Lace edgings on Brother machines- automated with slip stitch 2

WORK IN PROGRESS

Recently I have begun to look at lace edgings in a slightly different manner than in the past. I am returning to my post from 2018, written while using the older version of Ayab software and working on a 910. Another post that includes an edging was also written this month. Of late, most of my proof of concept swatches have been knit on a 930 using img2track for downloads. These repeats would be interchangeable, sharing mirroring of the designs. I am using a punchcard machine knit carriage with an added magnet set to KC. Adding needle selection to one side of the electronic LC eliminated issues I had previously encountered. The arrows indicate the direction of the adjustable slots in the mechanisms.I also happened to be working with a 910 LC missing its magnet (left), gluing on a magnet in the position shown below made it usable again on the electronic.Reworking some of the swatches in no particular order, beginning with this one:The 2018 repeat is charted on the left, the amended 24 stitches wide BW repeat is in the center, and the mirrored image for download to my 930 is on the right. Although I am attempting to have the trims in this post no wider than 24 stitches, the design repeats shown for use on electronic machines are not suitable if punched as they are for use on a punchcard kms. One of the critical differences when using 2 carriages to select patterns, is that with the electronics on machines such as the 910 or 930 each carriage pass advances the design repeat one row. When using punchcard models, the LC begins selection from the left, the knit carriage does not advance on its first pass from the opposite side.
Having the repeat 24 stitch width allows for positioning the knitting other than on the very center of the machine. If this is done in electronics, the design should then be programmed for all over patterning, not for single-motif. Splitting the bottom 2 all black row of pixels/punched holes and moving the one row to the very top of the design is one of the new changes. I prefer to plot out these repeats at the start of the decreasing angle, the first row then sets up the needle bed on the widest stitch count of the pattern. I traced the original repeat using Numbers and scaled it in Gimp to produce a downloadable file. The method as it was worked out in chart form: symbols usedThe resulting, more successful swatch 2018 failed attempt at a continuous patternCharting it out anew: on the right is the amended repeat adding 4 more rows to its top The resulting swatches: A= the LC  switched to fine lace “accidentally” for a few rows. B= on the very edge eyelets are single on decreasing angles, double on increasing ones. Though the very edge has those differences, the number of knit stitches between the inner shape on the left and the outer one on the right is fixed =C. D= the lines created by the transfer sequences to create the diamond shapes are far more successful IMO. This illustrates the above repeat on the left. On the right, edge transfers are reduced to single eyelets on the increasing angle, in turn, would result in a wider area of knitting in the zigzag shape between the curved edge and the diamond shape.“A Machine Knitter’s Guide to Creating Fabrics” by Susanna Lewis (1981) is the ultimate resource for punchcard knitting for knitters with any amount of experience. On page 223 she offers a repeat for a lace trim. It is shown on the left below, after being reorganized to start on the full 24 stitch width of the edging. In the center chart, rows of black pixels are added, and on the right, the full electronic repeat is shown mirrored for download to the 930 2818, a 26 stitches wide swatch2020 versionThe curved edge is noticeably different and more uniform than in edgings where the increasing angle is formed by only a single stitch being transferred to the next needle on the left, creating an eyelet immediately to its right. The above design, as well as the Brother one published and shared at the bottom of the 2018 post, add two more passes of the LC for stepped decrease/ increase shaping. Three needle positions are involved in each sequence. The decreasing angle will have a single edge stitch, followed by a right-hand transfer with 2 stitches on that needle, and an eyelet to their right after the four LC passes are completed. The increasing angle will be formed by two single edge stitches with an eyelet to their right as well after those four LC passes are completed. Moving on to the Brother published chart at the bottom of the 2018 post: the original is on the left, readjusted in order to begin with the decreasing curve in the center, and charted for download on the right (mirrored in turn for use on the 930). For clarification, the original was said to be 68 rows high but proved to be 72. It is also 18 stitches at the widest point, not 24.  I did not follow their directions for alternating between fine and normal lace either, simply left the LC to N.The test swatch

Lace knitting tips, to mesh or not to mesh 7

Early versions of the Brother Lace Carriage (LC) for machines such as the 830 did not have the capacity to control end needle selection. If any needles were selected for transfer to an end needle not in use in the piece, the LC still will attempt to move that stitch, and if no needle hook is there to accept it, the stitch will drop. Where an and needle has been selected on either or both edges, the option that remains for folks with no automatic way to cancel end needle selection is to push those needles back to B position by hand. Since selection is likely to not happen every row, it may be an easy thing to forget as the length of the piece grows.
Later LC models include mechanisms like those seen in punchcard knit carriages that override the selection made by the patterning device on the end needles.

There were also point cams, that help to change the spacing between vertical lengths of design repeats. For images of the Lace carriage and use of point cams please see post 2017/10/05/lace-point-cams-…brother-machines

Electronic carriages are equipped with a magnet, and must always travel past the center needle 0 position center mark on the needle tape. Markings on factory punchcards give clues as to which carriage to use and for how many passes. They also may vary depending on the year the punchcards or mylars were issued. To review, here are some of the markings commonly found

Generally, it is best to use a yarn that is smooth, has some stretch, and does not break easily. Because the yarn will be transferred to and from or in addition also be shared between needles, some extra yarn may be needed for proper stitch formation. In overall meshes, it is best to start testing using a tension at least one whole number higher than when using the same yarn for stocking stitch.  Too loose a tension can result in dropped stitches or loops getting hung up on gate pegs, too tight and the stitches will not knit off properly or drop, or the yarn may even break. When eyelets are few in number, adjustments in tension may not be needed.

It is best to start with waste yarn and ravel cord, then casting on and knitting at least 2 rows before beginning to use the LC. The cast on will need to stretch to accommodate the growth in width which increases with increasing numbers of eyelets. The same applies to the bind off. One option for matching both is seen in this “answer lady”  video.

In most punchcard repeats, if when the row of transfers is completed there are two or more empty needles side by side, troubleshooting is required to solve the problem unless are intentionally planned in the design, with deliberate adjustments to components of the overall pattern repeat.

The needles need to be in good condition, with latches that open and close smoothly and easily. Also, check for any bent gate pegs, and use a tool to even out the spacing between them if needed.

The traditional placement is for the LC on the left, the KC (knit carriage) on the right, but there are patterns that can work with their placement reversed or even swapped at regular intervals as knitting progresses.

Bringing needles out to E before the all knit row may help avoid additional dropped stitches when there are multiple stitches on any needles. Though knitting may proceed smoothly, checking the work frequently visually will make rescues of problem areas possible as opposed to having to restart the project. It test swatches are hard to knit, it is likely the problems will multiply when a larger group of needles is in use and the project should be put aside.

Because there are so few markings in lace, the lace card does not necessarily resemble the finished stitch appearance. Needle pre-selection does not make as much sense as in other types of patterns. Where knit stitches occur in vertical stripes may also not be immediately evident. Some shifting on the needle bed rather than centering may be required to have a cleaner edge, which also matters in seaming.

There are a definite top and bottom direction to lace, so in knitting scarves or sleeves that is a consideration. One solution is to knit 2 pieces in mirrored directions with many possibilities for methods to join them. No top-down on sleeves if you wish to match the body and it has been knit from its bottom-up.

It is possible to use short rows combined with lace patterns, but any shapes created are likely to change visually, so planning is required unless those changes are suitable. Traditional holding by changing the knit carriage setting may not be used. Needles to be put in hold need to be knit back to A position and brought back into work as needed. Ravel cord or any tightly twisted cotton may be used. If needles have a tendency to slide forward when holding large sections or at the hold starting side as the piece progresses, some tape may need to be placed in front of the needle butts on the metal bed to hold those needles in place. These illustrations of the process are from an early Brother machine manual As with any knitting, there are times where nothing seems to work for no good reason after intervals of smooth knitting and no other changes, and a break is best for both operator and machine.

The greater the number of eyelets in the pattern, the wider the finished knitting. Blocking in some form will usually be required to set the stitches, and may be required if the piece grows in length and narrows as it is worn or hung when stored.

Out of habit I usually leave weaving and tuck brushes in use for all my knitting, but particularly when creating textured stitches and lace.
Gauge swatches should be larger than usual, all in the pattern, and treated as the final piece will be in terms of pressing, blocking, washing, and allowed to rest prior to obtaining measurements for garment calculations.

When stitch symbols first appeared in Japanese publications they were represented as the stitch formation occurred on the knit side of the fabric, which could cause confusion since in machine knitting we are looking at the purl side. Eventually, Nihon publications made the transition and other pubs followed.

I have been blogging for years and sometimes return to topics after long absences. In terms of more information on lace design and some tips on translating hand knitting instructions for machine knitting please see: 2013/07/23/from-hand-knit-lace-chart-to-punchcard-1/
2013/07/24/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-2/
2013/07/26/from-lace-chart-…3-adding-stripes/
2013/07/27/frome-lace-chart…-4-a-border-tale/
2013/07/29/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-5-to-electronic/
2013/08/29/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-6-to-electronic/

A punchcard tale: after the chevron post, single color sideways chevrons appealed to me. Two variations from a Brother Punchcard VolumeA= the full 24 stitches wide repeat, half the required height for the punchcard user. B= the single electronic repeat. C= the single electronic repeat tiled X3, checking to see that pixels actually line up properly.
Punchcard markings of note: A= design row 1, B= mark for first row visible on the exterior of the machine, the card reader is actually reading 7 rows down, C= typical markings for the direction of the LC movement on that row, and for knit rowsThe two rows at the bottom of the card reflect the overlap when punchcard snaps are in use to keep the pattern continuous.Looking at it in more detail Column identification at the bottom of the chart: A= direction of the lace carriage, pixels or punched holes preselect on that carriage pass
B= direction of transfers; note there are extra blank rows where their direction is reversed indicated also by the change in the color of the arrows. Multiple rows in one direction only, happening here in series of 5, will result in bias knitting. As bias is reversed, the zigzag shape begins to be created.
C= markings for 2 rows worked with the  knit carriage, the pattern does not advance on those rows on any machine
D= markings on factory punchcard
E= design rows
When working with electronics, the actions need to match those indicated on the factory design beginning with row one punchcard marking on the right.
The width of the planned swatch or piece may be programmed for use with the single motif setting in img2track or the required default in Ayab. Adding a blank square at each end ensures the end needle will knit on every row, no pushing back needles by hand will be required.Changing fibers opens up a brand new world: this swatch (unblocked) is knit in a tightly twisted rayon, edges also begin to create clearer shapes than that achieved by knitting the same design using wool.Spacing out the zigzags, another 24X30 repeat. This is the minimum repeat for electronic KMs as well, knit stitch spacing (white squares) can be planned to suit Once again, one must be aware of whether the lace repeat needs to be mirrored on the specific model machine. I initially forgot to do this on my 930, which results in an erroneous repeat if the lace carriage is operated from the left. Planning the placement on the needle bed controls the number of knit stitches on either side of the resulting mesh shape.  Today the rayon was having no part of knitting properly, this swatch is once again in wool. 

At one point I shared ideas for automating mesh patterns in lace edgings using the LC and the KC (knit carriage) set for slip stitch

Changing the above repeat for a zigzag border: in my first experiment, I tried keeping the number of eyelets in the zigzags across rows constant, did not like the visual “extra” line away from the edge, was happier with my second try. This fabric would do better with a yarn that can be blocked to shape, the wool used here is a tad too thin. There will be some tendency on the part of the eyelets on the very edge to appear smaller as the edge stitches are stretched into shape. It appears I also have a needle that needs to be changedThe transfers of the stitches by the LC while using the knit carriage set to slip in both directions to create the knit rows, will automatically create increases and decreases along the left edge. Due to this fact, there will be one less eyelet in each transferred row than the number of pixels/punched holes in its corresponding pattern row. The knit carriage in this instance preselects rows for the lace carriage, the lace carriage preselects all needles required on its way back to the left for the knit carriage to knit on its next pass. This chart attempts to show movements of the carriages and location of stitches after they have been moved along with eyelet symbols in their locations after the transfers The pattern repeat on the left below is as I drew it and intended it, on the right, it is mirrored for use to knit it on my 930The first preselection row is from right to left, the knit is centered with 10 stitches on each side of 0. I canceled end needle selection on both carriages. The first row is knit, when the KC reaches the left side, set it to slip in both directions. As it returns to the right it will knit a second row on all needles in work, and preselect for the first LC pass. Extension rails must be used as both carriages will lock onto the belt for pattern selection. At the start of the piece, as the LC moves from left to right it will transfer preselected needles to the right. On its return to the left, it preselects needles that will knit as the KC returns to action from the right. Each carriage in this design makes alternating pairs of passes.
When the top half of the pattern repeat is reached, the LC makes its pass to the right on a blank design row. As it does it preselects for the next row of transfers, which are made to the left as the LC returns to its home there (A). Though the Brother LC does not knit and transfer on the same row as the Studio one can, it is able to transfer and preselect for the next row of knitting (B).The above fact allows for planning transfers in both directions while still keeping the routine at 2 passes for each carriage to and from their original home. Based on that, here is another trim with eyelets in alternating directions along the side opposite the zigzag shape. The repeat is now adjusted to 22 stitches X 48 rows to accommodate the reversing eyelets arrangement. It is shown here mirrored for download to my 930. There is a blank square at the top right corner, the corresponding stitch will be cast on by the knit carriage on its move to the left, and transferred automatically when there is a return to transfers at the bottom of the design repeat. The yarn used or the swatch is a 2/18 wool-silk. There will be 2 stitches on each needle (A) at the very edge where stitches are transferred for decreases and look different than where the edge stitch is simply moved one needle to its left (B), leaving behind an empty needle. A parallel, similar difference is also noted at the inner edge of the zigzag shape. The sample is pictured turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise, its bottom edge appears on the right

To mesh or not to mesh 6: chevrons

While creating the test swatches for a version of single bed 3D scales using the lace carriage I was intrigued by the chevron effect that became more obvious with color changes The fabric was capable of changing considerably in look and width that could be encouraged to remain more permanent with blocking. There is a visible asymmetry, with one side of the chevron actually containing an extra eyelet. Still trying to retain the 24 stitches in width design constraint, I began to work with simply counting eyelet transfers matching in number, guessing rather than planning. Tiling the repeats can help get a sense of how things line up horizontally and vertically. Electronic repeats can be minimal unless one is programming the pattern as a single motif that includes edge knit stitches etc when downloading via cable to an electronic or using Ayab interface.A and B continue to produce uneven numbers of eyelets on each half of the resulting “V” shapes. The greater the number row repeats of eyelets in a single direction, the more the resulting bias. If asymmetry is the goal, then this may meet the need. I knit most of the swatches on 48 stitches, with more needles added on the right if needed to ensure the edge stitch will be a knit one. Larger shapes require wider tests. The photo is rotated to reduce its length on the page This effort produced uneven sides of the Vs, and the eyelets along one of the vertical center column were not properly formed, resulting in an added knit stitch The added eyelets in pattern C produce an interesting change from a sort of V shape to more of a W, but the fabric is still unbalanced Back to the drawing board: a different mesh, with eyelets in alternating numbers, resulting in a  more balanced fabric. Here the charted repeat is shown X2, side by side.Different day, same yarns, both were having none of it. When knitting progresses in this manner, it’s a good time for the machine and its operator to practice social distancing.  The quality of the lines produced by the mesh was different and heavier than the one I was seeking, though the number of eyelets remained constant on both sides of the center stitches, alternating on the alternate pairs of design rows. Back to charting things out in Numbers: though the LC, usually (but not always) starts located on the left, preselects on its first pass to the right, and begins to transfer to the left on its second pass back to the left, in order to visualize the direction,  the repeat is mirrored. Cyan cells indicate transfers to the left, magenta transfers to the right. This 24 stitch repeat shows where 2 transfers wind up on a single needle while an extra knit stitch is also formed in the blank vertical column, seen in swatch above. In programming an electronic KM the black pixels alone with 2 blank rows above the second set of transfers is enough. I like to program repeats that are a bit larger, and usually will tile them as well, looking for any errors my eye might notice before any actual knitting Using electronics one may expand or reduce the number of stitches in the repeat to reach an estimated equal number of eyelets With any mesh, the number of knit rows may be varied between each pair of transfers. My swatch was knit using a 26 stitch repeat widthThe cast on used is a temporary one. In final pieces, the quality of any bind off and cast on should be tested as well to accommodate the changes in width lace fabrics may have, increasing exponentially on the number of total eyelets. The knitting this time went smoothly. The eyelet count was as planned. That said, I was 6 stitches away from completing the bind off when the yarn simply ran away from me and chose not to make any effort at rehanging the piece. In the top blue stripe, the number of knit rows between transfers was increased from 2 to 4, while in the top white stripe I alternated between 4 and 2 rows of knitting. Playing with such intervals between transfer rows of transfers can produce interesting differences and perhaps a more static quality in the fabric after blocking the completed item. The knit carriage is set to N, so it has no effect on the advancement of the programmed lace pattern.
As often can happen in machine knitting, another day, same yarns, same tension, same operator and stitches drop, get hung up on gatepegs, and perform other unwanted actions. My next test aimed for that “W” shape. I downloaded an image that accounted for all needles in use for my swatch, so in the 930 using the isolation button on by default with img2track was OK. Your machine may vary as to which side of center the extra stitch will be placed when the total number of stitches in width is an odd one. If uncertain, plan the repeat for the next even number, in this case, 52, divide it evenly on each side, and either air knit to sort out selections before casting on or simply transfer that extra knit stitch over one as you begin to knit. In a final piece, good notes will provide reminders for such small details The blue yarn refused to knit off properly, so the added colors were tried to see if I fared any better using them. My first swath was discarded, the second one is shown. The repeat is sound, the visible “errors” are the result of stitch formation issues. The swatch stretched in length that could be set with blocking has a very different look when lightly touched with my now fiber burning iron Different day, all other things being equal, same needle locations resulted in easy success. I programmed for a 60 X 24 repeat, planning for different size Vs.During knitting, these fabrics will appear to be producing straight color stripesIt takes a while for the change to begin to be noticeable This was the result as the work came off the machine, relaxed, with no treatment of any sort the ribber is in place there are avid beliefs expressed by folks in terms of whether or not to bring the knitting to the front of the ribber, I am a between the beds’ advocate. Also, even with the ribber off my machines have always been set up with ribber table clamps in place since having them flat simply never worked as well for me in any of my knitting.A one-color zig-zag from a Brother punchcard pattern book with a different approach, that could serve as trim or form an accessory. There are limitations in producible width. The stretch of the cast on and bind off and the fact they need to match as closely as possible while allowing the mesh to stretch sideways in blocking must be taken into consideration, as is the fact that every end needle selection will occur regularly and those selected end needles must be pushed back consistently. There is no way to avoid that on a punchcard machine, in electronics one could again program the width and add blank pixel column on each side. Here the cast on was using waste yarn and continuing in the pattern, the manual end needle canceling of selection was inconsistent at the sides, and LTBO (latch tool bind off) around single gate pegs was simply not stretchy enough. Here the cast on and bind off match very closely. I used the looser cast-on method described by the “answer lady” in the video, but I bound off around 2 gate pegs instead rather than wrapping the needles as shown, a method often used on the PassapMore information: a hand transfer striped lace variant 2014/03/27/striping-in-lace-fabrics-1/, and another using a stock punchcard 2013/07/26/from-lace-chart-to-punchcard-3-adding-stripes/

A lace mesh series: GIMP, superimposing, Brother 910

I like placing motifs, grounds, and borders myself whenever possible, in any knitting technique, rather than relying on adding or combining them via the built-in KM software.  It is simply my strong personal preference in designing and gives me additional controls over patterning. However, the ability to superimpose is a convenient feature, available on multiple machines and worth mentioning. I have used it more frequently in operating my Passap, than my Brother 910. That said, it would appear to be an easy feature to use for programming shapes onto mesh grounds. For illustration purposes, I am using a 24 stitch repeat. Electronics width and height potential depend on the use of mylar or PC download. The “rose” is not a workable, resolved repeat. When electronics were first introduced, at one point Kathleen Kinder wrote a book on electronic knitting (? 1984), exploring the full potential of managing designs by combining settings and flipping buttons for both the Brother 910 and the Studio 560.

A bit of review on machine buttons and functions for the Brother pattern case for those unfamiliar with it.  M= Memory: each of the tiny red spots on the garment representations lights up, as specs on motif are entered or reviewed. CE= cancel entry: corrects programmed numbers or cancels the red error light when it flashes. CR= cancel row: press in a number, say 2 on the panel, and the card moves back 2 rows. If you press the button and no number is entered, the error light flashes and the card stops advancing. This is the same as locking the punchcard to repeat a pattern row. RR= row return brings the card back to the set line. This is routinely done before shutting off the machine when knitting is complete or to remove the mylar for editing.  CF= card forward. The mylar returns to programmed design row 1.  Numbers pressed in using CR or CF do not change those programmed using the M button.

When the pattern selector button on the 910 is down, the pattern is centered on green #1. A reminder: Brother has 2 needle #1 positions, one on each side of 0. When the pattern has an even number of stitches, it will be centered with half that number of stitches divided evenly on each side of 0. For 24 stitches, the pattern’s limits are yellow 12 and green 12. If the repeat is an odd number of units wide, the center stitch then will be placed on green #1 (right of 0). If the repeat is 25 stitches wide, then the pattern limits are yellow 12 and green 13. If using a 24 stitch repeat, the machine automatically knows that the first needle position (FNP) for the pattern is yellow 12. When the pattern selector is in the upper position (motif A) and the middle position (motifs A & B) we can choose the FNP and with A & B the number of stitches separating them. One way to produce filet lace is to program A & B motifs. The lace mesh is the A motif, the “rose” the stocking stitch motif. The A motif can be on the left or right of the mylar, but it is always the taller of the 2. In most cases, it is the dominant pattern. The starting row for the combined motif is shared.

In lace knitting transfers and resulting eyelets are programmed as black squares. Superimposed solid patterns in stocking stitch occur in unmarked areas of the mylar or downloaded image, so they need to be “white squares”. In order to get the 2 to meet, the mesh repeat in the height required (column A in the illustration), and a single width is drawn or programmed in reverse (column B), with the result being read as (column C) when it is programmed as the base for a complete overlap. The basic mesh becomes the A motif in programming the 910, the stocking stitch “shape” is the B motif.  If end needles are selected during knitting, they need to be pushed back to B manually or use the orange L cams. It is possible in addition to mark the “L window” on mylar, but the mesh repeat is so regular you may not find that necessary.The “rose’ would also need to be drawn in black, and positioned or programmed, with first placement resulting in the image seen below right. The color reverse is then used converting white squares to black, and lace knitting could proceed based on the black markings resulting in eyelets.  As is already noted, there is no guarantee the image placement on the mesh the will yield a precise shape or the best possible results for motif edges, its definition, and its segments’ outline In terms of placement: if the all-over mesh is programmed centered on G1, and the motif is positioned with FNP other than G1, any simple, extra rows of mesh prior to starting the all-over pattern (below green line), will need to be programmed separately with adjustments also in FNP to match the superimposed segment. The programmed repeat for the mesh “rose” below would begin immediately above the blue line, and the extra mesh rows at the top would provide the transition to the start of the rose once again. The height of the pattern seen in the B column in the first illustration may be adjusted accordingly. 

Color reverse (button #6) will provide “black squares” for the creation of transfers to create eyelets. The mesh and superimposed design need to share the same starting row. The image above reversed shows extra white at the bottom of the chart that needs to be eliminated. Brother lace starts on a selection row (black squares), ends with 2 blank rows at the top of the pattern (white squares). This is reversed in Studio knitting.

What happens when starting row placement is the same for both motifs, and the color reverse is used: the first-row lace carriage selection is good to go. The height of the mesh above the rose may be adjusted to suit. Trying to place multiple roses in different locations on the finished piece using this method is more than my brain wants to even consider. Punchcard knitters are not completely out of the superimpose loop. If you are so inclined, areas on mesh punchcard ground may be taped over to test the repeat. Again, this works best for simple shapes. Tape may be shifted or trimmed as needed. If intended for extended use, trace holes over a blank card, punch the final version, and proceed. Images on punchcard machines are reversed on the stockinette side. If direction matters, flip the card over horizontally, mark and punch, or if the card is already punched, work with lace carriage on right, knit carriage on left. No worries about multiple programs or a mix of starting points, etc. Know the rules for where to begin and end for lace knitting.

Sharp single stitch points are not attainable. In the illustration below, the yellow indicates the “desired point”, red squares indicate the additional stitches knit, adding to the intended shape as the alternating directions transfers are completed. The one stitch start is actually converted to 3 stitches, 3 to 5, etc.Later model electronics included “stitch world” pattern books.  A usable mesh is # 103. Do not use 104, since it leaves 2 adjacent needles empty. If aspect ratio matters in the superimposed image, knit test swatches to determine gauge. Cell/ grid size may be set to knit proportions rather than square to make visualization of finished shape easier. The mesh created using 103 uses 6 pattern rows for each 4 knitted, so you must add those rows “ to the height of the overlay design. Similar adjustments are needed if other mesh repeats are used. Simply scaling the image may require some clean up as well before the motif can be placed on the ground design.

A lace mesh series: using GIMP

Eons ago I owned a BitKnitter for my Passap machine, and to this day I miss it and some of the other Cochenille software that is no longer available, especially when working with multiple colors for color separations of any sort. When using it for downloading the resulting motif, picking the same exact color for each “square” on the grid was a necessity for accuracy. If “only” black was involved, the same guide applied. Working in GIMP one can set the color mode to fewer colors to start with, reducing the palette. This can limit your editing ability sometimes, and switching between modes may be required. I tend to go autopilot when I work on color separations for any purpose and work with built-in colors rather than custom.

It is helpful to have previous experience with any program as well as with basic knitting before tackling and combining large scale designs and fabrics such as lace. This is not a step by step how to use GIMP (search for my other posts on the topic), merely an illustration of my experiment in working with superimposing an image onto a mesh grid.

To start with: a 1 X 1 grid is set up. “Black squares” become single pixels in downloads. For the single stitch 1 X 1 grid to be visible, I prefer to work in at least a 500X magnification. Because I do not own a hacked machine I am unable to provide a corresponding test swatch to the final chart.

The resulting image may be tiled to produce a large enough mesh ground, the grid needs to be turned off for this step

The tiled image will appear on a different part of the screen, shown in both versions below, I realized reviewing the above that the width was for more pixels than could be programmed on a 200 needle machine, I resized its width to 120 pixels

here the grid is removed for further processing 

the goal is to retain the black squares for the end bmp, so the ground is filled with a color that will later be removed gridded again if and when needed 

Today’s image is a letter (20 pixels by 24), produced in a new file with text from one of my built-in computer fonts. I happened to be working in RGB mode the same image as it would appear in indexed mode Here some edges “clean up” has been worked with the grid on, then removed for tripling the motif length (now 72 pixels) and pasting on the “mesh” ground 

Switching to indexed colors (6) if you have worked in RGB to this point, it may make cleaning up of edges easier.  I flood filled the A to insure only one red was in use. Below the A is selected (fuzzy selection tool) and copied for paste onto the “mesh”. Magnification reduction to 500X makes the whole file more easily viewed on my mac

the A pasted in placewhite color fill leaving only black squares of letter and ground

Superimposing may be used in some machines, but eliminates the choice of editing when one is “not happy with edges” until after sampling the knit, has several parameters and limitations. Above image gridded for editing:
feeling better, with the exception of the left side bottom of right leg of Aone last bit of clean up, switching between magnification  as needed happier grid removed, image magnification reduction to 100X for export as bmp and download to KM

When downloading a large image that constitutes the width of your piece, programming an extra square or 2 vertically for the height of the pattern in “white” on each side will insure that stitches in those areas are not selected for transfer by the lace carriage, and a knit border will be created.

Things become more complicated with more complex shapes. This is part of a filet crochet chart, and a rose now becomes my goal

use selection editor or fuzzy selectpaste and move to “best” spot not quite a rose

8/9/18. From the Brother electronic lace pattern book, worked out in a much larger repeat 

Back to the drawing board: the mesh and knitting method are altered. For a possible knitting method option see https://alessandrina.com/2017/07/28/unconventional-uses-for-punchcards-2-thread-lace-cards-for-filet-mesh/  The ground “mesh” is now composed of every other stitch, alternating every other row. The “rose is not lengthened. “Stitches” need to be “cleaned up” to approximate a more recognizable shape.

 When satisfied, export in format for download.

 

To mesh or not to mesh series 5- design repeats

These patterns are suitable for punchcard machines. Individual repeats in excel illustrations are outlined in red. They in turn are the minimal repeat information for electronic machines. The lace carriage always begins on left, transfers are made during either 2 or 4 LC pass rows. In the first repeat below the LC operates for 4 rows, KC follows for 2 rows knit. For a fabric using it see post 

This repeat appears in my pre-punched factory basic packs as both #17 and #20. The lace carriage is used for 2 passes and then for 4 alternately, as indicated on the left side of punchcard. The 2 passes will make transfers to left, the 4 make transfers to right. See previous lace posts for further info on lace selection methods and accompanying charting. 

More variations and swatch photos: all patterns unless otherwise stated are knit with 4 passes of the lace carriage from left, followed by 2 rows knit

In this instance there are several vertical spaces between punched holes, creating the knit vertical stripe.  The spacing can be adjusted to suit, but if “mock crochet” is the goal, superimposing an image onto an every other needle mesh gives better results. It is possible to have 2 punched holes side by side on alternate rows, but not in the same row for stitches to knit properly without intervention on the next pair of all knit rows. In patterns such as the first and third below, stitches are transferred onto the adjacent needle in one direction, then both stitches are transferred back onto the previously emptied needle. The transferred stitch then sits on the front of the work (duplicating the look in hand knitting), instead of remaining on the adjacent stitch on the purl side of the fabric. With transfers in the same direction, the swatch biased after relaxing

a mylar marking error as drawn (3A)
the intended repeat (3B)

The above swatch and the one below are similar, transfers occur in the opposite direction, so vertical columns of stacked stitches occur in the alternate columns of the finished fabric. I had some transfer issues in similar spots in both fabrics, have not analyzed the possible direct cause. As seen below, the dropped stitches did not result in the frequent large holes often seen in lace knitting. Pins and red dot indicate problem spots, which could be repaired with careful stitching at the end of knitting. The best prevention of the problem is to visually check after sets of transfers to make certain all stitches have indeed been moved properly.

LC is used alternately for 2, and then 4 passes between knit rows (5)

transfers create a sort of “shape”, highlighted in the photo; the LC operates in sequences of 4 rows, followed by 2 rows, and repeat (6)

this one is a bit trickier, LC operates for 4 rows resulting in side by side transfers; in the first trial yarn caught up on gate pegs, dropped stitches, etc
after reducing KC tension and adjusting the amount of weight 

Mylar repeats can be very small, it is easy to be one stitch off in entering data; here one blank row was added to left (a possibility for intentional vertical stripes of knitting) and the program was one row short on the right of the single full repeat

with the corrected program 

the “variations” and repeats in summary
Adding geometric forms to mesh: a working MK chart for a cousin to the fabric link provided at the top of this post, the underlying mesh repeat is the same as that for card 17the corresponding punched holes; 2 LC passes for transfers to left (purl side), 4 LC passes for transfers to the right (purl side) throughout on Brother KMchart flipped horizontally, suitable for hand knitting the swatch, MK, knit side 

Note: the appearance of the “straight line” edges is altered by the formation of the eyelets along the sides as well as the top of the shape. As more shapes are played with, some adjustments may need to be made in punched holes after knitting a test swatch.

Custom shapes become a bit more complex. So I like the circle in the previous experiment, but I want to accomplish it with traditional lace transfers. I previously discussed a possible approach to filet mesh. This is the swatch where there is one row knit for each row of eyelets, discussed more recently

Below is the result of working with a traditional mesh, where there are 2 rows of knitting to form each eyelet. The third row in the “design” on a punchcard is needed for the lace carriage to travel to its proper place for the alternating direction of transfers, which is not technically a knit row. The fabric is wider and longer than that above, and there is some elongation of the “circle”. Large patterns are mylar and punchcard real estate hogs. The swatch for slightly more than a single repeat with red dots indicating where one square in the mylar did not have a dark enough mark, resulting in a missing eyelet 

the mesh 

A: is my desired shape 17 units by 17, B: that shape elongated X 2 (17 X 34), to try to approximate elongation with knitting 2 rows for each set of eyelets. It is drawn on a square, not a rectangular or gauge specific grid, however, so if that is a consideration in the design, it would have to be a case of “back to the drawing board”. C: the shape elongated X 3 (17 X 51), for placement on the mesh, and D shows it in my desired spot. Lace gauge is harder to gauge because of stretch in the final fabric, and the changes subject to pressing and blocking depending on yarn fiber content. Because transfers in this method occur on rows 1 and 2 to the left, 3 and 4 to the right, no pure straight edges along design borders can be achieved. If simple superimposing a large shape on the mesh is possible, there may be even more distortion along those edges. Ultimately a lot of this boils down to personal preference and patience.

For single vertical line(s) in mesh whether single, at regular intervals, or for use in pattern transitions place repeats as shown where eyelets are desired. Markings for Brother row 1 selection on the right of the chart.For directions on using lace mesh to create pleated skirts please see post-2017/08/16/pleats-created-with-lace-transfers/

Unconventional uses for punchcards 2: thread lace cards for “filet” mesh


Mock filet crochet machine knit lace has surfaced in a Ravelry blog of late. The sample in question was made by Tanya Cunningham, using a hacked knitting machine and software to download the repeat. Sometimes punchcard machines or early electronic users feel left out of creating particular fabrics. If one can settle for working with simpler and far smaller repeats however, one can achieve interesting results on that scale.  Several years ago I wrote a series of posts on lace meshes and lace patterns inspired by filet crochet, this link will take you to them. There also has been a thread lace Ravelry “thread”, and today’s avoidance of housework led me to think about pre-drawn thread lace patterns to create filet mesh.

What to look for a first experiment (Brother machines only): large unpunched areas creating motifs, with no side by side punched holes, and no more than 2 consecutive punched rows. Some samples are provided in-stock cards that come with machine purchase. One such

The lace carriage (LC) selects on the first pass, transfers on the second. It advances the card with each pass of the carriage if it is operated consistently from the same side. If 2 knit carriages (KC) set to select needles for any technique are in use in punchcard machines, as one is put to rest and the other one begins to move from the opposite side, the card does not advance on the first pass, so selection for the previous row is repeated one more time. If all lace transfers are made in the same direction the resulting fabric will bias. For balanced lace fabrics, the direction of the transfers needs to be reversed, whether in alternating series of rows or with every other set of transfers. In a situation such as this, the LC makes one set of transfers operating from the left, with the next set of transfers operating from the right. For the correct setup, the first-row selection with the card locked is made on the row just below the one marked #1 (in this instance that would be row #40), then the card is set to advance as usual. If the first selection row is made with the card set to below the #1 line, the card needs to be already joined with snaps into a drum or the card reader will be selecting the all punched row which is normally part of the overlap that sits over the last 2 rows of the pattern repeat.

I began with my LC on the left for transfers to the left and alternately placed it on the right after knit row(s) for transfers to the right. A “simple” lace is produced with only one row knit between transfers, a more complex lace if 2 rows are knit between them. The LC moves left to right, transfers back to left. If the knit carriage is used for one pass only, it stays on left. The LC is now taken off the machine and moved to the right, used for 2 rows, and will be removed from bed to ready it for its return to the left side. The KC follows with one pass from left to right. The LC is returned to left and operated for 2 rows, starting the sequence over again. The LC is always moving toward the KC to select, and away from it to transfer.

Brother knitters are used to knitting 2 rows after lace transfers. It can be done with this card as well. The problem here is that when knitting for 2 rows, the knit carriage consistently returns to the same side so that when transfers need to be made from its starting side with the LC, the KC needs to come off the machine until after transfers are made. There is a lot more juggling of carriages and keeping track of what needs to be where. The elongation that occurs with 2 rows knit after each set of transfers, and the differences in the appearance in the yarn forming the eyelets (single/magenta arrow vs crossed/glow green arrow strands) for the respective methods are shown below.

another Brother card, more possibilities

The above shows long vertical lines of transfers are possible in design motifs (punched holes). Adding shapes to all over mesh may require some editing along edges where the shapes meet the mesh. Varying size swatches are recommended before committing to any large piece. As always punched errors may be taped over. Red squares in the image below reflect holes missing in the card if the goal is a smoother circular shape. When this technique is used, selection, transfers, and knitting occur in each single, completed row of the design.

note differences in circle sides
an amended, wider repeat 

The slight bias zig zag at the top of the swatch results from a missing reverse direction transfer before continuing with plain knitting and binding off. Ultimately whether the final fabric is worth the effort in making it is a personal choice. Sometimes small swatches work like a dream, and when large pieces are produced, problems multiply or the result is disappointing. In the past, I have also tried to use thread lace inspired patterns for drop stitch lace (ribber fabric), but have found the result far more subtle than expected. As always yarn and color choice make a significant difference. The yarn used in these samples is a 2/15 wool blend, knit at tension 6.

BTW: Studio pattern books have multiple sections of published 24 stitch thread lace patterns. Not all Brother machines have the capacity for knitting this type of fabric, so not all of their publications include “suitable patterns”. If one understands what punched holes vs unpunched do, some of the Brother weaving and “pick rib” (perhaps another post’s topic) can be used as-is or adapted.
electronic http://machineknittingetc.com/knit-in-punch-lace-silver-m…
punchcard http://machineknittingetc.com/pattern-library-for-punchca…

previous blog notes on thread lace https://alessandrina.com/2016/11/03/thread-lace-on-brother-km/

 

To mesh or not to mesh 4

The following illustrate some of the processes involved in planning out fabric akin to the one in the previous post. Black borders outline blocks of 6 stitches/rows, reflect markings on blank Brother cards. In option A: the motif is planned and drawn. In this instance, it is colored in green (1), the area it covers will ultimately remain unpunched on the card or blank on mylar. Graph paper may be used to work this out, knit design software, or as in this case, an excel spreadsheet. A grid is created with every other square blacked out or colored in (2). The motif is superimposed on grid (3). Repeat is expanded adding 2 blank rows above each design row (4). Rust squares represent punched holes in the card or black squares in mylar.

Option A

Option B: the same motif is lengthened X3 (5). The lace mesh base is drawn out (6). The elongated motif is then superimposed on mesh (7). Electronic patterning on 910 allows for minimal drawing using all black squares, in turn making it necessary to color reverse for lace. Two separate motifs are used, the method for programming such repeats is in 910 manual. However, there are considerations for needle position and pattern selector placement for this “shortcut” to work properly, the steps are described by Kathleen Kinder and others. I prefer to work with what I “see” in terms of punched holes or squares, this is the method used to develop my previous flower motif swatch. The short supply of mylars may also be a consideration in using them or not for such large, and perhaps limited use design repeats. If interface cables and software are available, other options abound.

Option B

To mesh or not to mesh 3

Many articles were written in the 1980s in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, some finding their way to newsletters published in the USA at the time investigating this subject. With the advent of electronics the process became “easier”. Kathleen Kinder author of several books on Machine Knitting covering myriad topics (one whole text on lace), also authored Electonic Knitting: an Introduction for Brother and Knitmaster Knitters (?1989) that investigated the move from punchcard to electronics, including lace techniques that in the instance of “filet look alikes” introduced superimposing designs as a quicker method to achieve such fabrics. The common motifs used were often that of a heart or a rose.

One of the many confusing things in lace, is that the punched holes or mylar squares do not represent actual holes in the final fabric. Alternate rows of holes represent first transfers to left, then transfer to right. Brother and Studio punchcard sets included with purchase of machines both include pre-punched cards suitable for this type of mesh. Numbers sometimes varied with machine model year. Studio No. L-6, Brother No 17J (also 20G etc.) are 2 such samples and are vertical mirrored images of each other. Superimposed motifs constitute blank areas of card. Depending on preference some readjustments may be required after a test swatch to alter placement of some of the mesh holes. My fabric below was knit using the basic faggot lace Brother mesh, the corresponding “card” close to 180 rows in length to achieve the brick repeat.

a portion of the card

sideways view of resulting fabric, knit side facing