Doilies: Lace meets hold and goes round

There is an excellent online resource for the Bond Machine. Techniques are applicable to other KM models for those who enjoy hand techniques. The round lace tablecloth series provides a number of “doily” charts. Here is a working graph for a Brother electronic 910 “inspired” by them. The stitch width total which forms the radius of the circle reflects the 60 stitch maximum width on the mylar. Slip setting in both cam buttons is used on the KH for automatic shaping: end needle selection is canceled. It is critical that carriages be off the machine and on the lace extension rails while the alternate carriage is in use as they both engage the timing belt, and the latter can be broken if pulled in opposing directions at the same time. If drawing on the back of mylar, the image below may be drawn as is, and the number 1 pattern case “A” reverse lever to up position. Repeat design principles are shared in creating edgings, ruffles, and more.

One of the critical differences when using 2 carriages to select patterns, is that with the electronics on machines such as the 910 each carriage pass advances the design repeat one row. With Brother punchcards, the first pass of the second carriage does not as it makes its first “trip” from the opposite side. Back in 02 exchanges with a fellow member of an Australian Yahoo Group, OzMKers led to her final edit of the punchcard repeat resulting in the following (half the actual card is shown).

Blocking boards: making your own

I have pretty much religiously avoided blocking in my knitting career until I entered my present lace obsession. I traditionally wash, steam or press depending on the finished item, but blocking wires and pins had been completely out of my repertoire. Lace, however, does require formal blocking. One discovery: not all blocking wires are equal. Sometimes ends are not sharpened in the manufacture, snagging can result.

Blocking boards can be expensive. They come in a range of styles as well, including carpentry versions. Homasote or plywood with layers of padding, etc. work if steaming and pressing are a necessity. Such contraptions can be cumbersome, and heavy.

Portability and storage can be a big consideration in small studio space. With this in mind, some DIY options if boards are to be used for pinning and drying only are as follows. One is purchasing interlocking floor mat pieces, the kind sometimes seen in children’s playrooms. They can handle being stuck with pins,  keep moisture from passing to the surface beneath, and best of all, they can be moved around like puzzle pieces to create the size you need for the piece you’re blocking. Discount outlet pricing is much less than that for online kits, and squares can be shifted around to alter shape as needed. Another is yoga mats. They have similar properties to tiles. I was able to find one at a discount retailer that is 47 X 95 inches, nearly 3/8 inches thick for all of $16.00. One side is “gridded” with bumps, the reverse is smooth. Add a large enough piece of gingham check fabric in the desired scale on top, and one has a large blocking surface that can be easily moved, rolled up and stored when not in use. Bumps are not a factor in affecting knit surfaces in these instances.

A limited production item

This shawl has a rhythmic, simplified lace repeat allowing for consideration in making it as a limited edition production item. It begins and ends on live stitches, which in turn are joined in seam as you knit fashion as the border is created. The transfers in the border regularly switch directions creating a reverse bias that in turn may be blocked into pointed edges.

A “figlet” moment

When I taught, I felt the need to come up with a “clean’ expletive for moments that simply required one, mine was “figlet”. With nearly 60 inches of shawl knit, this “magically” happened.

I now have about 120 + rows of carriage transfers and knitting to undo to get back to a place I can hopefully repair/continue from. Am trying to convince myself it will be a meditative undertaking. Happiness is not doing this type of knitting for a day job: double figlet!

Lace crankiness: some tips

The lace pattern used in the last shawl is now re worked to eliminate hand transfers required every other pair of knit rows. A second shawl using the new version is in progress.
Some random tips after the journey so far come to mind.
KM: Brother 910 with mylar sheets:
For marking the mylar the Mirado Black Warrior HB2 pencil used on its reverse side produces good results for reader scanning.
It is helpful to have oiled, clean carriages: Hoppe’s elite gun oil (no silicone) rather than sewing machine or brother oils is safe for plastics, for use on Passap beds, and is the only thing I now use on my machines.
Dropped stitches can abound, checking gate pegs, needle latches and their condition can help prevent some of them. Familiarizing oneself with yarn and visually checking after each transfer row may actually save time in the long run.
I have had moments where I felt like Penelope udoing her work 24/7. If rows of stitching need to be unravelled it is easier to undo transfers before the unravelling, and repeats sometimes are corrected more easily if taken back to the beginning of transfer sequence.
The lace carriage must be taken beyond needle selection marks at either end of the machine prior to any “correction” to prevent selection errors.
If more than one lace pattern is on the mylar sheet the lace column or an alternate can be marked with colored pencils with different color assigned to each pattern repeat.