Two types of flat machine evolved. The widely used V-bed rib machine and the slower, more specialised flat bed purl or links-links machine.
V-bed machines have two rib gated, diagonally-approaching needle beds, set at between 90 and 104 degrees to each other, giving an inverted V-shape appearance.
Flat bed purl (links-links) machines have horizontal needle beds. They have been employed mainly in knitting simulated hand-knitted constructions of a speciality type, such as cable stitch, basket purl, and lace patterning. They use double-headed latch needles that are transferred to knit in either of two directly opposed needle beds. The non-knitting hook is controlled in the manner of a needle butt by a slider that hooks onto it. There is a set of sliders in each needle bed whose butts are controlled by the traversing cam-carriage to produce knitting or transfer of the needles (see Section 7.5).
Early intarsia machines employed a different approach, using only one needle bed to knit solid colour designs. Now, however, many modern V-bed machines have intarsia-patterning facilities and are no longer restricted to geometrical designs because the mechanically-controlled carrier stops have been replaced by more versatile electronic controls.
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