Chain cable HK experiment

Several months ago menswear began to appear featuring versions of chained cables. There are some published sources for such patterns, some available for purchase online ie in Ravelry,  while others may be found in the Barbara Walker Treasury Books. One HK version from the latter may be found here. I decided to play with excel and experiment further. I used Aire River Design font (no longer available) on my Mac to generate the symbols used. Columns and rows may be easily edited to adjust the height and width of repeat to suit the design process. I charted only knit “right side rows”. On purl rows, one simply reverses the previous row’s purl/knit sequences

the first linear repeat (outlined in orange)

I tend to prefer brick repeats in odd numbers across the piece: this instance adds reverse knit rows in the center of the cables as well for more surface texture, seed stitch may be another consideration

a quick swatch testing the repeat in random cotton from my stash


Knit bubbles and “stitch ditchers/dumpers”

I encountered a photo of a commercial sweater not too long ago while knit surfing the web

and a bubble blanket available at Nordstrom’s during 2012

I had already been considering laces other than transfer ones for yarns that have been too crotchety to knit in that particular technique, and my Passap has been knitting idol for far too long.  The fabric above seems to alter between purl and knit sequences that would require transferring all stitches to the opposite bed for every other pattern sequence: out of my range of patience and time. The number of fabrics involving “lace” produced using the ribber involves a series of names with sometimes variations simply being specific to the technique performed on a particular brand, though possible on all. On the list: drive lace, pick rib, summer fair isle, drop stitch lace, etc. The above commercially produced knits seemed to be good candidates for drop stitch lace.

Since I recently posted on knitting long loops/stitches single bed, it seems natural to follow up that post as well with creating long stitches using the ribber and using automatic patterning as well. The following photo is familiar to most Brother users:

In this instance the fabric is produced as a hand technique, requiring racking and row counting. The process is easier if all stitches are transferred to ribber in Japanese KMs or back bed on Passap, and long stitches are then created by selected stitches knitting on the opposing bed, and in turn, being dropped. Punching a card, drawing on mylar, or downloading to machines makes it possible to do so in a pattern much more easily.

Punchcard books have several useable examples for such patterns. Two methods of release are used. One is end release, where the pattern is knit until the piece is completed, and stitches are dropped then. This works in friendly yarns and continuous repeats uninterrupted by rows of stocking stitch. If the design is interrupted, then the regular dropping of stitches whether at the end of the repeat or intermittently throughout is either required or preferable, depending on the design.

As for dropping those loops that will form the long stitches, one can do so “manually” with improvised tools. For more “automatic” dropping of stitches using knit carriage in Brother patterning, one may punch a card or draw a mylar with a method akin to the color separation that will allow for a pass of the KH carriage across the knit with no yarn in the feeder, “color 2” is actually “no yarn/empty” while establishing the proper needle selection on its return. Studio selects and knits in the same row, so needle selection disruption is not an issue, and in Passap techniques are built into the console that allows for “free/no yarn” passes. Both instances involve extra “knit” rows per item. Other alternative tools may be used that help the stitch ditching process. Studio brand had their P carriage and Brother their own “D slider” for the bulky KM.

The Studio P carriage pulls needles on the main bed from B to C position going from right to left, then returning them back to B position going from left to right. On the ribber, it may be used to bring the needles up to C position for “safe knitting. (Studio needle positions are A, B, C, D, while Brother skipped the letter C, continuing with D and E). A video from Susan Guagliumi shows a later model than the one pictured below, used as well to bring needles out after hand techniques as opposed to pulling them out by hand or to insure thicker yarn knitting.

The Brother Bulky KR 260 D slider only moves in one direction, from left to right, completing the in and out needle position operation in one pass. End needle selection needs to be canceled. It is not usable on ribbers. After operating it from left to right, it is simply lifted off.  The knit carriage position while the transfers are occurring may vary depending on personal preference and whether the yarn changer is in use or not.

Studio 4.5 mm/ Bro 9 mm bulky viewed from the front

Studio 4.5mm/ Bro 9 mm bulky viewed from the back

Directions on altering the studio tool for use on Brother machines

Passap’s need was answered by an Australian woman: Faye Butcher,  who developed the item shown below. Such tools were often discussed in seminars and publications of the time, in conjunction with pile or “carpet” knitting, so “P” for such knitting in Studio, and “carpet stitch tool” for Passap, seen below

front view

rear view

in use on the front rail

If patterning for long stitches occurs on the front bed, the Passap tool sits on the rail where you see it in the photo, it will release all stitches from needles in its path. Often directions for using it recommend its use for 2 passes with locks on right. Passap preselects pushers for the next row of knitting as Brother preselects needles, pushers are below the rail, so in theory, they should be unaffected bypasses of its travels. Once things are up, going, and “working” I have found it possible to align the tool as seen in the photo ahead of the next lock pass, so on the right of the lock from left to right, to its left from right to left, a bit of pressure will keep it in its place, and stitches are released each pass of the lock. This may result in having to operate the lock with one hand. There is also an optimum speed: if the movement is not smooth and regular and needles are jostled, pusher selection may be altered in response, thus resulting in a patterning “mistake” on the next row. Challenging yarns may make this method impossible.

Some samples follow: the yarn used was acrylic, I attempted to press it on swatch completion, and this flattened the fabric considerably. Of note: the disparity in width between the stockinette portions of the swatches, and the dropped stitch segments

too open

a bit closer, much more so before steaming

a “mistake” that may lead to a future accessory, with some revising and planning

I am using Stitch Painter to plot out my repeats, exporting files as .cut files, using wincrea to import them, and downloading to the console with a cable purchased from England. I replaced an ill tower dell with a 64-bit dell laptop half its age, and am now running Windows XP instead of 98! My leaps into the present technologies/software are made using apple products. Technique 129 will work, color may need to be reversed using the alter loop, or within wincrea depending on how the pattern is drawn in the original graph, but that is a topic for another day (see April 2011 post: a bit on Passap for some information on Tech129). Back lock on N throughout, front lock on LX (slip/part on the main bed for Japanese KMs). Single bed slip and tuck stitches may also produce “bubbles” of a different quality.

Coincidentally the 10th-anniversary issue of Knitty has just been released, arriving in my virtual mailbox this AM. There are 2 patterns in the issue that may be of interest, one is tin roof, the other employs ribbed/bobble/bubble for hand knitters. Another hand knit version by Kieran Foley may be found here

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

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.

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.

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.

More on those slanting lace leaves

What follows is not a formal pattern, rather an illustration of the process I sometimes use to solve needs in my own knitting.

On 2 needles and growing my version of the HK slanting leaves scarf: knit on US #8 needles, yarn is 60%silk and 40% wool

hand knit graph to download

Translating this pattern for use with lace carriage is impractical for a range of reasons.  A beginning analysis of the pattern for possible hand transfer or for development of a “cheating” punchcard  for use with hand techniques is seen below. Numbered circles = stitch placement in repeat where the lace hole needs to occur, the second number illustrates the number of stitches that need to be moved over on the needle bed and the direction of the move

Bunches of these help, the multiple transfer 7 prong tools were made and marketed for Brother, Studio, Empisal (4.5mm), and even Passap at one point (needle space on Passap is different, they also had a wider range of transfer tools than those for Japanese KMs)

tools of the trade in required transfer configurations

sample knit from looking at a graph

first punchcard to help with needle selection:

Numbers on left show how many stitches need to be moved to create the hole in the place where the needle is selected; they do not reflect design rows directly, since the card is read seven rows below eye level; large arrows indicate direction for moving stitch groups, with the horizontal colored stripe showing the beginning of each new transfer sequence; vertical blue rows show placement for needles out of work, and the resulting ladder. The garter stitches in the hand knit have been eliminated.

The above card worked, but if one has a bulky, limited prongs on transfer tools, or short attention span an even easier approach might be to have all needles placements required for move on each row selected

the second punchcard

Now come attempts at a possible border trying to “match” top and bottom of knit: would prefer not to have  to deal with issues of mirroring in center  vertical and  horizontal axis of scarf to get top and bottom to “match” . There is enough else to track.

not liking the size of the ladders

The swatch below is a bit closer to “like” and to eliminating the ridge at the center of the “triangles” that is formed if transfers occur in the usual manner and “hole” is then filled in with a purl ridge to eliminate it. The “ladder line” below is marked, showing results from different attempts to fill in the empty needles resulting from moving the stitches. Top and bottom edgings are created by chaining as one would do a chain stitch cast on, behind the knitting on the needle bed, in front of the knit side of the fabric. If knit on the bulky a garter edging could be hand knit first, placed on the KM, the piece knit in turn, then taken off onto HK needles again for adding garter stitch rows at the other end.

Getting closer to goal: ladder space more uniform, “linked” border rather than chained one above, still need to sort out how many repeats without the leaf lace “veins” to work at top and bottom of “scarf

HK and MK variants of leaves may be found in a variety of sources. Some HK samples include a twin leaf verion. A very quick sketch of a possible adaptation for use with punchcard development as described above, using the 24 stitch repeat limitation, red = NOOW follows

one trouble spot: Row2, where 2 holes line up one on each side of the “ladder”

Back to lace

Recently I came across a photo in a magazine with what I thought of at the time as an unusual knit leaf. One of my first instincts upon viewing such patters is often to explore whether I might be able to reproduce the knit on the machine more quickly and whether in addition there may be a way to “automate the design” by coming up with a repeat that would work with the use of the lace carriage. I will share some of the many ways to explore such transitions in a series of posts. As written they will specifically apply to knitting on Brother/Knitking/Taitexma brand knitting machines.

The original “culprit” pattern:

One way to interpret those triple stitches leaning to the right and left in HK is to knit three together for right-leaning, and slip, knit two together, PSSO for left-leaning on RS (“right” /knit side). The same steps on the KM would involve moving around those triple stitches to achieve the correct lean of the leaf edge on the knit side of the fabric. The number of rows for transfers to achieve a similar look makes the fabric impractical to knit using a lace carriage on the KM, so back to hand knitting.

In yet another instance of “it’s a small world” since I first came upon the repeat and began looking for interpretations, I did find several hand-knit patterns on Ravelry and some magazines using the same or similar motif.

The pattern repeat in my first hand-knit sample in a 4.5/inch gauge wool

In turn, this led to my developing my own repeat design, which is now on 2 needles, becoming a scarf for my granddaughter, which can be shared in the future.

I work predominantly on a Mac, OS Lion. Last year finally got turned on to using excel for knit design after finding excellent online tutorials such as those by Marnie MacLean and Fleegle’s blog. Over the past week I finally got around to playing with iWork, using Numbers instead of excel, and in conjunction with Pages have come up with final images such as the ones below. Am pretty much flying by the seat of my pants in this, so I can’t really share a step-by-step method but have been pleased with the instinctive qualities of the Apple programs and the results.

In subsequent graphs: blue represents knit as it appears and may be worked on the knit side, while pink represents how the knit appears and may be worked on the purl side, and as such on the KM to achieve the same design

Common Lace transfers and symbols

moving multiple stitches

now: starting to play with a hand-knit repeat with the intent of translating it for use on the KM: triple stitches in one location in any single row are eliminated, as well as sets of double lace holes in any single row while retaining the diagonally slanting leaf motif

garter stitch will be eliminated by adding a needle out of work in its place, creating a ladder space between repeats; repeat will be adjusted to work within restraints of punchcard limitations in terms of stitch width and row height requirements, more on next post.


The making of i-cords

Making narrow tubular cords has also been referred to as spool knitting, corking, French knitting, or tomboy knitting. When using a knitting machine the standard for knitting cords is to operate the carriage so that it knits in one direction, slips in the opposite. Using the e wrap method cast on 3or 4 stitches. Push in the part button on the same side the knit carriage is on ie. if it is on right, push in right part button. Stitches will knit from right to left, slip from left to right creating a float. Since the float is added yarn when knitting is pulled to set it, the gauge on the few stitches will be altered, so it is usually recommended that tension be tightened 1-2 numbers lower than garment tension. The float issue becomes problematic if cording is required that is wider than 4 stitches. Switching to tubular knitting using the ribber will produce tubes of any desired width.
In Japanese machines, the ribber knits tighter than the main bed, if gauge matters a starting point is to loosen ribber tension by approximately 2 numbers. Larger cords tend to flatten, so if a round tube is desired stuffing may be required in the form of cording, plastic tubing that may be joined using appropriate caps from hardware or even pet supply stores, and a range of wires if the intent is to create sculptural forms.
One exception to tightening the tension when knitting cords is when/if they are joined to knit edges in the seam as you knit method.
Addressing the float issue in single bed knitting:
with five stitches the floats could be latched up creating a rib stitch. This same operation in tighter or smaller cords may make them swirl.
If a flatter cord will serve the purpose, an alternative is to have the center stitch knitting on the slip rows. One may accomplish this by hand-selecting needles or using a card. This will seal the tube in the center or periodically across the knit. The punchcard may be locked on any single row with the appropriate holes punched, and the position planned on the needle bed for knitting. The carriage will knit all stitches in one direction, slip/skip all but the stitches where needles are selected in the opposite. Floats may become design elements in some instances; if sewing onto another piece or hanging onto the knit as it progresses they serve as guidelines for doing so. If they are to be applied vertically to a garment, create a ladder to mark your sewing line.
If you are a gadget collector “hand Knitting cord machines” may make them up to 6 stitches in width with the ease of cranking a handle and with a bit of planning wire beaded tubes may be produced on them as well. Some examples are from Bond, Prym, Wyr for knitting metal mesh, and eons ago some companies including Passap and Singer offered their own automatic cord knitters as well.
A recently published hand-knitting book has many ideas for applied i_cords that could also be used on the machine. For speed and simplicity, sometimes flat strips of knitting may be substituted for cords in some designs.
Cords or strips may be used to create mock cables, add color interest, applied as trims, or to the bodies of sweaters or sweater edges. They may be braided, twisted, macraméd, etc.
Some published and online resources on the subject:
Erica Patberg article in Knitter’s Magazine #104, Fall 2011. She can be found on Ravelry. Cords and strips may be used as trims. Long ago versions were published by teachers in the seminar circuits, one may be found at 1. Ginger Luters is well known to hand knitters for her books such as her “Module Magic”. Apparently, she also has published a book on trims, now available on DVD online that from cover photo appears to include some suited for this topic.

A page that gives a bit of history and illustrations of spool knitters for crafts/ hand knitting may be found at Hub Pages, and on “circular knitting machines” at How to get what you want.
The Wyr knitter is very hard to find. I have knit 32 gauge wire on other knitters with success, so that particular model is not necessary for wire cords as seen in this piece of mine A curly cord version may be found at Techknitting. More ideas and a knitter at Bond America. And lastly, something to make with those Barbie Knitters.

Illustrated how-tos from Brother knitting techniques book and from a Studio publication: