Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Machine Knitting is good for the brain!

My aim is to alternate sorting out my newly acquired knitting machines with actually producing garments. So today was one of these days. The task was to knit a second sleeve for a wool jumper for my husband. I have modified the pattern (more in a later post) so I am knitting the sleeves first to triple check the tension etc.
I completed the rib and set the machine for stocking stitch. However when I returned and knitted this it seemed to be taking more rows to get to the armhole! Had I not reset the row counter correctly? The Knitleader sheet certainly appeared to be moving as I knitted each row.
Well as I got to the armhole I noticed the row counter was double the number I expected! This told me that the Knitleader was only moving forward as the carriage moved in one direction.
( This had happened to me previously, so having done a temporary fix  I bought a replacement Knitleader from eBay. The Knitleaders are probably 30 years old so is it surprising they are now failing? )

So how I solved this problem - knitting with no yarn was needed. I marked the length of 60 rows (14.7cm) on the Knitleader and knitted 60 rows with no yarn - yes only 7.4cm was actually knitted which confirmed why the sleeve was too long. I added my custom modification to one arm on the Knitleader & repeated knitting the 60 rows, the distance knitted was still 7.4cm.
So, I swapped the modification to the other arm and knitted the 60 rows again and this time I got the full 14.7 cm.
So the immediate problem is solved & as long as I check this modification is not slipping every 20 or so rows it should function.
Longer term I have to decide whether to have the Knitleader professionally mended or just work out shapings from my schematic pattern diagrams.
These vintage knitting machines ( in general) work very well, once the sponge bar is replaced, and they have been thoroughly cleaned and oiled. My experience is that whether it is a Knit radar/contour from a knitmaster ( which tends to get gummed up) or a Brother Knitleader ( in which the triggering mechanism seems to get worn) these devices need more TLC than the actual knitting machine to get functioning well.
So fingers crossed all will work well now and I can finish this jumper for DH.

** The modification works as it provides sufficient extra leverage when the carriage passes to 'trip' the knitleader to register a row.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Knitmaster SK700 Knitting Machine

What a great 'textile' way to start a New Year! During the latter part of 2013 I've been increasing my range of Knitting Machines- to include both Brother and ( now) Knitmaster. (that is in addition to the 3 even more Vintage models).

I am concentrating on a Knitmaster 700SK made in 1985. Having replaced the sponge bar foam (see later for supplier *) & given it a thorough clean (& oil **) yesterday I found time to actually knit with it! In it's hey day it was described as ' top of the range' and given what it will do and how robust it is - I think the advertising was very accurate.

What a treat this was, so all patterning now tried - plain, fair- isle, tuck, tuck- lace, slip, intarsia & punch lace! Punch lace being the real reason I bought the machine! I am delighted with the machine. The Ribber looks even more exciting- but that is for later.
I have made a list of Projects - Machine Knitting, Sewing, Weaving and Other. I have decided to alternate making progress in producing a garment/ item with making progress in getting my ‘new’ machines in working order.

*Xena Knits recommended for their replacement foam & fixing instructions - allow several hours to do this well. I use Nail Varnish remover to get rid of the 'old' glue that I can't scrape out.
**Metropolitan Machine Knitting sell Ballistol Oil that comes in a 'pen' which can be refilled. Great to use once all the black goey grease that has built up over the years has been removed from the knitting machine. Do not use 'Three in One'.
For those wanting to know more about cleaning Knitting Machine there is great advice from the Guild of Machine Knitters at

Manuals: if you have an 'old' Knitting Machine and no manual many are available for free download from www.aboutknittingmachines.com