Knitting Machines – The New Stash
Even by Pacific Northwest standards, November has been soggy. In the last week, my yard has been drenched with over ten inches of pouring rain.
Most people think it rains all the time in Seattle. Our weather is actually much more complicated. It mainly drizzles, a lot, from October through May, with bouts of solid rain, overcast, and sunshine thrown in the mix. It can hail in the morning, drizzle, and then be sunny all in the same day.
From June to September it rarely rains. It is a constant battle to keep the grass alive. This summer was so bad my lawn died in ugly patches, never again to emerge from dormancy.
All that rain-free summer weather makes for great garage saling. Between April and late fall, I can usually find two knitting machines. Some I keep and some I part out. I find new homes for the rest.
This garage sale season was awesome. Between Bill and I, we found:
Passap Duomatic 80
Passap Duomatic (Pinkie)
Knitking 840 punchcard with lace carriage
Brother 230 ribber
Studio Electronic Mid Gauge 860
This is on top of the Brother 260 with ribber, Brother 965 with ribber, Brother 950i with ribber, and Singer 155 already living in the house.
No one needs this many machines. Even with our large basement, I don’t have enough room. Collecting them has become an addiction. I have no excuse other than I wanted a machine ever since I first saw one in the early 1980’s. Back then I had no room and no money. I’m making up for lost time.
Machine knitting is different than hand knitting. I like them both for different reasons.
Machine knitting produces garments. I lose interest on anything larger than a sock if I hand knit because it take me sooooo long to finish. The downside is the learning curve and the frustration with dropped stitches or jammed carriages. I can also knit with much smaller yarns at a gauge where my sanity would be questioned if I tried it by hand.
Hand knitting is great for filling small bits of time away from the house or in front of the TV. It is relaxing, until I’ve spent hours on a simple patterned sock only to discover after I’ve rounded the heel that it is too tight, has always been too tight, and no amount of stretching or swearing will change that fact.
I’m practical. I like to try new things but I want to know the downside and how I can get out of a situation if I don’t like it.
Across the country, knitting machines languish under beds, in basements, and in garages.
The good news is it takes a lot of abuse to make one inoperable.
If you are at all curious about trying one out on the cheap, garage sales and estate sales can be your friend. Knitting machines are fine pieces of machinery and deserve to be used.
As long as the machine has punchcard or electronic patterning capability and costs less than $50 to $75, it is a gamble worth taking.
If you find you don’t like it, or it’s missing more parts than you care to replace, you can post a free ad at:
Even sold as-is for parts, someone is likely to take the machine off your hands, and probably for as much as you paid. The needles alone are worth at least $.25 apiece if they are in good working order. A standard gauge machine has 200 of them.
OK, so you’ve found a machine but it is missing parts or a manual or it needs a new sponge bar. Try Needle-Tek. It’s a great source for new parts, even for machines that are no longer made.
I have found a few sites with Brother manuals you can download. They are listed on my Links page. You can click the link at the top of this page. If anyone knows of a source for Passap or Studio/Singer/Silver Reed/Knitmaster manuals to download, I’d love to add it to my list.
Even if you don’t have a machine but are still thinking about it. I recommend you download the free manuals and print out the page showing pictures of the itemized parts. Leave it in your car so if you should come across a machine, you’ll have a reference to judge if enough of the parts are present for the asking price. The major pieces are fairly similar between the various brands.
Try to search out a local machine knitting group. Mine is indispensable at helping me get over hurdles. If a local group is unavailable, head online. My favorites are:
Knitting machines are intimidating at first and there is a definite learning curve. On Thursday, I’ll give you more ideas on how to find a machine and have some confidence with your purchase. The sea of various parts will no longer seem so overwhelming.
After Thanksgiving, we’ll set up a knitting machine. I’ll bring lots of pictures so you won’t get lost.
November 13, 2006