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Knitting Machines

 
Posts: 74
Location: Powell River, BC
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I've been using a couple of plastic circular knitting machines for several years now to make hats, headbands etc for sale.

Last September I was given an old metal flatbed machine (a SK-151 for those familiar with these beasts) and I have been having altogether too much fun with it ever since. It is completely manual - both pushing the carriage across the bed and positioning the needles to make various patterns - and it is a "bulky" 9mm gauge so it will knit worsted weight and thinner. Makes scarves, hats, sweaters, even socks (boot socks in thick yarn): cables, lace, tuck and slip stitches, fair isle, stripes, all hand-manipulated. Flat bed machines like this can't make purl stitches, only knit, so they can't do ribbing, or garter stitch (unless you turn the whole piece around every row, quite a performance!)

I then found a somewhat newer (but still old-ish) plastic flatbed machine (LK-150) at the thrift store for $25. These are still sold new for upwards of CAD$600, and even used ones go for hundreds, so that was a steal. It works the same way as the SK-151 but has a smaller gauge (needles a bit closer together) of 6.5 mm. It knits yarn from DK and thinner. The advantage is that being plastic it's relatively portable and easy to haul about. I brought it home on the bus in my little shopping cart.

Then a friend gave me a "standard gauge" (4.5 mm) punchcard machine, SK 327. So fancy! Knits finer yarns and has a mechanical punch card patterning system which lets you do lots of fancy stitches much more easily. This one makes excellent socks in regular sock yarn. Had some parts missing, and some bent needles.

Then (are we seeing a pattern here?) my DH found two machines at the thrift store, $25 each, so he bought both and brought the first one home on the bus. Metal machine, super heavy. What a hero! It was a duplicate of machine #3 but it had different parts missing and much better needles. Score! I was on tenterhooks about the machine still waiting at the store, so he got back on the bus into town and brought it home. It turned out to be a "ribber" - a whole extra needle bed that fits on the front of an existing flatbed machine and allows you to do ribbing (surprise!) and tubular knitting.

I've been working on learning the ribber for the past couple of weeks, and it's been a bit of a struggle but I am winning. I finally got a decent sock out of it today after 8-10 attempts, with ribbing and knit tubular instead of flat. Phew!

These machines are addictive. They all have different strengths and things they do best, so it's very tempting to get more than one. The one saving grace it that they fit very neatly under the bed if you need to put them away to make space :)

If you want to know more, the best place to look is the Machine Knitting forum on Ravelry at https://www.ravelry.com/groups/machine-knitting
(you have to be a Rav member, but it's free to join and they don't spam you or sell your email).

Piccies...

2019-10-17-14.33.40.jpg
Lacy wrap on the Sk-151
Lacy wrap on the Sk-151
2020-02-09-15.57.04.jpg
Twist headband on SK-151
Twist headband on SK-151
2020-06-20-12.31.46.jpg
Pride flag blanket made on SK 151 for LGBTQ+ art show
Pride flag blanket made on SK 151 for LGBTQ+ art show
2020-02-23-18.31.39.jpg
Fair isle scarf made on SK 327
Fair isle scarf made on SK 327
2020-07-07-10.31.49.jpg
Knitting TAAT socks with two carriages
Knitting TAAT socks with two carriages
 
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Awesome!
I have a flat knitting machine I have no idea how to use, but I've been tempted to try for sweater making with handspun yarn.  I can't knit any more due to arthritis.   It has a ribber thingy too.

I have an antique circular machine but it needs a new cylinder.  It only has the 120 and I want to knit socks that take something closer to 60 or 70 sts.  

It would be fun to get them out and see if I can get them working.  
 
Kevin Wilson
Posts: 74
Location: Powell River, BC
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r ranson wrote:Awesome!
I have a flat knitting machine I have no idea how to use, but I've been tempted to try for sweater making with handspun yarn.  I can't knit any more due to arthritis.   It has a ribber thingy too.

I have an antique circular machine but it needs a new cylinder.  It only has the 120 and I want to knit socks that take something closer to 60 or 70 sts.  

It would be fun to get them out and see if I can get them working.  



Yep, I have RSI and the beginnings of arthritis in my fingers, so while I can still handknit, I can’t do it for long stretches. I do most of my handknitting on the bus, waiting for the bus, or waiting for appointments so it naturally gets broken up into short chunks.

What model of flatbed do you have? If my experience is any guide, learning the main bed alone first, before adding the ribber, is a good idea. Being a handknitter does help, but there are a lot of new skills to learn.

I don’t have a CSM but they do look very cool. Apparently it can be hard to get the antique ones working properly, but they sure zoom through socks once they are fixed up.
 
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