Ladders with lace, “making things work” 2

My preferred, e wrapped  1 to 3 increase

knit side

300_12purl side


The how: begin with transferring 2 side stitches onto the center one

knit row 1

1knit row 2


insert tool as shown


turn clockwise, place yarn twist on needle to left of center one


insert tool as shown


twist counter clockwise, bring twisted stitch behind float on right of center, lift twisted loop and place it onto the empty needle to right of the center


pick up a loop from the triple stitch below last 2 knit rows as shown, and lift it onto center stitch


knit 2 rows, continue in pattern according to chart

Ladders with lace, “making things work” 1

Just about 2 years ago, I had an obsession with leaf shapes in lace, and wrote a series of posts on approaches to both designing them and rendering them in knit on more than one machine. One such early post. Recent publications are reflecting the increasing interest in bulkier knits and combining  ladder “lace (created by needles remaining out of work) with shapes floating within the resulting open spaces. I thought I would address some of the issues in such fabrics, while returning to a leaf as the focus “shape”. My samples are knit on a Brother 260, using hand techniques that require only the basic set of transfer tools.

Long verticals in knit may have problems with the edge stitches separating from the rest of the knit, i.e. in FI vertical stripes. In plain knit, the edge stitches may stretch, become distorted, and may encroach on the ladder space. A series of actions taken on the edge stitches of ladders will help prevent that, here I am choosing to use a simple 1 X 1 cable cross every 2 rows to stabilize them. Having the cables coincide with the rows on which transfers are made to create the chosen shape makes tracking them easier.

my first schematic (Excel chart)


symbols used


imagining in repeat

in repeat

my first swatch

for decreasing stitches in work on right or left at the top of the chart I used a simple decrease


using the “fully fashioned” option would provide a different look along that edge


For my test swatch I used a crochet cast on across 17 + 4 for single full pattern repeat, + 4 edge stitches on either side = a total of 29 stitches. To create the transition  from 1 to 3 stitches in the center of the leaf,  I  e wrapped an additional 2  empty needles


#1 reflect the e wrapped increase just above the cast on, #2 show results of the same technique at the top of the established “leaf” pattern


the chart repeat amended for a different start

screenshot_15the second swatch, trying a different way of adding stitches

#1 shows pattern beginning on a group of knit sitches, as opposed to a single center one for leaf

#2 shows a full “leaf” repeat as charted, red arrow points to e wrapped yarn traveling in front of the shaping

#3  red arrow indicates the same is happening with the float, while the green shows my desired twist, with stitch to front


Sorting it out: a third swatch, with an amended way of e wrapping. To make sampling quicker, I modified the repeat, eliminating cables, decreasing the number of stitches at the widest part of the leaf, making fewer eyelet transfers.  The results show how much the shape of the “leaf” may be varied with just a few changes. Note the twist and location of floats in relationship to stitches just above #1


I will document the 1X3 increase method I liked best out of several trials in my next post.

If having a single pivot stitch for the repeat is not important, the chart below is amended again to accommodate that


if eyelets are eliminated to create a geometric pattern and/or for the sake of speed, increases may be created on both sides beginning on row 12 of the above chart by picking up from the row below


Ladder lace

The inspiration: part of a magazine photo  A slightly different approach than in the last post. The tale begins with a hand-knit graph:  expanded to include alternate rows the “graph” paper version   If a punch card 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: A png for a single repeat used in the later postThe approach in the execution is a bit different from the previous samples. In this instance, colored squares represent the number of stitches to be moved/the number of prongs on the transfer tool to be used.
The pairs of transfers in the chart are made away from each other, orange to the right, and 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, creating a knit stitch and disrupting the ladder. Also, rows with loops should be checked to make certain they are in the pairs of needle hooks, not off either or both, before the next row of knitting.
Do not release the loops; when the next set of transfers is reached, treat the loop (where circles occur in the 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” errors such as 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 it 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. the first selection row will be row 3 as marked in the punchcard used in the swatch above).  2022: Sometimes what works well on a small swatch does not in a larger one, or may simply require a different yarn, more attention, and slower knitting speed. The first trial at other yarn content included a yarn perhaps too thin for the effect (green), and one requiring maximum tension making the transfers with loops difficult. Once the initial transfers are made, this loop formation will appear in locations indicated in the chart. A visual check should be made as to whether there is a loop on each needle. If one is skipped, simply lift the yarn onto the hook of the empty needle. As the fabric progresses, the loops will appear on the top of the shafts of the selected needles and are treated as one would handle stitches in multiple-stitch lace transfers Shown again in the white knit  After the transfers are made A yarn split on the machine may be seen in the center of this image.  Yarn splits and dropped loops are quite visible in these tests.  A return to a different 2/8 wool brought better results, again, splits can be identified in the fuzzy spots even if the ladders are formed correctly  This last swatch was knit in wool rayon. The problem of splitting was eliminated, while dropped stitches were easier to miss 


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


The wonders of blocking

Blocking is one of those knitting preferences that can arouse strong pro/con arguments, and goes the range from casual to nearly compulsive with wires, pins, and assorted tools used to achieve desired results. My shawls continue to sell well: the photos below illustrate part of the process and 2 of the most recent in their family. All shaping and joining are achieved through the knitting process; the shawls are reversible, may be worn and draped in a  variety of ways.

before steaming and pressing


detail shot after steaming/pressing


one way to wear, purl side facing out