Knitting with “unusual” fibers/ elastic 3

There is always more to explore in any technique.
My blog is a living document, I often add new swatches to previous posts, but sometimes choose as here, to add a new post to a growing collection of information on specific topics.
I shared two previous posts on working with elastic: 1, and 2. Many of the same design repeats may be hand knit or using a G carriage to produce pleated knit and purl knits.
Changing yarns sometimes even simply using a different dye lot, tensions, or elastic manufacturer brands or colors can alter the appearance of the results significantly.
A previous post shared that the traditional yarn positions for the thick and thin yarns in the feeders need to be reversed when using the elastic for 3D effects. At times as I return to previous posts I find that explanations for the reasons for the recommended directions are missing, especially if the steps appeared to be obvious at that moment in time.
I recently initially assessed the need for the position swap in thread lace using elastic as an “oddity” on my machine. It took a Ravelry response to remind me of the float formation in this fabric. In review: the “lace holes” are formed by knitting a fine thread with a significantly thicker yarn as the “second color”. When the fine yarn knits, a larger stitch in it alone is formed on the knit face of the fabric, with the thicker yarn floating behind it. The thicker yarn goes in Brother’s A feeder, the thinner in B. The resulting effect, shown in a previous post  img_3852An ancient elastic sample and the corresponding punchcard.  Using the traditional yarn positions: both yarns would knit on needles that are not selected, corresponding to the unpunched squares in the card. The thin yarn alone would knit on needles corresponding to the punched holes, with the thick yarn floating behind it. To create the punched shapes as puckers with the elastic floating behind them, if the yarn positions are switched in the feeders, both yarns still knit together where there are no punched holes (or pixels), and the thin yarn (elastic) will float behind the shapes in the other fiber, creating the resulting 3D textures.
My present elastic stash includes a small supply of 2 colors of recently purchased elastic and a purple cone of equal weight from my teaching days (UKI, no longer manufactured).
The blue yarn in these beginning tests is a 2/20 wool, the elastic a combination of the purple and blue threaded together in the tension unit.
When elastic is old, it loses the ability to spring back when used in knits though when tugged on manually it may appear to have a good recovery response to stretching. The result can be seen on the purl side of the swatches. When on the machine both threads appeared to be feeding evenly and smoothly with no contrast, while when off the machine, the purple does not recover and its floats are loose and droopy compared to the blue.
End needle selection is canceled. If for some reason end needles come out to the patterning position, they should be pushed back manually. The amount of weight used, if any, depends on the yarn and tension but also on the knitter’s preference.
The fabric shrinks considerably in width when off the machine. Any plain knitting above or below the rows worked in the pattern will ruffle, making end-use suitable in bands for that purpose.
These first tests explore evenly distributed black/white pixels planned first for a 50X24 repeat, A, with borders of white pixels on each side where both yarns will knit together. A shorter repeat, B, with smaller blocks, 51X16 The charted repeats are shown in a single width, repeated twice in height, and are also suitable for punchcard machines.  On the machine: when using the thread lace setting for these fabrics, generally the pattern is programmed so that the floats on the back of the fabric are created by the elastic yarns being used, intended to gather the results for the 3D texture on the knit side. The tool here is inserted beneath the elastic floats, the wrong yarn selection is shown below it, with the wool rather than the elastic forming the floats, the result if using standard yarn positions.

In patterns where positive and negative design spaces are equal, this is less of a factor.
Comparing results: A B: Notice the purple elastic droop. The fabric is similar to some of my racked samples such as this one, but it is knit single bed, far quicker and easier to produce, but the floats on the purl side are merit consideration when planning end-use.  These zig-zag variations are equal in height but with balanced numbers of black and white pixels in each row, a single repeat of 12 stitches in width is charted on the left, for 8 stitches in width on the right, making them usable in punchcard machines as well. The fabric produced does not create crisp and immediately identifiable shapes on the knit side. A 60X24 repeat including a 2 stitch border using the 12X24 repeat, one of the elastic strands was not feeding as evenly as the other A 60X24 repeat including a 2 stitch border using the 8X24 repeat  

When working with larger repeats the floats for the elastic get proportionately wider. A 18X22 pixel repeat Color is reversed, so white pixels will knit both yarns together, and black pixels will pull on the white areas thus creating the 3D effect planned for knitting on a test on 58 stitches, with both yarns knitting a border on each side,

Combining shapes of different sizes, and mirroring them The sample was knit on 75 stitches, off the machine, and relaxed it measured 5.25 inches in width, with pinning and the effort to stretch it, it reached an 8.5-inch width. A single strand of the elastic was not enough to obtain the desired effect, it was used double strand again in this final swatch.
The knit on the machine: the elastic is pulled tight across the fixed width between the needles, droops slightly as knitting progresses and it relaxes. How it might begin to appear when stretched on the body or a form. 

Some fair isle variations knit using one fiber that felts, the other that does not,  achieve similar effects, but with far more recognizable shapes.
Here a leaf pattern is knit with UKI 3M elastic using the thread lace setting as in the above swatches.  The same repeat now knit using the fair isle setting, exchanging yarn positions with wool forming the long floats on the left, rayon on the right, and followed by felting. 

To mesh or not to mesh 9: more on mock filet design

Previous posts with some related information:
A lace mesh series: using GIMP  8/17
To mesh or not to mesh 1  5/11
To mesh or not to mesh 2  5/11
To mesh or not to mesh 3  5/11
To mesh or not to mesh 4 5/11
To mesh or not to mesh 5 7/17 a collection of mesh design repeats
To mesh or not to mesh 6: chevrons 6/20
Lace knitting tips, to mesh or not to mesh 7  7/20
To mesh or not to mesh 8: more Numbers meet Gimp 5/21
Unconventional uses for punchcards 2: thread lace cards for “filet” mesh  8/17
It is hard for me to imagine a decade or more has passed since I began to blog. My approach to post content has evolved since then as has my shifting familiarity and use of software programs. Periodically topics resurface to my attention. Lace is one that crops up every few years, resurged after my purchase of Dak and my experiments with testing the lace module, and has persisted, so here I am once more looking at superimposing shapes onto a preferred mesh repeat.
There are always multiple ways to achieve a goal. Punchcard knitters are not excluded from the processes and without spreadsheets, similar planning may be executed on graph paper using colored pencils.
My go-tos now for planning out my charts on a new iMac with M1 chip and OS12 are
Mac Numbers 11.2
Gimp 2.10.24, Rosetta required
ArahPaint 6.0
img2track for download to a 930 to knit swatches, presently from a Windows 10 PC
InSync for file sharing between the Mac and the PC

The final repeats created with any of these methods need to be checked or edited to make certain they observe the rules for placement of punched holes or cells on proper rows for the specific brand and model knitting machine being used.
If the aspect ratio is particularly important, then more cautious planning may be needed.
For an indeterminate reason, the shape for superimposing on a mesh in these experiments is a heart, plotted out here in Gimp for use in a 24 stitch wide limit repeat. It is good to begin on a canvas longer than the estimated motif, magnification to 800-1800X with a 1X1grid and snap to grid make the execution and filling in of small-scale designs easy to plan and view.
In terms of drawing tools, the bucket-fill paint tool may be set to fill with the foreground color, background color, or pattern. The pencil tool normally uses the foreground color. If switching between the two tools, remember to choose the proper tool before continuing to edit repeats.
The heart was plotted out and cropped to 21 stitches by 15 rows, on a 24 stitch grid, and the image was saved, it is deliberately planned for an odd number of rows in width and height.  My chosen lace mesh repeat is 2 stitches by 6 rows. Planning a base mesh in Gimp with the above repeat saved as a pattern and used to bucket fill the canvas: The overall mesh repeat png is saved. Blank areas in every third row in the first and every third row will be skipping transfers in those areas and knitting the stitches composing the shape. The heart shape itself needs to be superimposed onto the mesh base. It is relatively small, with increases and decreases forming it easy to follow, so in the simplest method, red squares for each pattern row are filled in on the grid transfer rows, using the single-pixel pencil tool and working in RGB mode. If satisfied with the placement of the shape, use bucket-fill set to ground or foreground to eliminate red cells by filling them with white, and the mesh design is ready. If working with a card, punch black cells only. This placement is tested and kept in mind in other explorations. Using a spreadsheet: the same sort of chart may easily be created quickly in Numbers. In this instance, my table is still planned for 24 stitches in width, but 54 rows in height. An extra column is added and used on the far left to mark rows to be hidden. Beginning at the bottom left two rows were filled in a different color, the third row is left blank, all 3 cells are selected. When multiple cells are selected, depending on which side of the selection box one hovers over with the mouse, a yellow dot/  handle will appear. The tool acts on the selection. Clicking on it and dragging it with the mouse will, in this instance, repeat the selection until the mouse is released. This may be done in any direction and quickly fills in whole tables. It is not necessary to perform this extra step before hiding rows, but I find having that extra color makes it easier visually, especially when working on long repeats. It also makes for easy return to selection if hiding rows is done in shifts.
Beginning at the top of the table, holding down the command key, select rows marked with yellow cells, in this version of Numbers, table row numbers are green rather than blue,   continue to the bottom of the chart, and under the Table menu, choose to hide 36 rows. With rows hidden the mesh repeat shrinks from 6 rows to 2. A new 4 cell table is created. The 4 interior cells were chosen, copied, and pasted in the lower-left corner of the reduced height table. Once pasted, selecting the repeat again will allow one to use those yellow handles to fill the contents first toward the top, then to the right. The image on the left shows the results, with only the numbers for the unhidden rows shown on the left. In turn, the heart was the pencil tool to draw it using a third color in the chosen location. The unhiding rows function produces the expanded repeat with all knit stitches in red on the mesh grid ground. The column with the yellow cells is deleted before converting the Numbers repeat to an electronic or punchcard, the how-to discussed in other posts. Comparing the hand-drawn heart in Gimp alone on the left, to the spreadsheet results on the right, there appears to be a difference in the starting rows, and in only one other row, two black cells appear that can easily be altered in either repeat. Brother machine knitters would need to shift those 2 blank rows at the bottom of the repeat on the right to its top or to to start lace patterning on row 3.  Keep in mind that lace patterns in particular, with their infrequent markings, even in color reverse, grabbed from a spreadsheet and scaled in Gimp to final repeat size, often require a lot of “clean up. This repeat, intended for use in another post shows the difference between these 2 different programs once more. Superimposing shapes onto the same mesh requires that they be elongated X3. Gimp does not do this well, while ArahPaint does so elegantly. The result using Gimp, with the image Mode converted to 2 colors indexed and scaled in height X3 is shown on the left with marked error areas. The Arah YX3 result on the right is correct, created, and saved More choices exist, continuing to place the heart 3 rows up from the bottom, and not using multiple layers. For the heart to be pasted in place on the mesh, its white background needs to be made clear/ transparent. That is achieved by using Layer, Transparency, Color to Alpha, The layer-to-alpha image may be saved as a png with transparent background for any future use.
Work using 2 windows, A simple copy and paste will fix the image in an arbitrary location. Instead, click on the rectangle select tool, selecting and copying the heart image, paste it on the ground in the second window, where it remains as a floating selection that can be dragged to the desired location and is not anchored until the mouse is released. This may be undone and repeated multiple times.  A, copied and pasted in place on the ground, B, resulting in C
Even easier, working with the full-color, white ground heart repeat placed 3 rows up from the bottom, Aset red as the foreground colorand then use the bucket fill tool B to fill its ground with the mesh pattern, seen in C
Comparing the all in Gimp Drawing to either of the last 2 patterns, two differences appear, an extra row of transfers before removing transfer stitches to start the heart shape, and those 2 extra black pixels/eyelets Committing to the first design, 24X60, Proof of concept for the single repeat: Tiling the repeat before knitting helps one visualize secondary shapes that will be formed by it, here those pairs of extra dots are removed in areas marked with red lines, helping to make the decision about keeping them or not Developing brick repeats or half drop is possible with offset and brushes in Gimp, but, to my mind, easier in Arah. Using the Arah drawing in repeat, the design is now 24 stitches wide by 120 rows high in a brick arrangement offset by 12 stitches. The same heart, in half drop repeat, offset by 30 rows, now double wide, 48X60, suitable only for an electronic machine Changing the background grid for other stitch types: the heart is rescaled for use by 2 or 4 times in height. Again, the differences between Gimp’s incorrect scaling, A, and the Arah drawing in repeat, B The differences between the clear ground heart image dragged and dropped onto the new background or navigating between 2 windows and using the rectangle tool as described to copy and paste. Possible applications This begs the question of working on larger images. For use on a lace mesh, simpler designs apart from overall size are best, but if a mesh base is not your favorite fabric or goal, tuck, slip stitch, thread lace or even fair isle patterns may be created with more overall flexibility, using the same principles on backgrounds.
Thread lace, depending on the yarns and tension used, can provide the illusion of eyelets behind images of any size. The steps: image to alpha selected and pasted onto the ground, color reversed The final png is 129 stitches wide by 172 rows high This is the first attempt at a partial repeat test proof of concept. I have been telling people serger monofilament withstands ironing and light pressing, and periodically I test advice I have given formerly. To start with, the darn monofilament, which I even used in double bed garments, but nearly 2 decades ago, refused to feed properly or at all. Because it is nearly invisible, my knitting started with it pulling too tight, and I wiped out 12 needles out of 72 in different places on the needle bed in a single carriage pass. Determined, I sorted how to hand feed it, got the rhythm, complete a swatch. A marks an error I made in loading the second track in img2track, resulting in an added, wrong pattern row. The holes, B, C, and D were nonexistent until I tried flattening the fabric a bit with an iron, and the monofilament simply melted in various places. Other observations: there is some bubbling in the all knit areas. With ironing, that effect was lost and the areas with more mock holes widened as can be seen at the side edges. In thread lace, the end needle selection is canceled so as to have the paired yarns knit the end stitch, but pattern needles can still be selected, so if end needles are forward in pattern, it is best to push them back to B position by hand. One way to eliminate having to do that, which also reduces knitting time, is to create vertical all-white lines on either side, as in this version of the repeat now 144 X 200 pixels. I had interesting issues with having needle selection visually appear correct throughout, and the pattern itself appearing correct when checked at 1800 magnification. While the smaller sample was accurate until the filament began to melt, here I had 2 needles not knitting the yarns alternately but together, and an odd change in the center that looks as though yarn selection in those areas was reversed. The thicker yarn here is cotton, the thinner rayon. Troubleshooting is required. Unplanned tucking is a sign of damaged needles, but because the second yarn used herd is so thin, the effect was not obvious until the vertical pattern in the same area on the bed became apparent.
I am using a punchcard carriage on an orphaned 930 for the thread lace, and have not knit on more than 90 center needles in the past. Some days both operator and machine need a break. The cam buttons and undercarriage were oiled.  The first selection tests involved programming this as an all-over design. When only using part of the needle bed in a pattern, the center of the needle bed needs to be cleared by the knit carriage for the pattern selections to advance and knit properly. Doing so on part of each side of the center in thread lace and changing the culprit needles eliminated those single stitch issues. Before committing to a large width of fabric in thread lace, perhaps a practical, visible, and easy place to start for checking patterning and needle selection is to knit the ground in this pattern as a fair isle pattern before proceeding with the intended large-scale design. The finished test swatch: because of the disparity between the number of all knit stitches vs patterned ones where one of the colors is slipped on every pattern row for every other stitch, the fabric shrinks dramatically when off the machine. The knit areas pop out a bit, and a lengthwise tug makes enhances the effect  If the goal is a flat fabric panel, then blocking is a necessity. Here the piece is casually pressed, no pins, letters point out issues:
A: knit rows before any pattern selection
B: an attempt to knit stitches with a cast on comb, and no weights, lots of uneven float loops on the reverse
C: changing the amount of weight; if knitting in multiple tracks using img2track, remember to be outside the set mark with the knit carriages before selecting the next pattern row to avoid selection errors
D, E: there are occasional improperly formed tuck stitches
F: “My piece is almost finished, the weights are touching the floor but I have just a few rows left, too lazy to move the weight”, the price: some messy loops on the reverse again to match the start
G: all knit rows again, the latch tool bind off around single gate pegs was a bit snug The mesh effect was noticeable after resting, the piece measures 25 inches in width by 25 inches in height.
When moving weights up, using a ribber cast on comb carefully poked through the knit may cause less snagging and issues than using the single bed cast on comb.
This fabric evolved because of a discussion that began with a knitter who is working on sculptural shapes emerging from textured backgrounds.
I see thread lace as having potential for developing all sorts of blistered, 3D elements that have nothing to do with flowers or wearables and am planning follow-up posts using the technique for texture rather than mock lace. To be rendered usable, this piece would definitely need blocking, maybe even starching in order to be stable enough to hold its shape over time.
I have blocking wires, but over my decades of knitting have maybe used them twice, my blocking has been far more casual.

Friends lately have asked about skulls over thread lace mesh, this is an electronic repeat with room for resizing or border additions, keeping in mind that in thread lace the white areas knit both yarns, the dotted areas create the illusion of holes. The design was initially created working in black and white, with an alpha channel added a new file was opened, bucket-filled with the ground 2X2 pattern, the above was copied and pasted in the chosen position, resulting in this
The 100X92 png which in turn needs to be color reversed for use as a thread lace pattern

Knitting with “unusual” fibers/ elastic 1

Decades ago UKI used to offer 92 colors in a 3M elastic, and for some time lots of folks were experimenting with using it as the second color in fair isle. A company now defunct called Impresario used to even sell pattern books for garments using the technique, with the no stretch ground yarns creating ruffled details in cuffs and sleeves. One of my students during that time made a whole collection where the elastic was used in shaping segments of pieces and even in a whole dress. Since pleating, folds, blisters, bubbles have been intermittent themes in my blog posts the elastic and “unusual” fiber use seems to be a natural follow up in my swatch knitting experiments.
Early published designs can be found using elastic in patterning. Thread lace was an early feature in Silver Reed machines, so if that is a fabric that is attractive, downloading Studio specific punchcard books or those for their electronic designs is well worth it and provides a wealth of inspiration for the related knits. The knitting technique is often referred to as punch lace in early pubsIf a clear color contrast is desired, FI is the better option. One such source: The above patterns are decoded for use on Brother electronics in a subsequent post

In an earlier post on “pretend cables” I shared a demo swatch from my teaching days (shown sideways) that became the springboard for the mentioned student collection
and its accompanying punchcard repeat:UKI is no longer available. I recently acquired some Yeoman elastomeric nylon-lycra yarn. The latter is supplied on 1450 yards per pound cones in 23 colors.
There were several things to be sorted out for the elastic to feed smoothly. The first was to separate it into more than one cone with the intent of using at least 2 strands since one did not seem to work predictably. After trying a variety of trial methods including bypassing the tension dial in the yarn mast, ultimately the best results were obtained by threading the elastic as any other yarn but taping the metal disks spaced apart in the assembly thus reducing the pressure and upper tension on the elastic as it advanced through the mast for knitting.
The normal threading

Here the white yarn shows position beneath the pin and scotch tape in place to adjust the amount of pressure exerted on the elastic. As a matter of routine, even if the goal is to knit the fibers double bed, it is always best to make certain one gets familiar with yarn feeding, tensions, changes when larger widths of knitting are attempted, etc. on the single bed. The first tests were knit using the fair isle and thread lace settings single bed. Though I am using  img2track to download to a 930, I do not have a 930 carriage (910 ones do not have a thread lace option), so I worked the swatches using a punchcard model carriage. The repeats used were planned to include borders on each side to ensure those stitches would knit in the second, B feeder color in fair isle (black squares, punched holes), or together in white squares (unpunched holes) in thread lace. Fair Isle produces a double set of floats on the purl side. Thread lace produces a single set of floats (in this case the elastic), the white border is not visible in the repeat below, it is the same as the above fabric, with colors reversed. I prefer the single float backing. In addition, for these fabrics the elastic is placed in the A feeder, the yarn in BI found the standard sinker plate kept having issues with the thread lace option, getting needles caught up in it as it attempted to move across the bed. The sinker plate that was provided with the punchcard machine was actually different, and when I switched to using it I had no further problems. Arrows point to differences, I have long since replaced all brushes with wheels on all my sinker plates. Be aware when purchasing any of them that the bulky KM ones are slightly larger. A second thread lace variation:
The multiple folds and creases, as opposed to smooth blister in all the above, are very interesting to me.
There are many scientific papers being written on 3D knitting that explore pleating achieved by using knit and purl combinations which to some degree could be emulated on home knitting machines equipped with a G carriage. Other work explores properties achieved by using elastics in the mix, they can be found by searching for “axometric knits”.

Many interesting pleating effects may be achieved by using knit and purl combinations. Unless one has a mechanical aid such as a Gcarriage transferring between beds can be tedious and hard to do correctly for lengthy pieces of knitting. I illustrated one sample in the post I decided to now test a similar block structure using the thread lace setting, first with a large check and then a far smaller oneThe spots, where the elastic and yarn knit together, are compressed, so the results are quite different than what might be expected from studying the chart A quick, imperfect sample using a fine cotton and a single strand of the elastic, each with its own upper tension disk adjustments.a close-up of the elastic and cotton, though they are knitting stocking stitch together, the cotton does not have the same stretch factor, so the loop formation as viewed on the purl side is different  What of knitting on a double bed? An axometric shape, a tentative repeat worked out and in turn elongated X2 and tiled to check alignment. The original repeat is composed of an odd number of rows in height. Usually, double bed knitting relying on color changes or automatic DBJ KRC separations require an even number of rows in the motif. The first sample was executed using single-ply cotton and elastic yarns respectively, fed through separate upper tension disks but knit together as a single color. The swatch is 72 stitches in width but measures only 14.5 mm (5.7 inches) in width, producing a gauge of nearly 13 stitches for inch, not achievable when knitting with standard fibers on a standard 4.5 mm machine. The pattern is subtle, more visible on the knit side, hard to tell there are pockets in the knit. The cotton is space-dyed, and as true when using such yarns, that causes some confusion in immediately identifying a clear pattern. The ruffled effect is simply from a plain knit start and color-changing stripes to test tension and knittability on the planned needle width. Machine settings: opposite part buttons,  no liliHere the same pattern was executed on the same number of stitches with the white wool used above, but the elastic was plied with a 2/24 acrylic yarn and knit as DBJ with the blue, stretchy combination creating the solid color backing a comparison in scale My future intent is to try for some of the 3D shapes obtained with racking, but prior to that, I tested the yarn and tensions on some simple every needle rib racked patterns. Because of the movement required across the metal bed for racking to occur, I chose to continue using the same wool as above, rather than thin cotton likely to break from the stress of those movements. A plating feeder would do a better job of distributing the colors, which here become muddied as seen any time 2 contrasting colors are knit together and are used as “one strand”. Racking every 2 rows (swatch bottom) will stress the yarn less than every one row (swatch top). The knitting was fairly easy at tension 4 and 3 respectively. Both carriages were set to knit in both directions. The weighted rib on the machine measured 16 inches, 10 when off it and relaxed. The width nearly doubles when fully stretched. I was curious to try a pattern previously tested in an all woolThe stitches were quite compressed, the color mixing makes the shapes harder to trace, the fabric measures nearly double in width when fully stretched in width, the needle arrangement is more visible at that point.The needle arrangement was changed. The finished swatch measured 24 inches when weighted and on the machine, approximately 18 inches when off and relaxed. The maximum width was expanded from 4 to 12 inches The “pleating” arrangement is noticeable in this view Working with a similar arrangement I decided to try having patterning on the top bed, with the aim to tuck on the single needles in work in the repeat (bottom line of black squares). Not all ideas are an immediate success. Wanting to see the effect on the single-ply wool I began with that at the tension that appeared to be required for knitting it along with the elastic and stitches were far too loose.I had more success and a bit better definition of the fabric by knitting with both strands together from the bottom up. In an effort to attempt to have better color distribution I used the plating feeder and had some issues with stitches not knitting off properly. The result was not significantly different than that obtained by simply feeding both yarns together. When using plating feeders both on the single and the double beds one of the yarns may have a tendency to jump out, to prevent that from happening here is one “hack”.The tuck stitches do help with the definition of the shapes, as do the dropped stitches, a fact worth keeping in mind with a return to pleats and their formation, but likely in another post. Likely the last test in this series, I attempted a version of dragon scales at first using a yarn I knew would be too thin for the effect alone, then added the elastic. The combined yarns did not tolerate tuck and racking combined, so I then used slip stitch <– –>. The yarn alone sample was too loose and thus nearly flat and when the elastic was added the resulting knit became compressed and lost any semblance of 3DThe same yarn as above, also knit in tuck setting, showing the difference in size and dimension between slip setting on left, tuck on right As with any knitting, keeping an eye on what your yarn is doing still matters. Such as this will lead to a series of circumstances that may bring your project to a far earlier end than planned ;-(
A very last effort at attempting the scales with elastic and wool knit at a far looser tension that in previous tests, ended when elastic broke as a result of above, IMO an unremarkable fabric For more swatches and information see post on knitting with elastic 2 

Tuck stitch meets thread lace repeats and vice versa

A recent share in the Facebook machine knitting group led to this blog post by its author <https://www.knittingmachinemuseum.com/single-post/Knitmaster-580-Electronic>

The inspiration fabric led to ideas for recreating it on a punchcard machine, and my own trip down that rabbit hole led me to think about the relationship between tuck stitch designs and thread lace ones.

Not all Brother knitting machine models were equipped with the capacity for thread lace. The 260 bulky happened to be one of those models, which were manufactured with 2 MC buttons seen in this illustration

Studio manuals refer to the fabric as punch lace. Early pattern books including ones for electronic machines provide a large range of pattern repeats for such fabrics and can be design sources for other knit stitches if one understands the structure being created. A quick “hack” to help keep the B position yarn from jumping out during knitting, taken during a different experiment In tuck stitch, the unpunched areas, white squares, or pixels represent loops created on non-selected needles, punched holes / black squares, or pixels represent knit stitches. In punch/ thread lace those white areas knit both thick and thin yarns together, while in punched holes/black square or pixel areas the thin yarn knits on the stocking stitch side of the fabric, with the thicker yarn floating behind it. Depending on fiber content, gauge, etc. the illusion of eyelets can be created. This is half of a Brother punchcard repeat, suitable for thread lace, reworked for knitting the design in tuck stitch. That is, in turn, doubled in length to allow for color or yarn value changes occurring every 2 rows. The resulting swatch is tested first in 2 colors to prove the repeat, then using clear serger thread as one of the 2 “colors” for a very different effect than blends that of both fabrics.

Looking at design sources for possible redesigns for the alternate knit fabric: published punch lace cards

published tuck stitch cards DIY a place to start is with simple color reverse punch lace to tuck test. Not suitable are any areas with lots of side by side white squares. In the bow solid lines those could be modified, most of the repeats in the colored swatch segments of the published charts are unsuitable.

Once the chosen repeat is isolated, the punchcard can be further edited for electronic knitting. Tuck to punch lace: any of these would be worth a test, some results may be very subtle.From punchcard repeat to electronic: strong black and white images that have punched holes represented as dots may be the hardest to process quickly in Gimp. It is best to isolate the single repeat. Some clean up of the gridded image may be required. Test the latter by tiling it. Color reverse the single it if that is the original goal, using the built-in function in electronics or punching black squares in cards.

Not to be forgotten: the easy variations for visualizing results with a few clicks of a mouse,

and an added source for both stitch types are slip stitch patterns in suitable configurations

A previous post on editing repeats such as the above using Gimp, and one on superimposing shapes onto a mesh ground that may be the springboard for superimposing self-drawn shapes on tuck or thread lace suitable backgrounds Lastly, an earlier post on thread lace on Brother machines

 

Fair isle variations

A review of links with associated hints and info:
Measuring gauge swatches, general information 
Matching patterns across sweater bodies and sleeves
Float control 
Scarf experiments
Design inspiration: binary alphabets
Adding hand techniques/ cables/ punchcard repeats
FI meets transfer lace on Brother machines 
Adding the ribber, FI on main bed Tubular machine knit fabrics: fair isle, Brother/Passap
Altered patterning using bleach discharge on knits

These are random FI samples from my collection, most from my teaching days. None of them were ever intended for use in the finished product. They were knit to illustrate some of the possibilities for the different techniques using each of the cam button combinations. Some were knit during class demos. The colors made them easily identifiable as mine, knit using a personal yarn stash. The contrast helped identify how stitches were formed.
In this swatch, marking for measuring stitches per inch is done by leaving a needle out of work. The width between the resulting ladders should be checked at various points after the swatch is treated in the way you plan to treat (block) the finished fabric. Adding a third color per row would require altering the pattern to a color-separated slip stitch one, or one may add that color with duplicate stitching. The spots in this test are colored in with a permanent fabric marker. At the height of the art to wear movement one artist, in particular, was producing limited edition knitwear by knitting the same design in black and white, and in turn over-dyeing the white for different effects in each piece in the series. Eyelets at the bottom of the swatch are tension markings for the piece. The vertical line created by end needle selection (normally used in FI to avoid separation of colors et vertical edges) is interrupted in rows that are knit in only one color. Recommended maximum width for floats is usually 5 stitches.  How much the floats droop and cause potential “problems” on the purl side depend on fiber content. Sometimes such floats are intentionally created and worn on the outside of the garment as planned design features. The longer blue floats are seen below in the areas of the ladders where only the yellow is knitting, creating a wider span of the alternate color. These repeats are very simple. They are commonly associated with card #1 and card #2 in basic factory packs supplied with knitting machines purchases. Card #2 is reproducible by using card #1 elongated X2. A reminder: if using either repeat in pieces of garments ie baby leggings, etc. take note of which yarn feeder each color is in. Even if the repeat is correct and placed properly, the surface of the knit will appear different to the eye if the color placement is reversed in alternate pieces. The repeats may be used as backgrounds for a variety of other more complex fabrics in DIY designing. Here stainless 32 gauge wire is used as the second “color”, making the piece moldable and shape-retaining.   Color may be added or “taken away” as seen in the post on bleach discharge on knits Another factory-supplied punchcard is used. Thinner yarns in lighter colors may have noticeable bleed-through of darker colors traveling behind them, as seen on the left, not an issue with the thicker wool on the right. Forgetting to set the card to advance can result in vertical lines, which may alternately be planned as a design feature. The longer floats seem manageable in these yarns, there is a bit of hooking up on the bottom right. The yarn traveling up the swatch on the right is an alternative way to mark for gauge measurements. A previous post provides some information on float control.  Varying the colors, fiber content, and considering complementary borders is worth exploring thoroughly at the swatch level, before committing to a larger piece. Truly contrasting yarn used at the bottom and top of the area to be measured for row gauge makes the process easier. As attractive and quick as single bed FI can be, keep in mind that long pieces knit in yarns with “memory” such as wool, will tend to roll to the purl side vertically even after blocking, and certainly with wearing of pieces such as scarves or shawls.  Tone on tone chenille and all rayon, with “color reverse” by switching yarn positions in feeder less effective with a flat yarn as the alternative to the chenille Using the same card:  every needle, 4.5 mm electronic machine.  Transferring stitches to every other needle, odd needles in work on one side, even-numbered needles on other using worsted weight (2 needles in the center in work side by side.   The motif is now used twice as wide with every other needle in use across the fabric width It is possible to vary designs by using the 3 functions of the card reader: locked, normal rotation, and elongation. Designs with long vertical features tend to separate at the edges where the 2 colors meet. Lining the fabric with a fusible makes the knit lose stretch, but it may be an option for stabilization, float control, and offers an opportunity for mock quilting by inserting some stuffing under floats before it is ironed on. High contrast colors are best for sorting out how stitches are formed. Embroidery alters the “step ladder” effect outlining the shapes. Hooked-up floats are not just for float control; note puckering on the knit side where they have been hung up in groups.  These swatches were worked from the bottom up, starting with positive/ negative comparison, sorting out the possible placement of the ladder with the intent of adding ladder lace details. Cancel end needle selection because of needles out of work, but bring needles into D or E position to avoid separation of colors and/ or dropped stitches at side edges.  From the bottom up, transitioning from a ladder resulting from a single NOOW (needle out of work) to 2 NOOW, hooking up floats on opposite sides, ending in “lace” pattern alone  Combined with transfer lace  Hand techniques (in this case cables) can be combined with FI. In Brother, it helps to be familiar with the pattern, as needle selection may have to be manually restored after the technique is performed to stay in the correct pattern.
With cables: some punchcard repeats
With using a sewing machine: there is a vertical, single stitch line due to end needle selection in the contrast color formed on either side of any needle(s) out of work which provides a visual guide for altering the fabric. This swatch was knit with wide NOOW spaces, then sewing machine stitching joined the contrasting vertical lines to form a 2 color “fringe” on the knit side (left) and purl side (right)Variations with fibers for exploring surface textures: wool with raffia on the bottom, fishing line on top The same swatch continued on, using 3M elastic as the second color  The same repeat in a rayon chainette and wool, followed by some felting. The rayon “bubbles” more visibly when the wool creates the wider floats  reversing color positions
The punchcard is limited to varying the vertical repeat automatically in 3 ways: locking the card, normal rotation, and double length. Repeat width is fixed. Felting can produce interesting surfaces if one yarn is capable of being felted (green), and the other not (blue). The stitches knit with the latter will create puckers/ blisters. Since the knit will shrink in both width and height, the repeats here were used at double length. Note the added drooping of the blue floats on the purl side.  A punchcard can be further manipulated by masking areas with tape. It is not a good solution for production knitting, but adequate for testing out ideas before committing to punching a full, new card. The surface blisters here are much more dramatic. The green floats do not felt as much as in the previous swatch, and are considerably wider. On the right, far side you can see some of them were latched up, creating yet another design detail.
The reverse of both swatches shows the resulting difference in relative width.  The contrast using a factory-supplied punchcard pattern with short floats, also felted. The fringe is created by ending on one side (in this case on the right) with a group of needles out of work and the outermost 2 needles in work, essentially producing a large “ladder”.  Decreases and increases on needles close to the edge of the knit were brought in and out of work to create the “zig-zag”. The two edge stitches of the ladder may be trimmed before felting. The knit side is shown on the left, the purl side on the right, no clearly visible, separate floats, its surface is fairly flat.

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. They are interspersed in the mesh category. 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 a filet-like 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 purchases. One suchThe 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 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 the 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.Three more candidates for experimenting with the technique Working the fabric on an electronic, the repeat used: The single knit row between repeats is fairly easy and rhythmic to produce. The first preselection row is made with the lace carriage, beginning on the left, the design is used as given in the punchcard.
LCOL preselects for transfers to the left as it moves to the right
LCOR transfers preselected needles to the left, preselects the same needles, now empty, a good time to check for any dropped stitches or split yarn. Remove LC from the bed in order to place it on the right prior to transfers in the reverse direction
KCOR knit one row to the left, leave it there
LCOR preselects for transfer to the right as it moves to the left, transfers on its return to the right, preselects the same needles, now empty of any yarn. Again, remove it from the bed in order to place it on the left prior to transfers in the reverse direction
KCOL knit one row to the right, leave it in that position
LCOL begin the sequence again
preselection with the LC is always toward the knit carriage, transfers always away from it If working the same repeat as transfer lace, the knit carriage moves to and from the right with every 2 rows knit, so in order to make transfers with the LC to the right, the knit carriage needs to be moved off the needle bed for the LC to be able to operate from that side. The process is a tad fiddly, if the technique is to be used for an all-over design, converting the design to the traditional transfer lace format would be worth the effort. Barring that, some sort of note-taking to serve as a reminder of which side the LC carriage should operate from is also be helpful. The BMP for the full repeat including blank rows at the top Returning to another Brother punch card, more possibilities in ways to experiment
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 to achieve a smoother circular shape. When this technique is used, selection, transfers, and knitting occur in each single, completed row of the design. note the differences in circle sides a wider, amended 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 2016/11/03/thread-lace-on-brother-km/

 

Thread Lace on Brother KM

Thread lace has also been called punch lace over the years. The “lace holes” are formed by knitting a fine thread with a significantly thicker yarn as the “second color”. When the fine yarn knits (B), a larger stitch in it alone is formed, with the thicker yarn floating behind it. The thicker yarn goes in Brother’s A feeder, the thinner in B.  In FI patterning, the unpunched holes/ blank squares/ no pixels are knit in the yarn in feeder A, and punched holes/ black squares/ pixels are knit in B feeder yarn. In thread lace both yarns knit the unselected needles, corresponding to blanks in the card or blank squares/ unmarked pixels. The tension may need to be adjusted due to this fact.

Test swatches for tolerance to pressing/ steaming to make certain the final garment will bear blocking and cleaning. I had a sweater front finished using an industry “clear” thread, thankfully tried to iron it before finishing starting other pieces, and discovered a lovely melting quality to the clear “thread”. In theory, clear serger thread should be safe to use, there are 2 easily available manufacturers. YLI brand (nylon) is stocked at most chain stores that carry sewing supplies.  One “light / clear” is “whiter” than others; there is a “smoke” version as well, sold on cones. Both produce a bit of a sheen on the surface of the knit fabric. Sulky (polyester) clear is sold on spools and is superior for sewing pieces together, zippers, etc with no “sharp” when the cut ends poking at the skin, but at a different price point and quantity.

This was my garment’s test swatch, the black is a wool rayon yarn.

img_3850-1

The fabric is much quicker to produce than traditional transfer lace. Cards can easily be drawn by filling in solid shapes over a mesh ie the repeat seen in the 1X1 card. Double length may produce an interesting fabric as well.
End needle selection needs to be canceled. If end needles are selected because of the pattern repeat, push those needles back to the B position manually before knitting the next row. The latter step ensures that both yarns will knit together. Either side may be used as the “public side”, depending on personal preference. The thread lace option is also available in the 260 bulky machines. Here a very thin acrylic was used as the “thin” at the start of the swatch, monofilament for the remainder (bulky KM)

img_3851once again, with monofilament as color 2 img_3852

Taking it to a garment (standard KM): color 1 = wool/rayon blend, color 2 = sewing thread. Note the difference in color where there is no needle selection for pattern, and how one color is more prominent on one side than the other. Sometimes the latter may be used to advantage when the goal is a plaited fabric, but no plaiting feeder is available. Simply program in a blank row, and position threads using the thread lace setting to produce the knit.

img_3855

img_3854

I knit on a 910 electronic, with no option for such fabrics built into the knit carriage. I was able, however, to modify and use my punchcard carriage with the intent of producing yet another “unconventional”, ribbed fabric.

Added tips: the tension dial usually ends to be a bit tighter than stocking stitch. The fabric produced is also thinner and shorter than stocking stitch, as is fair isle.  The finished fabric tends to elongate when blocked.

The setting may be used instead of plating. A plated, solid fabric is produced by non-selected needles. The thread lace thread tends to appear on the knit side, as opposed to the plating yarn, which appears on the purl side. The color mix may appear less even than in traditional plating. Simply lock the card or needle selection on an all “blank” row.

If the “lace” thread is too thick or too contrasting in color, the eyelet pattern may be lost. Simple geometric shapes are best. Some knit weaving patterns may also work well. In terms of altering the repeats using the buttons on the electronic models, double length or sometimes double wide as well as vertical mirroring may produce interesting results. Sewing or serger threads may serve as the thin yarn and match yarn color well if that is desired.

On the select/memorize row both yarns are fed into the same feeder (A) as the thick yarn, and the “lace” yarn is then removed and placed in the second feeder (B).

An option for drawing your own patterns: shapes can be superimposed on mesh designs as described in “filet crochet” posts, with no elongation of the motif. Punchcard machine owners may use tape over sections of card number 2, or card 1 which in turn gives the option of testing the design elongation X 2 for both eyelets and motif as well. The tape may be moved to suit, and once the pattern is satisfactory, the final pattern design card may be punched.

Both Brother and Studio offer the cards in their standard  punchcard assortment with the purchase of respective machines

A later blog post on the topic with additional information on yarn placement, settings, and more: 2019/02/25/tuck-stitch-meets-thread-lace-repeats-and-vice-versa/

 

Thread lace and punchcard knit carriage use on Brother 910_2

A short while ago there was a Ravelry thread discussing reversible, double bed knits. I recalled a demo from eons ago I saw at a machine knitting seminar and decided to explore my memories and share. The result approaches a “reversible” fabric, with imperfect results depending on yarns used and other factors. There is a group of knitters that are presently experimenting with “glitch knits”, where the intent is to purposely create patterns with what some people might consider “mistakes” as purposeful parts of the design. For one example see a video of the technique. The “imperfections” in the fabric below may be seen as a positive by some. It is not the result of any aberrations in the programmed pattern, but rather a result of the way the threads get pulled through each other as the carriage moves across each row knit.

My samples were knit using equal weight yarns. The fabric may be better served by using different weights, approaching the usual recommendation for plaiting. See the manufacturer’s directions for plaiting feeder use.

Cancel end needle selection on your knit carriage. Cast on is for full needle rib with both yarns in place. Hang comb. Knit 2 circular rows followed by one more all knit row. Change to rib tension that has been tested for yarn combination if your cast on was tighter than it. Several rows may be knit for a “solid” color edging.

When the first pattern row is selected, one need not set the KC carriage to slip. N is king in Brother, regardless of pattern/ needle selection as long as no cam buttons or levers are pushed in/ selected, everything knits, whether single or double bed. After the first row of the pattern is preselected on the main bed, use a tool to push in both buttons as seen below, and proceed in the pattern. Even though end needle selection has been canceled, if the end needles on the main bed are selected, they need to be pushed back to B position or those stitches will be dropped

my punchcard carriage set up on one of my 910s
setup_50

when testing motifs it is always good to begin to do so using a simple pattern, making needle pre-selection easy to view and check. I began with “checkers”. They can be viewed at the bottom of the image below with the machine set for double length, at the top as drawn on the mylar; most such fabrics are well served by double-length on any machine, electronic machines could easily vary the repeat size or color reverse at the flip of a button, using lili buttons on ribber may add to the mix of results as well.
screenshot_22a familiar stock Brother punchcard, knit on my 892, double-length screenshot_23Review of the use of plaiting feeder from Brother ribber manual 

 

Thread lace and punchcard knit carriage use on Brother 910_1

Yes, the 910 has no thread lace setting. I happen to also own a punchcard machine model # 892E (no idea why Brother chose to add the E to a punchcard model name). I remembered eons ago reading about someone on an Australian list actually getting a punchcard model carriage to work on an electronic machine. It is good to beware that not all carriages may be interchanged between different models, especially if the latter were manufactured several years apart.

The magnet on the back of the electronic carriage is what trips the reader in the 910. With the 892 and 910 carriages side by side, I marked the approximate spot I wished the magnet to be. It is presently in place with cellophane tape for my tests. I believe it to be a “rare earth magnet”, 12 mm in diameter, part of a jewelry piece from days gone by, with a deep attraction to all KM metal parts.

spot39the first location was too high, the pattern did not read properly place40what turned out to be a much better spot  better placea random mylar repeat mylar45the resulting fabric, on both purl and knit sides both sides

I used two cotton yarns, with a slight difference in weight. With the exception of when knitting transfer lace, the first instinct may be to use the color reverse option when the mylar repeats show lots of “white squares”. However, in this type of fabric blank squares knit both yarns; black squares or punched holes knit only the thinner yarn, while the heavier one floats behind it. The KC tension used needs to accommodate both yarns easily knitting together. When only the thin yarn knits on selected needles, the stitches formed will actually be larger in size than those where both yarns knit together, giving the “illusion” of holes.

This fabric was also at times referred to as punch lace. It is only possible in Brother machines that have 2 cam buttons in the center position, both center buttons under the MC/L mark are depressed. The punched holes/ black squares in mylar select needles that will knit in the fine yarn only. If you are using a very fine yarn for the second yarn, you may have to wrap it twice around the dial on the mast tension unit to control its feeding. Better edges are produced by canceling end needle selection or manually pushing any selected end needles back to B. If KCII is an option on later electronic models, some of the work is done for you. End needle selection may also happen as part of the design repeat, so in those instances, unless you are happy with the thin yarn only knitting on the very edge of the fabric, those needles need pushing back to B by hand as well.

selected needle

end needle camsset camsBTW: end needle selection must also be canceled whenever patterning with needles out of work is used, or needles on both sides of out of work ones will produce knit stitches regardless of programmed pattern.

If a contrasting color is used as the thin yarn in the B feeder, the results may be seen below. Note: the colors appear reversed to their position in feeders, so A (thick) color is seen more on the purl side, the B (thin) is more evident on the knit side of the fabric. The top of the swatch shows the result when blank rows are programmed into the reader. Sometimes this setting is used as an alternative to replacing the standard A/B feeder with the machine’s plating feeder (if available for your model km). Reversing yarn position can produce some interesting stripes

combo colornot all A/B yarn feeders are created equal 
sinker plates

I have always found the extra B gate on left more a nuisance than a necessity, particularly if the B yarn needs frequent changing.

Another unconventional use for this setting to produce “pretend cables”

thread_lace

It is possible to knit thread lace with the plaiting feeder in place on the single bed as well. The effect approaches glitched versions of the pattern, Stitchworld #407. This is a quick hack to keep the front yarn from slipping out of the yarn feeder The blue and white yarns are equal in weight, the orange replaced it and  is thinner