Note: the original version of this article was published in 2009 and was missing many shaping codes. Since the original publication, Elizabeth P. tirelessly ran countless experiments on a form computer and with perseverance and insight identified all the remaining shaping codes. We now believe form programmes are completely documented in this revised article.
Form programmes are a very useful feature of the PASSAP E6000 knitting machine, but have you ever wondered about all those mysterious codes that make up form programmes? Do you want to modify existing form programmes or even try to write your own from scratch? This article descibes the overall structure of form programmes and the meaning of the shaping codes in detail.
The information presented here also applies to the PASSAP Form Computer, Superba Digiform, and Magimaille. Much like the E6000 console, these caluclator-like devices convert form programmes codes into instructions to cast on, knit straight, and increase and decrease.
If you have ignored form programmes until now, you should review what your manual has to say about them before continuing. This article will not teach you how to enter form programmes into your console or how to knit with them. The Form Computer Manual and the E6000 Manual are available online.
Before we look at the actual codes that make up form programmes, let's take a step back and consider how form programmes work on a very general level. Prior to writing the form programme, the programmer must have a model to work from. This might be a schematic drawing showing the outline of the fabric piece and measurements in centimeters or a chart of the fabric piece worked out in stitches and rows. Most likely the programmer will have both a chart and a schematic prepared before writing the form programme. I will refer to the fabric piece that would have been knitted up according to the original drawing and chart as 'the model fabric piece' or more simply, 'the model.'
The programmer will then write the form programme according to the model. You, the user, will alter the form programme with your own gauge information and typically, your preferences for width and length. The console then compares your input to the model fabric piece and recharts a new fabric peice to be knitted based on your preferences. This is the essence and purpose of a form programme, to alter some theoretical chart of a model fabric piece according to user choice to arrive at a new chart, which will then be used to prompt the knitter as they knit the fabric piece.
Form programmes may be up to 49 lines long. There are two main sections to a form programme: the initialization section and the shaping section. The initialization section gathers the gauge information and the number of stitches to cast on. The shaping section contains the instructions to knit the fabric piece: the rows to knit, and the increases and decreases.
Let's look at the initialization section in detail. The initialization section is always found in the first seven form programme lines. It begins with the programmer's gauge information followed by the user's gauge information. Next is the number of stitches to cast on. Finally, we have the width of the model fabric piece followed by the user's chosen width. Here's an example.
|Line #||Code||Commentary on Initialization|
|1||100||Progammer's length in millimeters for 40 rows of knitting.|
|2||200||Progammer's width in millimeters for 40 stitches of knitting. |
Adding 256 to this number divides the shape in half along the vertical centerline. The half-shape technique can be used to create cardigan fronts from a standard sweater shape.
|3||(A)||User's length in millimeters for 40 rows of knitting.|
|4||(B)||User's width in millimeters for 40 stitches of knitting.|
|5||120||Number of stitches to cast on for the model fabric piece. |
If using the half-shape technique, be sure enter the actual number of stiches to cast on for the half-shape. For example, to convert this form programme from a sweater front to a cardigan front, enter 60, instead of 120.
|6||108||Cast on width for model. This is typically in centimeters, but does not have to be. This measurement may be a body measurement or actual measurement of the model fabric piece.|
|7||*||The user's desired width at cast on. The user must consult the documentation accompanying the form programme to determine the unit of measure, typically centimeters, and whether this is a body measurement or a measurement of the finished fabric piece. How is it that the console is smart enough to know what the programmer and user mean by these width values? Simple: The console uses the ratio of the programmer's value and the user's value in its calculations. If the user were to enter 135 in this example, the piece would be 25% larger or 150 stitches. (135/108 * 100 = 125%; 120 * 1.25 = 150 stitches) Please note that widths may only be increased in form programmes. In reviewing form programmes you may sometimes see lines 6 and 7 replaced by a pair of 3's indicating that the number of cast on stitches is fixed by the programmer and the user may not alter it to their preference. There is no magic in the number 3; it is just used as a convention. In this instance, lines 6 and 7 could be any numbers as long as they were the same. This can be proved by calculating the ratio. (3/3 * 100 = 100%) Any pair of numbers that give a ratio of 100% means that the programmer intends the width to be fixed.|