Ribber fabrics with stitch transfers between beds 1

These images provide partial views of garments shown in a recent Facebook MK group post,  followed by the “how-to” question A quick analysis leads to a list of assumptions that both are double bed fabrics, with stitches subtracted or added to create moving shapes on a striped ground. A color changer will be in use, so each color must be carried for 2 passes. The color used in the traveling shapes (red in my swatches) knits on both beds, the second color creating the alternate stripe on the background knits on only one bed. The second row of the red stitches is slipped while the white knits, so they become elongated, something that is reflected on the striping on the reverse, as well as on the knit side.
Though the ribber is in use, this is not a standard dbj fabric, so if automation is the goal, the color separation for the knit needs to be hand-drawn.
It is possible to move stitches to and from needle beds when knitting true DBJ with striper backing. This is one of my ancient swatches, every needle is in work on both beds except for areas where stitches have been transferred down to and up from the ribber.  The main bed is set to slip in both directions, the ribber set to knit. The suitable dbj separation is the one where each color in each row knits for 2 rows, whether performed by hand, using the 3 colors per row separation in img2track or the default separation in Passap. The Ayab HOP separation is awesome, works for any 3 color design with as little elongation as possible, but is not suited for this purpose. How-tos for DIY separations and their automated versions by programs for knitting more than 2 colors per row have been discussed in other posts.
The process may be reversed between beds. Stitches can be picked from the opposing bed to fill in needles emptied by transfers or brought into work empty for increases. The resulting eyelets may be left as a design element or filled in by picking up from adjacent stitches or ones on the ribber bed.
In the first swatch, all stitches will be in work on the knitting bed, while patterning stitches will be in selected groups on the ribber. When testing a concept it is best to start with a simple shape, contrasting colors,  on a limited number of stitches. To begin with, I went the easy route and tested the concept with a small racked pattern using only 5 ribber needles. The ribber slips for the 2 rows knit in the contrasting color in the ground, knits the pattern for 2 rows, requiring cams to be switched every 2 rows The goal is to be able to see and understand stitch formation. Production got cut short when I was faced with dropping individual stitches followed by the whole piece falling to the floor. In one of those drat it moments I realized that for the first time ever, with the knit carriage properly set to N, I had not, however, engaged it beneath the metal bar on the back of the bed, leaving it with its rear floating freely. A similar process on the Passap allows for playing easily with both racked colors because of the possible arrow and pusher settings on the back bed, but on Brother, this would require hand selection on the ribber on every row or a specific color separation for needle selection on the top bedSeeking automation, keeping things simple, here is a basic zigzag pattern in a repeat also executable on punchcard machines. The ribber is now set to knit throughout (N/N), the main bed to slip in both directions. End needle selection must be canceled when using the slip setting selectively or when working patterning with  needles completely out of work 

The color separation: the desired design needs to be expanded, with 2 blank rows between each pair of design rows The pattern on my 930 is knit as it appears in the chart, on the purl side. Punchcard knitters or users of other programs may need to mirror it to match my output  The process using 3 colors: the patterning color will be knit on needles preselected on the top bed. As shaping is about to begin, in this pattern, one needle preselected out indicates the location for an “increase”, one preselected back to B position a decrease  To perform the decrease, using a double eye tool to transfer the B position stitch down onto the ribber needle adjacent to the first needle in D position on the top bed As the carriages move to the opposite side a loop will form on the preselected empty needle, creating the increase on that side, keeping the width of the patterning stitches constant  In order for the patterning to remain correct, all needles on the top bed must be maintained in B position while not in use, or preselection may be incorrect, and increase loops will not be created, so, not this  A sideways view (for space consideration) of the knit still on the KM begins to show the distortion in the knit created by the movement of the stitches. The red yarn creates a single line where stitches are skipped on the reverse, a double one when it knits for 2 rows The repeat and the knit shown on both sides: Comparing the 2 color and 3 color versions: aside from the obvious increase in length, note that the slipped segments in red on the 3 color swatch are now composed of longer stitches since they are held for 2 additional rows, and the overall fabric is more puckered than the 2 color version. The curling at the sides is the nature of edge stitches, especially if the yarn used is wool. At times that may be used intentionally, as a decorative edge.

Repeats where the design charts require expansion to accommodate techniques quickly grow in length. The simple zig-zag doubled in length from 32 to 64 rows. I work things out in a spreadsheet, open a screengrab of the final choice in GIMP, index mode the result, scale it, and save the PNG for download to the 930. Long color separations are harder to achieve cleanly in GIMP alone but are also possible.

Returning to the 2 color pattern in the inspiration image and limiting the width to the 24 stitch punchcard restriction: a way to begin is to design a 2 color shape to approximate the repeat in the desired fabric and as in any other designs, check for repeat alignment by tiling prior to knitting to find any easily visible errors. The first single (ultimately 24X32) repeat, suitable for standard DBJ, has not been cropped properly in the top illustration. It is followed by the correct one  Using the same color separation as for the simple zig-zag shape, the design is expanded to include knit bed rows that will be skipped completely, resulting in the ribber alone knitting in the second color for those rows. It is now twice as long as the original, 24X64The planned proof of concept added a 4 stitch border on the right for a 28 stitch swatch centered with 14 stitches either side of 0. Tiling the repeat X2 again in height made it easier for me to plan how to manage transfers to expose the varying stripes in the ground.  Visual comparison to the movement in the inspiration knit:  As the number of needles in work on either of the 2 beds is increased, it is likely tension or yarn changes may be required. The first preselection row is from the right, toward the color changer. The stitches on the non selected needles are transferred to the bottom bed with the color change, only preselected needles will knit on both the top and bottom beds moving to the right and will do so again on the return to the left while preselecting an all blank row on the next pass to the right only the ribber knits in the ground color;     on the following pass to the left the second ground color row is knit on the ribber, with preselection happening at the same time for the next row in the pattern color The red, 3 strand cash-wool was giving me grief, so I switched it out for the blue. Both yarns are on the thin side but OK for testing the concept. The initial partial striped lozenge shape is finished with straightforward knitting The solid ground stitches in the inspiration fabric, however, have a sideways movement as the next striped lozenge gets shaped. In any standard knit such movements are achieved manually by using multiple stitch transfer tools. Planning ahead in a spreadsheet helps. My first test of the full repeat approaches the desired result, but the transitions beginning at design row 30 for the decreasing angle in the white yarn is a bit clumsy and requires a redo to make it easier and with clearer instructions Back to the drawing board in order to reduce the number of hand manipulations involved, with a shift in the center transition, the repeat in my spreadsheet is now 24 stitches wide, plus an additional 4 stitch border, and gets marked up with colors. I prefer to program the width of my knitting as opposed to a single repeat for all over patterning The resulting final 24 stitch repeat with the added 4 stitch border, now 68 rows highThe choice can be made based upon the preference of moving stitch groups to the right or to the left with the horizontal direction of the repeat adjusted for your KM model or software used.  I planned the transfers in this swatch toward the color changer after picking up the proper color, white, and before knitting the next row using it. The 930 png: The preselection row is from right to the left, toward the color changer. End needle selection is canceled. All stitches not selected on the main bed are moved down onto ribber needles beneath them. Needle selection takes care of the increasing angle in the surface yarn (white), as less of the striped ground becomes exposed. At this point, row 34 on the 930 counter, the single elongated slipped stitch is moved down onto the ribber. The next preselection will require the first transfer on the top bed, row 38. In my case, the movement was to the left. After the transfer is made, be certain to leave any empty needles in B position, and to bring all transferred stitch needles out to hold so they will knit in the slip setting as the carriage moves across the bed to the other side. The preselection will insure all necessary stitches will knit on the way back to the left When the top of the repeat is reached, row 68, the only needles selected will be those of the 4 stitch vertical columns and the design repeat will return to its start
My proof of concept swatch is  3.75 inches wide The inspiration sweater was knit using a wider repeat and significantly thicker yarn, reflected here in the small number of repeats composing the sweater body front Amending the 24 stitch repeat is possible, its length will grow in proportion to the increase in its width. The ratio of rows/ stitches to maintaining shaping by single stitch increases or decreases as in the original remains at 2.8. The lozenge is likely to remain elongated. Since at any point, the ribber will be knitting a large number of stitches single bed, the tension on its carriage needs to accommodate that. When the majority of needles are selected on the top bed, the fabric is knitting in every needle rib, which requires a tighter tension than when using the same yarns single bed. As a result tension adjustment to reduce the height of the knit repeat may be very limited.
The last test is now 84 rows high, with 5 stitch vertical bands. An added 6 stitch border on one side changes the programmed width up to 36 stitches so I don’t have to think about positioning the pattern on the needle bed. The extra stitch was eliminated at the start of the piece:   The off white yarn used here was the same thickness but not fiber content as in the previous swatch, 2/18 wool-silk vs Australian wool in the former. It is not as smoothly spun. The result shows an interesting similarity in length, though there are 16 additional rows in the pattern repeat. This time I programmed my repeat for stitch transfers on the knit bed to move away from the color changer. Eliminating the border on one side, a double repeat (30 stitches) measure 4 inches in width. To put the difference in scale to the sweater in perspective, an oversize garment with 40 inches in chest diameter would require 20 inches in width for the front piece. Ten single repeats, as opposed to the inspiration’s sweater 4, bring the total required the number of stitches to 150. With the added border of 5 stitches for matching side edges, the fabric is in the realm of possibility for producing a garment on the home knitting machine. My tension was set at 3/3 for all the swatches, with some teasing required on occasion to encourage stitches on the main bed to knit off properly. Ribber height adjustment can also have an effect on those numbers. I tend to do all my knitting with the slide lever in the center position. The double 30X84 repeat with no added border

DBJ: more than 2 colors per row 2

I am taking a break from this topic for a bit. At some point will add at least one more swatch and perform another edit. My eyeballs and brain need to be looking at some single color knitting and no more than 2 color squares for a while 🙂

My first attempt to use a 3 color automatic separation was with img2track. There are 2 oddities for me using the program. One is that the default selector setting is for a single motif, perhaps on the assumption that the main use would primarily be for large scale, nonrepetitive images. The other is that even if working with 2-row color changes with each color in each design row knitting for 2 rows, the first preselection row must be made from the color changer side. This is a necessity in Japanese color separations for 2 color work where the first color knits for only one row on moving from the right side to the left, but if 2 colors with the same selection are required at the start, one row of the 2 appears to be technically eliminated as a result. I had expected to use 3 shades of grey, a pleasant surprise: the program can actually import a 3 color other than grays. The test was using the 11 stitch repeat A pleasant surprise: the program can actually import a 3 color other than greys image. Using Gimp, images worked in RGB can be reduced to indexed 3 colors for this purpose. If there are rows where there is no color represented, then as explained later in the post, the indexing should be to 4 colors, not 3 for the planned for import to work properly.The design is automatically flipped vertically, so it will appear as intended on the knit side of the fabric. Yarn colors may be placed in the color changer matching the order in the assigned color numbers to match the placements in the original image. The program automatically adjusts for the vertical stretch, which changes the aspect ratio of the shapes. On my 930 I received prompts on which color to change to prior to doing so, eliminating any confusion. With no such prompts generally one can tell which color was knit last because it will appear on top of the previously used one on the left of the knit. With a stretch factor of 1 selected in img2track, the image height was reduced by half.To achieve a look closer to the intended shape,  the repeat needs to be rendered twice as long. The stretch factor can be adjusted in the program itself to 2.0

In the past, I have preferred to elongate the design prior to importing with plans for download rather than to rely on memory for changing settings either in the download program or in the machine itself in future uses of the same design.The same yarns, tension, total number of carriage passes and settings were used showing the difference in aspect ratio between single color per row knitting and the img2track built-in color separation. The width of both swatches is essentially identical.

Images may be loaded into the program without the cable being connected to the machine. Error messages do appear with download attempts if the cable is not properly in place. The machine also needs to be powered on before the program is launched if a download is planned. I am working in Mac OS Mojave 10.14.6, have no present desire to upgrade to Catalina.
Executing fabrics that will knit each color in each row only once for every 2 passes on the main bed: back to that original repeat Here it is used as drawn, note vertical stretch set at 2, will be cut in half by the software, getting the image back to the original height l0 X 3 = 30 rows required for all colors to knit in turn; there will be 60 carriage passes to complete one single repeat.The 930 will provide prompts for the next color to be selected by pushing the matching number button on the color changer, avoiding any confusion in terms of what should be picked up next. img2track will also flip the design horizontally automatically so the image will appear as originally drawn on the knit side. Images are loaded as single motifs, so the change in the selector needs to be made manually for an all-over pattern.

In order to have each color in each row knit only once: cast on with preferred method and color. Set up the machine so that the yarn colors are placed in the color shown in the image presented by the program to match your design. End with the machine on the left-hand side for the first preselection row.
COL: set both carriages to slip in both directions and all its needles in B position, set lili buttons if not already in use, pick up color 1
knit one row to the right
COR: knit to left, color 1 will knit for a single row
**COL: change color, STOP! Push back any needles on the top bed back to B position, as you knit to the right the ribber only will be knitting, knit one row to the right
COR: preselected needles will knit in the color last picked up on the way back to the color changer, knitting only one row in that color on the main bed as you return to the left**
repeat the last ** 2 steps throughout. One can get into a rhythm. A cast on comb, part of a garter bar, or any tool of adequate width can make it a quick process of pushing needles back to B when needed to
trust the software, not the selection expected by your eyes.
My swatch seemed to be growing in length at a faster rate than I remembered in the last exercise, here the results are shown side by side with the fabric executed previouslyObviously a success in terms of the single row for each color reducing elongation of the design shape.  While knitting occurs using the same yarns, at the same tensions, there is a clear difference in the length of each stitch on the main bed and their appearance. The reverse. Checking the ribber carriage I noticed on the left side it was set to knit only, not to slip: OOPS!N is king, so the ribber set as shown is knitting every other needle when moving to the right, but even with lili buttons in use it knits on every needle when moving back to the left. Every other needle on the ribber will then be knitting for 2 rows as a result. The more knitting on the ribber for each pair of rows, the longer the stitches on the opposite bed. The backing is an interesting variation (half) birdseye. The elongated stitches on the main bed show more of the backing in between their shapes, it is referred to as bleedthrough. In some instances, the result can make the knit surface resemble weaving and its appearance far less familiar in a surprising, pleasant way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Remember always to double-check all settings at the start of any process in case something was missed or magically moved, and keep notes.

I was asked on Facebook whether the technique shown here is the same as the 3 color slip (skip) stitch patterns in the Stitchworld pattern book, my response: some of the stitch world patters for 3 color slip are designed for or may be used on the double bed (often single bed as well). For instance, patterns 392 and 394. The original designs are rendered color separated. Numbers on the left suggest the order for color changes to achieve a look similar to that in the swatch photos. Assuming the pattern is not easily accessible because of its being built in your machine’s memory, it would have to be entered into a paint program manually to make it available for import and in turn for download. Note that the color-changing sequence may change over the course of knitting the image, so prompts or notes of some sort would be needed to keep it correct. Each color in each row knits twice after each color change. My goals in my blog posts so far have been to keep a constant color changing sequence with each color in each row of any personal design knitting only once. I did it first with my own color separation, then, in turn, used the 3 color separation feature in img2track to achieve my desired result. Here are 2 images from the Stitchworld section in question The images could be replicated as given in a paint program, using only one color for the squares, but “should be reduced to black and white”. Attempting to import an indexed 2 color image drawn in a color other than BW may result in strange results. That said, if glitched knits are the goal, the above could work just fine. Curiously, here is the same process, using a different color, and a successful import. Checking again, I had forgotten to save the image after indexing it from RGB mode to 2 colors. and a test with another color 
Drop stitch lace periodically comes up, I have written several posts on the technique, now considered the possibility of producing it in 3 colors. The resulting fabric tends to be long, thin, and in need of blocking. There is no way to avoid the striped ground. Passap knitters often refer to this type of knitting as summer fair isle. I adjusted the repeat widthNote to self: if you are determined to use a punchcard carriage on your electronic machine remember there is no KCII to cancel end needle selection!
In order to knit this fabric stitches must be cast on in whatever method you prefer, but prior to any patterning all stitches must be transferred down to the ribber, and the main bed needles are placed in working position but are empty. Because of the single row knit for the first 2 design rows of color one, the start is a bit finicky. Alternative start follows lower in post
COL: KC II, main bed set to slip <– –>, ribber stays on N throughout, no lili buttons. Knit one row with color 1 (ribber only)
COR: as you knit to return to the left, the color 1 preselected needles will knit, while the ones corresponding to color 2 will preselect
COL: carefully drop any stitches on needles with color 1 on them without disturbing the new needle selection for color 2
**COL: change color, knit to right
COR: drop the stitches knit in the new color, make certain all needles are empty and in B position, knit back to left and needles will be preselected for the next color**
Repeat the ** to**
Again resulting fabric is narrow and long, it may take a bit of squinting to recognize the design. A single repeat results in about 3.5 by 9 inches of knitting, a far cry from what might have resulted in a single row per color design row dbj virtually shown here in a tiled format

The question then comes up re dropping only one of the 3 colors. Using the manual selection described above, the knitting on the top bed would need to be canceled on every color, every row except for the single row in the chosen drop stitch color. To my mind, that is too much to keep track of for any length of time. It would be easier achieved with specific self-drawn color separations.
There is a lot of testing that can go into developing any fabric in unfamiliar techniques that may or may not meet our expectations or our “like”, it all contributes to learning regardless of whether the tests evolve into projects.

My last post on drop stitch lace in from single color to two: revisiting the techniques on brother machines

Reviewing what happens within the program one more time, highlighting significant items to verify before beginning to knit Getting that first row to knit twice instead of a single time if that matters in your technique or is your preference:
advance design row to last one in the sequence, in this case, 30
in the 930 when the pattern is loaded, using the down arrow key gets to the last row in the downloaded pattern more quickly

COL: set machine to preselect pattern, the next 2 passes would need to not knit, so both carriages are set to slip in both directions
knit one row to the right
COR: number 30 design row flashes
knit one more free pass to left, row 1 of color 1 will preselect as you knit
COL: number 1
design row flashes
check all settings,
main bed set to slip <– –>, ribber set to slip <– –> with lili buttons, and with an even number of needles in work for standard dbjpick up color 1 in yarn changer
the resulting knit design will be elongated
COL
: knit one row to the right.
As you knit the first row of color 1 design row 1 will knit, row 2 of color one design row 1 will preselect
COR: knit back to the left
as you knit back to left row 2 of color 1 design row 1 will knit, row 1 of color 2 design row 1 will preselect
COL: pick up color 2,
continue in pattern changing colors every 2 rows

In designing your own, small repeats can easily be rendered even in a simple paint program. Larger, more complex ones, may best be worked using layers and masking in a variety of programs ie. Photoshop or Gimp. It is possible to combine 2 color dbj and 3 color dbj in the same piece simply by using different color separations for each segment, but the look of the fabric in terms of the length of each stitch on the knit side may be quite different when moving from one segment to the next. Of course, the backing will change as well. Though the aspect ratio of the design changes in terms of height when one knits 2 rows for each color in each design row, it remains the easiest separation method. Adding the hand selection as described above so that the main bed knits in one direction only helps reduce some of the extra height, making the original image more recognizable. There is no option within img2track to perform the action automatically in terms of adding the necessary blank rows to replace some of the colored ones in the separation.

Passap knitters are not left out of this idea. Passap preselects pushers. On the E 6000 Tech 179 emulates the built-in KRC option in Japanese model machines. My guess was that technique 180 for 2 colors, perhaps 197 with both arrow keys on the back may work for 3 colors. TBD in my next spurt of knitting activity on it. That said, the console built-in designs may be used cross-brand. It is possible in Passap to layer repeats in order to add the third color to the mix. Here is one sample reworked for use on Brother and downloaded into img2track. If black and white repeats are already in your library, one may easily recycle them adding a third color. Here I did so with a repeat intended for a very different topic future post. The image was altered and tiled in Gimp for a repeat alignment test and is also shown imported into img2track for possible knittingWhat of images that are published in punchcard machine references? It is probably best to start with smaller repeats. That said, this is from a Deco pattern book.  Deco punchcards were 40 stitches wide, could be joined together in length as can those for the Japanese models The image of the separation on the above right has not been proofed for accuracy. If it were, the next step would be to elongate it X 2 for color changes every 2 rows. One method is to elongate the original in a paint or photo processing program. The width is fixed (40), the height is scaled X 2. The resulting BW indexed image may be imported, using a 1.0 stretch factor, it remains unchanged. When I tried to elongate the unstretched image in img2track by 2.0 my first try failed. It turned out the reason was I had saved the import without first indexing it to 2 colors. With that corrected, the result matched the one from scaling X 2 in height in the paint program
For years now I have been doing color separations which at first could be extremely slow, one pixel at a time. With increasing familiarity with Gimp and Mac Numbers over time, I have been able to decrease the speed to achieve them immensely. So here, with img2track I now have a program that can work with and separate multiple colors at a time (up to 6 in its pull-down menu option). Here I returned to my first separation in 3 colors for the now-familiar repeat A, elongated it in the paint program B and imported A into img2track choosing 2.0 stretch and 3 colors C. I can totally live with the fact the colors are not the same. The color changer can be set up with my chosen colors in any order I choose

In my first tests with charting a repeat missing any color in some rows, I had scaled the original image taken from a spreadsheet to the wrong size in Gimp, so operator error resulted in crazy results in img2track.Here the image is scaled properly for each color represented for a single row in height, and also scaled again for double-height for possible knitting in Gimp. The Gimp scaling failed to be accurate for me (second image from left) until I indexed the original to 4 colors as well instead of 3. The no color rows as we view them actually serve as a fourth color in the separations. Importing the proper size png into img2track for separation of 4 colors per row now gives results that make sense: note the daunting estimate for the total number of carriage passes for a single repeat height
If the ribber has knit on every needle by its return to the color changer and the machine is set to slip both ways with no needle selection on the main bed, the “no color” can be executed as an empty yarn holder in the color changer combined with no yarn in the feeder.  The rows involved should simply not knit on the top bed, with no dropping of any of its stitches since no needles will have been selected thus coming forward with the yarn in the hooks and traveling behind the latches and in turn, slipping off the needles as a carriage with no yarn pushes the needles with now empty hooks back to B position.

In testing concepts, I prefer to work initially with small repeats. Punchcard books can be an excellent source, but the Stitchworld books have the advantage of actually showing a single repeat for each design, so an 8 stitch repeat, for example, would be shown as such and it would not be up to the person using it shown in a 24 stitch card one to isolate it. I randomly chose pattern 394. I realize that if used from a built-in library of patterns in any machine model the prompts may be provided by the machine, but here I am looking at simply duplicating the pattern for import into img2track.

After duplicating the repeat and associated numbering using Numbers, these were some of my results. A pleasing surprise was that colors in the 2 color import need not be only black and white. That said, the pale green failed, the red did not, and the results from importing both the red/white and the black/white were identical. Another future time saver for me to keep in mind. 

If colors were assigned to each pair rows representing each color used, the white squares were read as an added color on import, and the only way to have those few blocks for the 4th color to show up in the visual representation in an imported repeat was to assign a 5 color separation, resulting in a scrambled pattern. Removing the few squares in color 4, will produce inaccurate separations for actual knitting of the given pattern whether imported to be rendered for 3 colors or 4. The black and white on the right is the “correct” match, leaving any prompts for use of shifting color changers to be tracked somehow by the knitter.Punchcard knitters may have the easiest time to knit variable color sequences since cards may be visually marked up with colored pencils matching needed change locations and taking into account your eyes are a number of rows above the row being read by the card reader. This number depends on the machine brand and model.

Some spreadsheets that may help with tracking row color changes or other regular actions on paper: 2018/04/tracking-rows-1.pdf

I have been asked about the position of the slide lever being fixed in my dbj illustrations. I have found the alternate positions can be wild cards, would rather make adjustments in carriage settings if needed rather than let the factory settings do some of the work for me. If the settings are accidentally in the wrong place as multiple pieces are knit, or in knitting ribber bands for garment pieces, the gauge is changed if the alternate setting is not adjusted and kept constant, and that may not be noticed until the piece of knitting in question is completed, needing a restart. With 15-20 machines active in each studio class and lab session, out of habit, I tried to reduce as many variables as possible.

A video resource on using img2knit for 3 colors per row knitting with blank color rows in the design by Tanya Cunningham, and a Ravelry thread on the topic