Some notes on machine knitting color changers

one double bed example

Brother 900 E DB changer for use on both standard and bulky

Studio/singer YC6 may be used either single or double bed simply by repositioning one piece. It includes a 4 color tension unit, a special sinker plate,  and a set of cards that are only for DBJ.  It has a 4 button yarn changer, can be set for automatic 2 color changing. Brother/Knitking comes with a supplementary two-color yarn mast, a special sinker plate, and a four-button changer. A button must be pressed for each color change. It sits where the ribber setting plate usually does, so the ribber and in turn, the plate its bracket slides into on the left side of the machine needs to be removed. To color change on Studio, the next color button is pushed/selected when the KC is on the right, in Brother machines, the button for the next color selection is pushed after the KC is in the yarn changing area after the audible “click” produced when the carriage has traveled far enough.

The wires and tension units exert more tension on the yarn than standard tension units, which affects gauge so if one is knitting garments, the units should not be changed while working on the same piece, nor should calculations for gauge be used if they were produced in the same yarn, but using the alternate tension unit. Tension may have to be raised by at least one number or more to prevent dropped stitches and obtained the desired feel/drape.

If a carriage jam occurs, the sinker plate needs to be removed before using the release lever for KC.

If using for fair isle: in single bed FI knitting normally the contrast color, corresponding to punchcard holes (black squares on mylar, or pixels, depending on machine and programming) is placed in the B feeder, and background yarn in A. When using the color changer the manuals will state that the main color is normally in B while the contrast color is in A, where it can be changed automatically. However, that depends on which part of the design is to include the color striping.  If it is to occur in the motif, the card needs to be modified by being punched in reverse. If the striping is to occur in the background, standard card and position may be used. If one wishes to alternate, both ground and motif may need to be punched separately.

More than 2 colors per row require color separations of the original design for knitting with slip stitch setting, one color at a time, in 2-row sequences.

The double bed color changer is used often for DBJ with color-separated cards though other fabric options are possible. It may also be used for single bed work, but the ribber must remain raised and the ribber connecting plate is used. This means that single bed fair isle is not possible, because there is only one feeder in the ribber connecting plate. Using it is a viable option for knitting striped patterns on bulky machines. There are no brushes to help anchor knitting in place like the ones in the single bed sinker plate, however, so even though the fabrics may be worked only on the top bed, careful weighting is required ie in color tuck/slip mosaics, etc, knit with color changes every 2 rows.  I have read that Toyota did not have a color changer due to its built-in simulknit facility, automatic DBJ, but only 2 colors knit in any one row.

Sometimes metal parts/wires get bent in storage or handling even on ribber sinker plate, and may need a bit of bending and tweaking if colors are not getting properly picked up. Some Brother color changers have small adjustment screws under the arm that may loosen, and change its alignment to the needle bed, which is easily solved by adjusting/tightening the screw. Sinker plates should be cleaned and may be adjusted if required, just like the standard ones.

Some references: Studio YC6, Brother manuals

The set up as described in an early Brother Fashion magazine 

from the KRC 900 manual

High tech version: 1 set up 2 in use Automatic knitting system based on the Brother KH-970, consisting of a knitting machine Brother KH-970, set for the ribbing attachment KR-850, KE-100 motor drive, and automatic color changer KRC-1000E (6 color changer).

A later post including some single bed color changer info: Excerps from the manual:

An added difference between brands, the Studio changer uses letters, the Brother uses numbers for yarn positions in changers

The image below shows a lo-tech “color changer” marketed beginning decades ago, and still available online. It is not practical to use with DBJ knitting because of the issues involved with removing the yarn from the ribber sinker plate in order to switch colors but can be an alternative for working single-bed on multiple gauge machines. It provides a way of holding the yarns that is easier and more successful than some of the other “creative” options for knitters who do not yet own a color changer accessory appropriate for their machine. An improvised “color changer” for knitting multiple color dbj by Chris Burdge, shared in ayab FB group.

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