A bubbles cousin

This is a Superba drop stitch fabric, using the same principles as those in the last post, with a rib stitch outlining the alternating drop stitch shapes on the purl side

directions from the manual

In my knit sample the ribber does all the knitting every row and patterning is accomplished on the main bed, reversing the recommendation in the Superba manual

the new repeat

Set up is so that needle selection position once again begins with 5 stitches on the left, occurs in a multiple of 5, with extra needles in work on ribber on either side

Transfer all stitches to ribber, begin needle selection with first five stitches on left in work, 3 OOW, 5 in work, 3 OOW across the bed as seen in the illustration above, reversing the beds.

The first needle, then every 4th, and last on right on the main bed will never be dropped, are always in work.

When needle selection changes to block number 2 from left, the center 3 sts of every group of 5 every needle rib sections are dropped, the empty 3 needles beginning with the second group from left are brought into work, repeating the process across the bed.

Knitting continues until needle selection changes, *the middle 3 stitches of each 5 stitch EON rib group are dropped, the previously 3 empty needles in the opposing sets are returned to work. Knitting continues until the needle selection changes* and the * * process is repeated.

Cast on and bind off methods are determined by end-use and personal preference

the resulting fabric, purl side

the knit side (not truly reversible as  the swatch in the last post)

a not so bubbly bubble end

More knit bubbles

The topic of “those bubbles” has recently turned up again on Ravelry, where another forum member (Tanya /It makesyousmile) had come across a Russian video by Anna Kovin, with results that closely resembled those in the blue sweater and blankets pictured in my previous post, and poses a great solution for knitting the alternating, the same side knit and purl variants of the stitch. I knit my samples on my Passap, simply because I tend not to keep my ribber on my Brother machine. My production is on a single bed for most pieces in that gauge, and I find it easier to both see and work without the ribber on. That said, the method can work on any machine.

Drop stitch makes for a very loose, wide fabric, so casting on and binding off needs to accommodate that. I often will start with waste yarn, a loose first row, end the piece with a loose row. My bind-off is often around 2 gate pegs or more if needed, and rehanging the bottom and binding off, in the same manner, has top and bottom match. I did not do this in my swatch, and it is easy to see where some of the problems may be.

For swatching I chose to hang the comb with the first knit pass (open cast on trick) on the back bed (would be the main bed on Brother), using a multiple of 5 stitches, knit several rows, and then transferred in a 5/5 rib configuration, sorting out the proper tension for my yarn. I began with 5 stitches on the back bed (main bed in Japanese KM), transferred the next 5 to ribber, and repeated the process across the width of my fabric. The front bed/ ribber was set at half pitch when the pattern was about to start, with an extra needle on left. The portions of the bed that create the long stitches will essentially be knitting an every needle rib, so if point to point is used to make transfers easier, it needs to be changed back to proper pitch for the remainder of the knitting. The swatch does not address the best beginning and end of the fabric for any possible end-use

1. set up 5X5 rib, begin by leaving the first five needles on the main bed (passap back bed)

2. bring all main bed needles into work (ribber needles at this point will be 5 out of work, 5 in across bed)

3. knit 8 rows

4. drop off groups of 5 stitches on the main bed, begin with the second group of 5 from the left, moving across the bed (every needle rib sections), pushing groups of needles out of work as they are emptied

5. bring all the ribber needles into work (main bed needles at this point will be 5 out of work, 5 in across bed)

6. knit 8 rows

7. now drop ribber stitches, 5 at a time, begin with first 5 on the left, and continue across the bed, pushing all the needles out of work as they are emptied

repeat the process, beginning with step 2, through 7

the relaxed fabric, the knit blocks alternating knit and purl

the same swatch, illustrating what happens when you press acrylic, and some of the problems to be sorted out in terms of the start and end of any piece in this type of fabric

my previous post

The Brother version, with aid of patterning for needle selection: this particular version of the fabric is actually created by rectangular blocks of every needle rib, with straight side edges. If one wanted recognizable shapes other than this circle illusion, then more hand manipulation would be needed. The chart below illustrates the repeats for my swatch (4 sts X 6 rs or 6 X 6 would be suitable for punchcard KMs). The solid squares represent every needle rib sections, where stitches will be dropped to create the larger ones.

With the machine set to KC and no cam buttons in work, needles are selected, but no patterning occurs. “Air knitting” can help establish where on the needle bed the pattern repeats, and how to set up the needles and stitches to be in sync with selection as the work progresses.

An alternative approach using this method begins with all needles on the main bed in use as opposed to ribber ones as in my Passap test. Once the sequence is understood starting points for creating full needle rib can be varied, as can selecting the first row from either side. For these swatches, I used a thinner yarn, in a bright color, which can help identify any issues in stitch formation, and I began the swatch in rib, to see the effect that might have as well.

my amended repeat

Begin by checking needle selection, set up rib as described at top of the post, beginning the first group of 5 stitches on left with selected needles, next group not selected, etc. If all the steps are repeated beginning on the same side of the KM it does not matter which block of needles are at the opposite end,  allowing for width/gauge adjustment. I like to mark my needle bed with water-soluble pen so I will be certain to have proper needles in work, not relying on memory or my sometimes “creative note keeping”.

CO ENR (every needle rib) set up with first needle on left in work on ribber, last on right on the main bed, racking at half-pitch: knit 1 row N/N, hang comb and weights, 2 rows circular (using opposite part buttons), follow with one row N/N

rack slightly to the right to make needle transfer easier, set up a multiple of 5 X 5 rib; begin with transferring first 5 on left down to ribber, pushing any empty ribber needles OOW; after the transfer, rack back to the original position so first ribber needle in work will once again be on left

bring all main bed needles into work (ribber needles at this point will be 5 in work, 5 out of work across the bed)

select your first pattern row, KC II (no end needle selection), continue to knit until needle selection changes so the second block from the left on the main bed is selected; non selected needles on the main bed will now be dropped off, and those same emptied needles will be pushed completely out of work (the first group from left is the starting point here as well)

bring all needles into work on the ribber, knit until needle selection changes with all in main bed needles in B position, at that point I brought all remaining main bed empty needles between them out to hold/ D position in order to drop stitches on ribber between them, using the main bed as a guide, pushing any newly emptied ribber needles completely out of work as stitches were dropped (beginning with the second group of “5” from left)

as one physically looks at the stitches, there will actually be a count of six between MB needles, in my first sample, I dropped in series of 5, always beginning on the same left side.

This swatch shows the resulting fabric. Of note is that one side (marked with red) is holding together along dropped stitches far better than on the right (marked in black), a desirable trait, and not as noticeable in the previous swatch knit on Passap, perhaps because of the difference in the weight of the yarn and stitch size

the result was much improved when only the center 4 of the 6 ribber stitches were dropped, producing a bit of a chain stitch on each side and with a better definition of dropped stitch areas; both sides of the fabric are shown below

at this point all main bed needles are in work, needle selection will once more begin on left; knit until needle selection changes, continue the sequence.

Cast on ENR rib edge has obvious width, bind off is around 2 gate pegs after transferring any remaining ribber stitches up to main bed.

The version of the stitch as worked out by Tanya Cunningham with her shared instructions for what she refers to as “bubble pops” may be found on Ravelry.

other commercial products utilizing the stitch type: aztec knit loose drape cardigan in beige

and “Mallow Peach Kleid”

More play with dropped stitches

I am interested in trying to introduce designs into drop stitch grounds, and my leaf obsession is at least temporarily back. In working with a vine shape, I found having the vine create the dropped stitches created a too loosely knit, unrecognizable fabric, so on to color reverse. The resulting swatch is a bit of a brain teaser : “find the vine”

the companion ruffle: these blocking pins are great for blocking, may be pressed over

both were a lesson in gauge; using same tension etc. as in blue shawl this scarf is inches narrower, and the ruffles were not wide enough , will have to be re knit; only difference in fabrics was the change in yarn color, not its composition. “Back to the drawing board”

the finished piece measuring 14 X 74: 2 ways to wear it

Working out the kinks in my drop stitch lace saga

Still geared up for accessories, I felt compelled to come up with an edging: the following is an end stitch release knit. Prior to binding off the “tape” end stitches are transferred to the knitting bed, and then they and the remaining stitches are bound off. The transferred stitches do not drop and create a long stitch double knit segment. I am still working with the white acrylic

bound off and before release with the release starting after release
after pressing: flat, edge stitches too short attached to back bed before knitting pattern  (purl side)knit side how to get top and bottom joining to match?

alpaca and silk swatch

surprise: this baby knits up/steams fairly flat!

the most regular dropped stitches happened when the stitch ditcher was used at least as frequently as every 4 rows, the lock was too hard to push with it resting on the knitting bed before each pass. I thought I might break down and use a built-in technique and my color changer to drop stitches: Technique 256 here I come, and figlet! this is a completely different fabric and there is one row of loops formed for every 4 passes of the lock

I now get why some people call drop stitch with this technique mock garter stitch, but that is so not what I was going for, so back to the drawing board for me! I have an idea….

if the repeat is twice as long, and 2 of the 4 rows are knit without yarn, then loops created on the first 2 rows should in theory be dropped. Tech 130 in essence doubles repeat length. Using it and the same back bed pusher arrangement and settings as tech 256 the fabric is much more like the original, but tension now needs to be adjusted, denser knit stitches are now too loose… time for a very long break!

you can’t always get what you want, do you sometimes get what you need? Curses! triple the number of stitches and tension problems occur, stitches don’t want to drop in specific areas of knit, now using a combination of empty lock and occasional hand ditching, different yarn, totally different look fabric than on the first sample: here it is on machine

here is why any lace needs blocking

finishing on the Brother: bottom and top of ruffle rehung and cast off around 2 gate-pegs for length matching width of “pleats”; piece and “ruffles” also rehung for the same type of join after 1 row of knitting through both layers

the finished piece measuring 17X60 inches after partial blocking a different stitch pattern (E6000 1130) in the white acrylic color striping in the alpaca/silk blend, requiring dealing with yarn ends at color changer side

had an interesting experience while knitting the one above of both locks jamming in the color changer. So many ways to have fun! and … I still want some bubbles!

a thicker yarn, larger tension difference between the locks, a bit more bubble on the knit side, but  too  much effort to knit

Knit bubbles and “stitch ditchers/dumpers”

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

and a bubble blanket available at Nordstrom’s during 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brother Bulky KR 260 D slider only moves in one direction, from left to right, completing the in and out needle position operation in one pass. End needle selection needs to be canceled. It is not used on ribber because of its double action. After operating it from left to right, it is simply lifted off.  Knit carriage position may vary depending on personal preference and whether the yarn changer is in use or not.

Studio/ Bro Bulky viewed from the front

Studio/ Bro Bulky viewed from the back

Directions on altering the studio tool for use on Brother machines

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

front view

rear view

in use on the front rail

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

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

too open

a bit closer, much more so before steaming

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

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

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

Long loops: a bit on method

Below are some ideas for creating long loops on the machine using only the single bed. The essential difference between stitches and loops as mentioned before is that long stitches must be individually knit through the previous row, loops sit on the purl side surface. Yarn weight, loop concentration, number of looped stitches and their locations open up endless possibilities. If loops for any reason are wanted on the knit side, the garter bar may be used to take knitting off the machine and hold them, loops are formed, the piece of knitting is then returned onto the machine, and continued. Swatching helps determine operator tolerance and preference as well. Some of the old manuals and pattern books such as the very early Brother Home Course offer this guide under the category of “weaving” while others refer to the same technique as “pile”. Punchcards may be used to preselect needles for patterning with the technique.Working single bed:
1.knitting in place on the machine with its cast on edge weighted to keep it from curling up (use waste yarn if loops need to be close to the same edge), paper clips and weighted cast on the comb in place

this technique may be used on every needle, or only on selected parts of the needle bed; for the sake of speed for this ‘demo’ I will be working on EON; desired pattern area needles are brought out to hold position

the loop yarn is a mohair; slip knot secures start to cast on comb, yarn is wrapped counterclockwise in this instance up, around EON selected needle, and back down and around corresponding EON cast on comb tooth; if desired this could be done multiple times on anyone needle depending on tolerance of KM in knitting next pass

the carriage now knits across all needles, yarn is secured

the cast on comb is removed, plain knit continues until next set of loops

2. a ruler or other tool may be used to determine loop length; I prefer to use 2 rulers, yarn is secured, and wrapping follows as above around selected needles and then rulers

the second ruler is removed, allowing the first to drop down a bit, which will hold loops in place, while in most instances allowing the knit carriage to move across that row with the alternate ruler still in place

knit at least one row to secure loops, remove the ruler

3. once again using 2 rulers secure yarn, and wrap, creating a crochet chain with tested size crochet or latch hook

remove the second ruler, this will give you some ease along the chain edge

hook chained edge onto selected KM needles

knit at least one row across the area, remove the ruler

4. the samples: as can be imagined EON may be sufficient for a thick pile if fewer rows of knitting occur between looped rows

If loops out of thin or slippery yarns are desired, as an alternative, create wide ladders with narrow outside edges of the single or double stitch, fold in half, rehanging sides of the strip onto the body of the knit


later post on creating long stitches, no photos

long stitch swatches

A 2020 FB post led me to quickly explore another method for creating loops using ribber gate pegs. Normally one would begin with waste yarn, ravel cord, at least one row of knitting before beginning in any pattern. In tests that is not necessarily relevant. Begin with some knitting on the machine. Ribber setting on P, ribber brackets set to middle position

Have an every other needle pusher tool on hand and yarns of different thicknesses, knit a few rows and hang weight evenly across all stitches at any time in that process bring every other needle out to E (Studio D)/ aka holding position *work your way across the beds, wrapping every other E position needle clockwise and the gate peg directly below it, resulting in the twistknit one row, repeat wraps counter clockwise in the opposite directionknit  3 rows, returning to starting side use a tool to lift loops off the ribber sinker postspush loops down between the beds**repeat * to **,  knit at least one more row across any loops at the top of the piece and bind off.
The loops are directional, so if this were a scarf, their “lean” would be down at one end, and up on the other. My loops are formed using a loose twist acrylic yarn, one less so would avoid any splitting issues as the piece grows. Steaming acrylic can flatten it permanently. I did steam my swatch to try to keep it from rolling as much, so the resulting loops are a bit flattened.
This technique is a variation of weaving. The heavier yarn will tend to force the stitches in the background apart with resulting “bleed through”. The frequency of creating the loops can vary, and just as in single bed knitting their location as well, but they will be fixed height throughout. After testing consideration may be given to automating the needle selection to make the process faster and perhaps more accurate. Brother preselects, so after that is done for each row, bring only the selected needles out to D consistently, and proceed as above. Below is a possible repeat to imitate my swatch based on the 24 stitch width restriction for punchcard machine users, remembering that any punchcard height minimum is 36 rows The minimum electronic repeat:

Some long stitch / loop swatches/ single bed

These date back to my teaching days, are not resolved fabrics, were part of my demos, have been shot straight from storage, with no additional care to them ie pressing or steaming

tension changes

selective loops

moved in groups

some with beads

combined with e wraps and beading

combined with ladders

felted wool, ladders treated with water proofing agent did not felt

both loops and stitches in one below, along with beading

chenille worms and is a poor choice for loops unless that is the desired effect

selective looping and e wraps

combined with twisting of loops on knit surface

weaving ribbon into ladder spaces rather than long stitches

Long stitches on KM (single bed)

Though long stitches in a pattern may be created by a variety of methods, I will begin the topic by discussing long stitch stripes across the width of the knit.

The easiest, quickest long stitches are produced by simply working with extremes in knitting tension. There are size limitations in this technique. One example would be fabric produced by knitting 2 rows at as tight tension as possible for the yarn ie. 2, and one row at the loosest tension possible: 10. Testing the yarn will help define the limits.

The loose stitches may have a tendency to jump off, so even weight is required. The tension dial must be adjusted for the appropriate stitch formation. Playing with the number in sequences will change the look of the fabric.

If 2 carriages appropriate to the machine model are available, then corresponding tension dials may be set to desired tension numbers. To get carriages back where needed and keep the yarn continuous 2-row sequences or even multiples will get carriage back to the desired location on right or left, and threading with different color yarns will produce stripes easily, while also making it possible to avoid cut ends that must be woven in.

Another single bed method is to knit stitches back to A position, in turn pulling down on the knit since A position is an alternative one for holding and needles pulled back there will not knit; again, care and weight will avoid the long stitches created jumping off the needles. Weights need to be moved up at frequent intervals.

Leaving needles empty and out of work in either of the above methods will create ladders intersecting the long stitches, opening yet another series of patterning possibilities.

Rows of long stitches may, in turn, be manipulated ie. by cabling, stringing beads at intervals onto selected loops, and solid knit rows may incorporate patterning ie. lace, or tuck. As a larger number of continuous rows are knit or patterning is introduced, the tight tension may have to be adjusted accordingly, and long stitches may then appear inadequate in their height for the desired effect.

Cast on comb or ribber sinker posts may be used to create longer loops. If using a cast on comb, secure it with paper clips or lengths of yarn just outside the width of your knit, hanging enough weight on it to keep it from shifting. On the carriage side item used to secure the comb must be either adjacent to the first stitch to avoid loops on that edge or yarn may be placed in front of it to avoid the same.

Ribbon may be threaded through loops, drawn thread work may be imitated, though I would argue if this is the main intent for the long stitches, simply creating ladders may be just as effective and much quicker to create.  “Cable” groups may be created, twisted, pulled through each other, and otherwise manipulated, some such groupings may evoke broomstick lace.

Some people find it easier to wrap yarn around an item of fixed width such as a ruler to achieve the desired loop length.

If a ribber is in use it may its gate pegs may be used for wrapping the yarn. Enough knit rows then need to happen on the main bed so the loops may be released from the gate pegs. The yarn is wrapped counterclockwise in most instances for loops, swatch results to test the desired effect for any twist in stitches. Long stitches are knit through the preceding row one at a time, long surface loops sit on the surface of the knit, may need to be e wrapped as they are created to further secure their placement.

Simple horizontal rows of elongated stitches may also be accomplished by knitting with the ribber in use, knitting fabric on the main bed;  ribber is set to slip throughout except for “long stitch” row, where the ribber knits across all the stitches, and at the end of the row those same stitches are dropped by any preferred method.

Any of these methods may be combined with hand manipulation and holding to vary loop sizes, locations, fiber content, color, etc. Susan Guagliumi’s book “Hand Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters” is a good reference for several variations.

Transferring all stitches to ribber and having the main bed knit in selective pattern and techniques opens up a whole other area of textured, lacy fabrics, whether in monochrome or color but that is for future discussion.

For swatch photos please see post and a bit on method