How to machine knit a tube (circular knitting) with a ribber

How to tutorial for knitting a tube or circular knitting on a knitting machine

Machine knit a seamless tube - a picture tutorial

After learning to machine knit a ribbing (see last post) with a ribber, knitting a seamless tube will be the next project to try. This is also called Circular Knitting in the manual. Similar to the 1 x 1 ribbing, It's just different setting on the ribber and carriages. Not really difficult once you get the settings right. I am demonstrating on my bulky Brother 260 with ribber, and worst weight yarn. The lighter lime green is the waste yarn and dark green is my main yarn 

1. PH setting to H3

First, set up the Racking Indicator to H3 by turning the Grip Handle (see picture below). H means half pitch, and the needle arrangement will be half way between 2 needles of the opposite bed. When we were doing 1 x 1 ribbing, we use P3. In the P position, needles in both beds are directly opposite to each other.

2. Arrange needles and setting up carriages

Pull out the needles needed to position B in both beds. Make sure both end needles are in the knitter and not ribber.

Set both carriages to normal knitting position and the tightest tension (Dial 0 or less). Set the bottom of the ribber lever to I (from II). Run the carriage several times to place all needles in position B. Return the carriage to the right.

3. First zig zag row with waste yarn (cast on thread)

For circular knitting (tube), we have to use waste yarn to cast on because it forms a closed pocket in the first few rows. And we need the first few rows to hang weights properly. Circular knitting needs extra weights.

So, thread the waste yarn or cast on thread ( ravel cord ) through the yarn feeder in the connecting arm. Hang a clip at the bottom of the thread  to prevent getting caught later. Move the carriage to the left to knit the first zig-zag row. (see picture below)

4. Hang Cast on comb and lots of weight

Hang the cast on comb by pulling out the wire, insert the teeth evenly through the zig-zag row, and thread the wire back.

Hang extra weights than usual on the cast on comb.

5. Setting for circular knitting, knit a few rows with waste yarn

This is what's different from the manual. I learned that knitting is much easier by setting the tension a little looser (Dial 1 on both knitter and ribber carriage), and knitting several rows with the waste yarn or ravel cord before the main knitting. If I skip this step, I always get problems knitting the main piece next. 

6. Change to main yarn and main carriage setting

Now we are ready to knit with main piece. Switch out the waste yarn and thread the main yarn through the yarn feeder.

Set the carriages to circular knitting:

Knitter: Push in the left PART button. Change to main tension. 

Ribber: Push up P.R. (part) button on the right. Change to main tension.

In the example from Manual, the Main tension is 7 on both knitter and ribber. I found many brother machine need to have different tensions on knitter and ribber to make even tension piece. Every machine behaves differently and you just have to make several samples to find out the right combination of tension dial numbers.

7. Knit until desired length

8. Take off the machine with waste yarn

The easiest way to finish the piece is to change to waste yarn, knit several rows and take it off the machine. The stitches will be live in the begging row and the last row of main knitting. That is the natural of the circular tube knitting. We can design the piece accordingly. To close it up, we can cut a long yarn that is about 3 times the length and sew to bind off. Another way is to use circular knitting needles and hand knit to finish it. Hand knit a ribbing is a great choice too.

Counting rows

One thing to note about tube knitting is that each round of knitting takes 2 passes, at least on Brother knitting machine. One pass knits the knitter when the ribber does not knit, and the next pass knits the ribber stitches when the knitter stitches does not knit. So if you need 10 round of knitting, the counter number will show 20 because 2 passes of carriages make a complete round.

That's it. It might be tricky at first. Once you get used to your machine, everything will come naturally. There are many use of the seamless tube knitting. It can be a simple scarf, a neck warmer, leg warmer, sleeves, or part of mitten/ socks..... So many possibilities. Happy knitting.