More “circles from squares”

My latest wraps based on this principle are from a variety of fibers, and  knit on the Passap 6000;  the Passap allows for more tucked rows,  which in turn  provide the wider width for the “ruffle” at the top and bottom of the piece

altering the height of the “bottom ruffle” to about half  changes the angles in the drape in the front

my previous posts on the topic of attempting to achieve circular knits on the machine:






Garter bar/ short row trim

A recent MK forum request for a HK trim look alike led me to the following experiment :

the hand-knit trim

There are multiple ways to achieve knit and purl combinations on the KM. Brother garter carriage will do so “automatically” albeit slowly, ribbers may be used in combination with main beds, ladders may be latched up by hand, or one may use the garter bars to turn work over. When large widths are required the options are to use multiple panels, or to knit the fabric sideways letting the width become the length. Some HK fabrics are impractical if not impossible to duplicate on standard home knitting machines, and compromises are chosen. I tried to create a distant relative of the proposed trim, with a bit of family resemblance.

Below the short section to my garter bar is pictured. I mark every 10 eyelets with nail polish on my GBs to help with tracking stitch counts (do same with centers of ribber combs). The photo shows it in the position in which it needs to be held to take stitches off the machine prior to turning them over. The hollows under the eyelets (1) provide room for the needle hooks to slip under the yarn and catch the stitches when work is flipped over. Hollows under eyelets occur on the side with the convex ridge (2). There are many online sources for using the bars, now available in multiple gauges, including an article by Susan Guagliumi.

my working graph

I worked my edging on multiple of 12 stitches. The purl/knit symbols represent how the knit will appear when viewed on the side where the held shape is convex. Work begins by knitting foundation rows and using waste yarn at the start with open stitches on the first row of knitting if the ruffle is to be seamed/joined at its ends upon completion. The magenta/green rows represent respective whole rows to be turned to the reverse side using the garter bar after each knitting sequence is completed. Testing first is required to establish the optimum stitch size for a gauge that will allow for easy stitch movement in transferring stitches on and off the garter bar:

arrows on the blue ground indicate the position of KC at beginning of sequences

end knitting of first “purl” section COR, turn work over (magenta)

COL: knit one row across all stitches, carriage moves to the right (pink). I find it easier after holding starts to move the carriage to the opposite side by taking it physically off the machine and leaving settings alone, results in fewer yarn tangles and problems for me.

COR: set the machine for hold except for the first 2 stitches on right. I tried one stitch at a time first, but the wedge was too deep, so I began working bringing stitches to hold 2 at a time, carriage side first. Stitches could be held opposite the carriage as well, but that created a set of additional holes when one returns to knitting those stitches in the opposite direction, and a pointy edge  (segment marked with dot #2, more on a later post on miters and spirals). The number of stitches brought to hold can be varied as needed, the goal here is a symmetrical result.

COR: when only 2 needles at left are left in hold opposite carriage, knit an even number of rows (orange area, I chose to knit 4, then 6 rows in my test)

COR: when the last 2 stitches on right have been knit for 2 rows (green) transfer all the stitches to the garter bar

Get carriage to left, COL: return stitches to needles, knit for an odd number of rows (magenta, COR), turn work over

COL: knit one row across all stitches to right (pink)

COR: begin holding sequence again

I began the sample with 5 rows in between the mitered shapes and then tried 11. This is labor-intensive if produced in significant lengths, so a choice can be made depending on personal taste and patience. Though it could be attached as one knits the item it is intended to trim, there is enough going on I would probably estimate the length, take it off on waste yarn, and hang it onto the larger item. If longer, the trim may be unraveled to suit. If an addition is required it may be added on but at least working with the much larger bulk of materials will not be for the duration. Holding lever may be set to knit for single passes prior to turning work over in sections using holding, or stitches may be pushed into work by hand.

dot 1 rests on “killed acrylic”  repeat test, the remaining sample is knit in wool: dot 2 marks the extra holes when the holding sequence is changed   as described above

with five “purl” rows between turning and holding

11 “purl” rows between turning and holding

the reverse side

about half the wool portion of the ruffle was pressed, the knit became smoother, the edges less rolled. Those are properties that can become a design choice/decision

If an all stocking stitch ruffle serves the purpose this could be the start of the working repeat for using slip stitch to knit programmed needles selected to patterning position; here the black dots represent areas that knit, white squares stitches in holding. The repeat must be an even number of rows, using it as drawn, the starting side depends on whether one is using a punchcard machine or electronics

For some hints on how to use the garter bar see later post 

Taking it to a garment: 3b

A large gauge swatch is important: I suggest 100 sts by 100 rows. For a bolero style garment with a “shawl” collar, a place to start is with bottom and top sections measuring at least 6 inches in height, and for the middle rectangle to measure 22in W by 23in L. Again, a muslin in a purchased knit of the center section will help decide how much of it needs to be seamed to allow for an armhole opening, keeping in mind that the opening in the machine knit may have less stretch than the test muslin knit. The number of stitches cast on is based on those required for section B, with adjustments made to allow for lining up pattern repeats in seaming up the finished piece.

Beginning the knit with a cast on that allows for maximum stretch, test out rib pattern (A), transfer to a mostly single bed for (B), bind off, and treat the swatch in the same way the finished garment will be: ie. steam, wash, etc. Testing the stretch in the cast-on edge and its immediate fabric neighbor will define how the large a “shawl collar”may be achieved. A more “circular” shape when worn may be obtained by adjusting height while keeping in mind that a true circle would have a circumference approximately 3 times its diameter which in this test would be based on the stitch count obtained in knitting the width of the swatch in the B pattern.

If a significantly larger “donut” is required in the design, every needle rib can be ended in a row of stocking stitch after transferring stitches to the main knitting bed, taken off the machine, and rehung on fewer stitches prior to knitting B. Same step is taken when joining the last section.

Trial basting side seams will ensure armhole fitting comfortably. If more of a cap sleeve is desired, stitches may be added in the location of armholes during knitting B, or bands may be knit onto or stitched onto armhole after completion of the piece. Suggestions for cast on will follow.

Taking it to a garment: 3a

Now to coaxing a “circle” from a rectangle. Understanding how different stitch structures affect the length and width of fabric can help make it possible to “cheat” in shaping. The circle’s circumference needs to be significantly wider than the inner “square/rectangle”. The disparity in width between every needle rib and single bed fabric is one way to help create the desired conclusion. Tuck stitches yield a knit that is short and fat. Combining them in every needle rib with one or both beds tucking increases width dramatically when compared to single bed fabrics. One possible way to construct it is to begin with every needle rib: figure A, switching to single bed fabric: figure B, and returning to the same “shaping”  as A.

The completed outer edge needs to have stretch so as not to break as it folds over into a collar and surrounds the shoulders. Routine knitting of this form as one piece will give one cast on and one bound off edge. It is possible by a variety of methods to have both edges match. My first sample even though binding off was quite loose, wound up with the yarn breaking on wearing. A more successful approach was to knit section A as a tuck rib, B as a fabric that was mostly knit single bed, and removing the piece onto waste yarn and off the KM at that point. Section A was knit once more in the same manner as at the bottom of the first piece, and then joined to A+B

The finished “garment” gets folded in half, and seamed toward its center,  leaving an opening for armholes. Upon its wearing, the joining seams on sides rotate to the front of the body,  so a good join is important. The alignment of the pattern repeat may have to be taken into account in addition to stitch gauge in grading for different sizes.

Taking it to a garment 2: donuts

Removing a circle from the center of our pie yields the “donut”. The purpose and size of the “donut hole” can vary from the size needed to apply a central motif whether in knit, crochet, or other forms, to one large enough to allow for insertion of a “back piece” that can be anything from a “square” to one that included a bit of shoulder, armhole, even neck shaping and an optional curve at the waist/hip area. Additional rows of plain knitting in the “donut” itself alter the final forms. Seaming can occur where preferred; the direction of pattern repeats if in use further influence choice of seam placement.

If miter shapes are created in the knitting method, the corners of the triangles will want to “poke out”. This can be a purposeful design feature. If they are not wanted one way to soften them is to have stitches for at least an inch at the outer circumference of the circle knitting with no shaping in that area, adding a border, going the spiral route. Swatching helps determine preference in creating personal designs. Small scale paper collages sorting out geometric shapes and joins can inspire the large form variations.

Taking it to a garment 1: circles

Vests and sweaters built on circular shapes offer some challenges. Shawls and shoulder wraps are much more forgiving, but garments, particularly if sleeves are added, can provide sizing and fitting challenges. Making a muslin in disposable knit yardage prior to the actual knitting allows for trial placement of armholes and testing of overall measurements prior to charting out garment and sleeve shaping. Slits for the armholes can easily be taped or stitched closed to suit, and in turn, trial cut in a different location. Trimming or adding borders to circumference allows for visualizing size grading. This process helps spare the knitter regrets upon completion of the piece.

Drawing large circles is easy and accurate with a “yardstick compass”. Trammel points are available online and at many woodworking supply stores, etc. They convert any standard size yardstick for drawing arcs and circles up to 72 inches dia. Use a longer stick the same width and thickness as a yardstick and draw circles as large as you like. They are usually made of aluminum except for the steel point, measure about  3-1/2 inches in length.

Some beginning guidelines for drafting:
1. Use your bust measurement as the circle’s diameter and draw the corresponding shape. Two or more strips of freezer paper may be used as the drawing surface, temporarily fused onto the knit yardage, becoming the paper “pattern” for the piece and stabilizing the knit for cutting.
2. Measure your back from arm to arm to determine how far apart to place armholes or obtain this measurement from any well-fitting favorite.
3. Measure armhole depth from the top of the shoulder to 2-3 inches below the armpit.
4. Draw lines for armholes and center horizontally within the body of the circle, shoulder measurement apart. Commercially written patterns are bountiful online and in magazines and tend to center the armholes vertically as well. I prefer them shifted up for a less bulky “collar”, and for placement of sleeves with raglan or traditional caps. Binding off a few stitches at the base and casting them on at the top of the slit create a slightly shaped for easing in the sleeve top.
5. Cut “armholes”, remove freezer paper if used, try on for fit, adjust as needed. 6. Back to more math!

I made a series of long-sleeved circular sweaters for sale in 2008. Discovered problems with photos in my photo library (new computer). These are an attempt at “restored” shots of one of the first such sweaters. The yarn was fine Italian mohair.

close up

Back to that pie: a bit of holding

Holding/ short-rowing is used to knit each wedge. The basic rule for holding is followed: stitches are brought in to work on the carriage side, and into hold opposite the carriage to avoid floats. The greater the number of sections, for either the full circle or a donut, the smoother the curves at the outer circumference, as can be imagined in the form below, which divided into more sections than those 5 in our original calculation.

The pie slices” begin and end on open stitches, ultimately requiring a join where the radii meet, using whatever method is preferred by the knitter. Assuming the knit carriage is on left and set for hold in the diagrams below if all stitches are brought into hold except 1 on the carriage side (or number required by calculations for the individual piece), 2 rows are knit, and action is repeated until all needles are in work, the following shape starts to fill in and a miter with pointed edges is created.

If all the needles are in work, and one begins to bring them into hold opposite the carriage, one begins to fill in the shape creating the form below, and a spiral is created, with circumference edges more rounded.

Like shapes may be stacked sequentially. If shaping at the top of the initial triangle wedge is reversed, however,  the following begins to occur.

Knit rows in between the triangles begin to create larger holes in the center of the pie, and a donut occurs. The donut center can be varied, the knit rows between triangles increased to suit. The illustration below shows some of the variables. The plain knit rows are another factor in smoothing that outer circumference.

Knitting math and pies

Math is not always fun and is downright dreaded by some. One instance in knitting wherein basic calculations are required is in obtaining stitch and row gauges. I have known one hand knitter who would purchase yarn (not necessarily the one used in pattern), knit happily away, and try the finished product on everyone she knew until she found an accommodating body shape and size. If a large number of family and friends did not oblige, sweaters were stored until such a correct body appeared. Predictable results require careful measurements and some basic formula calculations.

Using home knitting machines to produce circular forms one resorts to breaking down the round object into pie wedges, which in turn are knit as triangles with straight line outer edges. The outer final circumference curve is controlled in a number of ways, one is by creating a far greater number of pie slices. For this exercise, I will work with 5 segments. 

There are some math constants. One example: to find the circumference of a circle its diameter is multiplied by pi = 3.14. If the diameter of our knit is 44 inches, its circumference will measure 44 X 3.14 = 138.16 inches. Using the rule of 5 or less than 5, this measurement is rounded to 138 inches.

The radius becomes the width of the pie wedge. In this instance, it would measure 22 inches. Let us assume our gauge is 4 stitches and 6 rows per inch. The radius is converted to stitches: 22 X 4 = 88 sts. The circumference becomes rows: 138 X 6 = 828 rs.  If subdivided into 5 slices, each slice would be composed of 166 rows.

To knit the pie slice, short rows are used; since they happen every 2 rows, our row number for outer edge is divided by 2, yielding the total of now 83, which in this exercise I will round off to the even # 84.

Approaching “circular knits” on the machine: a series

Circular sweaters and vests have been in the pattern marketplace for a while, and there are very few online resources for purchasing patterns for machine knitting. My first attempt at one such pattern was a hand-knit for my granddaughter. It began on long circulars and was worked from the outer diameter, with stitches decreased at intervals, eventually bound off at the center. Most adult sweaters and vests both in HK and crochet are worked from the center out. A common diagram for such sweaters regardless of approach is seen below, a vest could result by simply omitting the sleeves.

Diagram A

Placement and shapes of sleeves are crucial to fit. A straight sleeve top as seen in dropped shoulder sweaters can result in the sleeve opening occurring on the arm inches below the shoulder, making the top of the circle that forms the collar flop around, and the sweater is hard to keep on (the result in my hand knit). Better shoulder fit and having a cap at the top of the sleeve, whether traditional or raglan and adjusting back garment width can achieve stability. In large sizes created by simply making the circle larger, the fit becomes very different in the front, and there are other, better ways to achieve a similar look. Calculations involved in planning these garments share common methods with “doilies”, shawls, ruffles, and more.

In hand knit/crochet another approach is to knit a square/rectangle variant, which can begin and end in open stitches. This piece is folded in half, circulars are used to pick up all the open stitches which now become the inner diameter of a circle, and increases are made regularly, evenly across the rows at intervals to achieve the desired outer diameter. The opening created by the folded fabric becomes the armhole, which may have to be partially stitched closed upon completion of the piece depending on size requirements.

Diagram B: red line represents fold

On the home knitting machines evenly spaced increases and decreases are possible but not practical, requiring removal of the kniting whether on garter bar or ravel cord, with rehanging of all the stitches after adjusting the number of needles in use. Patterning can continue if this is done on plain knit rows, and design shifts are taken into consideration. Though circular knits can be achieved using a ribber, there are distinct differences in tension between the two beds in Japanese machines, not so in Passap knitting. Here again, increasing/decreasing evenly across rows impractical if not impossible. Increases along the outer edges of the knit are easy, but the result is a series of triangles meeting and pointing down from the garment on that edge, a common sight in the marketplace at the moment, but not so good if a circle is the desired shape. One approach on the machine can be seen in the diagram below. The central shape is shared with the above diagram, but the circle is broken up so the garment becomes a flat construct. “Extra” smaller rectangles on the side represent a possible longer cap sleeve. Here the whole piece would be folded in half and seamed. If the center shape has straight sides adjustments can be made in seaming for the desired armhole measurement. The remaining problem: how to get that outer “diameter” created by the bottom and top of the piece to approach the width needed without increases and decreases across rows. With this approach the seams that bring the top and bottom sections together will move toward the front of the garment, so the joining method and its visibility is a consideration.

Diagram C