Knitmaster 250 with Pattern Selector
I received an an email via the Knitting Machine Museum about this machine just a few days ago, so I decided to take it out and have another look – I have a couple of these machines given to me in the late 90’s along with a Knitmaster 100 plus an odd bed without a carriage. Must check this out later to see if it’s another model.
This machine I have is new with the Needle Selector and weaving bush included. The stitch selector is a small carriage that as the name suggests selects the needles for patterning. It only selects from left to right but is extremely easy to move back towards the right – it does not release stitches or anything doing this. It is extremely easy to set on the bed so really after trying it out properly; I had some fun patterning with it. Sometimes these old machine patterning systems give me brain ache with their numerous books of diagrams etc but in the case of the needle selector, once I had got the hang of it, its plausible that some may like this wee machine.
There is a selection of needle patterns and all you do is set what you want from the right edge ie say 1 in 4 needles in holding position then the selector just raises the appropriate needles as it goes along. It has 2 positions – one for holding needles and one for fairisle selection. Quite a handy gadget, but it requires patience to get the hang of it, something I do not have in bucket loads. I did however; manage a couple of tuck stitch patterns with it and a zig-zag pattern. I have photographed my efforts.
The carriage has 4 push buttons and 2 of them are cancel buttons – the others settings offer a selection of Knitting, Fairisle, Holding and Slipping positions. The row counter is included and a handy gadget for ironing mock rib ie rib that is doubled – a sort of metal bar with clamps to pull the rib into place. Also included were a good set of pattern rulers of which I have taken a set for my beloved Passaps. The manuals that come with this machine are exceptional – and include beginner patterns to get the user started and an assorted mix of stitch pattern books. I often wonder why so many of this type of machine lay unused. I can understand it with the some of the vintage machines, but never with Knitmasters. The only thing I can come up with is perhaps the yarns in those days were too expensive – we are truly spoiled nowadays with an abundance of cheap yarns and most of us would admit to have a stash – I could start a shop with mine!
Yarn Weights and Gauge
The next thing I noted with this machine is that there are only 180 needles. The machine is a 5 mm gauge and the leaflet I have advertising the machine says that owing to demand they had given folks a machine capable of knitting thick yarns such as Triple Knit, Chunky and Arran wool satisfactorily up to adult sizes. The stitch size dial goes from stitch size 2 to 14. However with 5 mm needle spacing I would not like to push this wee carriage with the heavier yarns suggested. I thought I would try it with a particularly difficult yarn ie splits easy and a viscose and acrylic mix that is slightly heavier than double knit with very little give. It knitted up, but I seriously think that yarn is the limit of the weight capabilities of this little machine. Of course there are such a variety of heavier yarns nowadays for instance extremely soft yarns that perhaps may fair better.
Needle Retainer Bar
Re the needle retainer bar, well these is good news here as it’s a metal bar without a sponge – again that makes me think that sponge bars were created to make money, as this machine works well with the bar and lets face it – it’s a standard well made machine. The price on the leaflet I have is 46 pounds 95 pence – payable with a deposit of 7 pounds 85 and 5 more payments of 7.82. After a bit of research – this machine appears to have been manufactured around the end of 1960’s onward.
So to conclude, what we have here is a sturdy standard to mid-gauge machine that has a few quirky bits but that aside it does what all Knitmasters do, it produces a nice knit without all the bells and whistles of the 321 range, and it looks a lot prettier – however I must point out – if you want to produce then the nicotine coloured 321 and on range offers a lot more for your money – they don’t look pretty but they do the job.
I wonder why these older machines did not turn that ghastly off white colour or nicotine yellow – I am sure it was another ploy by manufacturers of the time to get more machine knitters to upgrade to the later models.