Monday, 23 February 2015

New Toys...........

Earlier this month there was a Circular Knitters convention in Bristol and intrigued I went along.  I know the history of these machines from my research into women homeworkers in the silk industry.  Whereas most of the equipment for silk was artisan made usually of wood, these machines are made of cast iron and fairly complicated.  Most were bought on a production basis, you paid for the machine in finished socks, and then and only then did the worker start to earn cash.  It is obvious from the manuals that the makers didn't have much faith in the little woman's ability to understand the mechanics of the machine as text in the accompanying manual is patronising to say the least.

This is a circular knitting machine - generic photo

But the mechanics are the bits that fascinate me - how does it work, why does this bit move and this not..............  In reality they are really quite simple - it is the latch hook that does the work, without this fabulous little needle none of the knitting machines we have today would exist.

Now on to the new toys..........  No I haven't bought one of the circular type, but I did get a fleabay bargain of a Knitmaster 323 knitting machine.  Yes I know I have a machine, but Mr S broke the carriage handle and as yet hasn't made the promised replacement! But it was a very basic machine and that was it, no way of making any more than the flat-bed machine it is.

Here is where my love of mechanical things come in, it needed a new sponge, needles and good clean. Plus the spools that make the punchcards function weren't going round. I was directed to this resource on YouTube, with the wonderful title of 'Help! my machine was working when I put it away'.  With the help of this and Mr S's tools I took the carriage apart, removed lots and lots of fibre and put it back together again

There was a lot more than this, but Mr S sneezed and bits of fluff went flying everywhere!

And here it is all set and ready to knit. Yes it is on the ironing board and yes I do need a proper table - soon!  I was lucky enough to get a paper manual and set of punch cards from a fellow Raveller and this is my first attempt at fair isle on a knitting machine ever. But this is a flat-bed so to do more I need a ribber attachment............, or so the lovely lady I met at Unravel said!

So I did say toys, well inspired by this video, in which the sweater is knit and then sewn I have finally bought an overlocker! This is my birthday present from Mr S who understands me perfectly.

It is rather scary and much noisier than my sewing machine, but I have my first lesson booked in March so should overcome the fear of breaking a thread and not being able to re-thread...........  there are four threads and each have a particular threading, so until then I am being extra careful!


  1. I have an overlocker and love it. You should have a threading guide printed on to the machine. When you pull down the front flap the diagram should be on the right hand side. Just follow the coloured line for each top spool. It's much easier than you think at first, like everything really.

  2. Thanks! Yes, I do have and I know I am being extra cautious which is silly, sure once I've done it a few times I shall be fine.


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