Single Bed Drop Stitch

My last couple of postings were about Drop Stitch, which is typically worked on a double bed machine. Not all of us, however, have two beds to work with so this short clip shows you how to work drop stitch on a single bed machine. This is a great way to cross cables without strain or to quickly create enlarged stitches for a variety of effects.

What I do first is to temporarily “borrow” a couple needles by transferring their stitches to adjacent needles. The empty needles remain in working position where they cast on in with the next pass of the carriage. When that cast on loop is dropped, it is longer than a simple ladder (yarn passing in front of a non-working needle) would be and provides the extra give you need.

Next, cross the cables and then return the stitches to the borrowed needles and finally, hand knit the needles that were in hold and the stitches just returned to their needles. I never just leave a ladder next to cables because (a) it really doesn’t provide all that much extra give and (2) when the fabric is removed from the machine, the edges of the cable often “spread” into the ladder’s space. I just don’t think it looks very good. Give this method a try and I think you will agree!

One last note, you can also re-form the stitches that you remove and then return to the borrowed needles if you want to include a purl stitch along each side of your cables.

What IS a P-Carriage?!

This short video should give you an idea how to use the P-Carriage that comes with all Silver Reed ribbers. The manuals always describe using the device for double bed Drive Lace and pile knitting. I have to tell you that I cannot remember the last time I did either of those techniques – probably when I worked for Studio and was responsible for training dealers!

Drive Lace is a detailed drop stitch lace method worked by using the needle selection (punch cards or electronic) on the main bed to select needles for the drop stitch pattern, while the main knitting is secure on the ribber bed. The P-Carriage is used to drop the  MB stitches every two rows, after the needles have been selected and knitted. So, although you are working with 2 beds, the technique produces a single bed fabric – not ribbed.

Pile Knitting also produces a single bed fabric knitted on the ribber bed. In this case, the ribber bed knits both a ground yarn and a pile yarn every row, while the main bed knits only the pile yarn on needles selected by the punch card or the electronics. The P-Carriage releases the loops every two rows.

If either of these methods sounds appealing, I have to refer you back to your manuals because it has been far too long and I use the P-Carriage for something else altogether.

Let me begin by saying that the “hardest” thing any carriage has to do is to push needles from working position (WP) forward in their slots so that the old stitches slide back behind the latches and new yarn is deposited in the hook of each needle. After that, it is fairly “easy” for the carriage to guide the needles back in their slots so that the old stitches slide over the closed latches and form new stitches. The trailing end of the carriage just shoots the needles out, lined up back in WP.

With very tight stitches, non-stretchy yarn, crossed or twisted (or otherwise-manipulated) stitches, it can be difficult for the carriage to push all the needles forward so that they knit cleanly and easily. This is where I rely on the P-Carriage to help.

The P-Carriage is hardly a carriage!  There are no knobs or levers to manage and the pathway underneath is a fixed pathway – there are no movable cams – that moves needles between WP and upper-working position (UWP).

When the P-Carriage moves right to left across the bed, the needle butts in WP enter the pathway (on the left), travel upwards so the old stitches slide behind their latches and then exit the unit in UWP.

When the P-Carriage moves from right to left, all needles in WP are channeled into the pathway where they are pushed forward in their slots so that their stitches slide over and open the latches. They exit the pathway aligned in UWP. The “hard” part has been done.

 

 

When the P-Carriage moves left to right, the needles in UWP enter the unit on the right, travel through the pathway and exit on the left WP, having dropped their stitches.

When the P-Carriage is moved back from left to right, it drops the stitches – which is what you do with Drive Lace or Pile Knitting. – as the needles are returned to WP.

I started using the P-Carriage years ago to facilitate many of the hand-manipulations that I do. I simply slide it across the bed from right to left and then knit 1 row with the main carriage. It adds another step to the knitting, but I really find it is worthwhile.

When working twisted stitches or cables, etc. I may only need to use the P-Carriage every so many rows, but for sticky yarns that won’t knit cleanly, I may use it prior to every pass of the carriage.

There is a similar device, a D-slider, available for some Brother machines, but I am not familiar with the unit and cannot tell you which machines it fits. You’ll have to do a little research. The Silver Reed P-Carriages do not fit other machines because the width (front to back) of the beds differs and it is important for the unit to sit securely on the back rail and slide smoothly across the front edge of the bed.

That said, this blog offers directions for converting the Silver Reed P-Carriage for use on the Brother. The unit itself is inexpensive enough that it might be worth experimenting with!

 

A Great Tip!

I’ve always felt that my students have as much to teach me as I do them! These two tips came in recently from blog subscribers who were happy to share them with you!

This first tip is from Patricia Lewis and I think it is an ingenious idea!

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Hi Susan,

As I was working on a scarf project today, it occured to me that I should share my method of keeping track of which stitches need to be transfered.  I use “Avery Removable Coding Labels”in the 1/4” size, which are just the perfect size of dots to stick on the LK 150 needlebed.  I place the dots just above or below the numbers on the number strip.
The color coded dots indicate to me which stitches need to be hand manipulated.  I also place a matching color coded dot on the pattern text to remind me of what that dot means!
In the photo attached, you will see several different colored dots, this is allowing me to switch between working on several different projects without losing time to figure out all of the charting all over again.
These little dots are a “God send” as they are so easy to stick on the machine, do not interfere with the carriage & are easy to remove with no residue left behind.  I can pick them up at Walmart here in Canada and I assume you can get them in the USA Walmart as well.
 Pat Lewis
The second tip is from Carol Olson and will make it even easier for you to work the K2P2 bind off I posted a while back. She knits two rows of ravel cord before scrapping off the work, but knits each one in a different color so she avoids any confusion of which stitches to work! Makes it easy to distinguish the knits from the purls in the rib. Wish I had thought of that!
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One Last Post on Charting

I promise. This is about the last thing I will have to say about charting for a while!  Most of us find that we seldom exactly match somebody else’s gauge – especially when we start utilizing hand knit patterns on the machine. Sometimes it just means a little tweaking to get things right. Other times it requires re-charting the entire pattern.

If you own DAK or Garment Designer, you probably won’t have as much use for this info, but it is still worth understanding how to affect simple changes that will enable you to use almost any pattern you like on whatever machine you own.

So – just these last thoughts on gauge  as it affects re-charting armholes and sleeve caps for set-in sleeve sweaters. Be aware that this is just skimming the surface when it comes to charting and gauge. But I promise not to make you delve any deeper…….for now anyhow.

Resources for Managing Gauge and Charting Knitwear

Books you need to own:  The following books are excellent sources for information, garment shapes and dimensions in various gauges – and perfect for building on to produce your own patterns now that you know how to adjust gauge!

Newton, Deborah. Designing Knitwear. Taunton Press, 1992 (newer paperback available). One of my personal favorites.

Budd, Ann. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Interweave Press, 2002 and 2004. (Multi-sized reference patterns). Fabulous resource!

Zimmermann, Elizabeth. Knitting Without Tears. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. A classic.

Vogue Knitting Book. Sixth & Spring Books, 2002. (Has been reprinted/updated several times). Another classic.

 

Leisure Arts’ Back to Basics (series) . Multi-size and multi-gauge patterns for children and adults. (#2274 Kids 6-12 drop shoulder; #2390 kids 6-12 set-in-sleeves; #2394 6 months-4 years set-in-sleeves; #2289 adult 42-50 drop shoulders; etc.) Might be somewhat out of date (if still available) but excellent resource.

Patons Back to Basics (series),multi-style (set-in, drop, raglan & vest in each book) for kids and adults; for specific gauges (#561 sport/DK weight; #562 worsted).Might be somewhat out of date (if still available) but excellent resource.

Self-Published and probably hard to find, but well worth owning:

Elalouf, Sion. The Knitting Architect and The Advanced Knitting Architect. Knitting Fever Yarn Co. (KFI, 1982). Excellent introduction to carting.

 

Valuable Knitting Information     < These yarn reference books were published twice a year and were available only to yarn shops, so talk to your local shop and see if they will sell you a more recent out-of-date edition. Much of the information stays relevant – especially when you want to check yardage and gauge information for long discontinued yarns.

Marion Nelson Pattern Cards  These cards were self-published in England and have been out of print for some time. You might be able to find used sets through some of the book sites, Ravelry or eBay. Amazon lists them as unavailable. The basic set included raglans, set-in-sleeves , sleeveless and drop shoulder in sizes 18″-48″ for 4 different gauges. Additional sets included skirts, sideways and dolman sweaters, children’s clothing, yoke sweaters, etc.

 

Web sites worth book-marking:

This web site The Fiber Gypsy, offers a wealth of reference tools and information as does The Craft Yarn Council, including children’s sizing, hats and a wealth of info for knit and crochet.

Last but not least, this chart is from a web site called YarnXpress that no longer seems to be active, but the information is great!

Hope all this helps! Till next time!

 

Shaped Shawl Collars

The collar on the sweater I featured in my last two blogs is actually more of a turned or rolled collar. A true shapedshawlcollar requires short row shaping so I have included some generic directions in this posting. You’ll need to provide the actual number of stitches and rows for your project, but the the method is never fail – by hand or machine – and really doesn’t require much charting as such. You might just want to keep an eye on how many rows you work so the collar is neither too deep nor too skimpy. That can be adjusted by short rowing more or fewer stitches each row in order to increase/decrease the overall number of rows you work.

Hand knitters have an advantage in that they can fit the entire neckline onto a single circular needle and work the front bands and collar all in one piece. I have suggested that machine knitters work the collar with a center back seam – along with a caveat to make that seam either invisible or decorative…..there really isn’t any other choice if you think about it.

You could also work the collar in a single piece through the beginning of the V-neck shaping and then work both front bands separately. The method used to shape the back of this color can also be applied to other collars and trims so add it to your bag of tricks!

nancyolsonNancy Olson sent along this photo of herself modeling a version of the shawl collared cardigan that she knitted on her SK160 (mid-gauge). She used DAK to help chart the sweater and I think it looks great!

Charting the Shawl Collared Cardigan Yourself!

This is the version I knitted from the pattern I've included with this blog posting.
This is the version I knitted from the pattern I’ve included with this blog posting.

Sorry for the delay – It was hard to find enough time to finish up the new shawl collared cardigan, wash it and wait for it to dry in the New England humidity, but now I’d like to walk you through the process of charting an original design. I used some hand dyed yarn that a friend gifted me because it wasn’t right for something she was working on – and it was just perfect for my cardigan! The yarn, Maude’s Mountain Spun (which may not even be available anymore) has 200 yards per 4 ounce skein and it knitted beautifully on my Brother bulky (9 mm) machine. My gauge, with stitch size 7, was 4 stitches and 5.33 rows per inch. Throughout this pattern there might be places where my numbers are one or two off from what you figure – probably just how I chose to round off or up. I do not own a ribber for my bulky so the bands were worked in 2×2 rib by hand on size 8 needles.This is the pattern for the brown cardigan brown cardigan

Charting the Back

With a calculator and a copy of the basic pattern (cardiblank no stitch or row numbers, just measurements) I began by re-charting the back. I multiplied the width (27”) by my stitch gauge (4) and found I needed to cast on 108 stitches.

Next, I multiplied my shoulder width (10.5”) by my stitch gauge (4) and determined that I needed 42 stitches for each shoulder. Subtracting 84 sts (2 shoulders) from 108 sts (the cast on ) told me that I would have 24 sts for the back neck. (To double check, divide 24 by the width (6”) and you get 4 stitches per inch. Perfect.)

The total length of the garment should be 24.5”, which, when multiplied by the row gauge (5.33), dictates a total of 130.5 rows – which I rounded up to 132 so that I ended on the right. No good reason for that other than habit. I also broke down the length measurement by multiplying the length to the armhole (13.25”) by row gauge so I knew where to hang a tag (RC 72) at each side to mark the beginning of the armhole. These tags are handy to have ready when you start assembling the garment. (I also tag the beginning of the front neckline at the same time.)

Charting the Front

First multiply the lower width (18”) by stitch gauge (4), which amounts to 72 stitches to cast on. When you multiply the stitch gauge by the width of the collar extension (6”), you’ll find that it accounts for 24 stitches. Subtract 24 (collar stitches) and 42 shoulder stitches from the total width of the garment (72) and you’ll find that 6 stitches remain. These 6 stitches will be decreased to shape the front neckline (which is not nearly as sharp a V as it looks on my diagrams).

To figure the neckline decreases, you need to divide the number of stitches that must be decreased (6) into the total number of rows you have to do it (60 rows), which (conveniently in this case) results in 1 decrease every 10th row, six times, or, more concisely: -1 10/R x 6. This places the first decrease to right at RC 72, which is correct.

Charting the Sleeves

Multiplying the garment measurements by the stitch gauge dictates casting on 36 stitches and ending with 90. Subtracting 36 from 90 indicates that we need to increase by 54 stitches over the length of the sleeve. Because increases will be made at both edges of the sleeve, this means that there should be 27 increases worked over 88 rows (measurement x row gauge).

When working sleeve increases, you should never have an increase on either the first or the last row so the formula for spacing out the increases is worked a little differently than it was for the front decrease spacing. What we really need to find here is the number of spaces between the increases and between the beginning/ending edge of the fabric and the first/last increase.

adding "1" to the divisor to account for the spaces, rather than the increases, I'll divide 88 rows by 28 (not 27).
Adding “1” to the divisor to account for the spaces, rather than the increases, I’ll divide 88 rows by 28 (not 27).

You’ll finally get a chance to use that long division (with a slight twist) you learned in 3rd grade! You need to divide 27 (increases) into 88 (rows) except that, in order to avoid placing increases on the first/last rows, we’ll actually divide by 28, which is the number of spaces between/before/after the increases.

Now add 1 to the answer (3), which now becomes 4. Connect the new answer to the remainder below (which just happens to be 4 – could be anything). This tells us we will increase a 1stitch every fourth row four times (+1 4/R x 4).

division2-2

 

 

 

division2-3Hopefully you are still with me because it gets kind of weird now. Subtract the remainder (4) from the divisor (28), which equals 24. Then subtract the 1 you added in the first step. Connect the 3 and 23 to indicate that you also need to make an increase every third row 23 times (+1 3/R x 23).

Its easy to check the math on this. First multiply the frequency of the increase (3/R) by the number of times you should increase (23) and the answer is 69 rows. Do the same thing for the increases made every 4th row, four times, which equals another 16 rows. 69 + 16 = 85 rows. Perfect.

Double check by adding up the increases and the number of rows.
Double check by adding up the increases and the number of rows.

I have no idea why and how this is designed to work – I just trust that it does because math was never my strong subject in school. The formula always works. If you’d like a short cut, there are a couple of calculators on line that do all the figuring for you. So will Garment Designer or DAK if you use those programs. This link http://www.getknitting.com/ak_0603mfcalc.aspx will bring you right to an automatic magic formula calculator.

How you work the increases is up to you. Sometimes computer programs try to shuffle the increases for you so that you might do an increase every 4th row after having done so many of them every 3rd row. I find it confusing to work like that so I generally work all my 4th row increases first, then move on to the 3/R increases when there is such a huge difference between the number of times I do each. I work the 4/R increases first to start shaping the sleeve more gradually so it doesn’t suddenly balloon out around my wrist.

You can arrange the increases however it makes the most sense to you, but I can guarantee that nobody is ever going to say “she knitted this gorgeous sweater but when she worked the sleeves, you can tell she did all her 4th row increases first and then all the 3rd row increases instead of alternating them throughout….” Not going to happen. Nobody will notice – not even you.

I did extra neckline decreases on the front of this version, but didn't like the way the collar worked out with only 3" for the roll. Still more than wearable, but not quite perfect...
I did extra neckline decreases on the front of this version, but didn’t like the way the collar worked out with only 3″ for the roll. Still more than wearable, but not quite perfect…

Just a couple more thoughts on this basic sweater shape. You could make the front even wider if you’d like to increase the size of the collar. You do not have to make any front neckline decreases if you want the entire front to roll all the way to the lower edges. You can add buttonholes and buttons, pockets, cables or any other details you want. Instead of rib, try finishing the edges with I-cord.

Double check the length of the sleeve by measuring yourself from the center back neck to the cuff and then compare to the garment schematic, adding half the width of the back to the length of the sleeve. Don’t forget to figure the added length of the rib.

The red version was knitted with a wool/alpaca hand-dyed yarn that striped badly so I worked off two skeins at once, knitting two rows of one color and then the next. Without a color changer on my bulky, I relied on this nifty JacPac to hold the unused color out of the way. I liked on line and the only source I found was Metropolitan in the UK. Not sure if they still sell them or not.
The red version was knitted with a wool/alpaca hand-dyed yarn that striped badly so I worked off two skeins at once, knitting two rows of one color and then the next. Without a color changer on my bulky, I relied on this nifty JacPac to hold the unused color out of the way. I liked on line and the only source I found was Metropolitan in the UK. Not sure if they still sell them or not.

Try charting this sweater with your own gauge information. It really is an easy garment shape to modify and change. Keep in mind that the bulkier the yarn, the more ease you need to build into a garment so that it drapes and fits correctly. If you decide to make a really oversized (OS) version of this cardigan, remember that as the body pieces get wider, the sleeve gets shorter. I’ve knitted some OS garments that had sleeves only 8” long and more snug fitting to support the weight of the garment. Also, you might need to knit the back in two pieces with a seam – make it attractive or make it invisible!

I always block with wires and steam before assembling any garment.
I always block with wires and steam before assembling any garment.

I’d love to show some of your sweaters here on the blog. So – when you get a chance, brush your hair, put on some lipstick and get somebody to take a nice photo of you wearing your design. Email it to me as a jpeg and I’ll post it so other knitters can see what you’ve done! Until next time!

 

 

Shawl Collared Cardigan

I haven’t forgotten part 2 of the Charting posting, but wanted to introduce you to this shawl collared cardigan first. We’ll get back to the charting – I promise!

I designed this sweater in 1996 and knitted it – the first time – with a wonderful boucle from Lang Yarn called “Harvey”. I’ve knitted it several times since with a variety of yarns. The shape is an easy one to re-chart for any yarn and the style seems to look good on everyone. I think a collar can add a lot to a sweater and because this one is knitted as part of the front it doesn’t require a lot of fancy finishing.

I am including two versions of the pattern. The first version  shawlcollarjacketgauged is written for a specific gauge (5 sts/8 rows = 1”) and can be knitted on the mid-gauge Sk-860 (LK-150) with stitch size 5 (4). The other version cardiblank only gives the dimensions so that you can re-write the pattern for whatever yarn/gauge you prefer! The pattern is written in two sizes, with the directions for the larger size in ( ).

For all of the garment pieces, I knit 1” of 2 x 2 ribbing. If you have a ribber, you can do this right on the machine. If not, begin on waste knitting and pick up the edge later to work the ribs by hand. Not a hand knitter? Use whatever edging or band you are comfortable doing. Because the jacket has a smart, boxy fit, I would avoid wide bands or bands that draw in the bottom of the garment. I chose 2 x 2 rib to keep the edges from rolling and to prevent stretching. I wasn’t looking for elasticity here.

After the ribbing, continue in stockinette (or a pattern stitch when you re-chart for your own version), tagging the armholes at RC (row count) 96 (106). This will eliminate the need to guess or re-measure later when joining the sleeves to the body.

At RC 176 (196) scrap off the back stitches in three sections, 42 (50) sts for each shoulder and 31 (32) for the back neck.

Knit two fronts with reversed shaping. The neckline decreases begin at RC 88 (108) and should be made 12 stitches from the front edge. You’ll need a multi-prong transfer tool to do this or else you will need to transfer 3-4 stitches at a time. The wide decreases help the front edge form the collar fold and are the main reason this collar loks so great when you finish. The short- hand on the diagram indicates that you should decrease 1 stitch every 10th (8th) row , 8 (10) times.

At RC 176 (196), scrap off the shoulder stitches and continue to RC 200 (220) on the remaining 30 sts to knit the back of the collar. Scrap off.

Knit two sleeves alike. Increase 1 stitch at each end of every 4th row 30 times and then (for the larger size only) increase 1 stitch every 3rd row three times. Scrap off all 100 (112) stitches. If you tag the center of the sleeve before you scrap off, it will be easy to line up the center of the sleeve with the shoulder seam later on.

Finishing: Block all pieces to size, using the schematic as a guide. Join the shoulder seams on the machine or by hand. Invisibly graft the ends of the back collar together. Then join the edge of the collar to the back neckline, easing to fit if necessary. Join the sleeves to the garment between the armhole tags and matching the center tag to the shoulder seam.

I finished the front edge of my sweater by picking up 131 sts along one front edge (all the way to the back collar seam), hanging it on the machine and knitting 1 row. Then I transferred every-other-stitch (EOS) to the ribber to knit 2 x 2 rib for 8 rows; transferred the ribber stitches back to the main bed and knitted 4 rows stockinette before using a back stitch bind off (See blog 5/8/16). Then I repeated it for the other side of the neckline and seamed the two bands together at the back neck.

You should use whatever band or trim you used for the lower edges of the sweater. You could also work an I-cord bind off (see blog 4/8/16) or hand crocheted finish. The choice is yours!

And now, because the promised storm has not materialized and the sun is actually shining, I am going to spend the rest of this afternoon digging in the dirt and tending my bone-dry gardens. Next time I’ll go into some detail about converting this pattern to a different gauge. See you then!

 

 

Playing with Gauge – Part 1

Last time I told you we would begin working with gauge to take control of our knitting. So, I’ve included a PDF file that contains a couple of simple exercises for you to  get started with. Just click Charting1  and it will open the file so that you can print it out to use as a worksheet. You might want to use a yellow marker to highlight the basic formulas so they are always easy to find.

Next time we’ll start applying these same formulas to a sweater pattern, using an entirely different gauge than the pattern calls for. For most of us, not matching a pattern’s gauge is pretty much the norm and once you learn how to manipulate gauge you will be free from that restriction.

This means that you can work from hand knit magazines; be able to convert bulky patterns to the standard gauge and visa-versa. Keep in mind that all I am talking about here is the actual directions for how many stitches and rows to knit and the resulting changes to increases or decreases.

A re-worked pattern may not, for example, leave you enough needles to reproduce a specific fair isle or intarsia design. You may or may not be able to knit a specific stitch by machine. For now, however, let’s just deal with stitches and rows and start you on the road to an endless supply of patterns to knit!

I’ll try not to keep you waiting to long and in a couple of weeks, my schedule will even out for the fall and I will post more regularly. For now though, I am just getting settled into a new teaching gig at FIT – which I am loving – and next week I head out to Denver for a week at Craftsy. Shhhhh. Don’t tell anybody yet.

See you soon – calculator in hand!