Beading on the Machine

Its fairly easy to add beads on a knitting machine and although you can do it on any gauge machine, beading really looks best on standard gauge fabrics because the beads are in better proportion to the stitches. That said, the example in my video was worked on a mid-gauge machine (6.5 mm).

You’ll need a tiny latch tool to transfer the beads onto the stitches. Notions counters may sell a hosiery/knit mending tool or I have handmade, wooden handled beaders available for sale on my web site.The ones I sell have a fairly long shaft and you should be able to stack on 6-8 beads, depending on their size. Just be aware that these tiny latches are very fragile and need to be treated carefully.I ship them with a protective cap and you should replace it whenever you store the tool.

You simply insert the hook of the tool into the stitch on the needle – or one row down – then release the stitch from its needle. Close the latch of the tool and slide a bead over the latch and onto the stitch, tugging gently to pull enough of the stitch through the bead to replace it on the needle. I usually work with the stitch one row down for larger beads so that they do not distort the fabric. The carriage will knit more smoothly if you bring the needles to holding position before knitting the next row.

ms.3.phtoYou can combine beading with tuck stitch patterning or with cables or other hand manipulated stitches. For the example at left, I manually enlarged a single stitch in the middle of each cable so that the beads sat right on the surface of the fabric.

Hand Sewn Bind Off for 2 x 2 Rib

A few weeks ago (5/16/16) I posted a blog about a hand sewn bind off for 1 x 1 ribbing and figured I would follow up with the 2 x 2 version while it is all fresh in my mind! Most of the 1 x 1 information is relevant to the 2 x 2 bind off as well so you might want to re-read the earlier blog before you try the 2 x 2 method.

Key to this bind off is a very specific way of scrapping off all the rib stitches. This bind off is suitable for ribs worked by latching up or with a ribber.

Transfer all the ribber stitches to the main bed. Set the carriage for slip. On my Silver Reed 860 I just switch the cam lever to Slip and put the side levers back so the carriage will slip all needles in working position. I set both of the Russel Levers on (II) so that they knit needles that are in holding position.

Bring all of the ribber stitches (the knit stitches as they face you) to holding position and knit 1 row with ravel cord. The needles in HP should have knitted and those in WP slipped. Now set the cam lever to stockinette and knit 1 row across all the needles. Change to waste yarn and knit about 10 rows and then drop the work from the machine.

Press the waste knitting (NOT the ribs) so it does not curl and then fold it back so the stitches present themselves in two neat and distinct rows. The stitches in each row will be paired with a two stitch gap between each pair – the gap is accounted for by the pairs of stitches in the opposite row.

The important thing to remember here is that each stitch is worked twice. You always insert the needle into a previously worked stitch and out through a new stitch, regardless of which row of stitches you are working on. So, in the old and out the new is the rule.

In addition, when working on the lower row of stitches (left in my video), the needle always enters up through an old stitch (left to right) and down through a new one (right to left).

When working the upper row of stitches (right in the video), the needle always enters down through the old stitch and up through the new one. In the video the needles enters the old stitch from right to left and up through the new stitch from left to right.

The yarn passes over the edge as you alternate from side to side and sometimes the two stitches are immediately adjacent to each other; other times they are further apart. In either case, only tug the yarn enough to prevent any loose loops, but not so tightly that it binds the edge and prevents it from stretching.

As with the 1 x 1 bind off, this edge almost exactly matches the circular cast on edge and is a goods place to thread through some elastic to remind cotton or linen edges where to return to. The elastic won’t correct a bad rib, but it will act as a memory for a good one so that it always contracts nicely.

I always shape my necklines with short rows and retain as many live stitches as I possibly can. Then I join one shoulder seam, rehang the entire neck edge and knit my ribs. I end with the ravel cord and waste knitting I described earlier and then I drop the work from the machine. I usually join the second shoulder before I work the hand sewn bind off because I can work the bind off continuously across the seam to disguise its beginning or end.

These hand sewn bind offs are well worth the effort because they look better and they stretch and return to shape better than any other method I have tried.

 

Tension Matters    

mastTalk about the double meaning of the word “matters”! Tension matters could mean discussing things about tension, but what I really mean is that it matters! It is terribly important to your knitting success. I think that the majority of beginner’s problems start with yarn prep and tension, which is why I am returning to this topic again.

Last time I talked about preparing the yarn to flow smoothly. Well, that carries over to the tension unit too! You want the yarn placed directly below the yarn guide of the mast and then you want it to pass straight through the various guides and discs without looping back on itself.

First and foremost, if your tension dials have numbers on them, stop looking for a magic number and start paying attention to how the unit functions. The tension mast serves the same purpose that wrapping the yarn around your index finger serves in hand knitting. The idea is to avoid loops at the edges, tight stitches at the edges (or across the row) or dropped edge stitches. Poorly adjusted tension will never produce even rows of stitches.

One of the problems with having numbers on the dials is that the numbering system differs from brand to brand and even from model to model. For some machines a number “1” indicates the tightest tension, which you would use with very fine yarn (little number=thin yarn). On other machines, however, it indicates the least amount of tension (low number=low tension for thicker yarns).

If your manual isn’t handy or you have a momentary lapse, thread the mast and catch the end of the yarn under the clip to hold it. Then pull down on the yarn below the yarn guide until the wire touches the last threading eyelet or guide. If the wire stays down, then “1” is the tightest tension on your dial. If it flies back up, it is the loosest. Neither setting is what you ultimately need, but you do need to know which way to turn the dial!

The Correct Tension is one where the wire is able to lift up any slack at the beginning of every row and then drops down as you knit across the row, ready to lift up at the start of the next row. If the wire is not able to pull up edge loops, the tension is probably to loose. If the wire stays down near the eyelet throughout, it is too tight.

The reason you need that up and down bobbing has to do with the distance between the edge needle and the center of the carriage, which is where new yarn is fed into the needle. That distance can often amount to 5-6” of extra yarn that must be pulled up when the carriage starts to move. Otherwise, you get loose edge stitches, dropped edge stitches or yarn wrapped around the brushes and wheels and gizmos under the carriage arm/sinker.

If you make note of that action, you’ll take control of the tension and feel like an empowered knitter! When things do go wrong, the tension mast is the first place I look. Sometimes the yarn may have worked itself out of a guide or maybe it wasn’t actually under the pin and between the tension discs to begin with. Re-check everything.

Also, you can avoid tangled yarn mishaps if you get into the habit of only leaving short (2”) tails clipped to the mast. Longer lengths whip around, build up static electricity and eventually mate up with the yarn you are using until both of them are jamming their way through the tension discs and the carriage comes to a grinding halt. Wonder how I know so much about that…….

One more thing! If you would like to thread multiple yarns through several masts, there is a free download on my web site (www.guagliumi.com) entitled “Multiple Tension Mast Holder”. It works like a charm for busy stripes!