Symbols in knitting charts

Many of the symbols associated with both hand and machine knitting cannot be separated from the history of lace frame knitting. In 1764 an eyelet lace attachment was invented for hand tooling transfers on the existing knitting frames, and nearly 200 years later the first home knitting machine appeared, the Brother 585, in Japan, with an accompanying transfer carriage.
Mary Thomas, a hand knitter, began to explore the need for symbols in the 1930s, these are found in her book of knitting patterns, first published in 1943

Japan’s contributions to lace patterning in particular are readily available in early punchcard books for Toyota, Singer (Juki), Knitmaster (Silver-Seiko), and Brother, expanded over the years to include larger repeats for use in electronic machines.
When Brother first published their list of symbols, they used ones as given for hand knitting, and it took a while for them to catch up to reversing the symbols to represent transfers on the purl side. They are seen here showing illustrations of formed stitches for both knit and purl sides, with the direction of the symbols often matching the knit face, as seen in the Brother Home Study Course. A clue as to surface being represented is that it is a convention that vertical straight lines | represent knit stitches, horizontal ones — knit.
Hand knitting symbols have proliferated, are not always consistent with functions assigned to them. The latter varies depending on the part of the world hard copies of patterns have been published, and there is increased potential for DIY meaning assigned to symbols in an era of self-publishing patterns and software that allows one to create their own.
A cumulative, extensive collection of symbols may be found @ http://www.knittingfool.com/Reference/KF_Symbols.aspx
My first exposure to symbols and textures provided in addition to paint functions on gridded canvases with cells that could be adjusted in size and zoom, along with drawing in repeat, was to Cochenille Stitch Painter back in Commodore Amiga days. My last use of the program Windows gold version was in 2012, I was never interested in the less supported and updated Mac version. These illustrations are from its manual at that time. The knitting and crochet symbols were said to follow Japanese standards. My teaching days were in a Brother punchcard lab with a couple of 910s available for final projects. Punched holes and black squares seemed to be more than enough to meet any machine knitting needs.
Programs like stitch Painter and DAK offer symbols as alternative palettes. Outside either universe, the availability of fonts whether free or for purchase has varied over the years.
As I published posts, I began to create charts that needed symbols to represent stitch movements or actions. My most used font for this purpose has not been available for download for several years. This is its associated keyboard chart, from 2008 Knitter’s symbol fonts by David Xenakis,  were enclosed in frames, though extensive, I did not find them helpful, a sample: DAK at present time
The company has trademarked their ascii based font as “Knitwrite”, info on using the symbols may be found in their stitch design module manual pp. 251-276. The pencil tool is used to draw with them, here the symbols are viewed in color in the associated keyboard  Cables symbols and their use are explained in pp. 284-292, a sample illustration of the potential appearance of a work in progress Programs for purchase at this time: envision knit, is available for MacOS 10.11 through 12 (Monterey) and Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista, offers a free demo, may be purchased for $99, from their online manual: iPad and iPhone users: Knitting Chart is available for use in a few ways, Requires iOS 14.0 or later, the ad free pro version may be purchased for $15.99. Its symbols are familiar but other attractive features include illustrating crochet patterns in the round (done here using Illustrator and a for purchase font ), and row by row written instructions for charts. The latter was a draw for me with Intwined Pattern Studio, which still maintains a website for its purchase, but has not been supported for Mac since it failed there completely in 2013, and supposedly runs in Windows up to version 10 on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. There is an associated Ravelry group with nothing shared in 3 years, I would caution against buying it. Knit fonts that are still available, but may be problematic or not display properly in the latest OS, for purchase: https://stitchmastery.com/fonts/https://www.myfonts.com/fonts/adriprints/stitchin-crochet-pro/
https://www.myfonts.com/fonts/adriprints/stitchin-knit/
Sconcho is a GUI for creating knitting charts, it is free, for Mac OS 10.6
Some symbols in hand knitting and foreign symbol charts may be found mixed among Webdings and Wingdings, a printable cheatsheet @https://www.thespreadsheetguru.com/blog/

Commercial machines like ShimaSeiki use a combination of symbols and color-coding to program needles, cable crossings are represented by straight-line color blocks Stoll sample.  Limitations are encountered when using symbols in any self-drawn chart if there are no bridging units between cell units both horizontally for cables, and vertically for stitches and textures worked between both beds.
In machine or hand knitting charts, an alternative is to use color to indicate crossings. I wrote experimental posts in 2015, in reference to knitting them in fair isle 1,
and 2. Long since then, I have no longer had access to Excel, the topic may merit a revisit using Numbers.
An interweave article was published in 2018.

Additional links including pixelated lettering fonts, care labels, alphabets in knit stitches, and foreign symbols may be found in post 

Things get more complicated if it is necessary to represent stitches formed on a grid and the relationship of needles on both beds to each other. One method presents the information in a linear manner such as in this instance,  while Japanese pattern books began to represent both beds with actions in symbols on knit and purl grounds corresponding to each bed DIY charts for double bed knitting are left to invention for the sake of clarity or meet limitations of unclear symbols being automatically scaled to fit in cell sizes.

Cables and software for electronic download to knitting machines

A Ravelry post discussing cable connections to knitting machines for downloading patterns and associated software has led to my accumulating the information below. I am primarily a Brother and a sometimes Passap knitter and can speak to only part of the content below from direct experience.
The information on electronic downloads cannot be separated from a history of hacking, which began with Brother machines when mylar sheets became less available and folks began to have an interest in bypassing them. A review of such efforts was also shared in a previous post:
a hacking history https://www.beautifulseams.com/2014/10/29/tricodeur-writeup/
only the intro is in German: a nearly hour-long presentation by Fabienne<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1CRNjzOuto>
Brother 930: http://learn.adafruit.com/electroknit
Brother 970: http://glitchknit.tumblr.com
930 knitting: http://andrewsalomone.com
910: Claire Williams
Fabienne http://fabienne.us/tag/knittingmachine/
keypad: http://travisgoodspeed.blogspot.com/2010/12/hacking-knitt…
FB100 Emulator software, disc utility program, cable
another approach for Brother models KH”‘930, 940, 950i, and 970: http://daviworks.com/knitting/ and the associated group on Ravelry 
970 how to hack instructable 
for additional cumulative information, software compatibility, and hardware specs see Claire Williams’ website
Superba hacking and open source software https://www.hackerspace-bamberg.de/Singer_Superba
E6000 https://www.hackerspace-bamberg.de/Passap_pfaff_e6000
hack and 3D printed accessories, PassapKnitterstream

Present interfaces available for downloading patterns to Brother knitting machines: so far, both programs do not appear to run natively in the new iMac with M1 chip and Monterey OS.
That said, https://ayab-knitting.com , supported devices: https://ayab-knitting.com/supported-devices/. My experience using it has been with the 910. Pre-assembled kits used to be sold, over time they were offered by 2 different providers and were taken off the market by each of them. In many cases, there appear to be some issues with the program in DIY units as well resulting in mispatterning especially in long pieces of knitting.
Ayab operates as a true knit-from-screen, so the computer needs to be awake through the whole knitting process. In the case of the 910, the hack replaces the reader completely, the left side of the machine is left exposed, and the interface replaces the traditional patterning and power source, with its own cord connecting it to the power supply.
The last update to the program was in 2019. It performs color separations for dbj in multiple colors per row, including the only one of its kind, the Heart of Pluto one that eliminates jacquard color separation patterning errors and knits single passes for each color in each design row on the main bed.
Since the built-in patterning control buttons are rendered inoperable, Actions such as color invert, setting the number of repeats, vertical flip, mirror, rotate left, and rotate right are available within the program. Patterns may load both in color and shades of gray, palette color choices make a difference in achieving successful color separations.
Ribber settings include classic, middle color twice, HOP, and circular for tubular fair isle or other fabrics.
https://xxxclairewilliamsxxx.wordpress.com/hack-ta-machin… is an early post on the hack, showing steps involved. Kits with parts for DIY may be found online including at https://ko-fi.com/redpinkgreen/shop.
The program is free, any incurred expenses depend on how and from where the interface components are purchased.
The related Ravelry group has been quiet for a very long time, for more information on what is being developed and what users are knitting, the FB group has frequent shares. I would urge anyone interested in the program to join the group before making final decisions, to observe issues reported, and the finished projects if any using it https://www.facebook.com/groups/1384431355220966.
A recently added video KH 900+ KH 965 Brother knitting machine – How to install the AYAB Shield/alternative pattern control|
On my blog when I actively used the program, I shared my experiences using it and explored a variety of fabrics using its settings.

img2 track: works with Brother models KH 930, 940, 950i, 965i, and 970. https://daviworks.com/knitting/index.html. The program is also free to use on swatches limited to 60 stitches in width, to use the full width of the needle bed a the purchase of a registration key is required, the cost is around $100. The download cable can be ordered directly from Davi and directions are available for those with the ability to build their own. The program downloads the pattern into machine memory, so the computer does not need to be awake other than during download. The size of the download is limited by the machine model brain, with the 930 being the smallest.
When large files are planned, the program will reduce the pattern into tracks, and each has to be entered as a new program after the previous track is completed. The KH-930 takes just a few seconds to load the track because the memory holds only 2 KB of data (about 13000 stitches). Later models have a much larger memory (32 KB). The KH-940 and KH-950i require 42 seconds to load a track. The KH-965i and KH-970 load only the requested pattern, so the loading time depends on the size of the pattern. With Brother models KH-965i and 970, you can load a pattern from img2track without erasing the previous ones in the KM, as long as they fit in the memory. So you can have 901, 902, etc. loaded and choose between them.
Color separations are available for multiple color dbj, but not as a single pass for each color in each row as in Ayab Heart of Pluto. Images open in shades of grey. Each color in each design row is knit twice. It is possible to knit each design row color only once by adding a hand technique.
Adjustments may be made for vertical stretch, maximum width, and the number of colors used. Any remaining changes can be made by using knitting machine button selections.
Out of habit, I have used both programs to open bmps and pngs saved in indexed mode though both are said to open common file formats ie. jpg, gif, png, bmp, tiff, …Neither program exports files in other formats or allows for editing specific pixels in the designs in any way after they have been opened.
I have found img2track to be completely reliable, errors encountered during knitting or programming have usually been operator ones. I develop my patterns outside either program in paint programs, I prefer to use Gimp or ArahPaint6.
The AYAB GitHub offers a huge library of ready for download images from various sources,  most in png format.

I do not have any direct experience with Studio Electronic machines post-EC1 Studio’s approach to machine brains was to develop an exterior box that could be purchased separately from the knitting beds, EC1 on the left, their PC1 on the right From the manual on its use The following information is gleaned from online searches: Studio or Silver Reed’s efforts to move away from mylar sheets as seen in the EC1, headed in a different direction than seen in Brother knitting. There are two options still available are the SilverKnit and SilverLink systems:
SilverKnit, with more info at https://silverknit.nl/dk/silverknit-en.htm “provides the knitting functionality of the EC1/PE1 for electronic Silver Reed machines. The site lists all pertinent information on system requirements and compatible models. One can knit patterns without the need for additional software, which may be created with a graphics package of your choice.” The pieces involved include a controller unit, a coil cable connector curly cord, and the box, which may be secured on its side to the knitting machine case using velcro strips, usually true for other switch boxes and control units as well. There is a SilverKnit software user interface. For Superba machines, there are the Superbaknit packages available: type A for pressure pad, 624, 9000 models, and type B for light scanner/pegboard models. They allow patterning across the entire bed, accept multiple file formats, and seem to use the same platform as the Silverlink program. 

The Silverlink, now in Series 5 is for use with DAK. Manuals for softbyte cables include information on series 3, 4, and 5. There are distributors in each country listed on the Softbyte site. There are also individual dealers selling related DAK products in other states and locations. Prices are not necessarily fixed, and relationships with local dealers may foster easier-to-reach individual support.
A 2020 review of the Five Pattern Control Methods for a Silver Reed Knitting Machine.

Passap knitters were first introduced to Creation 6 as the proprietary Madag E6000 software, usable with a short dongle on computers available at the time, making it necessary to remove the card reader from the machine in order to get it close enough to the computer for download. The dongle was plugged into where the curly cord connects on top of the console. Cochenille developed a download, knit from screen cable, and my early Passap pieces were made using Suzan Lazear’s BitKnitter on a reader with 8K memory. With true knit-from-screen, console memory is bypassed. The system was also available for Studio machines, both became abandoned.
As is true for the present DAK system, there was also a proprietary Passap file format used, CUT, aka Dr. Halo. Eventually, I  purchased a switch box and download cable from Richard Croucher in England, and up to the present-day that has been my go-to for downloading patterns using and an ancient laptop. Personally, where I go now that I have a new PC available, is TBD. I failed to get the system to work using VMware on my old iMac.
One of the caveats with downloading to the Passap is that the cable connection for both the curly cord and the download cable share a single entry point to the console. This connector was temporarily available and spared some of the wear and tear on the console The addition of a switch box, secured with velcro on the console, allows for the possibility of downloading and knitting patterns without having to make any multiple other connections. Aside from connections to the machine, there was the issue of available software for drawing repeats and downloading in the proper format.
In the heyday of machine knitting aside from textbooks and articles beginning to appear from authors such as Lewis in the US, Kinder in the UK, and Carmen Router in Australia, lots of practical accessories and other info grew out of a very active knitting community in Australia as well. Accessories included a plaiting feeder and a stitch ditcher, and homegrown freeware was shared for printing reader cards. To this day Wincrea is still available for downloading to the E6000 machines. Others have followed ie Journal 6, which is now available as freeware, the repository may be found here. Wincrea remains the easiest to use. Supported formats are CUT/ Dr. Halo, BMP, and WMF (Windows metafile). At the present time, downloads of patterns are only possible in machines that allow PC downloads with later manufacturer chips and larger, 32K memory.
CUT files have a separate palette, the program reads the palette if it is found in the same folder as the CUT file. If the program palette is not the same as when the pattern was saved previously, the colors may not be as expected.
Some scaling may be done within the program. Files may be saved in both CUT and BMP formats.
If one chooses to, saving palettes is done by using specified names in the 256 color PAL (Dr. Halo) format.
When a design is uploaded to Wincrea step one is to have it read the correct number of needles and the number of colors used. If it does not recognize a com port, it will give an error message, and com-ports can be reassigned using the E6000 settings option menu. Once it recognizes the port, then it will come up with the download to E6000 option, and will also give an estimated time for the download to take place. It walks the user through how to prepare the machine for download. Two things are required: the console’s correct buttons need to be pushed to get to a “PC start” programming position, which verifies the machine itself is capable of accepting the download,  and the switch must be in the download position. If things work, a beep follows once the download option is selected and the LED screen on the passap actually shows a progress bar for downloads that take longer than a few seconds.  If the pattern has indeed downloaded successfully, the console beeps again and then follows up with questions on whether you want to alter the design in any way from its built-in additional options, what knitting “technique” you want to use, how many needles you want in work on either side of 0, and if you want to place the design in any particular place on the bed. It is possible to continue programming, either segments or different patterns altogether. At that point, cables are swapped out or if using a switch box, providing the operator remember to flip the switch to the knitting position, things should go smoothly. If one has forgotten to change to the knit position, the machine will beep and give you a totally different error message and beep. The Passap console has a whole series of lovely beeps, for all sorts of prompts and reasons that may be at times downright infuriating to people using the machine.
Passap color changers were available as add ons for automatic sequential color changing for up to 4 colors, are placed on the right rather than on the left as in Japanese machines, so programming downloads and first preselection rows must take that into consideration.
As CUT files proliferated, shared by Madag and individual designers, or as knitters wished to create their own, interest grew in creating, reading, and converting formats. Programs like Dr. Cutter for doing have long since become unavailable. Stitchpainter’s early versions were able to save CUT files, I have not been able to verify online whether the present version still does.
Present-day options for opening and converting CUT files include for purchase Graphic converter. On my new M1 iMac, I had issues with CUT files not opening. The software developer was responsive to questions and troubleshooting, a nod of thanks to Thorsten Lemke. The advice: please download the latest version http://www.lemkesoft.org/beta.html, and make certain that in preferences, the box aside Detect Only clear formats is uncheckedand for solving the same issue in XnviewMP, a nod of thanks to Pierre-e Goulet for the solution:  in Settings, General, make certain that  Show all graphic formats is checkedXn Convert allows for easy batch conversions.  I did not encounter any issues on Mac.
As these programs have grown in complexity, some of the CUT files open in strange colorways, need adjustments and editing, possible within the above programs, for increased or any visibility while some are viewed clearly. Batch conversions to other formats are possible, performed easily and quickly.  A Windows-only image conversion program for exploration: Konvertor
DAK proprietary formats ie STP and PAT to my knowledge are not readable by any program outside the DAK universe.
Softbyte now offers a similar setup with a switch box allowing for download to a console capable of accepting PC downloads, the E6000 Link 2. “This link has a switch that enables the selection of either downloading or Interactive Knitting. It means that the cable can be kept permanently attached to both the E6000 console and bed. This avoids the need for repeated connection and disconnection of the link, and therefore also avoids wear and tear on the E6000’s sockets. The other links do not have the switch and need to be disconnected after downloading, so even if Interactive Knitting is not required, we recommend using the Serial E6000Link 2.”The Softbyte links for Brother machines include versions for downloading and uploading with a Brother PPD or to machines that take a pattern cartridge. The magnet arm for interactive knitting is not included with all, may be purchased separately. “The USB Brother Link 5 enables patterns to be downloaded from DesignaKnit, and any 900 series patterns to be uploaded to DesignaKnit. The 900 series pattern numbers are those loaded from another source into your knitting machine or PPD (e.g. from the PPD, Brother FB100 Disk Drive, or DesignaKnit). This link supports downloading and uploading with the KH930, KH940, KH950i, KH965i, KH970, and with the PPD using Cartridge III in KH900 mode, or with the PPD using the CK35 cartridge. This link is identical to the USB BrotherLink 1 except that it includes a magnet arm that attaches to the carriage and thereby enables Interactive Knitting with any knitting machine, including non-electronic ones.”

The ScreenLinks provide row by row instructions and audible memo alerts for non-electronic machines or anyone using mylars, built-in patterns, or other software for the pattern downloads. They are not able to download patterns. The Universal Link for DesignaKnit allows one to connect any knitting machine, including plastic beds, to the DesignaKnit interactive knitting as opposed to knit from screen function. The USB cable is attached to your personal computer. The other end of the cable is attached to the mainframe of your knitting machine, the magnet to the carriage or lock of your knitting machine. The cable senses the magnet as it moves past it, and as it does DesignaKnit will advance the pattern one row. From the manual: And shown applied to a plastic bed machine @ https://www.allbrands.com/

Garment shapes filled with patterns may be developed in DAK, the cable allows one to use DesignaKnit as a knitleader or knit radar device increasing the capabilities of the knitting machine when shapes are created illustrating pixel-based increases and decreases, akin to what could be drawn on graph paper with each cell representing both a single row and a single stitch, and connecting dots placed on the basis of gauge calculations.
Having a small supply of self-stick velcro tape to put on each of your machines, allows for the cable and magnet to be moved as required.
A second knitlink arm appears to be required for the use of the lace carriage. I would guess it might be attached to a second knit carriage as well if one is choosing to knit with 2 knit carriages selecting needles.DAK cable manuals published by Softbyte. Full Dak software manuals are not available until the program is purchased. There are 5 program modules. Some of the user experiences, answers to questions, and related knits may be found in the FB associated group.

DAK DBJ color separations, templates, other software

Over the years I have written on an assortment of methods for color separation in knits including DBJ, a summary post with links to previous shares: 2017/10/26/dbj-and-color-separations-some-previous-posts-links/
and in the-start-of-a-blog-index/

A variety of textures and patterns may be used to achieve fabrics that are very different in appearance, using a very simple pattern along with cam button or lock setting changes. The first chart was generated at that time using Intwined Pattern Studio, a program that for a time appeared to be very promising and then moved on to lack of updates for Mac making it useless in 2013, followed by none for Windows as well, with no successful use of it reported in forums in years, but apparently one may still purchase it The manual color separation method for punchcard machines.
The elongated X2 repeat version of the triangle drawn in Gimp As for more than 2 colors per row, performing the color separations may be achieved manually, various software is now available for performing the work in instants. Ayab offers an elegant color separation solution, heart-of-Pluto, that will knit single passes for each color per row on the front of the knit, resulting in 3 color patterns with limited design stretch, and no worries about the placement of one color over any stitches preceding it in the same color on the previous pass. The difference in the same design being knit with the standard, elongated version, allowing for two passes with the same color prior to each color change and the Pluto version.  knit using img2track, the vertical stretch is manually set to X2, A “hack” 2021/01/24/img2track_multiple-colors-per-row-dbj-each-color-knitting-only-once/

There is a Russian punchcard site that will allow entering personal repeats or selecting one from their extensive library, where it is possible to obtain related 2 color dbj separations as well. The punchcard color separation may be created manually, a slow process, while the punchcard templates in Dak are achieved with a few, quick clicks of a mouse. The repeat may be created as a graphic file, in my case a png created with Gimp, the elongation in Arah because Gimp fails to scale small repeats cleanly. The image may then be opened as a graphic file, stitch and row counts should match, save the stp 

if experimenting with changing selections and this window appears it is OK to click on No The separation methods in DAK:
Method C separates each color row into separate rows of knitting, rows do not have to be repeated in pairs, the double-length switch will need to be used in Japanese knitting machines The elongated triangles repeat template is different from what would be produced with the above set at double length, may be used as is to produce a variety of fabrics including quiltingYarn choice and design make a big difference. Here the yarn is really far too thin, and the repeat too narrow in width, but the possible result is illustrated. The main bed is set to slip in both directions throughout. The ribber setting needs to be set to slip in both directions for every other pair of rows. When the ribber slips, the main bed will knit the color that will create the pockets, where there are many single stitches selected here, the KC was set to KC1. When the color is changed and the ribber is set to knit again, stitches in that color will knit on both beds, sealing the fabric in those areas and forming a solid color background on the reverse side. Here the white forms the pockets, the floats after a pair of passes are seen in this photo. Because the yarn is so thin there is a considerable grin through on both sides, the areas marked with arrows indicate where the white pockets were lightly stuffed with yarn ends     For a review of quilting on machines including Passap see 2018/02/15/revisiting-machine-knit-quilting/, and using a second knit carriage with a modified sinker plate for knitting stitches on main bed only, making ribber settings fixed throughout, and allowing for tension adjustments for each color yarn.

Method A works on pairs of rows. If the pattern does not consist of identical pairs of rows there are likely to be yarn error messages. The original triangle elongated to 8X16 If pngs are created outside the program, they may be doubled in length unless the repeat is designed that way. The associated menu options in Dak when the plan is to work in double jacquard How the different jacquard setups process the specific repeats:
Method B creates the same separation as the default built-in KRC one in Japanese electronics. If knitting DBJ it may be used with dak if the pattern is downloaded as fair isle but the machine will then needs to be set for dbj. If additional colors are used, pairs of rows will follow a single pass for color1. The print preview templates, if generated within the stitch count restriction for use on punchcards, may be used as guides for punching the required holes, this would be the card for that 8X8 triangle repeat, a tad shy of the recommended 36 rows, The elongated version template Passap card reader techniques saved from long ago experiments Method D separates each color into a separate reader card and is used to download to the PEI or Passap, appears to use superimposing of layers, and to match method 4 in my post.
Method E is suitable for machines with a color changer on each side, like the Brother CK 35
Method F is a Half Milano separation. Each pattern row is separated into a pair of passes for each color, but the second row for each color has no patterning, so the rubber stitches only knit as the carriage returns to the left side, a possible way of creating repeats for drop stitch lace on Brother machines. The elongated triangle template was split into 2 pages for viewing, they are combined in this image This may be the associate Passap Reader technique, I have no way to test it Processing the template using numbers: a table is created twice the length of the 8X16 triangle repeat, followed by hiding the 32 odd-numbered rows, positioned in front of the scaled punchcard template, stitch markings are traced the rows are then unhidden, the repeat is checked, matched here to the F jacquard separation in DakThe numbers table is processed in Gimp to obtain the png for knitting the now 24X64 pattern  Proof of concept swatches: the long stitch in 2 colors,  and the pattern executed as a tubular FI knit: I had yarn issues, hence the dropped stitches. Both swatches were knit to approximately the same point in the pattern repeats, there are obvious quality differences in width and length. In tubular knits, there are differences in the width and height of the knit on each side. The front is actually a slip stitch with floats, drawing the fabric in, while the ribber knits every stitch every other row. With a good choice of yarn and pattern, loosening the tension on the top bed may ease this problem. As often happens, casting on and binding off need special considerations ie to allow for any fabric stretch when off the machine or in order to leave a tubular knit open at either or both ends if that is the goal. More info on tubular knits including on Passap