Tuesday, February 02, 2010


In the handknitting world, there is a term called "Frogging". It's when you rip something out (take apart your knitting). As you pull the yarn, you chant "Rip it, Rip it" which sounds like "Ribbit" or.... a frog.

In machine knitting, there is a wonderful contraption built for some machines, called "a ribber". Not to be confused with frogging. LOL.

I wanted to get my standard gauge machine out again, the Singer 327 Memo-matic. And since I needed some help to maneuver it, I figured I might as well get the ribber set up too! It's been almost three years!
This is the two 'beds' set up. The beige (ribber) carriage on the lower (ribber) bed connects into that notch on the silver trapezoid piece (ribber arm).

As I've mentioned before, knitting machines are great at knitting stockinette stitch (and punchcard/electronics can do basic patterning), but all stitches are worked in the same direction....the machine is basically 'purling' and it can't switch between purling and knitting. You get stockinette fabric in handknitting by knitting one row, purling one row, but really, a purl stitch is just a knit stitch worked from the backside, and a knitting machine always works through the backside, so the purl side is always facing you, but you end up with stockinette.

And stockinette fabric curls along each side. Normally, you'd add an edging--garter stitch, seed stitch, or ribbing which is the stretchy material on sweater cuffs, mittens, socks, etc.

The ribber, because it faces the opposite direction, shows the other (knit) side of the stitch while you work. When you alternate between needles of each bed, you get ribbing--because a purl st looks like a knit st on the other side. So, this contraption lets you knit one stitch on the ribber, then one stitch on the mainbed, back to ribber, etc. Or you can set it up for other ribbing patterns such as 2x2 rib (knit two on mainbed, knit 2 on ribber bed).

We managed to muddle through the manual. They are typically written in Japanese, and then translated to English. There's some pictures, and some drawings. We did pretty good, but for some reason, the ribber arm does not look like the one in the book (the ribber arm connects the main bed carriage with the ribber bed carriage). There are several ribbers that can be used with this machine, and I seem to have the SRP20 which I think is one of the oldest.

There are extra metal 'wings' inside the slot where you thread the yarn through.

This piece was left over. We can't find it mentioned anywhere in the book. A few pieces were missing--accessory pieces that I can buy online, but it's a nuisance.

This is my first piece! I should have known not to use this yarn as it gave me headaches with just the mainbed when I first started, LOL.
Everyone says to make a scarf as a first project. Well, I started to swatch (test knit) some yarn and knew that I couldn't make a scarf because it's too boring, LOL. Then, a wonderful knitting machine guru, Diana, suggested I make a fisherman ribbed sweater she has posted on her blog, with great videos. There's no shaping, each piece is a rectangle. And it takes DK yarn which I have a lot of (remember the giant skeins I bought at Spinrite in August?).
This is the front. Or the back. Whatever, they're the same.

I had a problem with some needles not working right, you can see along the lower edge where the row (it's actually a column of sts but the sweater is sideways) is smaller/tighter.

Wow, this one is in sunlight, but that's not how it looks at all. You can see a little patch of bad knitting near the right edge, where the yarn tail is.

The sleeves. I had some issues with remembering to change the tension settings with the ribbing on the right. You can see the interesting effect of the yarn. It's a tuck one st, purl one st. The tuck st means it doesn't knit on one row, then the next row you knit the 'float' with the st. So, in a multicoloured yarn, it really breaks up the pattern, and also results in a different colour showing in the recessed purl sts. This above picture shows how the two sides are different--the left one is the 'back' side, the right one is the 'public' side which shows the tucked knit stitches.
It's all knitted, but not seamed up yet. I know how to do that, LOL, it can wait.

I've been pouring over my meager collection of machine knitting magazines, searching for the next project. After I had last packed up the Singer 327 it seemed every project I wanted to make needed it. Now, it seems all those projects don't actually need the ribber. Or are too advanced. But I found one hat pattern that I could have done without the ribber, but the ribber really makes it easier. Supposedly.
I had looked at the hat pattern quite a bit, but I didn't actually read it all before starting. There was some important info in the little pre-amble box that I kinda missed.
The pattern is badly written, so I won't bother telling you want (extinct) magazine it was from. Basically, with a DK yarn, at the left edge, cast on 40 st on main bed (I used 45 to get some extra slouch). *Knit 2 rows. Decrease with a 2 prong tool at the left edge and inc one by pulling out one needle on the right. This keeps the row count the same. Repeat from * Do 6 rows of the DK yarn (I think it was T7) and then switch to a 2/24 yarn for 6 rows, doing the inc/dec every two rows. Start and end with waste yarn. Wrap the unused yarn around end needle to carry it up the one edge.This shows the alternating bands from the knit side. The earlier picture from the purl side, is actually the right side. The thicker purl bands poof out while the thinner bands retract. The pattern showed it in one colour, but I had to get creative. I used a boo boo yarn ($5, superwash Merino!) from The Sweet Sheep that I had gotten in Kitchener when I got the ones I wrote about before.
The directions for picking up along one edge for the ribbing were a little confusing. And it was hard to do without the proper tool. If you want the pattern info, email me. This could also be handknit. There was an obvious error in the pattern too. I had a hard time casting off the ribbing, but watched another of Diana's videos so I'll be all set the next time. I had one 'lazy' needle that tucked when it should have knit. That's what made the vertical line in the ribbing. The pattern said 30 rows of ribbing, but it looks a lot longer than in the pattern. There was no gauge or sizes given, so perhaps my row tension is off.
As with most hats, it looks dorky on me. The pink yarn is so soft though! I think I'll add it the donation pile for the handknitter's group--they donate chemo caps.

After working the ribbing, you have to pick up to make that little solid bit in the middle of the top to close it off. Again, there was a numerical error, and the instructions were poorly written.

My next goal, and one I didn't actually think I'd try so soon, was socks! I've knitted socks on the flatbed machine, both by latching up the ribbing (OMG, never again) and by handknitting the ribbing (acceptable). However, there is still one or two foot seams which can be done in several ways. I really don't notice the seams when I wear them (I used a "Bickford Seam" which is very flat). However, although the double-bed machine knits ribbing flat (so it needs to be seamed still), it can knit the rest of the sock circularly--no seam!!!
The mainbed carriage knits across those sts while the attached ribber carriage slips across (doesn't disturb) the ribber bed. Then, going back the other way, it's the reverse. I've looked at double bed sock patterns before, but not having tried it--or even having the machine set up--I didn't really understand how much work there still is. Some sections are knitted flat (the short row heel) and you change back and forth between the combined carriage, and the mainbed carriage/fabric presser. It's like changing presser feet on the sewing machine when going from zigzag to straight.
I had some issues, some things I messed up or I"m not happy with yet. But here's the details:
Gedifra "Fasion Trend Sportivo" (because of it's loose ply and "sport" name, I had thought it was a sportweight yarn for a long time, but it's a 28st/38rows 2.5mm-3mm sock yarn). I used T5/5 for the cuffs, and T7/8 for the circular part for the first sock, then T6**/7** for the second. There were 50 ribbed rows, 20 rounds before the heel, shortrow down to 14st and out, then 40 rounds for the foot, toe is also shortrowed to 14sts. On the second sock, I forgot to do a dec at each end of each bed after shortrowing the toe before going for the last circular round and there was quite a lump when I grafted it. I could have also used a couple more rows on the second sock to compensate for the tighter tension.
I've got lots of sock yarn that is patterned and will look fine done as plain socks. I might do the ribbing by hand so that I have a portable project to take places (esp. since I can do two at once on one circular needle) and so I don't have the seam. We'll see. They're just so quick and easy on the machine. I don't normally like shortrow heels, but by not taking the ribbing all the way down to the heel, it seemed to help. I haven't worn them yet--I went to put them on for my daily walk, and noticed that I missed a ribbing st when I transferred sts to the mainbed, and it had started to ladder up!!


Diana L. Sullivan, CPA said...

Wow, you're on your way! I'm impressed! Great work getting that ribber going. And, I like the Spinrite yarn in the English Rib for the sweater.

The unidentified gizmo in the picture looks like a carriage lock to me - a bracket to keep the carriage from sliding around when the ribber is packed up. I honestly don't recall how to put it back on, since mine never get put away!

Knitman said...

I love the way the colour has distributed on the sleeves. What yarn is that?

Susan said...

yup, that's a carriage lock alright

BJ in So ILL said...

I just realized I lost my carrage lock, if that is a spare one you want to get rid of!

Anonymous said...

If your machine has been "resting" for three years it probably would welcome a bit of lubrication and a new sponge/retaining bar. That could be why you're having a few problems with the needles. It's amazing the difference a few drops of oil makes.
Rosie, UK.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you had any trouble connecting the ribber arm to the carriage? I've also got the SRP-20, but can't seem to connect it to the carriage...??

Any hints?

Sarah in Sydney, AUS

TracyKM said...

Sometimes I have trouble getting the sinker plate on the main carriage on totally flat, but can usually tell right away. That would affect connecting the ribber arm. Also, the screws that hold the ribber bed up at the right height on the right edge do not hold tight and it can be hard to connect it if I'm at that edge. I haven't done much with the ribber lately so I can't remember if there's anything else.
Colin (Knitman), it was an unlabelled "giant skein" bought at Spinrite, and I think it's Bernat Baby Soft.