Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The art of knitweave, or how to ignore the manual

When I got my "first" machine, a Brother KH836, there was no manual, and no punchcards. Luckily, a kind lady on rec.crafts.machknit (yes, we're talking the old Usenet days here) offered to make a copy of hers for a contribution towards postage. She did a great job, but I either couldn't read, or misunderstood, the directions for knitweave. I kept getting fairisle for some reason.

I don't remember where I was, or who showed me how to knitweave, but they demonstrated the old-fashioned "laying in" method used by earlier machines which often did not come with tension masts. I've always done it like this ever since. In fact, I really struggled to get knitweave to work on the SK840 as you can't "lay in" a yarn on a machine that doesn't preselect needles.

The Brother manual tells you to thread the weaving yarn through the mast, and swap it from one side of the sinker plate to the other on every single row. Very tedious, not to mention you have to move the carriage further past the knitting in order to release the weaving yarn, thus making it more likely you'll get loops on the side of your knitting. Threading it through the mast works fine for smooth 4 plys, but if you want to use something nubbly or thick, it will jam in the tension discs. There's been some discussion about this on Ravelry, so I thought I'd do a sketch showing how the "laying in" method works.


For the handknitters, knitweave is laying a yarn over or under the working yarn on the purl side, in such a way that it gets caught by the working yarn. The weaving yarn is not knitted itself. You can use a simple pattern (eg card 1, which is 0101 and 1010 repeated forever), or you can use a card which makes long floats and then hook them up.

Here's a picture of a shopping bag I made back in 2008. Apologies for the poor quality picture, it was taken with my old Treo.

Knitweave bag side 2

Close-up of a knitweave top I made BB (Before Blogging):

Picture 035

In other news, the big lace project is finally off the machine, after a false dawn when I failed to notice a whole 30 rows of the pattern, and is awaiting grafting and steaming.

Oh, and Wikispaces is closing down free wiki hosting, including the machine knitting wiki I created with fellow Ravellers, unless I can prove it's used exclusively for higher education. It's a website, for Pete's sake, how can I prove who visits it? Shame on you, Wikispaces.

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