Knitting Machine Advice
What kind of knitting machine do you advise me to buy or what can I do with this machine as it does not work!
I wrote this because of the many enquiries I receive asking for advice on what to look for when buying a knitting machine or perhaps advice regarding the recent purchase of a knitting machine.
First of all. ask yourself the question, do I want a machine to use or just to admire. So many buy vintage knitting machines because they look so great, but when it comes to actually knitting, look for something like a Knitmaster or a Brother Punchcard - often not so pretty but great workhorses.
Knitting machines are still easily available and most are still good workhorses. One of the very first things I do when I purchase a knitting machine (usually a vintage model in my case) is to give it a good clean. I use 9 parts surgical spirit and one part of preferably Bellador oil (ie a mineral oil especially for Passap knitting machines). I strip the needles out of the machine and soak them in a jam jar filled with the above mix. Give it a good shake and you will be surprised how much dirt appears. Some machines are seized up because of emulsified oil ie a mix of oil,old yarn and damp. By the way when buying a machine please do examine it closely, it should always have an instruction manual which should give a run down of what ought to be included. I am not going to go into this because there are so many variations of what should be there. I will concentrate on the most popular Japanese standard gauge machines.
Expensive but necessary needle retainer bars
If you have bought a standard gauge or chunky machine, they will probably have a sponge bar ie a needle retaining bar, and almost always you will pull this out to examine it and find it completely flat - it is without doubt the most usual reason why a knitting machine will not knit. This metal bar should have a good depth of sponge to do what it is made to do ie retain the needles. Now you can buy these bars for your machine quite easily but I notice they are becoming more and more expensive, personally I use draught excluder strip and use Scotch tape to ensure it is held on firmly at the ends of the sponge bar. I buy the draught excluder in rolls from the likes of B & Q ie or Homebase “do it yourself stores”. I cut a piece the length of the sponge bar and as its sticky at the back, it sticks on fairly well. I may use 2 strips if necessary. Now this is my do it yourself fix and I must point out it can go wrong ie if the foam comes away it could end up jamming up your machine. However, I find sponge bars prohibitively expensive and this works everytime for me
Surgical Spirits and Bellador Oil Mix
Give you machine a good brush down with the surgical spirit mix - you will be surprised how much old emulsified oil and rubbish comes out. (do the carriage as well) . I then usually leave it to dry (please use this mix with care ie in an open space as the fumes are quite strong.) I then polish my newly cleaned machine with a soft dry cloth and put it back together again including replacing the needles being careful to examine each one to ensure the latches open easily and there is no sign of rust - if there is dispose of them.
There are many many people on the web who give more indepth info than this on essential knitting machine cleaning but this is a starter. It breaks my heart to hear of people who buy from unscrupulous sellers who have the mantra “it was my mother’s, father’s and I know nowt about it” and they end up paying way too much for way too little machine. There are usually missing parts or no instruction manual and hey I have done it myself, I admit it! I have bought unseen, ie I can remember a Brother 710 - mine was water damaged in storage, and I needed a new needlebed so I bought on ebay, went all the way to Swansea to collect , did not examine it and guess what, the most important part was missing, ie the carriage. No carriage, means useless knitting machine - in my case I was lucky, I only needed the needlebed and that’s exactly what I got. Another machine I had sent to Brittany and it arrived totally damaged and again useless. So buyer beware.
Why am I highlighting this, because I love the art of machine knitting and want to promote it and the above, perhaps will give a little information about what not to buy and if you do buy how to ensure it works - so that you are not put off for life
What is my vintage machine worth
By the way, I am often asked by someone who may have a vintage knitting machine, what is it worth, well in most instances even now, very little (Ebay lays testament to that). I buy the occasional machine but it is usually because I do not have it or I consider it a good model that I want to ensure is kept for the future or I may wish to buy because it is a machine that I use constantly and the spares for that machine are either unavailable or very expensive, I am sure the time for vintage machines will come ie consider sock machines, but it’s not here yet. I suppose the best way forward to buy a knitting machine from a reputable dealer, that way you get back up and guarantees, however, they are so expensive. There really is no substitute for good research and advice and if possible a demonstration.
With reference to instruction manuals
With reference to instruction books, I have to state that I do not sell or send out copies for the obvious reason that I have way too many machines and this would lead to a practically full time operation doing something I absolutely hate ie photocopying and scanning - it takes forever. Plenty of fantastic sites now doing that job far better than I ever can..