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

 

Blistered stitches dbj

Some of my previous posts on double bed fabrics with designs creating pockets in both one and two colors:
quilting-on-the-knitting-machine-1/
quilting-on-the-brother-km-2-solid-color-back-dbj/
revisiting machine knit quilting 
quilting using ayab software
https://alessandrina.com/2019/12/15/references-for-double-bed-single-color-references-for-double-bed-single-color-fabrics-with-pockets/

A review of some of the terms used in describing fabrics with raised designs in various patterns:
blistered fabrics: two rows of the main color are knit the same as in standard dbj, but more rows are added and knit with the blister color on only one of the two beds used to create textured pockets. Technically they can be executed in a single color as well as in two colors per row. The extra rows result in the blisters being raised or lifted up from the fabric surface, they are often also referred to as pintucks. These fabrics do not have the width and stretch of many other 2 color dbj fabrics.
When exploring this family of knits, use plain, fairly smooth and thin yarns. This is a fabric where pressing should be avoided so the texture is not lost or altered. For setting the pockets created sometimes slipping a wire or tool through the bubbles will do the trick as for any hems. Simple, bold patterns work the best. Spreading the texture evenly throughout the design will decrease distortions in width. Leaving needles out of work combined with racking can alter the basic technique considerably.
In the two-color version, a double thickness fabric with a crumpled face side and a single color backing is created. The blistered areas are knit in one bed only, the rest is full needle rib with floats from each blister enclosed in the fabric.
Begin with a repeat that is elongated X2, the jacquard separated pattern needs to be double marked. Needles are arranged as for DBJ. For 2 colors the main bed is set to slip <— —> throughout, but the ribber settings need to be changed and set to knit and slip alternately for 2 rows to produce the single color backing.  Good needle condition is a must if occasional stitches are dropped on the ribber they can be repaired when the work is off the machine.
Ripples are created by setting one bed to slip and the other to knit for several rows, then setting both beds to knit simultaneously to join the tucks in repeats. They are selective pintucks, on every needle rib. The main bed is set to slip <—  —> throughout, the ribber carriage is set to slip for 4 or more even numbers of rows, and then to knit for 2 rows (this number may also be varied depending on the specific pattern). This is a fabric that likes to be weighted evenly. Tight ribber tension will help increase the definition of ripples. As in any multicolor fabric, each set of ripple stitches may be knit using a different color yarn.  Some designs tolerate having the main bed set to tuck rather than knit.
Brother machines often are limited to 4 rows knitting on the bed creating the ripple before closing the rib.
Transferring blister stitches to main bed, with a shadow lace tool or a transfer carriage is referred to as “shadow lace”. Adding blank rows in your design makes it easier to have a transfer point to the opposite bed. Using a plaiting feeder will add color contrast.
“Nopps” which are essentially small bumps on tightly textured tuck stitch grounds require careful tension adjustments.

An image was shared in a machine knitting group on Facebook. It cropped up in Pinterest, could be traced back to some Russian knitting forums and a how-to knit query was made
There is an Italian language youtube channel with a throve of machine knitting videos, one on jacquard groffato , executed on punchcard machines, with a companion video on punching the card. Groffato means embossed.
Points to remember: the more needles on either bed knit alone to create the pockets, the more the tension used needs to approach the one for single bed knitting there with the same yarn. Large shapes are best used, represented by white squares /unpunched areas. Punchcards such as ones published with large unpunched areas for thread lace designs or tuck stitches with large punched areas color reversed can work once the principle is sorted out.
The setting used in the video is for tubular/ circular knitting.
The all punched rows in the video actually match rows that would be knit anyway because the main carriage is set to knit in one of the two directions, not slip. Two yarn ends are used, which could result in a fairly dense fabric with limited drape. Switching to a single yarn end can alter both considerably.
In designing your own patterns for testing it is best at the start to keep shapes simple and not worry about repeat variations.  I am working on a 930 using img2track, but my repeat is 24 stitches wide and usable on a punchcard model, its source is another pin. To make the design twice as long, when planning an electronic download, the image can be stretched in the design software or by altering the stretch factor to 2 in img2track. Tiling the design prior to download can help one imagine the potential results in using it for an all-over pattern or what its appearance might be if the repeat is shifted into a brick configuration.
Use a familiar, smooth yarn in an easy to see color. Tension changes alone can change the dimension in the textured surface, so having a “normal” baseline for tensions and “feel” while knitting from previous uses of the yarn double bed gives one a good starting point.
The “flower” image used in my tests is shown here in the original, and then is color reversed so its shape will blister, not the ground. Below it, on the left, the image was stretched within img2track, on the right within my design program which happens to be Gimp. In both instances, the original 24X24 design becomes 24X48 in actual knitting

The tiled image for both a standard repeat and a brick configuration shifting by 12 stitches to the right are not thrilling me, but the goal is to explore the knit technique, modifications in the original or even abandoning it can happen later My starting samples were knit on 32 stitches, not enough to get a sense of or a good view of the horizontal repeat of 24 stitches. At first, I used the design version with no horizontal black lines in the download. The difference between the every needle rib at the bottom of the pieces and the slip stitch blister fabric is easily seen. Slip stitches are short and thin whether single or double bed. On the left, I used the tensions of 4/4, as for the particular yarn in past experiments. On the right, the switch was made to 4/2. The tighter ribber tension made the blisters more pronounced. The non selected needles on the main bed create the pockets. Because functions repeat for pairs of rows in this design, the first preselection row can happen from either side and cam buttons may be reversed with similar results as seen in top vs bottom below. Opposite part buttons are used as in option A or B.As I have explained in the past, I tend to leave the slide lever permanently in the center position. It becomes one less variable, forgetting to reset it can result in errors in gauge and more mishaps when knitting multiple pieces where gauge matters significantly or in reproducing previous work. The “striped” repeat produces essentially the same fabric. The knit carriage may be set to slip in both directions when using it since the row of all punched holes or black pixels will knit every stitch on every needle selected while in the previous samples the cam button set to knit in one direction performed that function regardless of any markings on the design repeat.  The ribber is set to knit in one direction, slip in the other. Reversing sides for cam button settings produces the same fabric  

To my mind, the best shapes for this sort of surface design are clearly geometric ones. My eye sees them as more easily identified on the surface of the resulting knit. Sticking with the original “flower” however, here it is after a bit of editing of just a few pixels followed by a larger swatchThe Stitchworld Pattern Book is another good source for predesigned repeats, many in units suitable for punchcards as well. I was attracted to the possible geometry in this particular patternThe repeat I chose is designated as suitable for the Garter Carriage. It is 24 stitches wide by 48 rows high, shown below as provided, charted in Gimp as .png for download, and tiled to help visualize how continuous repeats might line up. The image .png was downloaded with img2track to my 930, with a stretch factor of 1.0, retaining the original repeat sizeThe resulting knit is interesting on both its knit and the purl sides, clearly shows how the “image” is shortened in slip stitch techniques, elongation would be required to create more of the diamond shape Final decisions are often best made after a period of rest for both the knit and for our eyes. It is only in the actual knitting that the shapes can be finally evaluated, worked on further, or abandoned. One of my own best selling felted items for more than a decade was born from an accidental effect on a large swatch that nearly landed in the trashcan after it became something different than what I had planned or expected.

Beginner’s corner

WORK IN PROGRESS

Copyright can be a touchy, sometimes murky subject. In my teaching days at a design school, each instructor was responsible for accumulating what amounted to a “textbook” with any expected readings and required information for students attending the classes. There was an arrangement with a single copy center that actually paid a fee set by the government in order to be allowed to provide a service. Teachers supplied boxed material on a single-sided copy per page sheets, withdrew it at the end of the term. The copy center would make double-sided copies from each sheet in the original, bind them, making them available for purchase for only the cost of what it may have been to customers using copiers to make their own per sheet. My intro to knitting “book” evolved into 330 pages, costing students as far as I can recall about $30. An overall bibliography and often credit in sections were included. This all was happening pre-internet browser searches and easy downloads.
I have often not included a definition for some of the terms used in my posts. Also, I did not share information from manuals and company publications until they, in turn, became easily available online, long after the companies that published them went out of business.
A list of common abbreviations: Test and gauge swatches

From the Brother Knitting Techniques Book
I personally prefer to measure gauge on the purl side, where to my eye the start and end of the color transitions appear clearer.
The Passap advice was quite different. This is from the Duomatic 80 manual
and it was followed by tables that helped with calculation conversions based on measurements. When using Japanese machines while executing some DBJ or highly textured stitches, a larger swatch should become the go-to when measuring gauge for garments by default. Using 100X100 combined with the use of metric measurements facilitates the maths and use of devices such as the knitleader, where measurements in millimeters are required.

A “long swatch” exploring a card from a “censored” selection from the factory-supplied punchcard packet in as many techniques as possible became a required assignment In KM model manuals a list was sometimes provided suggesting what cam settings might be suitable for each card
Factory supplied cards were usually marked with a number and letter as seen above, but oddly as model numbers changed, sometimes either or both of the latter would change as well. A table of my own after a quick review of my stash:
1S, 2R,3J/S, 3P, 4D, 5J, 6P, 7G, 8S/J, 9G, 10D, 13G, 101, 102, 103, 107, 108, 109

 

Foreign language machine knitting youtube channels

I am sharing some online foreign language video channels that offer, in my opinion, a huge variety of topics in their content with the possibility upon its viewing of being inspired, learning techniques and new ways to use tools, often with subtitles or even with no need for them or spoken language because of clarity in the material presented:

English: a treasure trove of techniques and repair videos across a huge range of KM brands theanwerladyknits 

Italian: Ortenzia Renza Menciotti

Japanese: knitlabo 

Portuguese: Isatrico

Spanish: Knit Studium

Hindi: Kritica creation