Monday, August 29, 2016

Ribbing Seam in Back of Socks
(Click on photos to enlarge)
After making many, many circular socks on my flatbed knitting machines with ribbers, I decided that I like the seam of the ribbing to go up the back of the leg better than on the side like most sock patterns call for.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the side seam but I don’t like looking at mismatched stripes or fairisle patterns if I don’t have to.  If they mismatch at the seam, someone else can look at them from the back. 
Use whatever ribbing configuration you want but I’ve used a 1x1 in this example.  
I’m showing you 2 different methods of turning your ribbing.  The first is by scrapping off, the second is using a multi-pronged transfer tool, very similar to the Decker comb used on Passap machines.  Check out my post describing the transfer tool here.  I much prefer using the transfer tool but I used the scrapped off method until I was enlightened about the Decker comb.  It's a great time saver.
So here’s what I do.  

1.  After completing the ribbing, I end with the carriage on the left (COL).  But which side you end on is totally your call and dependent on your pattern; you’ll just have to change my instructions to be worked on the opposite side.
2.  Transfer all the main bed stitches to the corresponding needles onto the ribber bed.  (Increase or decrease stitches to make an even number, if necessary.)  At main body tension, knit 1 row across to the right hand side.  Lower the ribber bed one notch.  Remove ribber weights and cast on comb and replace with 4 claw weights, evenly spaced across your work.  
Now it’s time to do the math.  Divide your total number of stitches by 4.  The middle 2 forths (half) will remain on the ribber bed.  The outer forths will be turned and rehung onto the main bed in a tubular fashion.  For this example, I’ve cast on 70 sts in my ribbing but disregard that.  For sake of ease, let’s assume that I cast on 72 stitches.  Divided by 4, leaves me 36 center stitches in the center and 18 sts on each side.  For my 70 stitches, I would have 18 sts on one side, 35 in the middle and 17 sts on the other side.  Never fear, 1 stitch off center up the back will not be a deal breaker.  Just make sure to have the same number of stitches on each bed.
3.  This is the scrapping off method.  I prefer to scrap off by hand but you may use your machine if you like.  Just remember to put non-scrapped off  needles back into working position, take your carriage off hold and reset the part levers before resuming circular knitting for the ankle.  Some ribbers don’t like to knit by themselves so proceed with caution here if you choose to use your machine to scrap off on the ribber bed to make sure everything is knitting properly.  So firstly, select and raise the 18 sts up into hold position.
4.  Then, manually knit and scrap off the 18 stitches for at least 8-10 rows.


5.   Remove the stitches from the needles.  Turn and fold the scrapped off section between the beds and in front of the main bed.
6.  Rehang the scrapped off stitches to corresponding open needles on the main bed.     
7.  Be sure to have a weight on your work.  Raise that side of the ribber up into working position and make sure the stitches on the ribber bed are still intact.  You may need to realign the needles on the edges a bit. 
8.  Remove the scrap yarn when transfer has been completed.
9.  Now we move to the other side with 18 sts that need to be removed from the ribber bed and transferred to the main bed.  You can scrap off as we did the other side but I’m going to show you how to use the multi-pronged transfer tool that I fondly call the Decker tool.   
With that side of the ribber bed still lowered, raise the 18 needles that need to be transferred and insert the prongs of the Decker tool into the needle hooks.  Keep slight upward pressure so your tool stays in place.  
10.  Do a quick inspection to make sure you have
a prong into each needle hook, raise up each latch, push down on the 18 needle butts to transfer the stitches to the Decker tool, making sure there is a stitch on each prong.  Slightly lower the Decker tool so it can easily be removed from the needles.
11.  With downward and backward pressure on the back bar of the tool, move the prongs of the Decker tool forward.
12.  Place a Scunci hair band around the tool in front of the stitches.  A heavy rubber band works too but they’ve been known to break easily.
13.  Move the Decker tool with stitches intact and let it flop between the two beds.  Turn it so it forms a circular tube, pick up the back of the tool and lift it so it lies on top of the ribber and in front of the main bed. 
14.  Raise the ribber bed, remove the Scunci band and place the prongs of the Decker tool into open hooks of corresponding needles on the main bed.  Transfer the stitches to the main bed. This task is made a bit easier if you use your other hand to pull down a bit on the work between the beds.
15.  Note that the stitches meet in the center of the bed but the yarn is in the middle of your work now, so unravel the yarn tail back to the carriage.   
 16.  Place the yarn back in the carriage arm and set the carriages for circular knitting.  The yarn is coming off the ribber bed stitch, so the next row knit should be on the main bed.  So flip the right part lever up on the main carriage and the left part lever up on the ribber carriage.  Make sure your tension is set properly, the row counter at 000, weights are hung and knit away.
I usually work a Bickford style seam to sew up the ribbing.  It's not totally invisible in a 1x1 configuration but it's not offensive either and gives a nice, flat seam with no bulk, as found in a mattress stitched seam.

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