The joys of lace on the KM

I long ago learned the famous three hour KM sweater was not going to exist for me, I may now be on my way to my first 300 hour MK scarf. Dropped stitches continued in spite of my visually checking each row after transfers. At one point it took well over an hour to try to get back to a row where I could manage a “repair”. When I got a dropped mess in the same spot again I went the route of intentionally taking the knit off the machine, here is the baby (I have to admit I am beginning not to love these leaves so much anymore!).

I decided to go the route of steaming the piece to help set the stitches at the upper edge of the knit before attempting to rehang,

unraveled back to an all knit row, and got the masterpiece back on the machine after checking needles and gatepegs, changing a lone needle of questionable slight bent and here it is back on and “ready to go”

I chose to clip the yarn I unraveled because of the crimp. Back knitting again I noticed more dropped stitches where I could not identify any after lace carriage passes. This pattern at one point requires 16 transfer rows before any knitting takes place. I have used this yarn before, but the dye lot is new. It is alpaca and silk, a bit fuzzier than the previous dye lot and I am beginning to think that what is happening is what sometimes happens when machine knitting mohair. The multiple passes raise the fuzz even more than what is produced in the spinning process, and that is what “catches” at times on knit rows, is not easily visible, and by the time the stitch ‘runs’ the situation is a pretty mess.  May have to give waxing the yarn a try…

Follow up: decades ago for a while I decided to make children’s knits. The presumption in part was that they might take less time than adult sweaters but between scaling back motifs, and having a penchant for complicated, I soon found production was not practical in terms of financial returns. I remember at one point a green sweater I made that caused me so much grief I swore off using that color ever again. All knitters experience dropitis: the bliss of having the knitting magically falling off the machine = great fun at row 900+ of DBJ or double bed tuck long scarves and shawls! In the instance of this piece, I have found it actually takes less time to unravel back to knit rows off KM and rehang than to try to correct dropped stitches on the machine. The yarn continues to split and is being a nuisance. Then there are moments intended to keep one humble: after a huge hole cropped up, taking the knit off, rehanging it, knitting 5 more rows of repeats I noticed I had accidentally at some point close to the start of that adventure accidentally pushed into work one of the needles that had been out of work creating the ladder in that location, and off it all had to come again. Whether beginners or experienced, knitters absolutely get the opportunity to play Penelope in knits from time to time. This apple green may be the new color I will avoid for a very long time.

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They’re everywhere!

Leaves are getting more attention from others as well yet again in hand knitting pubs and youtube videos.
As for my own leaf pattern: here is a wrap in progress on my knitting machine. Knitting is slow, with many transfer rows between knit ones. Though I am still using the now-familiar silk alpaca blend it took some fussing with weights and tension to avoid the “deconstructed” lace that was not part of my intended pattern. The added success comes from visually checking transfers each row, and increasing skill at sorting out where to put dropped stitches back onto the needle bed.

On two needles

This is my present HK project, another scarf. Stitch pattern blocks are broken up by rows of solid knit and solid purl alternately, giving the fabric a slightly “pleated” effect, different from the usual square block configurations. The yarn is 60% silk, 40% wool as the last lace HK, all wool would probably have a crisper wave effect. A trial cotton swatch flattened out almost completely.

wavy squares

I am able to get good edges on my HKs, tend to never use the method suggested by some of slipping the first stitch, knitting it only on alternate rows. Such an edging could be added if preferred.

the chart below is the working repeat

My intent is to end the scarf with a partial repeat followed by bind off as seen below

Getting there

I have been continuing to experiment with “automating” some version of the staggered leaf, and have reached a “final” punchcard version. Wanting to add a border top and bottom and getting the 2 ends to “match” without a center pivot point led to the resulting fabric below (swatch is not properly blocked).

The punchcard for the leaf pattern is over 100 rows in length.

I actually had never purchased anything on eBay. The length of the card repeats I want to play with led to my looking for punchcard rolls. “Back in the day” the ones available were clear, and not numbered or marked in any way, a relative “pain” to use. Through an online search, I found this item and purchased it. The order was filled very quickly. The roll is of sturdy stock, with Studio numbering so a bit of added markings are required for use on Brother KMs. I live in an area with no local suppliers for this sort of thing, buying directly from overseas was an option I had not considered before, and proved to be a positive experience for me.

Staggered leaf scarf

The staggered leaf scarf based on the repeat from the Japanese magazine that originated many of my recent posts is now completed.

The scarf is knit in 60 % silk, 40% wool on number 8 US needles, measures 7.5 X 62 inches after blocking. The design is my personal adaptation. Here is a document including working graph and essential information for your personal use should you wish to attempt hand knitting the project final_leaf_scarf.

Yes, a punchcard is possible

Still leaf obsessed, I have punchcard repeats in the works for leaves similar to those in the previous posts. The leaves themselves are not as full as with the hand technique and are more pointed as well. Repeat is 52 rows long, with 10 rows of actual knitting completed per repeat. I was unable to sample in the yarn I had used in previous leaf samples due to stitches “dropping like flies”. Switching to a thinner yarn yielded better results:

this sample has 2 rows knit at the end of each complete repeat

this one has 6 rows knit at the end of the first repeat, then 4 at the end of the second  repeat, and varying width ladders

Below is my first try at a staggering leaf repeat, going back to the culprit that began all this. I estimate the punchcard repeat will have to be 120 rows to achieve this. My present supply is low. I found a source for a “brother” punchcard roll online, have it on order, will give the idea an attempt when the roll arrives. It is actually being shipped from Hong Kong. I will share the source here once I see how the “shopping experience” turns out.

It’s all math

Modular knits get lots of attention of late. Most hand knitters are familiar with “domino knitting”. Many have written extensively, below are a single random sample covers from a few authors
Horst Schultz Vivian Hoxbro Iris Schreier A pair of pubs by Rosemary Drysdale dedicated solely to entrelacs are shown below An excellent article on how to knit entrelac on the machine by Cheryl Brunette is archived here.
Complicated stitch patterns often are more easily managed in simple forms. Laying out shapes in scrumbled knits or ones that emulate quilting blocks get back to math and breaking down larger shapes into smaller ones which makes me think of origami.

Back to leaf lace, add rib, and take it to the Passap

The chart below represents the working repeat for a twin leaf that incorporates ribs in fabric. Golden color represents needles in work on ribber or Passap back bed, the numbers in the center of the graph the number of needles moved away from the center column, toward the wider rib on each side of the repeat. All colored areas within the red border represent black squares on mylar, or single palette color in SP, wincrea, or your means of downloading. The addition of electronics allows for a wider repeat. Air knitting on any machine will help make the selection needed for transfers to the opposing bed. On the Passap use Tech 129 and color reverse. This results in pushers corresponding to each colored square being selected to their up position: they then in turn may be pushed up slightly to help track the needles that need to be moved. The wider ribs on the sides make it easier to identify repeat center: again, transfers are made away from the single needle, toward the larger group. The front lock stays on N throughout. Pushers corresponding to needles on the back bed, not in the twin leaf pattern areas, need to be completely out of work. The back lock also knits throughout.

the resulting repeat: knit side

the repeat’s purl side

Having only 3 needles at each end of the chosen number of repeats knitting on the ribber or back bed will create a small rolled edge on each side of the knit, using the irritating property stocking stitch has of curling to purl side to create an “edging”. I have multiple stitch transfer tools for Passap but found I did much better avoiding dropped stitches doing larger transfers in two moves of fewer needles.

The graph may be modified for use in other electronics. Here the gold represents needles out of work that create ladders. The two stitch ladder helps with definition and with tracking direction of transfers. With ribbers in use cursed dropped stitches and holes may not be noticed until it’s too late for “repairs”. Again the center numbers reflect the number of stitches requiring movement on that particular row. All colored squares are used for “drawing” the repeat in the design program or on the mylar.

There are many designs available for machine knit leaves that align in a regular, vertical manner. The more varied shapes require a large number of transfer rows for each row knit. One such variant is this:

a second effort with more ladder experimentation

The result is definitely not a twin, but rather a distant relative of the twin leaves, more akin to wheat or fern lace. The design works within the punchcard 24 stitch repeat limit. A central ladder again helps definition. Latching up the ladder on the purl side made it disappear. Playing with ladder spaces between full repeats can vary the fabric considerably. This is the self-drawn card used for the swatch, the horizontal heavy lines indicate where the 2 rows of knitting occur. The card uses up the whole 60 rows, all punched holes are identifiable with corresponding row numbers, the card was a touch too long for my scanner.

Patience is a requirement, and yarn color that allows one to see what is actually happening to stitches is a recommendation.

Filling empty needles after transfers

Trying to get a movement in the fabric for an upper and lower border, echoing that of the leaves, I came up with the solution below. The first set of graphics represents how to fill in an empty needle, the pink again is the view as it may be on the KM, and the empty needle is filled in by picking up the purl ridge of the adjacent stitch.

Working with the 12 stitch repeat used in the previous samples: the green here represents the out of work needle, the golden color the stitches involved in the transfers, with the addition of 2 all knit rows at the top. Moving stitches on these last 2 rows is optional. The circles on blue represent the needles that are temporarily emptied with each move, then in turn filled as illustrated above. A single row of knitting remains along the ladder edge, keeping the ladder space smoother and free of uneven holes.

Those lace holes may be kept to create a very different fabric, as seen in the sample below, which includes some operator error. Transfers take place every 2 rows to allow formation of stitches on the emptied needles.

Other variations ie. repeating transfers from same side in reverse order atop each repeat, etc., vary the look and slant of the swatch. Understanding how the lace carriage works will help explain why some types of transfers do better in the realm of hand techniques.