knit experiments

by lefroyobunny

This week, I tried out some pattern knitting techniques on the knitting machine. I found that casting on is quite a challenge, depends a lot on the tension of the yarn, and also on the type of yarn. The thick, white yarn is especially hard to cast on, for example. However, after some practice, I was able to fix the initial cast on mistakes by observing how the cartridge layers the yarn and fix it with just the hook tool. Then, I can continue my knit without having to recast again.

My series of knit experiments began with the little “elf hat” structure described by this week’s lab instructions.

I also experimented knitting 4 such “elf hat” structures in a row to create a “mountainous terrain”-like structure.

I became very interested in creating 3D knit structures after this initial trial. I envision a large tapestry or carpet made up of entirely 3D knit structures which can be used as decoration or some sort of haptic feedback system. I wanted to explore the method of creating 3D geometry of knitting by putting the Reynold levers in position 1 and putting stitches on hold to create holes. I began to explore some pattern ideas with small sections of needles. By doing the initial “elf hat” knit pattern, I began to gain some intuition about how to create sinks and holes by putting certain needles on hold and others on knit. So I began, very simply, by putting everything on hold except 6 that are close to the carriage. Because those needles are the only ones in stitch, I decided to stitch over these needles several times to create extrusions in the structure.  I decided to repeat this kind of pattern across my 40 stitch cast on knit. I decided to switch which needs are in knit and takes some out as I move across horizontally. I decided to progress by 3 needles per knit. If I progressed by a lot of needles, it will degrade the quality of the texture (because the more folds I can make across, the more complex the geometry will be). If I progress by only a few needles, I found it was hard to see the pattern as I knit. In the end, this is the knit structure I produced.

While knitting, I can only see the back side of the knit, and I did not know how the front of the knit will be affected. Once I finished casting off, I turned the knit over and was very surprised to find I actually produced a sort of nice braiding pattern. I think if I finished a row and continued backwards in the same stitch pattern, I would be able to produce a fish braid 3D knit pattern! I didn’t have a chance to try this successfully yet (every time I’ve tried, I end up dropping stitches), but if I have time with the knitting machine, I will pursue that idea.

Here is the method I used to produce the above pattern:

1 – cast on 40 stiches

2 – knit 20 rows with pink yarn

3 – knit 10 rows with grey

4 – knit 10 rows pink

5 – knit 6 rows grey

6 – knit 2 rows pink

7 – switch Russel levers to position 1

8 – put all needles on hold except the 6 closest to carriage

9 – knit over 4 times, then put the next 3 needles into knit and the first 3 needles closest to carriage into hold (carriage should be on right), and knit another 4 times

10 – then put the next 3 needles into knit and then put the 3 needles closest to carriage into hold (carriage should be on right), and knit over 4 times

11 – continue the procedure described in steps 9 and 10 until you get to the end of the row

12 – switch Russel levers to position 2 and knit on all needles

13 – knit about 10 rows with alternating colors if you wish and then either begin the pattern again or cast off.

I will warn that it is very easy to drop stitches if there is not enough weight on the knit. I suggest moving the weights across the knit as you progress horizontally across with the pattern. Additionally, while the Russel levers are in position 1, it is very important that the needles not in knit are pushed completely forward in the D position. Else, the carriage will pull up the needle into B position and knit where you don’t wish it to knit.