Hand to machine, symbols 4: cables

The following begins to address cable translations. I posted some content on cables in January 2012, but this content follows the present vein. Blue dots continue to represent the hand-knit symbol, below them the fabric as viewed on the knit side. The pink dots and the images on either side of them the machine knit, or fabric as viewed from the purl side. In the column on the far right, the green dots and the images below them represent the opposing twist in HK or knit side.

To execute combinations in knit-purl on the same side of the knit on the machine, a ribber is required (or a Brother G carriage). Purl stitches are on the main bed, knit stitches are created by the opposing bed. To match the hand-knit here, crossings are actually made in the same direction in both HK and MK


HK pattern, software charting.

I have reached the point where decades old (89 and earlier) magazines that got “saved” are now being peeked at, and if not given away, then recycled. There may be some bleed through here from pages I have “saved” once again. Browsing through I found some designs not appropriate for machine knitting for one reason or another, but still creating interesting surfaces and the chance to explore using intwined’s other features. The program will create text from a chart, or chart from typed text with some limitations. One of the latter is a very large cable as seen in the attached document. PDF exports can happen within the program if one is specific in the sequencing of creating its documents. The 1989 pattern had only text for the repeat; I typed it, and had the chart pretty much created for me except for the problem row 5. Here is the resulting Intwined created PDF with some of my comments: cable_diamond. The following is the graph I edited, with my illustration for the execution of row 5

the blue line separates the slip stitch section, which can serve as a border on each side of the cable panels, the red lines the edges of the 12 stitches involved in the cable. The green stitches are put on a cable needle and brought to the front of the work, the next 6 stitches are knit first, then the ones from the cable needle to complete the crossing.

the swatch: knit side

the purl side

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

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Horizontal “cable”

I live in the East Coast of the United States.

In the 80s there used to be a yearly machine knitting seminar that was fairly well attended. There were droves of machine knitting publications. Susan Lazear, the founder of Cochenille, was just beginning to develop her knit design software ideas on the Amiga Computers, and a fellow Californian, who happened to be Japanese, used to travel here with the Pandora box of foreign knit magazines. At the time translating knits from one language to another amounted to guesswork and some leaflets. Subsequently, there were fliers, then articles, and even books on translating from Japanese to English and one on multiple language translations for knits and crochet.

One year there was a “guess how this was done and you get a prize contest” for a technique appearing on a sweater with only Japanese instructions. The design was dubbed wisteria by some, has been reincarnated as a trim, insertion, bandings on sleeves and cardigans and is beginning to reappear in magazines now again.

Here is one method for this “horizontal cable” created by short rowing across the width of the fabric.  Brother machine needle positions are A, B, D, E, and a lever sets KH for holding in both directions Studio needle positions follow the alphabet, and use Russel levers on each side must be set for holding.  Directions below are for Brother.

Reminder: when the machine is set for holding the needles in B or D position knit, needles pushed out to E will not knit. Weight is used as needed, watch for dropped stitches particularly along the edges of the sections as the rows of knitting are built up.

1.cast on the desired number of stitches knit several rows at garment tension, end COR (Carriage on Right)

2.COR, set the carriage not to knit needles in HP (hold position)

3.leave 6 needles at the right of knitting in WP (work position), push remaining needles out to HP (hold position)

4.knit  10 rows over the 6 stitches, ending COR

5.push back 3 needles to D position at the LEFT of the 6 needles now in WP

6.knit one row from right to left (9 needles in WP) end COL (carriage on left). Push the needles now in WP on the far right to HP; 6 needles will remain in WP

7.knit 9 rows on these 6 needles,  end COR

8.repeat steps 5 through 7 across the fabric row until the last 6 needles remain. Knit 10 rows over  these last 6 needles, end COL

9.set the machine to knit needles in hold (holding lever to N), knit 2  or desired number of rows across all the needles

10.holding lever on H. Repeat the procedure from left to right, reversing the sequence.

If the sequence is not reversed a bias fabric will be created. For maximum texture use a yarn with memory ie. wool. Anything that can be “killed” by pressure or ironing will flatten considerably and yield a very different fabric.

My demo samples were made out of colors that would make them easy to find, unlikely to get “permanently borrowed”, so none of these were studies for actual finished garments

this swatch combines a boucle and a rayon; the latter has become flattened over time

this is a wool rayon, knitting is not reversed, resulting in biasing

these samples show the same technique, applied to much larger groups of stitches

a segment of a magazine recent garment photo, no origin given as to source, appears to use the above technique

online source for patterns using this technique

more cable like/structures/textures

A few i-cords and more to try

The top illustration below creates what some demonstrators back in the day would refer to as a heart cable trim. The width of the strips of knit may vary, and the size of the holes need to be accommodated to suit the subsequent threading. The second illustration set results in a more traditional “pretend” cable. I-cord could be used for the second sample. Narrow strips of knitting will curl in, however, and in many instances may be substituted for true i-cords. Because each pass of the carriage knits a row as opposed to slipping alternate rows, the knitting is twice as fast. In the instance below a series of holes are created for threading cording (or other chosen material)

The following illustrates the threading option with a single length of the cording, which will need to be secured at each end with some stitching. Separate colors could be used on alternate sides for more color variation, and other threading sequences as well

some publications with inspiration photos

its online relative

from foreign blog

part of another image

from MonTricot Magazine #26, 2011

from Mon Tricot magazine

A hand knitting book with many ideas for cord and strip use that could easily be adapted for machine knitting

A commercial foreign knit incorporating cables and woven cords link no longer active in 2019

Using punchcards to track small cables in pattern (1)

Symbols in knitting have evolved considerably through the years since the day when all instructions were longhand and it was abbreviations used that would need de-coding. This is true of cables as well. I came across a magazine graph that led me to explore its conversions from hand to machine.
In the BW original graph cable stitches are represented by solid lines and dashed lines, stitches are moved in the direction of the upward slant. The “needles” with the solid lines will be moved first, the dashed lines follow to replace/fill the empty needles. The repeat below is 64 rows high, so if a card is used it would need to be created in two pieces, the last row on the graph is not part of the repeat itself. As is seen in knit alphabets, however, the fact that punchcard patterns are flipped vertically when the design is executed needs to be kept in mind if punched holes are used to track the cable repeats. Mirroring is required to match movements in the hand-knit original graph. Color blocks represent punched holes in the card. Using the card
green color blocks :
the left half of crossed stitches are moved first, taken off on the tool, held to the side
the right half of crossed stitches follow and are placed on the empty needles on left
the first held stitches in turn are then placed on needles now empty needles on the right
magenta color blocks :
the right half of crossed stitches are moved first, taken off on the tool, held to the side
the left half of crossed stitches follow and are placed on the empty needles on the right
the first held stitches in turn are then placed on needles now empty on the left
The markings on the punchcard machine’s needle tape correspond to needle selection for 24 stitch repeat, and that can be used as a guide, needles selected are intended to move toward the center at the bottom of each half repeat, and away from it in the top half, creating the diamonds.
If electronics are used and the repeats are other than 24 stitches wide, the needle tape may be marked with a water-soluble pen or removable color tape strips may be placed between the needles that are first and last in each repeat.
The imagined diamond shape tiled in width  A possible chevron shape  This is a downloadable pdf of some of my initial notes in sorting out the process dia_cables_card and a photo of the resulting swatch. The charts were created in Excel.
In punching and then using the card to knit the sample I initially completely forgot the fact that images are reversed horizontally when a punchcard is used.
In writing a 2022 post on using Numbers and Gimp for charting cables  I realized there is an alignment error at the top of the punchcard repeat. The image below has the problem area in the card marked. A circle also marks the spot where operator error occurred with some twists being made in the wrong direction,  the amended, now 72 rows tall card: Such techniques may be used in isolated portions of garments as opposed to all over.
A “simplified” interpretation of a similar knit pattern is seen below. A related post: 2011/12/19/using-punchcards-to-track-cables-and-twists-in-pattern-2/

Some “real” cables on KM

2/8 wool

slippery rayon: fabric flattens with pressing and remains that way

a couple of twist samples: wool/rayon blend

Fair Isle, any punchcard locked on a single row of every other stitch selection: there were whole books of HK patterns based on this idea, sequence of moving stitches can create a variety of secondary patterns. On the KM fair isle is essentially a slip stitch, short and skinny, tension needs to be loosened considerably to try this, stitches in cables cannot be brought out to “hold” position to ease knitting off on the next row, as this will affect the color pattern. Larger crossings are possible, but more difficult

another FI and cable variant: mistakes are probably from needles that were out just a bit too far and knit in the alternate color

a blast from the past: knit on my metal no punchcard bulky (first KM) and ribber more than 2 decades ago. Ribs at waist and armholes are hand knit twisted rib

Pretend/ mock cables 1: i-cords, holding

I have literally hundreds of machine-knit swatches from the days I taught in a design school program. I periodically revisit them and since cables and their look-alike relatives have recently caught my attention I thought I would share photos of some of the samples in the next few posts.
They are not necessarily resolved fabrics, some of them are the result of random demo efforts/ stitch play.
In any discipline over decades, one cannot help but become aware of how materials and styles cycle, and this is oh so true in fashion and certainly in knitting. For a while more than a decade ago knit i_cord yardage/ tubular yarn was marketed by several manufacturers, and it is now making its reappearance.
One way to create pretend cables in varied color combinations is to apply purchased yarn, or machine knit cording/ tubular knit to the purl facing the knitter side as the piece progresses. The application may be done in an organized manner, using a punch card to select needles on which the yarn will be hung, or more random, even with wide knit strips in contrasting colors.With tubular knit cord in addition to hooking up, anchoring may require some stitching, “seaming as you knit” at planned intervals would make the joins “invisible ” Strips using holding techniques or stitches hooked onto the knit to create texture, in turn, joined in the “seam as you knit method”Cording may also be inserted into single stitch lace “holes”or larger holes created through holding techniquesKnit i-cords, ribbon, twisted cording, etc. may also be threaded/woven through holes created at cable crossing as a way to add color and dimension to standard cables, mimicking their movement on the fabric. A recent foreign magazine cover including a variant of the above technique

A simple braided cable (and card)

When creating braided cables one may punch cards to aid in the accuracy of twists. Once the principle is established as well as some basic rules, it becomes easier to work with variations of patterns based on simpler ideas.

Ladders may be used for marking repeat edges as well as for contributing to pattern interest, or for latching up on reverse thus creating “purl stitches” aside cables. They are one of many things guided by personal preference/ taste.

All over cables narrow fabric considerably, looser tension than for stocking stitch in the same yarn is a must.

A place to start experimenting with in terms of row spacing is to cross stitches a minimum of every number of rows equal to the number of stitches crossed, ie. 4 stitch cables every four rows, six stitch cables every 6 rows. Usually, for crossings involving more than 6 stitches, extra yarn will be needed for the additional stitches to move far enough across the metal bed to complete the cable and knit off properly on the following row.

Preselection allows one to pre-plan exactly where repeats occur on the needle bed. If the repeat does not center either side of 0 when a card or other form of input is used, removable colored tape or water-soluble markers may be used to mark the needle tape between the first and last needle of each repeat. This is not needed if the repeat itself coincides with 24 stitch markings on the tape itself, as in the sample below. I actually use punchcard needle tapes on my electronic machines as well for consistency of markings.

A simple braided cable may be created by working with alternating twists on six stitches.

In the image below:

screenshot_15

Program repeat, as usual, set to advance normally, KCII if there are needles OOW.

KC carriage remains set for plain knitting throughout

1. when needles are selected take center stitches off first on a 2 prong tool, hold to front and side

2. remove stitches from selected needles on a second tool, place them on the center needles

3. place the held center stitches on the needles now empty

Many cables may be translated into a punchcard or programmed pattern. It takes a bit of time to sort out the necessary “rules” and attention to detail while knitting is still required, but the process is overall quicker and more accurate.

Passap knitters can perform similar functions, except it is the pushers that are pre-selected for the next row of knit, not the needles themselves. Tech 129 with color reverse will bring up pushers to correspond to  Brother markings. The machine remains set to N throughout, sets of stitches outside the area of cables may easily be transferred to the opposing bed for a ribbed version of the fabric. It is necessary to sort out where patterning occurs on the needle bed, non involved pushers on the front bed should be placed completely out of work.

A confession

I have to admit I can and do hand knit but now operate in life is short mode, and have decreased patience for projects that require a huge time commitment (relatively speaking) to complete. At a knitting seminar in the early 90s a demonstrator (who happened to be male) used to tour with a sweater he had “completed on the machine”  that had more than 3,000 (yes, thousand) cables in it: complex twists inside larger diamonds in turn formed by cables. IMO such a garment would be faster done by hand. One of the advantages in hand knitting is that errors are more easily seen since one has the opportunity to observe what happens on the knit side closer to the event. The fixed spacing on the machines that twists must travel can be a challenge in forming fabrics, particularly in all over patterns.

One possible solution is to combine machine and hand knit panels. Hand knit center arans may be joined to plain side and sleeves knit in stocking stitch on the KM (also a solution when larger sizes are required), and stitch patterns may be used in isolated areas or selectively rather than all over the garment. Patterning shifts in the knit/purl ground in garter stitch patterns may produce knit and purl “illusions” of shapes otherwise created by moving stitches in cables.

I have recently been playing with this crossing idea. The original intent was to try it out in an all over pattern in a brick repeat, and only one row of knit in between transfer rows. With yarn at maximum tension, after the first round of transfers the second round of them became impossible to perform. Am still at the drawing board, but the idea may well simply end with a 2 inch patch as opposed to anything larger. Wonder if Barbie is in the market for a lapghan?

Follow up: the new working repeat with 2 rows of knit between cable crossings

a test on standard KM: the ladders were a “surprise”, a by product of the distance the stitches were moved

the same fabric with ladder “floats” being hung on adjacent needles to diminish ladders and produce holes

the stocking stitch fabric top and bottom of this last swatch is considerably wider than its cabled portion, a possible consideration for trims or insertions based on this idea; “you can’t always get what you want” but sometimes one can still quite work with what one gets.