Machine Knitting/Pattern knitting

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Pattern knitting

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Patterns with single bed machine

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Many pattern knittings must be knitted with comb and side weights, but this makes it more difficult to make the knitting sample fit exactly. However, if you have some practice, you may not always need weights for the knitting sample. On the other hand, this does not prevent you from knitting the work itself with weights, if things proceed easier that way.

Colour knitting

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If, for example, you knit with colour pattern all over, you may omit weights, and in that case you may knit the sample just like you make a plainly knitted sample, and measure the length along the edge. However, if you want to make a single pattern, e.g. in the middle of the plainly knitted piece, you usually have to use weights. If the pattern makes up only a small part of the whole, you may be guided by a plain sample, but if it makes out the main part, you may simply choose a random pattern for the sample, which you then knit without weights.

One will usually start with a few rows of plain knitting until one begins to make the pattern. But you should not set the row counter until you begin the pattern, and only from then on should the length be measured. Obviously, more stitches go on colour knitting, because the threads on the wrongside draw the knitting together. Therefore, if you make borders of colour knitting alternating with plain knitting, you have to knit the colour pattern with a stitch size larger than that of the plain knitting.

There is a limit to how small a stitch size you may use for colour knitting, because the threads on the wrongside get too long if you knit less than e.g. stitch size 5 - 6. The length of the threads depends on the distance between the needles, and not only on the stitch size. If only a single piece of pattern is involved, you may probably manage just by hanging the longest threads on a needle; this will not be visible on the front side. If there are many long threads, you may crochet them, and attach the last stitch to a needle. You have to begin with a short thread, or even better begin by drawing the first thread in below a stitch, whereby the crocheting becomes fixed in the middle. Only if you use relatively thick yarn as pattern thread will this be slightly visible on the front side.

If you want to knit with three colours in the same row, then you must, instead of the colour button, use the idling buttons. It is most practical to have all three colours in the same side, knit them one at a time, returning empty and fetching the next colour, until you have all colours on the other side. I.e., you have to make the card in such a way that you leave out a row in those turns when you return empty. When you start on a new row, you will not have to leave out a row, because now all colours are on the same side. Of course, the more colours you use in the knitting, the longer threads you get on the wrongside. I will not recommend knitting with more than three colours; the machine is not so "happy" with it. At least, mine is not.

Imitated jacquard

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If you knit with yarn that is too thin for colour knitting, you have another option, which I call "imitated jacquard". Thereby I mean a type of patterns that consist of two rows of pattern alternating with two rows of base colour. For every colour, a few stitches are detached loose. On the machine, this is done by using the idle position, i.e. those stitches that are not to be knitted, remain in knitting position, and those that are to be knitted, are set in idle position. Those stitches that are not knitted will extend into the next colour and form the vertical lines in the pattern. There may never be several stitches next to each other out of function, just as there may never be more than two rows with each combination of needles. The dots indicate which needles are not to be knitted. These are every other round in a pattern row and every other round in a base colour row. The pattern may not go in an oblique direction, because then the needles would have to be out of function twice in succession.

Evidently, these patterns become fairly compact, and therefore they are best fit for borders. A typical example is the classical Greek meander borders, but once you have understood the principle, you can make many other patterns yourself.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Here you see some examples of imitated jacquard: Figure 1 shows how to draw the pattern. Begin with the lowest row that is a pattern row. Here, the white squares with dots are to be set out of function. Knit two rows. After that, two rows of base colour are knitted, and here the dark squares with dots are set out of function, etc. If the pattern is to begin with a row of base colour, you must start with a stripe of the pattern colour.

Figure 2 shows another pattern as it looks when knitted. Here you see that if you want more than one stitch in between, you may manage that by making dots; thereby the pattern becomes less compact.

Figure 3 shows on top the pattern, below that how to make your card if you can knit a negative and twice as high, and at the bottom how to make the pattern if you cannot. The black ones are pattern rows, the red ones are base colour rows, the white ones are the needles that remain in knitting position, and thus are out of function.

These patterns take approximately twice as many rows as stitches, but as you knit two rows with each colour, the patterns become approximately equally large in each direction.

If you want to make patterns yourself, then draw on a sheet of chequered paper, and try to place dots like in the figure. Then you will see if it is feasible.

Lace knitting

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In lace knitting, the garment will be looser than in plain knitting. How loose it gets, depends of course on how close the eyelets are positioned. If there are only few eyelets, you can use a plain knitted sample as guide. If you have a lace carriage, you will always have the lace carriage to the left and the ordinary carriage to the right, unless the lace carriage is built in. Therefore you have to knit at least two rows between every row with eyelets. If you do that, and assuming that the eyelets are evenly distributed, the following rule applies: If the stitches have been shifted only one step, the pattern has to be knitted one number lower than in plain knitting. If the stitches have been moved by several steps, thereby producing a structural pattern, you can use the same stitch size as in the plain knitted sample. If you knit eyelet patterns alternating with plain knitting, you must reduce the stitch size by one number every time you are doing eyelet knitting (unless you have shifted the stitches by several steps), and go back to the original size when you return to plain knitting. Thus, in lace knitting you may manage with just a plain knitted sample.

Tucking pattern

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Tuck is a structural pattern that appears on the wrongside. You can make tuck knitting by putting those needles in idling position that are to be "tucked"; thereby, the threads settle over them, and when you activate the needles again, these threads are fixed by the next row. There must not be several tucked threads next to each other.

Tuck may also be produced with the tuck buttons. This looks nicer, because if you put the needles in idling position, the knitting stretches a little. When the machine is set for raised ribbing, only those needles are being knitted that are in idle position, and the thread will settle over those needles that are in knitting position (On a ROYAL you cannot see which needles are involved. There, you set for raised ribbing, and then the punch card takes care of the pattern). You may knit two or several rows with every needle combination. For example, you may knit honeycomb pattern by knitting every fourth stitch as rib, go on to knit 4 - 5 rows, and then shift by two stitches and knit 4 - 5 rows. For such patterns, most machines will probably require a comb with side weights. However, with a small knitting sample you may manage without weights. In that case the sample fits more easily, and you make it in the same way as a plain knitted sample. The sample should be smoothed out in transverse direction, however, but without making it tighten. If you have been using weights, the edge cannot be utilized for the length measurement, but one may hold the sample a bit together lengthwise, if only not so much that it makes folds. There is no problem in knitting the work itself with weights, even if no weights were used for the knitting sample.

It is possible to make some beautiful lace patterns e.g. by knitting on every other needle, and then tuck the threads on every fourth or every sixth needle. These may be shifted relative to each other. There are many possibilities.


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May be made on a single bed machine as follows: Instead of having a purl stitch on each side of the cable to set the cable off, you may leave out a stitch and put the needle in starting position, so that a hemstitch appears.

Weave patterns

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Weave patterns appear on the wrongside. You can only make them if you have weave brushes, either built into the machine, or loose, as extra equipment that may be put on.

Knit the base with thinner yarn. The weave yarn is placed by hand and led by a notch at the side of the carriage. It must be thicker than that below, and may even be thicker than what can usually be applied on the machine. Thus, you actually knit with two different thickness of yarn. The weave thread will become fixed in those places where there is a shift between those needles that are up, respectively down, i.e. in knitting position and idling position. The thread may just as well pass over needles that are up as needles that are down. It is the shifting between them that causes the fixation.

There are many possibilities for weave knitting. If, for example, you want a regular pattern effect, you may change between a base where every other needle is put in idle position alternating with having the opposite every other needles in idle position ("salt and pepper"), and a pattern where you extend over several needles. Such patterns have to be relatively simple.

Knitting samples for weave knitting may be used at once. The weave threads fix the knitting. Weave knitting has the property that you may cut in it. The stitches will not run further than to the first place where the weave thread has been fixed.

Intarsia knitting

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Intarsia knitting is made with an intarsia carriage which is extra equipment. It knits with the needles standing in idling position. Thereby, you can place the thread by hand, allowing you to place different colours into the same row and then wind the threads around each other where they meet. You may make intarsia knitting with only two colours that separate either medially or at a slant, or whatever you want. You may also make squares of different colours, equally sized or in different sizes, or other shapes.

If you have many colours, it may soon become a mess, unless you do as follows: You must constantly take care that the yarn on the outward way is twisted one way around, and on the homeward way twisted the opposite way around. If you use only little of every colour, you may make small figure 8-shaped balls of yarn, where the thread is pulled from the inside. These balls are made by winding some yarn around your hand, keeping the beginning of the thread free, and finishing it off by winding a little yarn around the middle of the ball. The balls should not be so loose that they fall to the floor, but they do have to hang somewhat down. On the other hand, the thread must not be so tight that it is tedious to pull it out. If you need slightly bigger balls of yarn, you may put each of them in its own little plastic bag fixed with a clothes peg that keeps the thread as tight as is suitable. Here, too, the thread should be pulled from the inside of the ball.

If you have a knit leader, you can knit pictures. The pictures are drawn on the dress pattern on the sheet, so it can be read where the colours change.

If you have a plating yarn feeder, this too may be used for intarsia knitting, because you can see the needles, so you can change thread in the right place; but unfortunately, you cannot at the same time knit a colour pattern. The plating yarn feeder is meant for adding an extra thread, e.g. a thin gold or silver thread, which is knitted together with the thread proper, and which is seen either on the wrong- or the rightside, depending on whether you put it in front or behind.

Garter patterns

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If you have a garter carriage, you can make wrong/rightside patterns coded by punch cards. It is possible to make these patterns without comb and weights, at least on BROTHER. The sample is made in the same way as a plain knitted sample. The garter carriage knits by itself, but on the other hand it works very slowly. I would guess that a hand knitter might knit almost as fast. The advantage is that you do not have to sit next to it. But if the stitch number has to be decreased or increased, you must take care to be there in time, otherwise it will last several days to knit one piece. If you want to shut off the machine, e.g. during the night, you may risk that the pattern has become displaced when you turn on again. Therefore, you should always, if possible, encode the pattern so that it stays in right place.

Patterns with the ribber

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In addition to knitting various versions of rib, 1/1, 2/2 etc., you may rack stitches or rib stitches. If on the ribber you leave out a needle e.g. in two positions near the middle, so that there are two empty needles instead of one, you may rack the stitches between these two needles, but not in the rest of the piece. If you do it in the opposite way, the racked stitches will appear on the sides but not in the middle. In this way, you may produce either stripes or check patterns by alternating between having racked stitches in one side and the other side.

You may also do raised ribbing on the knitter guided by a card, and ordinary rib on the ribber. In this way, something appears which resembles a lace pattern. The pattern must be made on all needles (full rib), unless the machine has a button that can make the pattern twice as broad, which is the case with certain machines.


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In addition to these patterns, some of the newer machines allow you to make multi-colour-rib (jacquard). This requires a colour changer, which is available with four colours and a yarn feeder dimensioned for four colours. The pattern is knitted with two rows of pattern alternating with two rows of base. You begin with one row of base. Thereby, the rows become staggered so that the alternation is less visible. Some machines have a button that automatically changes the pattern on the card for jacquard. On the other hand, if you have to make the patterns yourself, it becomes very tedious, but it is feasible. After all, when you buy the equipment, it includes pattern cards meant for jacquard. The advantage of jacquard is that you avoid threads on the wrongside, which would especially be bothering if you knit large patterns or large single motives. The spaces will instead by knitted on the ribber.

There are three ways to make the patterns:

  1. On all needles
  2. With every third needle on the ribber and all needles on the knitter
  3. On every second needle

Method 1 is most feasible if the ribber has a button that can be set so that every other needle is taken when going outward and the opposite every other needles are taken when going homeward. Here you must look out if you increase or decrease in one side, because then the system is messed up, the same needles being taken every time. You can avoid this by pushing up needle number 2, because the machine will always begin with that one. But if you have the same needle number in both sides, this does not happen. If you increase or decrease in both sides, you must use both threads in the side where the colour changes, otherwise the machine will lose stitches when it changes colour.

Method 2: Method 1 produces a relatively thick garment. But it is sufficient to include every third needle on the ribber. In this case you have to shift by one half stitch, placing the needles between each other. On the knitter, there will be 3 needles in between. This requires a little more stitches on the knitter than in plain knitting, because the purl stitches draw the whole a little together.

Method 3: Rib on every other needle. This method requires a button that makes the pattern twice as broad, unless you make special patterns that only use every other needle.

With this kind of knitting you may, for example, knit a name into the rib border on stockings. You have to make the letters both upside down and mirror imaged. If, on the other hand, you have a machine that can knit downwards from above, the letters shall not be made as their mirror image, as they become so when they are turned upside down. Remember that stockings are knitted downwards from above. If you have a punch card covering 24 stitches, there will only be room for the initials. Only if you have a print card or a diskette, you will have room for the whole name. If you have cast on 60 stitches for stockings, there will be room for a name with 5 letters, or, if one of them is i or j, it can be 6 letters.

For jacquard, the stitches have to be 1 to 2 numbers lower on the ribber than on the knitter. With large stitches, it will be 2 numbers, and with smaller stitches 1, for the very smallest maybe only 1/3.

Most machines require weights for all rib patterns. Therefore, you have to make the knitting sample in another way. Cast on e.g. 60 stitches and hang only a few of the small weights on the middle. The sample has to lie for at least two days, and preferably several days.

Length as well as breadth have to be measured along the midline. Only in raised ribbing, the breadth must be measured a few cm under the contrast colour yarn, which must likewise be knitted with raised ribbing. Knit e.g. 10 rows of contrast colour yarn, corresponding to 5 rows of ordinary knitting, and cast off the stitches without closing. If you knit with very fine yarn, e.g. on stitch size one, it is necessary to have a little weight in each side. Therefore, this too has to lie for several days.

Baby knitting · Problems