A lace “shell” want to be, a few ways

I recently saw a semi circular HK shawl pattern that used graduated lace shell motif bands, and went hunting for a possible such repeat with the intent of subsequently knitting it on the machine. Taking into consideration the chart lenght required if using the lace carriage, I began with a “small” hand knit possible repeat

the text (Intwined)

pictured below is a mylar repeat worked out for use with the lace carriage with 2 programming options: A, B. Notations in this instance were made using a free mac program (for my the first time), Skitch, which allows one to work with screenshots and basic image-editing tools all in one place. The middle column of numbers indicate the number of passes required for the lace carriage for each repeat prior to pairs of rows of plain knitting. The transfers are made all in one direction, so the spacing between each set of transfers and knit rows is different from the traditional 2 rows of blanks. I find it easier to have multiple blank rows before selections for transfers as a place to pause, check my stitches, and have clearer starts if knitting needs to be unravelled; this repeat takes that into consideration

option A was knit with a ladder, NOOW set up:

the resulting swatch in acrylic yarn, steamed, fairly straight edges

option B eliminates the ladders, a ridge is created by the transfers highlighting the “shell shape”. The sample clearly illustrates the issue with lace fabrics where transfers are all in one direction: note the resulting bias, which could be a problem or a design feature, depending on  one’s perspective. It is particularly noticeable in the area of the color change. The top yarn is a rayon, the ridge created by the transfers flattened with pressing but is still in evidence, the occasional noticeable problems are operator errors (and laziness in changing bent needles), not pattern ones.

shortening the repeat: I found this one a bit more confusing to follow, black horizontal marks on right edge of mylar are a visual cue to rows on which knitting needs to occur; note there are no occurrences of 2 consecutive blank rows, only singles

the fabric is identical, with the same problems in terms of biasing

taking out the swing, moving in 2 directions, and back to a hand technique: the black squares indicate groups of stitches that will be moved to create lace holes. In the boottom segment selected needles are transferred to the right, lace holes will move in a curve, transfers double up on the same needle location on the bed. In the top segment, beginning with the doubled up stitch from the last transfer to right, direction of transfers is reversed, moving toward left, and always beginning with the same needle position. Markings on mylar on the far right indicate direction in which the stitches are transferred. This repeat is 7 stitches wide by 12 rows in height, could be adjusted to suit. Adjustable transfer tools make the work progress faster.

the corresponding swatch, without blocking, much more “straight”


a mylar repeat for use with lace carriage, 910

in the image on left the repeat is hi-lighted by the green border; in the one on the right there are visual cues  for operations. The vertical lines indicate which side of the bed the lace carriage needs to be placed for the next group of transfers, the horizontal lines mark the end of the transfer sequence, when a single row of knit occurs. Respective carriages need to be taken off the bed after most passes to allow use of the opposing carriage and maintain proper direction of moves, a different sort of “hand technique”. Below is a swatch, the red spot is a poorly corrected dropped stitch.

the technique is manageable for experienced knitters, this was my second try at a hurried repeat (weight adjustments and dropped stitches on first) and photo as I get ready to travel to the opposite coast.

Striping in lace fabrics 1

Colored stripes combined with lace patterning can produce interesting fabrics. Many variants may be found in Missoni’s knitwear. At times the lace holes themselves may nearly disappear, while the stripes become distorted by the transfers, the change in gauge, and the creation of the holes, which in combination begin to create a bias direction in parts of the knit. Below is a simple sample illustrating some of the above points:

the working chart (Intwined)

the text for hand knitting created by the program the additional knit rows creating garter stitch in part of the pattern provide added texture in a hand knit, but are impractical in a machine knit

Rather than deal with working out the lace transfers for use with the lace carriage for my swatch, I chose to use a multiple transfer tool, and begin with a 7 stitch transfer as opposed to a larger number one. Below are some of the tools that may be used to hand transfer stitches in larger numbers than with the tools usually provided with KMs, a garter bar may be used as well

The image below  shows the fabric as it appears on its knit side. The bottom illustrates the repeat in one color. The red mark indicates where the transfers were made after knitting the first row of each color, the yellow indicates transfers made before each color change. In the former the “twist”  apparent as the transfer knitting is completed, has one yarn wrapping around the other. In the latter, the “twist is all one color”. The yarns used were a rayon and an acrylic, on standard km. If a color changer and lace carriage were to be used in combination, only the second option would be possible (more on that in a later post).

the purl side

Below is a hand knit sample with a wider repeat, adding garter rows. The yarn used was a worsted weigh wool on size 8 needles. Of note is the difference in undulation in bottom and top edges

knit side (red mark here indicates garter stitch row detail)

purl side

a possible use for this pattern might be a center or recurring panel in a wider knit

From punchcard to hand technique or hand knit

Emulating the repeat in the previous post here is a tentative chart for reproducing it as a hand knit, genereated in intwined

the accompanying text generated by the program

executing ssp from Knitters Brewing Company

I tried the pattern as a hand knit and had difficulty keeping track of the reversals of twists front and back, so I headed back to my more familiar territory, machine knitting, and to the bulky machine to make the number of transfers a bit more manageable. The repeat is 14 stitches wide, outside the range of an effective repeat for a punchcard, but with transfers every row there is another way to use a card that requires no punching. Observing familiar rules, and text or symbols that are meaningful to us for the particular project (ie also for racking sequences), the card is used for notekeeping rather than needle selection. The carriage is set to KC, set for normal knit, no cam buttons in use. Because no holes are punched, there will be no needle selection. The card is locked on row 1 as usual prior to the first row of any pattern knitting , set to advance normally, and in my scribbly version it reminded me of several things. Each pattern segment is 5 rows, with the dark stripe indicating the beginning of each new segment. The numbers on alternate sides show the number of stitches that need to be transferrd with the aid of tools,  leaving an empty needle that will create the hole, and overlapping stitches on either side of a center point in part of each motif. I worked with 2 repeats. On rows 1-5 as marked on punchcard, stitches were trasferred beginning on the right, toward the right side edge of the knit,  then following the remainder of the partial chart repeat. When the next segment of rows was reached as indicated by numbers appearing on the left of the card, beginning on the right edge again,  the first group of stitches was transferred away from the knit side edge, once again following the chart segment. As the lines of holes begin to show, it is easier to see the direction in which one needs to move as is the resulting pattern. The ridges created as the stitches overlap on either side of the center single knit stitch also can serve as guides in keeping track. I used no weights, just the opposite hand to pull and guide as needed. The number of moves is likely to require a looser tension than usual for any familiar yarn.

the swatch, knit side, using worsted weight, tension 6

its purl side

Ruching 2: more working with stitch groups

Going straight up: color blocks in the chart below illustrate needle groups that get picked up and transferred onto the next colored row on the machine, with no specific references to needle tape or any other markings. When repeating the operation in the same needle locations, having NOOW, thus creating ladders, makes it easier to keep track of groups. The yellow lines represent needles taken completely OOW at the start of knitting.  Any of these fabrics may be made in a single color or varied color sequences. Sometimes changing the color in swatches, and using sharply contrasting ones in tests helps one understand the structure of the resulting fabric a bit more easily an illustration of what part of the stitches to pick up playing with spacings and rows, no ladders playing with ladder spacing using the FI setting in addition.  Some tips on ruched FI knitting: the fabric will shrink considerably in length, so most motifs will need to be elongated to accommodate that. Having a pattern that may be tracked easily by watching the floats on its reverse is helpful as may working in bands where the colors swap spaces (changing yarn feeder positions). Because of the fabric bubbles, knitting rows in only one color at intervals may track hook-up row, while not visibly disrupting the pattern on its knit side. If small groups of stitches are to be picked up and rehung, markers with segments of nylon thread or yarn may be placed on the corresponding needles and be temporarily knit in. In addition, the needle tape or needle bed may be marked with a water-soluble pen to indicate locations for rehanging. Depending on the pattern, the number of stitches involved, and personal preference in terms of floats, needle selection in brother machines may have to be restored “by hand” to keep the design uninterrupted.
A few more: playing with striping and segment sizes the red squares indicate a row of additional ruching in the center of solid striping going all one color in the middle all on one edge hooking up smaller numbers of stitches going partway, gathering one side, using thick and thin yarns as design bands going mini

Ruching 1: fern “pretender” and more

Ruched or manual pull-up effects can be created by rehanging stitches at regular intervals in a straight, diagonal, or random arrangement on plain knitting or patterned fabric. The pattern below could be considered a “fern pretender”, but is considerably quicker to knit. Again, for any textured fabric a yarn with “memory” is recommended for texture retention over time or after pressing, washing, etc.
Depending on how far over whether in this fabric, cables, etc, or how many stitches are moved on the needle bed, adjustments may have to be made either in tension or in the number of stitches moved. Adding striping and changing its sequences or combining different yarn weights may vary the look of the fabric considerably, and because it is a hand technique, motif repeats may be varied in size, scale, or location of hooked-up stitches. The working charts represent the side that is facing one on the machine, so by default, all stitches are purl. Dark grey represents needles out of work, which will create ladders in the final fabric. All other squares are knit stitches. Green illustrates the location of needles where the top purl bar of the stitch will be in turn picked up (in this case with a 2 prong tool), and where the tool will rehang those same stitches to create the desired texture. Red lines outline the repeats.
smaller repeat the larger.  The swatches are pictured below as they came off the machine, with no pressing or steaming. The smaller repeat curls considerably, the larger lies much flatter. The longer ladder “floats” bear watching when rehanging the marked stitches to insure free gate pegs and stitches knitting off properly. I prefer to knit nearly all fabrics without any additional weight, using my fingers to pull down on what needs it as I move across the knit. The larger swatch required a tension change of + 2, in addition to the longer span of knit rows. The purl side, with notable curling on the smaller repeat sample. In any fabrics requiring needles OOW, unless waste yarn and weights are a necessity, one may simply do a crochet cast-on across the required number of needles, then drop off cast-on stitches where NOOW are needed, pushing them back to A. In binding off using the latch tool bind off, treat empty needles as though they had stitches on them, and top and bottom edges will match in width.
Working with larger stitch groups and color changes: the pattern stitch is in groups of 5;  knit 9, 10, or 11 rows (depending on yarn and tension). Beginning on the left-hand side pick up 5 stitches from the first row, and hang them on the next group of 5 needles to their right on the last row knit. Skip the next 5 stitches, pick up the next 5 with a transfer tool, and hang them on the next group of 5 needles to their right, repeating across the row. After the whole row is hooked up, repeat the process, reversing the direction of hooking up. Starting side may be based on personal preference, consistency throughout is helpful. This pattern may be worked on an inset, resulting in ruffling on either side or on a fixed edge as well, with ruffling on one side.
The groups of 5 colored squares indicate each set of stitches and needle placement, the arrows the direction and order in which the stitches are moved. The same technique, used as a band rather than an all-over pattern

Wisteria cousin 2, also called fern leaf, hand technique

In seminar days this was referred to as a “fern leaf” pattern. Holding groups in these sequences give a bit more swing to the side of the finished piece. Directions for this fabric may be found in  the post 

The difference between the fabrics below and the ones that look like this swatch is that when the row of held sequences is completed from one side to the other, at least 2 rows are knit across all stitches before reversing the holding direction and moving toward the starting side to complete the repeat.
In addition, there is often a tension change between the groups that pull the fabric inward and enhances the texture. In my sample, the held segments were knit at tension 6, the tight rows at tension 3.
The pattern in this swatch is executed on a multiple of 8 stitches +2.
To knit: cast on the required number of stitches, the first four rows are tight, so waste yarn and ravel cord followed by the cast on and tight rows is recommended.
At T3 knit 4 rows, COR. Set the machine to hold stitches.
T6: bring all but the first 8 needles closest to the carriage into hold.
Knit 12 rows.
COR: on the side opposite to the carriage but closest to the needles in the working position, bring a group of 4 more needles into work. Knit one row.
COL: on the side opposite the carriage bring 4 needles into hold.
You will now again be working on a group of 8 needles. * Knit 11 rows.
COR: on the side opposite carriage bring 4 needles into work, knit one row.
COL: on the side opposite carriage bring 4 needles back into hold.*
Repeat *to* until the last set of 8 needles are in work on the left-hand side, knit 12 rows, ending COL.
T3 knit 4 rows.
Reverse the process, moving in the opposite direction, beginning with knitting 12 rows on the first group of 8 stitches on the left.

If the goal is to retain the texture, a yarn with “memory” ie wool is recommended; if a yarn such as acrylic, which has the capacity of being “killed” when pressed (sometimes the desired effect) is used,  the result may be seen below

lacing up a sample with knit i-cord

I had previously shared other images of this type of fabric, they may be found in my previous post, described as “horizontal cables“. The sequences there illustrate the use of other results from varying the number of stitches and rows in each held group, as well as the biasing that results when all rows of groups move in a single direction. A bit on the possibility of automating such fabrics using slip stitch. 

Holding/short rows: hand tech to chart to automating with slip stitch 1

These directions apply to Brother Machines; designs could be used as they are and programmed into Passaps, other brands would require some adjustments. In these samples, the holes resulting from holding for 2-row sequences are considered part of the design. Vertical strips in different colors could be knit and later joined. The final result is a “zig-zag” pattern. Written directions may read: to begin, cast on, and knit 2 rows. **COR: set the machine for holding. Place in hold all except the first 2 needles on the right (carriage side). Knit 2 rows. Return to work the next group of 2 needles on the left to work, knit 2 rows. Repeat until only 2 needles on the far left are in  hold, return them to work, knit one row (color 1 in the chart below). COL: pull the first 2 needles at far right to hold, knit 2 rows, repeat until last 2 are left in hold, knit 2 rows (color 2). COL: bring next 2 needles into work, knit 2 rows, continue until the last 2 stitches are returned to work on the right, knit one row (color 3). COR: pull first 2 needles on left into hold, knit 2 rows; repeat until last 4 stitches at right are put back into work, knit 2 rows**, and repeat from **. Knit 2 rows at end of the desired number of repeats bind off.
The sorting out hand tech sequences to achieve the desired shapes sample: When producing my charts for using slip stitch to automate holding I like to draw what I would actually be knitting for each row, each stitch and row being a filled square, so the colored areas below represent knit stitches/rows on each row, the blank squares the stitches in holding. I test the repeat as a hand technique first, before in my case marking the mylar, then essentially fill in the knit stitches with color, keeping in mind the location of the knit carriage and the direction of the knitting. The colored squares are then programmed as punched holes, black squares, or pixels, and the pattern may be knit using slip stitch <—>. Needle selection needs to be canceled, otherwise, the yarn will be knit on the side of non-selected needles on that last stitch, creating a long float. The selection row needs to be toward the first 2 knit rows sequence. Here they are knit beginning on the right for 2 rows, so the selection row is made from left to right.  Odd rows move, knitting, from right to left, even rows from left to right. At this point, I prefer mac numbers for charting.

the final repeat, working chart the mylarthe swatch

The  above repeat could be considered composed of 2 pairs of stacked, mirrored triangles, here is an instance of playing single “triangles”

the mylar repeat its accompanying swatch

Large eyelet lace, hand transferred (or not)

This is a lace sample created on a dubied industrial knitting machine

I became curious as to how to duplicate it, decided to use needle selection to help track the transfers rather than counting needles by hand. The repeat is a small one, suitable for both electronics and punchcards. Below is its configuration on my 910, punchcard knitters may want to flip the repeat to match directions for knitting as written.

the sample’s knit side

its purl side

yarn: 2/8wool

end needle selection (KCII here) must be used any time there are needles out of work in the pattern

transfers are always made toward the carriage

single empty needled are put OOW after transfers across row

pairs of empty needles after they are created are returned to work before the next row of knitting to create side by side loops

in  my case, odd rows transfers were —>, even <—

single rows are knit after each set of transfers

1.KCII <—, transfer selected needles <—, move empty needles OOW

2.select row 2 as carriage knits —>, transfer selected needles —>, there will be 2 empty needles, side by side; bring all needles in work across the row

3.knit <—here there will be 2 loops side by side on adjoining emptied needles; check that no loops have dropped off, rehang and adjust tension if needed; transfer selected needles toward the carriage _ move single now emptied needles OOW

as this row and the next row are knit and transferred, side by side loops will become stitches, and another 2 loop set will be created

4. knit —>, transfer selected needles —> onto adjoining loop, there will be 2 empty needles side by side, bring all/pairs needles in work across the row

repeat steps 3 and 4 for the remainder of the fabric

my previous posts on large eyelet lace created using the lace carriage
large eyelets, and diagonal large eyelets

a cousin of sorts may be achieved by using the following punchcard lace repeat; the lace carriage selects and transfers for 4 passes, the knit carriage follows with 2 rows of knitting throughout; stitches are transferred, doubled up, and transferred again, so yarn choice, weight, and tension may need a lot of editing.

the resulting fabric

There is an added post on automating such large meshes published in July 2020 

Ladder lace

The inspiration: part of a magazine photo

A slightly different approach than in last post. The tale begins with a hand knit graph:

expanded to include alternate rows

the “graph” paper version

If a punchcard is to be used, all colored squares represent punched holes. I used my 910, Studio mylar for my swatch. The mylar repeat and programmed numbers:

The approach in the execution is a bit different from the previous samples. In this instance, colored squares represent number of stitches to be moved/ number of prongs on transfer tool to be used; the pairs of transfers are made away from each other, orange to the right, green to the left. The transfers produce 2 empty needles side by side; they are left in work, as the next row is knit they will produce loops on each needle. Side by side loops do not make stitches, so subsequent rows will continue the ladder. It is helpful to use yarn that does not split and get caught in hooks, as that may partially knit on the next pass. Also, rows with loops should be checked to make certain they are in the hooks, not off, before the next row of knitting. Do not release the loops; on the next set of transfers, treat the loop (where circles occur in graph) as you would a stitch, moving it over on its own prong. As with transfer lace, it bears taking the time to knit slowly and prevent errors rather than having to attempt “fixing” large runs due to dropped stitches.

the resulting swatch on the standard KM (2/8 wool)

the punchcard

the related swatch knit on the 260 bulky KM

The yarn is an alpaca too thick for the standard.  I liked at tension 1 for stocking stitch, but I had to increase the tension to  3.. to be able to manage the transfers, especially the ones over by 3 stitches X2.

for a sense of the scale difference between the 2 swatches

The punchcard was made from a roll purchased directly from Hong Kong, advertised specifically for Brother. The roll is continuous, with separations as seen in the image below. Numbering however is for Studio KM systems, so adjustments need to be made for using them on Brother KMs (ie. first selection row will be row 3 as marked in punchcard used in swatch above).

Ladders and Lace

The patterning resulting from creating and manipulating ladders with needles out of work can create interesting openwork fabrics. I like to use punchcards or mylars for “automatic” patterning in selecting needles, with carriage set to plain knit,  to help keep track of where to introduce transfers when possible. Microsoft Excel or Mac Numbers remain my favorite “graph papers” for working out repeats at various stages of developing the trial swatches.

A work in progress sketch: 2 side by side repeats, my first “drawing”. Empty circles indicate where I think I want to produce holes, green transfers and orange ones are toward each other, colored squares (orange and green) indicate the number of prongs on the tool used for transfers: orange transfers are made with a single eye tool, green with a triple eye one. Needles in the greyed-out area are left out of work after each transfer to create ladders. Where a lace hole is desired the empty needle is returned to work after its stitch is transferred. The yellow line is the knit of every row’s center stitch of the pattern. The chart does not match the card, which was further edited

the punchcard repeat for the edited final version, including markings showing directions of transfers and ” row 1″

the resulting swatch

I have a brick repeat sorted out, not certain about its end-use

another card, 2 prong tool was used for transfers, arrows on right indicate the direction of those transfers, color change indicates its reversal

the resulting fabric: A_ empty needles left in work throughout, B_ as the direction of transfers is reversed, the empty needle on top portion is “filled” in by lifting up purl bar from the row below on its adjacent side, C_ 2 adjacent needles are constantly left empty to create ladders, with one needle brought in to work for every one taken completely out of work as needed. There are more possibilities. When experimenting it is helpful to keep good notes to ensure the ability to reproduce the desired effects.

previous post on leaf-shaped lace