Knitmaster 580 Electronic and Lace Carriage
Just taken this machine out for a refresher course and general maintenance session. I own 2 of the 580’s and one 500 – all work well apart from the built in knit radar on the 500 – the length dial is stuck so no joy there I am afraid.
Thought I would test my KR7 with my newest 580 (after giving the other two a good clean, oil and test run. It works easily and the KR7 is a good piece of kit for that allows you to use your own varieties of yarn. I chose a simple summer top style pattern ie just back and front, and attempted to come up with a tapestry style pattern using a shiny viscose linen in red and a gold chenille, and it looked fine.
Used one of the standard mylar sheets, surely this has to be an easy way to get going, I threaded up the 2 yarns, set the mylar via the instruction book and it was simple ie when you know how, set the card to the beginning of the pattern, run the carriage across a couple of times to set the cams then switch on the inspection light and mine feeds the pattern downwards and I have to then move it again to the bottom of the pattern then in feeds the pattern in 10 rows and gives a double clunk and away we go. I decided to do a lace border on this machine so got out the electronic lace carriage and was pleasantly surprised at the number of knit and transfer at once patterns, good news for a bone idle knitter like me. Initially knitted around 20 rows waste yarn after casting on with what is now my favourite cast on method, dunno why I did not learn to do this years ago and this is it…
Weaving brush cast on
Everyone knows how to do this, don’t they – well I didn’t – I believed it was a hassle but no – its really quick and easy ie bring all needles out to holding postion then use the one and one rule to bring every alternate needle to working position, place the yarn from the left hand side over the top of the needles in holding postion and then thread the yarn into the carriage, bring the weaving brushes into work, and holding the yarn in your left hand - let it run through your fingers whilst moving the carriage to the left and you have lift off, just continue to knit slowly with the weaving brushes still in work, for around say 6 rows then lift them off, and your have good cast on.
Once the cast on is complete, I usually do one row with the nylon cord to the right, then with needles in holding position ewrap on top and knit 2 plain rows with the first row still in holding postion and knitted to normal position. You then weight it all along, with the combs supplied with the lace carriage, you set your mylar sheet as above and simple knit slowly – this produces a lovely lace border quickly and easily. I am most impressed – the design I chose left me with a fancy edge. Note I did not set up the ribber for this knit so the machine was flat on the table, if the ribber was on you would have to bring your knitting over the ribber for lace.
Now to the important bit, ie separating for the neckline, and what a hassle – there is very little info on this in the book and I had a helluva job getting it to work properly and obviously it would be my fault ie operator error mainly because it was guess work. It took four goes to get it to properly align – I moved the cams as per the book ie on the first side I switched off the machine – moved the cams to the right and did not touch the N1 cam at all, and knitted, when I came to take it off the machine it was one row out – so I rattled it back and tried again, I reset the mylar sheet after taking note of its postion moved it down ten rows so it would feed in 10 rows and started again, this time it was one stitch out, so I admitted defeat. However, the left side was more fun, it was a total disaster, I switched off the machine and moved the cams to the left and then after switching on the machine took the carriage across and back to read the positions, and left the N1 cam in the centre and off I went, this time it was even worse, it had moved the pattern across by around seven stiches and it was a total mess, so perservering, not something I am noted for, I thought try again.
Setting Cams for the neckline
Could find nowt about setting cams for the neckline, so I thought of another way of doing it, ie this time I simply left the cams in their original positions ie as if doing the whole width of the piece and took the carriage all the way across (the carriage must go beyond the cams or it patterns incorrectly – same as the E6000 and this method is ingrained into my brain with Passap use) and this time it worked – as it was only for a matter of 28 rows that was fine, but surely there must be a simpler way.
Must admit for ease of use, this machine scores high but as far as the instruction manuals are concerned with the electronics and the use of cams – no comment. I have a couple of the pattern controllers for these machines and I note a ton of stuff is written about the use of these – but better written instruction books (I note in the 2 manuals for my machines both have errors – which have been amended by the insertion of an A4 sheet outlining what they were and important stuff it was too). More information about how these cams can be used for the most basic pattern operation ie necklines is required. I am sure there are many other uses once you have played around with it a bit – I suppose you may say I am not without a wee bit of knowledge about electronics but this experiment with the neckline and cams even has me beat, so pity the poor knitters that bought them originally.
My conclusion re the Knitmaster 580 Electronic (now rebadged Silver Reed) I note this machine is often sold on Ebay at a very reasonable cost and you must consider that it is exactly the same as the very expensive badged Silver Reed model except it has its pattern controller built in and to boot it usually has every extra under the sun included in the price and you can still buy Designaknit and a cable (though this would probably cost you more than the whole package) that allows you to knit from screen – to my mind one of the most underrated second hand machines on the market. The only other comments I have to make is that I have a universal motor for standard gauge machines and the Knitmaster has a curly cable that sort of gets in the way when knitting with this particular brand of motor but that aside still a very nice machine. I might well add that the ribbers for Knitmasters are inexpensive and that the linker and rib transfer carriages are one of the best designs ever.