung up on gatepegs, and perform other unwanted actions. My next test aimed for that “W” shape. I downloaded an image that accounted for all needles in use for my swatch, so in the 930 using the isolation button on by default with img2track was OK. Your machine may vary as to which side of center the extra stitch will be placed when the total number of stitches in width is an odd one. If uncertain, plan the repeat for the next even number, in this case, 52, divide it evenly on each side, and either air knit to sort out selections before casting on or simply transfer that extra knit stitch over one as you begin to knit. In a final piece, good notes will provide reminders for such small details The blue yarn refused to knit off properly, so the added colors were tried to see if I fared any better using them. My first swath was discarded, the second one is shown. The repeat is sound, the visible “errors” are the result of stitch formation issues. The swatch stretched in length that could be set with blocking has a very different look when lightly touched with my now fiber burning iron Different day, all other things being equal, same needle locations resulted in easy success. I programmed for a 60 X 24 repeat, planning for different size Vs.During knitting, these fabrics will appear to be producing straight color stripesIt takes a while for the change to begin to be noticeable This was the result as the work came off the machine, relaxed, with no treatment of any sort the ribber is in place there are avid beliefs expressed by folks in terms of whether or not to bring the knitting to the front of the ribber, I am a between the beds’ advocate. Also, even with the ribber off my machines have always been set up with ribber table clamps in place since having them flat simply never worked as well for me in any of my knitting.A one-color zig-zag from a Brother punchcard pattern book with a different approach, that could serve as trim or form an accessory. There are limitations in producible width. The stretch of the cast on and bind off and the fact they need to match as closely as possible while allowing the mesh to stretch sideways in blocking must be taken into consideration, as is the fact that every end needle selection will occur regularly and those selected end needles must be pushed back consistently. There is no way to avoid that on a punchcard machine, in electronics one could again program the width and add blank pixel column on each side. Here the cast on was using waste yarn and continuing in the pattern, the manual end needle canceling of selection was inconsistent at the sides, and LTBO (latch tool bind off) around single gate pegs was simply not stretchy enough. Here the cast on and bind off match very closely. I used the looser cast-on method described by the “answer lady” in the video, but I bound off around 2 gate pegs instead rather than wrapping the needles as shown, a method often used on the PassapMore information: a hand transfer striped lace variant 2014/03/27/striping-in-lace-fabrics-1/, and another using a stock punchcard 2013/07/26/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-3-adding-stripes/

Single bed scales made with stitch transfers

WORK IN PROGRESS 

In the past, I have explored several ways to knit scale-like fabrics aka dragon teeth/scales, and a multitude of other names. My test swatches were created using racking, pattern repeats were provided for both punchcard and electronic machines. Some of the archived material:
2018/07/19/more scales and chevrons racked fabrics 4
2016/02/22/ hand knit dragon scales
2016/02/02/ vertical racking 3: automating half fisherman in pattern-2
2016/01/13/ racking 2: vertical chevrons and herringbone

With summer here and a long absence from lace knitting, I was curious about producing scaly fabrics single bed. Lace transfers may be used to create folding fabrics with permanent pleats, so what about 3D shapes? I began with a repeat suitable for a punchcard machine and its limitations, adjusting it in 3 different ways A variation of Card C, with 2 rows blank after each pair of transfers throughout was used in borders in some of my lace shawls including these, made in 2011.  All 3 card designs share the fact that the lace carriage (LC) makes 4 passes followed by 2 rows using the knit carriage set for normal knit to complete the eyelets with exceptions. The exceptions are in areas where there are extra blank rows, there the lace carriage will make 6 passes in order to reverse the direction of transfers. Brother lace cards usually start with punched holes on the very first row, have 2 blank rows between LC passes that complete one sequence (here each sequence is 2 rows in height), and 2 blank rows at the top of the card.  Lace markings are few and far between, errors are easy to make when punching long cards and working in designings with pixels in particular. In this case, I did not notice until I began composing the post, and after I had completed the first test swatches that the repeat on the left has an extra 4-row segment in the top half, making it 24 stitches X 54 rows as opposed to the other two at 24 X 50.
In any lace patterning if a zig-zag is wanted in parts of the design, having 3 blank rows in planned locations will reverse the direction of the transfers from those below them. Blank squares in rows containing no punched holes (or pixels) will have no transfers, so in their absence stitches in those areas will be knit, producing extra stocking stitch rows. The spacing for such knit areas on the card may be adjusted to suit. This segment of the above designs identifies the areas in both rows and columns with no punched holes (or pixels)The knit side of the fabric is the most interesting. The swatches were at first photographed as they were immediately after their removal from the knitting machine. I also tried to photograph them at an angle to show the protrusions from the surface. Pattern A:A short test version using cards B, and CWhen using card A, the shapes alternate vertically between all mesh ones with all knit rows at the outer edge of the folds. Using Card B, all protrusions have a fixed number of knit stitch rows at the outer fold. Card C produces an all mesh fabric that made me think of ocean waves somehow. Turned sideways, and pressed to set the folds, the resulting fabric could provide a springboard for a host of other, different ideas: A larger swatch started on waste yarn, with 2 rows of knitting at the bottom and at the top before binding off. The design is card B, with 4 rows added to each half of the design. I am still working with the constraints of a punchcard machine, and for the moment, of retaining symmetry in the width of the “scales”. The working chart, turned counterclockwise to save space Planning for 3 repeats based on 24 stitch widths the above arrangement will, in turn, need to be mirrored for the lace pattern.My sample was knit using 2/15 wool at tension 7, using needles 36 left to 35 right The actions reviewed once more
The knitting in progressI cast on loosely enough, but the bind off was too tight at the top, which should always be tested on swatches before committing to a project. The resulting fabric was photographed immediately as it was removed from the machine. I tried to touch the edges only with an iron, and mine is now overheating and doing a good job of burning my wool, thus the color changes in spots With an attempt at some steaming and pressing, the folds are retained Often the question of what fine lace is and how it is made comes up. Fine lace is a fabric against which I have a personal bias. It seems to involve a lot of work for the result unless one is using a light-colored yarn with a smooth surface to show the subtle and at times hard to observe surface changes. It fares better visually when mixed with eyelets. The yarn is shared between the needle that would normally be left empty and the one with the formed stitch already on it to its right or left depending on the direction of the transfer. If the shared yarn is dropped instead of staying in the hook of the transfer needle, as the next 2 rows are knit there will be eyelets on the ground lacking them anywhere else. Card C, knit using only the fine lace setting on the LC, looking very different from the previous fabrics, both knit and purl sides are shown, with a couple of spots where the yarn was not shared by 2 adjacent needles, forming eyeletsNow evaluating the possibility of mimicking my hand-knit version:Planning out a repeat in chart form:Knitting began with working in a 2/15 wool, tension 6, using a 7 prong tool with all prongs engaged to transfer groups of stitches onto their new positions on the needle bed. The first two images review picking up from the row below to fill in needles emptied by transfers. It is one of the machine-knit equivalents for the M1 direction in hand-knitting patterns. As a result, the number of stitches being knit remains constant throughout the pieceThe stitch structure so far appeared too loose to me, so I then switched to a 2/8 wool, at tension 7 with the intent to test knitting as tightly as possible while still facilitating the multiple moves of stitch groups on each row. The resulting fabric was stiff and wanted to curl strongly to the purl side, needed pins to help it lie flatter. The shapes refused to stay poked out to the knit side.
I seldom wash my swatches, viewing them simply as proof of concept of technique concepts, not usually as springboards for finished pieces. Generally, I stop at steaming or ironing if needed.
When I made garments for sale in wool I usually tested the swatches and washed the finished garments as well. The “hand” and the behavior of the finished piece can change considerably. The hand-washed sample in the second illustration below lies flat, has a soft, drapey feel absent in the unwashed, retains the flatter shape with no encouragement needed. In its 2/15 portion, the “scales” became more flattened as well.
Washing wool removes any sizing and excess dye. Open spaces in the knitting become reduced in fulling, as opposed to closing tightly in felting. Using a constant temperature in both the wash and rinse and avoiding excessive friction, in turn, avoids excess shrinkage. On electronic machines, one does not have the limitations in terms of the width of the repeat maxing out at 24. For example, the number of eyelets on either side of the block components of the repeats may differ, the greater the number of eyelets, the wider the spacing between the 3D shapes. Gradations may be planned in height and width of repeat blocks across the full needle bed, limited only by patience in designing, the capacity to download, and the tolerance for both the yarn and the operator to complete wide, long pieces using the technique.

Experimentation can yield quick results, sometimes with unexpected but pleasant surprises. One of my best selling felted items for a couple of decades was an accessory that was planned deliberately to mimic a test piece that had almost been tossed in the trash. It’s good to return to things after a break for another look, and then it is really helpful if notes were kept. Another variation of the A-C cards in single repeat was tested at the bottom of the swatch belowand in a staggered one, tested at the top of the swatchThe “scales” were more like twisty bumps, with subtle variations vertically in some of the stitch groups. That said the results were dramatically different when color changes were added to the pattern knitting in the shorter repeat. Blocking may make an even more marked difference depending on whether the mesh (lightly steamed) or the tighter knit (vertically pulled, should be washed) produces the preferred effect. The looser stitches at the top outside edge ie at the top left corner are the result of a stitch that got away from me. The cast on was a bit too loose, I knit 4 rows at the bottom after the cast on and 4 rows at the top of the repeat before binding off.The differences in the width in the same fabric are dramatic. Any overall mesh/ lace fabric blocked for openness such as on the left will grow in length over time, is best stored flat, and will benefit from episodic pressing/ steaming to reset the width. Then I began counting eyelets, which were equal in number in the schematic for the repeat, but not equal in number on either side of the center pivot for the bend in the herringbone shape when the piece was finished. Any extra eyelet rows in the same direction will result in increased biasing in those sections. Time to test more mesh variations, a topic for another day.

Machine knit leaves using slip stitch with holding

In 2012 I had a sort of leaf obsession, which led to my exploring a range of shapes created in both hand and machine knitting, including a series of shawls that were machine knit, using the lace carriage, intended for both gifts and sale.
Online resources were not as abundant back then, searches are more productive now via browser searches, pinboards, and Ravelry.
I have always been interested in holding techniques and automating them on both punchcard and electronic machines. In recently revisiting shell shapes I was reminded of leaves once more and thought I would return to working with them.
An early abandoned effort in trying to construct leaf shapes automating their shaping using holding in combination with slip stitch followed other earlier posts is shown below. In all honesty, I have been blogging long enough so I often do not recall previous writings on a recent spark of interest and execute a personal version of reinventing the wheel, starting from scratch, or executed poor note-keeping which in turn requires it.
A variety of lozenge and “leaf”-shaped forms may be found in previous posts on holding intarsia, some are strictly hand-selected, others are automated. There is a series of 5:
2016/06/21/a-bit-of-holding-1/
2016/06/29/a-bit-of-holding-2-moving-shapes-around/
2016/07/12/a-bit-of-holding-3-shape-variations-and-more/
2016/07/24/a-bit-of-holding-4-intarsia-and-more/
/2016/08/13/a-bit-of-holding-5-intarsia-and-more-2/

Checking the repeat for a single shapeAdding a second color and reversing directions of shapes brings lots of yarn ends and its “price to pay”Some handknit large scale inspiration to begin my revisit to MKing them: Garnstudio 1 and Garnstudio 2, which introduces lace transfer stripes between leaf formsA free hand knitting pattern, “Papagena“, that takes similar shapes to a triangular layout for shawl shaping Stitch Maps is an online source for hand knitters with interesting graphics that include some for held shapes, such as this The chart is actually rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise, could serve as inspiration for an electronic pattern.

Returning to a possible far smaller repeat that may be executable on a  punchcard machine as well. The central vein in the forms is created by having held stitches with no wraps along and up to its center in height, creating 2 continuous shapes that mirror horizontally and repeatAutomated holding sequences may be planned for single or multiple stitches in width, as well as for single and multiple rows in height. For the new initial test, which proved to need editing, this was my repeatA tiny test in too thin a yarnI am knitting on a 930, the image needs to be mirrored in order for it to appear in the direction I intend on the knit side. The above repeat did not work properly when knitting a whole row of shapes. With some patience, a final, edited, and mirrored repeat was developed that enabled a completed a full row of shapes using the slip setting and holding, and starting with working it from right to left. Sometimes differences are subtle, especially in designing using single-pixel units. The new repeat proved to also work for rows of shapes in the reverse direction after horizontal mirroring and restarting the pattern or design row 1. When working from right to left, the initial preselection row is from left to right, while when working from left to right, the first preselection row is from right to left. After a full row of repeats is completed, the pattern is rolled back to row 1 and mirrored. Punchcard knitters could turn the card over and start again on the proper row. I used contrast color knit rows initially in between rows of shapes to help me note transitions more clearly. The “leaf” is not pointy enough for me, but at times what was not planned may lead to a pleasing result of a different sort.
The amended, corrected repeat is shown on the right To knit: cast on with a multiple of 12 stitches on each side of the center 24 on the needle bed
Cancel end needle selection
COL: first preselection row from left to right
COR: set machine for both slip <– –> and hold
all needles will have been preselected, knitting every stitch, knit 2 rows, return to the right, as the row is knit, patterned preselection occurs
COR: bring all needles to the left of the first 12 on the right into hold position, knit until all needles in the group of 12 are preselected again, the carriage will be on the right
*COR: bring a group of 6 needles to the left of the 12 stitch group just completed into work, knit one row to left
COL: bring 6 stitches from the completed shape on the right to hold, continue in the pattern on the new  12 stitch group until all 12 stitches are once again preselected, stopping with COR***
repeat * to *** end working the full last group of 12 stitches on the left, including the last 12 stitch preselection

At the completion of a row of shapes COL: make a decision about the transition, whether any extra rows knit are a problem or not, and whether added rows in contrasting colors are wanted. To proceed with no changes in cam settings and 4 rows of knitting between the rows of shapes remembering that the first preselection row needs to be made from right to left.
COL: manually return all needles to upper work position (D). They will knit row 1 of the stripe
COR: manually push all needles to D again, return program to design row one, check settings, as the first design row pattern is preselected an all knit row 2 will be added. As patterning resumes from the left another 2 all knit rows will be produced before selective patterning occurs.
If any extra all knit rows are wanted cancel patterning on the knit carriage, set it to N, knit the extra rows, remember to end on the proper side for the first preselection row, and what options may be necessary to complete that row correctly.
To reverse patterns without extra knit rows:
COL: store yarn.  The carriage can be removed and brought to the opposite side, or stitches need to be manually be placed in the B position for a free pass to the right. This involves placing the cam selector button on N, returning the cams set to slip in both directions.
COR, all needles also need to be in work in B position, no yarn, in order to make a free pass to preselect from right to left, ending COL
COL: pick up yarn and continue in pattern. These textures require a lot of carriage passes, which tend to fuzz up the yarn on the purl side of the knit a bit. The shape I created was not very leafy to my mind, but still interesting, especially on the purl side. The yarn used in a 2/15 wool, knit on Tension 5Moving on to a wider version, using 24 stitches in width to allow for using the pattern on a punchcard: this repeats works both as-is and mirrored, the groups of stitches moved in and out of work is now half of the new design repeat = 12. Making the repeat work in any number for this shape involves lining up the needle selection in each group of needles and constant counts for holding sequences. Punchard knitters would need 2 separate cards. The lovely mess in the swatch happened when I stopped paying attention to everything but what was happening on the needle bed and missed the tangle of yarns in my yarn mast. There is enough knitting however,  to note that the repeat is sound and that the edges on both sides are formed by the narrowest part of the shapes in each direction. One way to solve that is by casting on and binding off along tops and bottoms of shapes as seen in the yellow and green swatch at the top of the post.Planning things out to release those edges as seen at the top of the post

Working on outlining the shapes with contrast color:Problems to solve: maintaining an even number of rows in-between shapes and a straight edge along both sides. The latter could happen with triangles prior to knitting full shapes at either or both ends, the first sample failed on the left side due to both triangles being knit in the same sequence;   that may be solved by beginning shaping on 2 stitches on the left rather than the full 12, mirrored. The proper sequence for actual knit stitches for the first, bottom set, and mirrored for the second, top set still only partway there I am presently knitting with my left hand in a splint that has exposed velcro teeth, which has caused some interesting issues with actual knitting and with yarn snags. To end this latest effort, in yet another knitting aaargh! moment, it appears my iron is now overheating and burned the wool! From observing the above swatch on the purl side it looks as though each row of shapes needs to have a triangular shape at each end. Also, the contrasting color line thickness is not constant. The purpose of automation should be to make things easier, not confounding. After yet another trial, I decided to give up on attempting to use the automated repeat to produce an effect that was consistent and made me happy.

Setup for a leaf in each color is far less fiddly and simpler to execute. A tentative layout and knitting sequence:
Begin on waste yarn, decide on the color of the cast on, and any additional knit rows prior to beginning in the pattern. Each of the side triangles is shaped using manual holding techniques over 12 stitches. If starting on the right, the first preselection row needs to be made moving from left to right as above on the first 24 stitches. With knit carriage set to both slip in both directions and holding with COL make certain the first 24 stitches on the right in B position make a free pass to the right.
COR: cut yarn, change color, knit the first shape repeat, end COR
COR: when all needles in the group are preselected, push first 12 needles on the carriage side out to holding position, push 12 stitches on their left back into upper work position as you would in any holding pattern, they will knit in the slip setting as well. Cut the yarn, change color, repeat across the row of shapes
COR: when the last group of 12 needles on the left is preselected with all needles out to hold or removing the carriage and positioning it on the other side, begin knitting COL.
COL: manually knit triangle at top of the previous row of shapes
If a contrasting color stripe or any other pattern is intended between a full row of shapes, execute them and end COL
COL: shape the second triangle for the start of the reversed row of shapes, get the carriage to the right side by a pass over all needles in holding position or removing the carriage and bringing it to the opposite side
COR: the second pattern is programmed. Punchcard knitters use the second card, electronics mirror the shape. With the first 24 stitches on the left in B position and the knit carriage set for holding and to slip in both directions, make a preselection pass to left.
COL: change color, knit shape and continue on as described above reversing shaping
As with intarsia, there will be lots of yarn ends to weave in and clean up those eyelets at the start of each color change. The swatch after a quick pressing

The possibilities could be endless.  Electronic machines do not have the limitation of working within the 24 stitch maximum design width. Shapes can be fully automated using only slip stitch setting, no holding, but repeats become exponentially wide and long. The technique merits its own post.

 

 

 

 

A hand knit consult to machine knit slip stitch

I was contacted via a comment here about the possible methods for reproducing this handknit pattern Observations: there are elongated loops on the knit side of the fabric, likely created with slipped stitches. There appear to be eyelets on the purl side. The total number of stitches remains constant throughout the knit. The row repeat spacing is fairly close, so at least to start with I tried single repeats to achieve the look, was not pleased with any of the initial results. That led me to an online search for what would visually appear to have similar qualities in handknit samples.  Knittingfool.com is an extensive resource and, to my eye, this slip stitch pattern, “little birds”,  shares similarities with the above swatch as do “oats” found in a 1984 handknitting publicationI have a hard time with longhand written instructions for patterns nowadays, have grown so used to creating or working from published charts. As usual, I plan out tentative repeats and ideas, began with this,  toying with where to place slipped stitches and then transitioned to translating any repeats for use in machine knitting, keeping in mind that in hand knitting actions are made as the row is being knit, while in machine knitting they take place prior to returning the carriage to the opposite side thus knitting that row. This was my first repeat after replacing cells with squares representing knit stitches with black and white planned pixels for electronic download.
On the machine, the distance between stitches is fixed, so for any crossings or lots of movement across the needle bed it is best to use yarn with a bit of stretch, and a stitch size large enough to allow for the desired actions. I found slipping for 2 rows only did not create enough loop length, so I changed the slip stitch areas to 3 rows in height.The slip stitch setting is used in both directions throughout. White squares represent areas where needles on the bed are skipped/slipped, not being selected forward and thus knit. This happens for 3 rows, resulting in the required elongated stitches. On the 4th pattern row, the group of 3 not selected needles is where the stitch transfers and crossings occur. Any cabling, eyelet fill in, etc, needs to be performed prior to knitting that row and moving the carriage to the opposite side. The work is always done with purl side facing, so matching the direction of patterning to a hand-knit may also require mirroring of crossings, depending on your knitting machine model. The goal is to have the K3tog with the long loops in front of the single knit stitch in the center position.

To execute the slip stitch crossings in front of the center knit stitch on the knit side of the fabric transfer the center stitch in the group of 3 and hold aside, take the left elongated stitch and move it onto the now empty needle at the center position of the group of 3transfer the elongated stitch on the right onto that same center stitch. This may be done in the reverse order to have loops move in the opposite direction on the knit side of the fabric.Move the stored original center stitch back onto that center position, there will now be 3 stitch loops held on the single needlefill in the empty needles to avoid large eyelets, picking up from the row below repeat the process across the bed, bring all the needles used out to hold position prior to knitting the next row The yarn used was 3/8 wool at loosest tension possible, the result is subtle as any spaces between stitches get pretty well filled in. Moving on to denser patterningThe elongated stitch crossings now happen every 4 rows, but across two needles, not one. I used a tightly twisted rayon for the test swatch thinking they might be more visible, but the openness in the stitch formation because of the fixed spacing on the metal bed confuses the texture a bit. Simply leaving the empty needle out of work and continuing to knit (1) created too large an eyelet to my taste. Trying to pick up the third slipped loop (2) had the same effect. The best result was obtained by picking up from row below on each side of the three stitches that are removed and then returned to the needle bed (3).
When pattern row 4 is reached, the not selected stitches are removed on a 3 prong tool, the elongated stitches are moved onto the center needle of the now resulting group of 5e wrapping the third row of floats can be tested by inserting a single eye tool front to back, twisting either counter or clockwise and rehanging on an empty needle, thus casting on an “extra” stitch going back to picking up from row below this shows the number of skip stitch floats in each test the appearance on the knit side comparison to the handknit.Charting the actions for a hand-knit version: the top images illustrate the moves on the purl side while on the machine, below it those on the knit side when hand knitting the patternPlotting out borders and repeats for a small test including make-1 increases in order to keep the total stitch count constant. I do little hand knitting nowadays, so when doing so I add as much information as possible including some stitch counts until the pattern is established and I can visually follow it more easily.The resulting test swatch Comparison with the original: I knit 3 together through front loops, so my long stitches are crossed in the opposite direction of the original. Knitting through the back of the 3 stitches would reverse it and yield a matching result.This is an  illustration of the method I used to “make one”,  in my swatch I kept the direction constant

Revisiting automated shell shapes

My original posts on exploring automating shell shapes were written in my 910 electronic days using mylar sheets in early 2013: 1, 2. The repeat produced a visually successful fabric. I received a question on FB about executing the shells on a punchcard machine, and another on how I “come up with these things”, so here I am going to attempt to share some of my present thought processes.
Since the time I wrote my original posts my approach to my explanations has changed. I have become increasingly familiar with the software I acquired since then, and now have cable connections that allow for download to 2 different model Brother electronic machines. iPhone cameras make it far easier to “shoot and share”. Initially, I used to often start at step 10 of any technique, now I explore the basics and logic in more detail.
My original mylar repeat entered as separate programs in days when each mylar sheet was precious. The 910 in my default setting produced the “image’ as drawn on the knit side of the resulting fabric. The post was written prior to my tiling the repeats as a matter of routine to check their alignments. Doing so would have shown a couple of missing pixels, and pointed to any other errors in filling in mylar squares.All transfers were made in the same direction, which now leads me to wonder whether biasing might result in a long piece of knitting. My leaf lace post illustrates modules created manually by holding with the direction of knitting reversed after the completion of each row of leaves. The start of the same concept being applied to the shell shapes with errors later observed and resolved: As always, ideas need error-proofing and refining, easier done in a chart if possible prior to any actual knitting. This type of design would be required to achieve a continuous, uninterrupted repeat on the electronic, whether all in a single direction or reversing every other row of shapes. It is applicable to joining several punchcards, but only on single 24 stitch widths.
There are a number of changes to make if it is necessary to get the pattern to reverse direction in alternate rows of completed shapes. My first tests were planned with knitting moving only from left to right. To execute such a pattern on a punchcard KM, the repeat needs to be altered from 14X2 to 12X2 in width. This is the start of sorting that out:Attempts to visualize holding can happen in spreadsheets, documents, image processing canvases, or even simply on graph paper, moving/ “drawing” back and forth across the cells mimicking carriage movements and marking them accordingly. Large staggered repeats can be programmed in electronics. All shapes are limited in terms of the width of the repeat occurring across the number of available needles on any machine. Some previous posts on electronic knitting such repeats: 2014/02/24/holdingshort-rows-hand-tech-to-chart-to-automating-with-slip-stitch-1/, 2018/05/20/ayab-short-rows-automated-with-slipstitch/, 2019/08/03/a-return-to-short-row-shapings-bumps-and-slits/

As mentioned, my long-ago swatches were knit on a 910, which by default produced the knit image as programmed on the knit side. On the punchcard machines, the image-as-drawn effect is achieved on the purl side. Lettering is likely the most familiar instance where mirroring is required for punchcard machines to produce it correctly, a consideration here as well. For the moment I will work drawing the shapes in the direction I wish to have them appear on the knit side. The beginning goal was to establish a continuous 24 stitch repeat, with the same technique applicable to electronics thus avoiding programming 2 different repeats. This proved to be a fail.If the color changer were to be used for changes every 2 rows the complete number of rows would need to be a multiple of 4 in height for each segment. With larger gaps between changes, the yarn may be changed every X rows manually, making an easy fix to breaking that rule. The next step is working out 12 stitch repeats with patterning needles to be brought in and out of holding position as well. The options on a punchcard would include 8, 12, and 24 stitch motif widths. The machines will be set to slip in both directions throughout, end needle selection must be canceled. This method is not executable easily on km models that do not offer that option, electronics use KC II. Note that machines sold in Europe in some models may have different names for the same functions, ie. SM in some instances is the equivalent of KC II, whereas ours is for a single motif. Punchcard settings: I do not have any blank punchcards to test a repeat on at the moment. I do have a 930 that essentially behaves the same way by producing the entered pattern on the purl side, so I planned on that fact. Adding arrows to my tentative chart reflect the direction of the next movement of the knit carriage the starting 24 stitch brick repeat,reduced to black pixels/punched holes and mirrored horizontally to have the result planned above on the knit side The bottom, curved edge fo each of the shapes is created first. That said, the above used as a continuous repeat is not executable to achieve 2 rows of different consecutive shapes.

Other shapes have previously been explored using slip stitch, and later, slip stitch combined with holding. A brief return to previous turns at holding and slip stitch used to create alternating color shapes: in 2013/02/12/an-entrelac-pretender/, a continuous slip stitch only card was used. The result on the knit side,while on the reverse floats between alternating shapes are the norm Results with no floats are found in the swatches in the posts: 2013/02/21/entrelac-pretender-2/and a larger motif: 2013/04/11/entrelac-pretender-3/Both were knit using pairs of punchcards for each.
Returning to the goal of the moment: to knit the shells in a floatless way, using a technique executable on a punchcard machine as well. The repeat in question so far is 28 rows high. If the punchcard or the electronic advance every row with each pass of the carriage, the alternating shifting blocks of the repeat will be selected in full with every 28 passes. In this instance, one returns to the start of the same repeat every 28 rows. Identical shell full shapes are created across the knitting rather than the shifting shapes desired in alternating full row repeats.
Separating the 28-row repeat into 2-14 row ones. The 12 stitch repeat is tiled X2 horizontally. If programming two separate repeats were the only solution, the bottom shapes, 14 rows high, would need to be punched X 4 in one card. In electronics half of each repeat would be adequate to program only once and entered as an all-over, repeating pattern.Here the repeat for all full-size shells is planned,  the black squares would also need to be punched X 4 on a second punchcard, to be programmed separately.Marking up the needle bed with water-soluble markers or pencils helps track placements of repeats across the desired number of needles in work: dark lines indicate placement beginning with the mark for half a repeat to maintain straight side edges on the finished piece. Red lines mark the placement of the stitches when they are moved to the left in order to knit the full shells across the bed. On a 930, the image will be knit in the direction of the pattern as drawn on the knit side, as it would be on a punchcard machine. I intend to begin knitting the shells with COR. Since the pattern is fixed on the needle bed, one option is to move the work in one direction or the other on the needle bed using a garter bar, so that the knitting is in the proper place for the desired anticipated needle selection. This was easier in my own mind than reprogramming the pattern repeat for each full row of shells whether by entering a new download or altering placement using the position option at the start of each row. One of my first working repeats amended later in several steps is shown here mirrored in black and whiteVisualizing the process on the needle bedScaling the image to render it a bit more legible:The machine will be set for both slip stitch in both directions and holding. End needle selection is canceled.
The first preselection row is from left to right. Every needle will be preselected and will knit every stitch for the first 2 rows in the desired shell color.
Color changes are made manually.
At the completion of a row of shells, its corresponding color ends on the left side, a free pass is made, returning to the right. Knitting with the new color for the alternate groups of shells begins again on the right side.
After the first 2 all knit rows, as the carriage works its way back to the right on the following pass, preselecting will occur for a decreasing number of stitches. This is the first-row holding selection when using the above repeat:
Beginning piece with half a shell on each side: all but the first 6 stitches are brought out to hold. When more than the single needle is selected at the top of the first half-shell (6 sts to start, 1 at the end), COR: bring the next group of 12 stitches to the left into work, knit to left.
COL: bring original 6 needles out to hold. Bring into work any needles not selected in the group of 12 into work as well.
Continue knitting, repeating the process across the bed.
On design row 14 of the last half-shell remove work on a garter bar.
To execute full shells across the next row of shapes: move the work 6 stitches to the left.
Return emptied needles to A position (out of work, OOW).
With all remaining needles in B preselect the next row (1) from left to right. Cam settings need not be changed.
Change color if desired, knitting 2 rows across all the stitches.
Bring all needles out to hold except for the first group of 12 sts between red marks, and repeat the process previously described across the bed.
When the last shell is completed, design row 14, remove the work on the garter bar again, shift it 6 stitches to the right.
Push back the now emptied needles back to A (OOW).
With all stitches in the B position, make a free pass to the right, row 1 of the half shell row will be preselected, change color, continue across the pattern row as described. This yarn is far too thin but makes stitch formation easy to identify.The last tweak eliminating having to bring any needles into work by hand when working at the start of each shape is reached. Punchcard knitters will need to punch the black squares, repeating the 24 stitch pattern 4 times in height, to a total of 56 rows. I used two repeats side by side on the electronic as well to eliminate having to consider and choose the position option on the 930 needle bed, resulting in having the pattern centered in each 24 stitch fixed segment of needle selection. I am in the habit of using a needle tape for punchcard machines on my electronic models since I so often transition usings designs for the former in the latter. It is possible to add all knit rows or even patterned ones between shell rows. On an electronic KM with 2 carriages available, adding a FI band would be simpler than trying to manage to change cam buttons in addition to the other number of steps already involved with the slip stitch and holding combination along with moving the knit on the needle bed. Contrasting color row stripes can be programmed by adding 2 or more/ even number rows of all black squares (or punched holes) at the top of each 14-row segment of the final repeat. Reverse shaping of shells appears to not be necessary to avoid biasing on my limited tests. The proof of concept swatch:I was too aggressive with clipping yarn ends on the left side, especially while in the process of changing colors, not ever a good idea. Automating the pattern fully on electronic models using only slip stitch patterning is possible. The length of such patterns grows exponentially in proportion to the size of the repeats. Reviewing errors in the beginning concept An attempt to visualize the placement of the shape variations in the finished piece using the shell motifs beginning with the shapes created in order to create a straight side edge

Redrawing the pattern for a 36 stitch test. On the left is the drawn image of the pattern, on the right the mirrored image for downloading to my machine to produce it in the desired direction. Much of the time is invested in developing and testing the final and correct image for download, the knitting that follows that is fairly quick.  My repeat is 36 stitches wide, 98 rows highCOR: knit a base row in color one from right to left
COL: KCII (no end needle selection) to right, the only needles preselected will be those corresponding to the programmed black squares, the remaining will be in B position. Knit to the right.
COR: set the machine to slip in both directions. Knit slowly and evenly. All needles in work on the bed must be cleared with each pass of the carriage.
Continue in pattern across the bed, checking that all stitches are knitting off properly.
When all needles are preselected, change colors for the next set of shells. These rows create the base for the next group of shapes. If a stripe or other pattern is wanted regularly, those rows are best added to the programmed pattern itself.
The automated test swatch: Preserving the 3D texture relies on using yarns with “memory”, ie wool and avoiding aggressive blocking. Using thinner yarns makes the stitch formation more evident. Hard pressing, in this case, knit using acrylic yarns, flattens the fabric considerably, and often, permanently. Both the hold/slip (top) and fully automated swatches (bottom) are shown.Isolating like modules and looking for any differences in each to prepare for a larger number of repeats in each row of shapes across the needle bed
There are several methods for securing yarn ends both during and after knitting in the final pieces using these techniques. Testing such methods on swatches is the best way to determine what works for yarn and colors used as well as our own personal preference. The pattern width may be adjusted to create considerably larger shells if desired. Punchcard knitters are limited to 8, 12, and 24 stitch repeats. For them, this would be the maximum size, including an added number of rows for contrasting color stripes, in this instance 4. A return to the original 14 stitch repeat, illustrating a way to begin editing for an extra row in width at the bottom of the shape and ending on 2 stitches rather than a single stitch at the topImagining adding increases and or decreases for shaping at sides, which in turn could lead to an evaluation of switching to entrelac approaches when creating large shell shapes for similar effects. The 3D qualities and distortions are obviously missing from these illustrations.A Prada sweater using similar shapes If you are interested in any large size clamshells, and intarsia appeals to you whether in hand or machine knitting, Cheryl Brunette has thorough directions for many such shapes, including 2 videos on shell shapes Part 1, and Part 2
More online inspiration using large shapes:
from a Russian blog

a hand-knit blanket from Garnstudio the common illustration for shaping triangular shawls using such motifs Similar pattern repeats are at times also referred to as scallops, fans, or scales. A “scallop” design a “fan”

 

 

Drop stitch lace using Ayab software 2/ HoP

At the start of 2018, I wrote a long post on creating drop stitch lace using ayab software and some of the techniques required to produce the fabric. Since then the software has been updated including several new features and among them the heart of pluto HoP color separation for executing multiple colors per row dbj, and revisited the topic providing links to all the previous related posts.  It occurred to me I might be able to use it to make drop stitch lace without having to manually perform the color separation and then entering it as a single bed pattern. This was my first proof of concept effort, dropping each of the 2 colors in turn. Making things work: my first desired repeat was what I expected would produce a circular shape, it measured 33 stitches by 23 rows.Increments in height need to happen at sequences of 2 rows each, so the design was then doubled in height, resulting in a scaled image now 33 stitches by 46 rows in height, with a planned horizontal repeat X2 = 66. Note: the sidebar offers start and end needles are given for pattern placement on the needle bed. Sampling may occur on fewer stitches than that. Since the number of repeats programmed add up to an even number and center alignment is chosen, the number of needles is even on each side of 0.In my second series of swatches, I decided to try for a smaller “circular” shape, with the repeat now measuring 15 wide by 20 high, and a planned horizontal repeat X3 = 45. If centered, the software places the odd number of needles on the right-hand side of 0.As with any pattern using Ayab, the starting side is with COL. The critical difference is that all needles are in work on the ribber, all needles on the main bed start in work but empty. White squares select first. The main bed is set to slip both ways throughout, the ribber for this fabric is set to knit every needle, every row. The choice then needs to be made as to whether both colors or only one is to be dropped. The software does the work involved in the separation, but the knitter needs to manually cancel needle preselection on the main bed on a regular basis as well as drop stitches formed there. This is best achieved by using a ribber cast on comb or a similar tool. A modified stitch dropping tool does not work unless all needles in work are in B position, so if they are pushed back it will work here as well but I found the cast on comb made the process faster. I will refer to colors as black and white, as they would appear in the design in black and white pixels. Begin with base rows in white. Whether dropping one or both colors, the first preselected row is disregarded on the main bed in both fabrics.
Begin COL: main bed set to slip <– –> (remains there throughout). As the carriage moves to the right, the first row of white pixels is preselected, the ribber only knits.
COR: for both fabrics, use the chosen tool to push preselected needles back to B position. As you move to left side and the color changer, the needles for the first row of stitches to be dropped in the next color (black pixels) will be preselected
For dropping both colors 
*COL: pick up the color to be used for black squares, loops will be formed on the main bed as you knit one row to the right
COR: push all needles forward so stitches on the main bed move behind the latches, I tend to do so all the way to E. As needles are returned to B position the loops formed on the previous pass will drop, creating long stitches on the ribber bed. As you return to the left nothing happens on the main bed (needles in B position are not worked in slip stitch), but the next row of white pixels will preselect
COL: pick up the color to be used for white squares, loops will be picked up on the main bed as you knit one row to the right
COR: push all needles forward to drop stitches on the main be, push all needles back to B, knit one row to the left side, as you do so next row of black pixels will preselect**
COL: repeat * to**
I knit until the green yarn broke for some unknown reason For dropping only one color of the two, I chose color 2, “black squares”after preselection starting row
COL: main bed set to slip <– –>. As the carriage moves to the right, the first row of white pixels is preselected, the ribber only knits.
COR: use the chosen tool to push preselected needles back to B position. As you move to left side and the color changer, the needles for the first row of stitches to be dropped in the next color (black pixels) will be preselected
*COL: pick up the color to be used for black pixels, loops will be picked up on the main bed as you knit one row to the right
COR: push all needles forward to drop stitches on the main bed, and then push all needles back to B. Knit one row to the left side, as you do so next row of black pixels will preselect
COL: now working with “white”. No loops are wanted on the main bed, so the last preselected row of needles needs to be pushed back to B before returning to the right, knit one row
COR: cancel needle selection again,
as you return to left the next row of black squares will preselect**
COL: change colors, repeating * to **End with some rows on the ribber in “white” to match the number used at the start of the piece.
Casting on and binding off both need to be loose since the fabric stretches considerably when off the machine.  I like to start in waste yarn, make certain my colors change properly, pull down a long yarn end, and begin the final piece on open stitches. At the top, I bind off on the main bed, either transferring stitches up to the main bed from the ribber or taking them off on waste and rehanging them there. A latch tool bind off may then be done around two gate pegs or even more to provide stretch at the top. The bottom of the piece can then be rehung and the same bind off can be executed so the top and bottom edges will match in stretch and width.

Sometimes things are not necessarily worth doing because you can. I was curious as to whether an all one color drop stitch could also be executed using this separation. It is but involves pushing needles back to B multiple times in each sequence. I started with a shape, scaled it twice as long, erased every other row, tiled it X3 horizontally,The wider horizontal band of all knit stitches was due to operator error, happened when I pushed back preselection an extra time, resulting in the ribber only knitting extra rows. For the sake of added clarity, I have added color to the chart below, assigning yellow and grey to all-white design areas in the pattern. The black squares are what I choose to drop. For illustration purposes, this is only a segment of the repeat.The process: begin with COL: main bed set to slip <– –>. As the carriage moves to the right, the first row of white squares/ pixels (yellow) is preselected, the ribber only knits.
*COR: cancel any needle preselection for white (yellow) squares, all needles are pushed back to Bas the carriages move to the left, the black squares will preselect COL: knit to the right in order to form loops on the main bed,  they will be dropped to form long stitches
COR: loops have been formeddrop the loops, return needles to B position. At this point, since all needles are in B a modified stitch ditcher may be used for 2 passes, dropping the loops on the first pass and returning the whole series back to B on the second.As you move back to the left, all the needles will be preselected for the all-white row (grey squares),COL: push all preselected needles back to B, as you knit back to the right the next group of white squares (yellow) in the next design row will be preselected*COR: push selected needles back to B as you move toward the left the next row of black squares will be preselected selectedCOL: knit to the right in order to form loops on the main bed, continue for the desired number of repeats and end as suggested for the two-color version.

Previously knit, not using this method, a sample with the ground behind the shape dropping stitches and one in 2-color with shapeshifts For a while, Camino bubbles were a popular topic and created with dropped stitches, for the series on the topic search 

 

 

Knitting with “unusual” fibers/ elastic 1

Decades ago UKI used to offer 92 colors in a 3M elastic, and for some time lots of folks were experimenting with using it as the second color in fair isle. A company now defunct called Impresario used to even sell pattern books for garments using the technique, with the no stretch ground yarns creating ruffled details in cuffs and sleeves. One of my students during that time made a whole collection where the elastic was used in shaping segments of pieces and even in a whole dress. Since pleating, folds, blisters, bubbles have been intermittent themes in my blog posts the elastic and “unusual” fiber use seems to be a natural follow up in my swatch knitting experiments.
Early published designs can be found using elastic in patterning. Thread lace was an early feature in Silver Reed machines, so if that is a fabric that is attractive, downloading Studio specific punchcard books or those for their electronic designs is well worth it and provides a wealth of inspiration for the related knits. The knitting technique is often referred to as punch lace in early pubsIf a clear color contrast is desired, FI is the better option. One such source: In an earlier post on “pretend cables” I shared a demo swatch from my teaching days (shown sideways) that became the springboard for the mentioned student collection
and its accompanying punchcard repeat:UKI is no longer available. I recently acquired some Yeoman elastomeric nylon-lycra yarn. The latter is supplied on 1450 yards per pound cones in 23 colors.
There were several things to be sorted out for the elastic to feed smoothly. The first was to separate it into more than one cone with the intent of using at least 2 strands since one did not seem to work predictably. After trying a variety of trial methods including bypassing the tension dial in the yarn mast, ultimately the best results were obtained by threading the elastic as any other yarn but taping the metal disks spaced apart in the assembly thus reducing the pressure and upper tension on the elastic as it advanced through the mast for knitting.
The normal threading

Here the white yarn shows position beneath the pin and scotch tape in place to adjust the amount of pressure exerted on the elastic.As a matter of routine, even if the goal is to knit the fibers double bed, it is always best to make certain one gets familiar with yarn feeding, tensions, changes when larger widths of knitting are attempted, etc. on the single bed. The first tests were knit using the fair isle and thread lace settings single bed. Though I am using  img2track to download to a 930, I do not have a 930 carriage (910 ones do not have a thread lace option), so I worked the swatches using a punchcard model carriage. The repeats used were planned to include borders on each side to ensure those stitches would knit in the second, B feeder color in fair isle (black squares, punched holes) or together in white squares (unpunched holes) in thread lace. Fair Isle produces a double set of floats on the purl side.Thread lace produces a single set of floats (in this case the elastic), the white border is not visible in the repeat below, it is the same as the above fabric, with colors reversed. I prefer the single float backing. In addition, for these fabrics the elastic is placed in the A feeder, the yarn in BI found the standard sinker plate kept having issues with the thread lace option, getting needles caught up in it as it attempted to move across the bed. The sinker plate that was provided with the punchcard machine was actually different, and when I switched to using it I had no further problems. Arrows point to differences, I have long since replaced all brushes with wheels on all my sinker plates. Be aware when purchasing any of them that the bulky KM ones are slightly larger.A second thread lace variation:
the multiple folds and creases, as opposed to smooth blister in all the above, are very interesting to me.
There are many scientific papers being written on 3D knitting that explore pleating achieved by using knit and purl combinations which to some degree could be emulated on home knitting machines equipped with a G carriage. Other work explores properties achieved by using elastics in the mix, they can be found by searching for “axometric knits”.

Many interesting pleating effects may be achieved by using knit and purl combinations. Unless one has a mechanical aid such as a Gcarriage transferring between beds can be tedious and hard to do correctly for lengthy pieces of knitting. I illustrated one sample in the post I decided to now test a similar block structure using the thread lace setting, first with a large check and then a far smaller oneThe spots, where the elastic and yarn knit together, are compressed, so the results are quite different than what might be expected from studying the chartA quick, imperfect sample using a fine cotton and a single strand of the elastic, each with its own upper tension disk adjustments.a close-up of the elastic and cotton, though they are knitting stocking stitch together, the cotton does not have the same stretch factor, so the loop formation as viewed on the purl side is different  What of knitting on a double bed? An axometric shape, a tentative repeat worked out and in turn elongated X2 and tiled to check alignment. The original repeat is composed of an odd number of rows in height. Usually, double bed knitting relying on color changes or automatic DBJ KRC separations require an even number of rows in the motif. The first sample was executed using single-ply cotton and elastic yarns respectively, fed through separate upper tension disks but knit together as a single color. The swatch is 72 stitches in width but measures only 14.5 mm (5.7 inches) in width, producing a gauge of nearly 13 stitches for inch, not achievable when knitting with standard fibers on a standard 4.5 mm machine. The pattern is subtle, more visible on the knit side, hard to tell there are pockets in the knit. The cotton is space-dyed, and as true when using such yarns, that causes some confusion in immediately identifying a clear pattern. The ruffled effect is simply from a plain knit start and color-changing stripes to test tension and knittability on the planned needle width. Machine settings: opposite part buttons,  no liliHere the same pattern was executed on the same number of stitches with the white wool used above, but the elastic was plied with a 2/24 acrylic yarn and knit as DBJ with the blue, stretchy combination creating the solid color backing a comparison in scale My future intent is to try for some of the 3D shapes obtained with racking, but prior to that, I tested the yarn and tensions on some simple every needle rib racked patterns. Because of the movement required across the metal bed for racking to occur, I chose to continue using the same wool as above, rather than thin cotton likely to break from the stress of those movements. A plating feeder would do a better job of distributing the colors, which here become muddied as seen any time 2 contrasting colors are knit together and are used as “one strand”. Racking every 2 rows (swatch bottom) will stress the yarn less than every one row (swatch top). The knitting was fairly easy at tension 4 and 3 respectively. Both carriages were set to knit in both directions. The weighted rib on the machine measured 16 inches, 10 when off it and relaxed. The width nearly doubles when fully stretched. I was curious to try a pattern previously tested in an all woolThe stitches were quite compressed, the color mixing makes the shapes harder to trace, the fabric measures nearly double in width when fully stretched in width, the needle arrangement is more visible at that point.The needle arrangement was changed. The finished swatch measured 24 inches when weighted and on the machine, approximately 18 inches when off and relaxed. The maximum width was expanded from 4 to 12 inches The “pleating” arrangement is noticeable in this view Working with a similar arrangement I decided to try having patterning on the top bed, with the aim to tuck on the single needles in work in the repeat (bottom line of black squares). Not all ideas are an immediate success. Wanting to see the effect on the single-ply wool I began with that at the tension that appeared to be required for knitting it along with the elastic and stitches were far too loose.I had more success and a bit better definition of the fabric by knitting with both strands together from the bottom up. In an effort to attempt to have better color distribution I used the plating feeder and had some issues with stitches not knitting off properly. The result was not significantly different than that obtained by simply feeding both yarns together. When using plating feeders both on the single and the double beds one of the yarns may have a tendency to jump out, to prevent that from happening here is one “hack”.The tuck stitches do help with the definition of the shapes, as do the dropped stitches, a fact worth keeping in mind with a return to pleats and their formation, but likely in another post. Likely the last test in this series, I attempted a version of dragon scales at first using a yarn I knew would be too thin for the effect alone, then added the elastic. The combined yarns did not tolerate tuck and racking combined, so I then used slip stitch <– –>. The yarn alone sample was too loose and thus nearly flat and when the elastic was added the resulting knit became compressed and lost any semblance of 3DThe same yarn as above, also knit in tuck setting, showing the difference in size and dimension between slip setting on left, tuck on right As with any knitting, keeping an eye on what your yarn is doing still matters. Such as this will lead to a series of circumstances that may bring your project to a far earlier end than planned ;-(
A very last effort at attempting the scales with elastic and wool knit at a far looser tension that in previous tests, ended when elastic broke as a result of above, IMO an unremarkable fabric

Revisiting Ayab

WORK IN PROGRESS

A new Ayab release has been available for download for a while, though I have not had the opportunity to explore it.
Along with several new software features, a manual is now also available including a wealth of information on developing designs for download with various software and executing them in a variety of techniques on both the single and double beds. Kudos to the contributors to the project.
My tendency is to explore basics first, looking for any differences in how menus or techniques might differ from any experience with the software or knitting techniques in the past. There is some exploration of the design that can happen prior to turning the power on, which is required for configuring and knitting the project. Since houndstooth designs turned up again in the Facebook machine knitting group today, I thought I would begin with a simple hound design. Red squares mark the black ground in the repeat to help identify changes in rotation. These charts reflect some of the mirroring and rotation of original image possible within a design program (GIMP)while here the original image is altered in turn within the Ayab programThe horizontal repeat option has eliminated the requirement for tiling it in a width matching the number of needles one wished to repeat on the needle bed, though that can certainly remain an option if one wishes to add borders bands or knit intermittent vertical design stripes in the body of a wider knit. It should not be necessary to download the repeat tiled vertically as well as horizontally since infinite repeat is still available in the configure menu, but tiling in both directions allows one who may not have attempted doing so in the design software to visualize how the groups of repeats might align in the body of the knit thus allowing the opportunity of noticing potential errors prior to any knitting.
My initial test swatches were knit programming the 16X16 repeat X3 but using fewer needles than that. I am still finding the configuration process seems to take an extended period of time as compared to mylar sheets or img2track downloads. If new to the program, there are plenty of opportunities to double-check entries ie. here my first swatch was planned as fair isle

I have been told “Regarding the slow startup, try clicking the Knit button anyway, even though it’s still gray. You’ll find that it’s actually ready for action within seconds of clicking Configure“. With further testing I found this to be true indeed.
The repeat above accounts for 16 stitches in width, not 48 as I was planning, the full download count is reflected below

The FI results are shown on the left, the first dbj test with lili buttons engaged and both carriages set to slip in both directions appear to the right. Note the difference in width and height of the resulting knit. The floats in FI are overlong, and there are some separation and lengthening of the stitches along the diagonal edges of the houndstooth shape The program does provide prompts as to which color should be picked up next, and clues as to where one is in the repeat, they are found at the bottom of the Ayab window. I happened to grab content with color B upcoming both times. An observation: while the sinker plate is technically labeled with A and B for 2 colors used in techniques utilizing the MC or thread lace buttons, the color changer is numbered in numeric sequence 1 to 4 from right to left as opposed to an alphabetical one, but Ayab assigns letters A to D to color positions.The Brother single bed color changer is the only one I know of that holds each yarn in place as opposed to releasing it for travel with the carriages. The double bed one does release the yarn. Set up, images, and more information on the color changer may be found in my post.
Using the same image and altering it for use with 3 color dbj options: my preferred software for designing is Gimp, using a magnification of 1200, with grid view and snap to grid options in use, and a pencil 1 pixel in width and height. In circumstances such as below, when a large area of the design is in black and one wishes to count pixels, the configure grid in the image menu will allow for changes to that which will help make the repeat clearer to analyzeWhen preparing images for download, they should be indexed to 3 colors If a 3 color image is loaded into ayab, the colors on the screen change.It takes a while when knitting double bed knits before one can assess whether the results are correct in terms of patterning since the knit is hidden for some length as it drops between the beds. Because the Ayab prompts for color changes were altered sometimes when the carriage on the right, sometimes on the left, I dropped the first sample off after slightly more than one repeat, found its patterning to be correct and that the prompts when on the color changer side for the following row to be knit from left to right were reliable, as shown in the knit swatches. In turn, I  used an indexed greyscale image. The lettering on the right indicates where colors were placed following the give instructions, rather than where they were assigned in the original design. The manual states that the color sequence for the separation is: white, grey, black, gray, however, if the prompts for changing colors as given are followed, which is very valuable in tracking them, the knitting occurs in reverse orderKnitting mode options for DBJ are listed below the single bed one, The main bed is set to slip in both directions, the ribber as well, with lili buttons engaged.  The number of colors is not altered automatically by Ayab, the change needs to be made manually.My first attempt was at knitting with the middle colors selected twice=C, B, A, B, C, B, A, B, B The backing looks different than standard birdseye because of that change in the placement of the middle color in the changing sequences. I followed that with testing the heart of Pluto variation C, B, A, C, B, A, CThere is an extra pair of all charcoal rows at the bottom due to the fact I had forgotten to set the knit carriage to slip, so all stitches knit in that color for those 2 rows. Both repeat series measured literally equal, give or take by a millimeter or 2 depending on whether I tugged at either of them in any way.
Both methods will knit each color for each design row only once, a unique option, thus motif elongation is minimal.
In terms of scale change when knitting the extra rows required by 3 colorwork, here is a side by side for comparison 
If pixel colors in greyscale are selected with C (3) being white pixels, B (2) the middle-value grey, and A (1) the black squares, placement of yarn in color changer can be planned to match other variations for the design. The visual shift can be quite interesting, the red here is swapped for grey for added contrast, the results can easily be guesstimated in the paint programs usedMore houndstooth designs for use either single or double bed hounds-tooth-fi-variations/, and one for fun, with not every color represented in each design row I thought I would return to the repeat that began my whole series on 3 colors per row slipstitch. Here again, colors are represented on every row. Though the working repeat is in multiple colors, I chose to change it to greyscale (3 colors, indexed) in order to plan the location of the yarn in the color changer so that the Ayab prompts as to which color should be used next can serve as a tracking device. This was the set up in the color changer No matter what stitch type is being created, one must remember to program the repeats over the number of needles used. There is a choice regarding its position placement on the needle bed, and numbers are provided as to the start and stop needles for the pattern. Here for a 30 stitch repeat (15 either side max), I used fewer stitches on the left (OK), more stitches on the right resulting in a band of single-color knitting with some issues with dropped stitches. If a border was desired, it is best added as a planned color in the overall tiled motif. The resulting swatch using the middle color twice ribber option and the above needle arrangementhere it is compared to the swatch knit using img2track and my hand separated repeat, which happened to be also knit at a far looser tension. In both, each color in each row is represented only once, resulting in combination with the lili slip setting on the ribber in the least elongation possible of the original Recently a video was shared on Facebook, it was created by Chris Burge and shows 3 color knitting using Ayab with in addition, a very clever “hack” for knitting DBJ without the use of a color changer, can be found on  youtube