More machine knitting
Hints 'n' Tips
Buying a second-hand knitting machine
The decision to buy a domestic knitting machine usually
comes at the point when a hand-knitter finds that knitting
stocking stitch is far too slow and boring.
Stocking stitch (one row plain, one row purl) is the basic
stitch structure for knitting machines and they knit it
very well and very fast. So fast, in fact, that the making
up of a garment can take longer than the actual knitting!
When it comes to buying the machine, the choice is either
new or second-hand and which option you choose will probably
be determined by your budget.
Second-hand machines can be bought on EBay or through
classified ads for very reasonable prices, but before
you invest in a 'sight unseen' machine, here's a few tips
to guide you:
- Machine knitters can do it on a single bed or a double bed!
Single bed machines (Brother, Silver Reed, Knitmaster etc)
can't knit rib stitches. You would have to purchase a separate
ribber to attach to the single bed in order to do this or
be prepared to knit the ribs by hand. Double bed machines,
on the other hand, come complete with a fixed built-in
ribber (Passap/Pfaff etc).
- Through thick and thin
On single bed machines, there are different
'gauges' available, which knit different thicknesses
of yarn. For example, a standard gauge machine has 200
needles on the bed and will easily knit 3 ply, 4 ply
and soft double knitting yarn. A fine gauge machine
has 250 needles on the bed and knits 1, 2 and 3 ply yarns.
'Chunky' machines knit chunky yarns and so on.
Decide which yarn thickness you prefer to knit with and
choose your gauge of machine appropriately.
- Length really does matter!
Full-size knitting machines are approximately 45
inches (115 cms) long. To use them, they need to be clamped
to a firm table. Clamping one to your dining table can have
its drawbacks when mealtime comes round, so you may need
to purchase a table specially made for knitting machines.
If one is not offered for sale with the machine,
these are fairly inexpensive to buy.
- Patterning or non-patterning?
Some knitting machines have no patterning device and
therefore you're limited to knitting stocking stitch
with perhaps some hand-tooled stitches to create more
interest in the fabric. Alternatively, automated
patterning can produce beautiful multi-color fairisle
(jacquard), tuck, slip, woven and lace fabrics,
just by setting some buttons and pushing the carriage
backwards and forwards! For automated patterning,
you'll need either a machine with a manual punchcard
mechanism or one with a built-in electronic device.
Electronic machines need a power supply close by and
will be more expensive to buy than punchcard machines.
One thing to remember - if the electronics in your machine
go wrong, they are more complicated to fix than the
manual punchcard machines.
- The instruction book is a must!
When buying a second-hand knitting machine, always ensure
that it comes with the original instruction book.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if there are no
tutors in your local area, you're going to have to learn
to use your machine from the book. Secondly, there's usually
a page in the instruction book which illustrates all the
accessories that should come with the machine.
This makes a great checklist when your machine is delivered,
to make sure that everything is included.
Careful knitting machine owners always keep the instruction
book and if your seller can't provide you with the original
copy, be wary of what else may be missing!
It is possible to buy some knitting machine manuals
separately, either on CD or as downloadable pdf files:
- Availability of spares.
Knitting machines sometimes need parts replacing. When you're
knitting with 200 needles, one of them is bound to bend
sooner or later! The needles are held in position with a
sponge retaining bar and this will also need replacing
if the sponge loses its 'bounce'. Before you finally choose
a particular brand of machine, make sure you can buy your
spares conveniently, either from a local supplier or by
- Love your knitting machine!
Knitting machines don't respond well to force or neglect.
If they won't knit properly, it's usually for a very good
reason. Try to take some time to understand a little bit
about how the mechanics of the machine work and ensure that
you maintain it regularly - it's really not complicated.
If you decide to buy one, your knitting machine will give
you hours of pleasure (sometimes a few tears!) but you'll have a
whole new window on the knitting world.
Web site: www.getknitting.com