Trumod Knitting Frame
This is a Trumod Autopin Knitting Frame, (Circa 21st November 1957) postmarked on the box . Yet another of those handknit looms that are seriously slower than knitting with needles, I wonder how well this sold in its day. It is pictured in an old magazine with the machine laid across an armchair, must have been a seriously small armchair. I had great trouble casting on and did it by hand in the end. I can see why this one came out of its box almost unused. I now have a couple of these looms still in original boxes.
About a week ago, I received an email from a gentleman who kindly sent me a potted history of his mother's involvement demonstrating and selling Trumod knitting machines or looms. I just love hearing about knitting machines and how they began or were sold so many thanks and I hope you find it as interesting as I did.
He attached several adverts from the day some of which advertised for demonstrators -the years outlined were 1957 and 1958.
TRUMOD KNITTING MACHINES
For some years my Mother had been a home-worker for Jaegers, producing their hand-knitted woollen garments. In addition to this work Mum also produced all the knitted garments for herself, my Father, me and anybody else who wanted them. She was able to adapt any pattern to make it fit the person perfectly.
One morning she received a phone call, from the local wool shop where she obtained all her supplies, saying that a man had been in the shop with a “knitting machine,” but he could not get it to work. Would Mum be interested in having a look to see if she could produce any knitting on it? Mum was always ready for a challenge and said, “Yes.”
The man arrived with said machine and briefly showed Mum how he thought it could produce knitting. That evening, Mum, Dad and I tried everything for about three hours until Mum suddenly realised that she had produced a row of stitches. She then went on to produce a square of simple knitting and then a garment ( a sleeveless jumper (tank top), I think ) without any pattern. She made careful notes and these became the first pattern. After that she produced jumpers, cardigans, bed-jackets, baby clothes, creating the patterns as she made the articles. Once the garments were produced they were modelled, photographed and then used to illustrate the patterns that were produced as individual sheets for sale.
You mention laying the machine across the arms of a chair, but this was not the easiest way to work the original machine. Mum used to hold the machine with her left hand at about shoulder height so that it was positioned diagonally across the body with the other end resting on her thigh or on the seat cushion of her chair. She then wound the wool back and forth around the nails from top to bottom and vice-versa.
One of the directors of Trumod Ltd offered Mum a job at 205 Hook Road where they were based and not far from where we lived. She had an office at 205 Hook Road and each week she used to go to a hall in Bloomsbury, for the afternoon, to demonstrate the knitting machine(s) and to give advice to people who had already purchased one.
Subsequently the Autopin was superseded by the Trumatic. This had two rows of pins, but the pins nearest the operator had a “loop” which stuck out at the back of the machine, through which a wooden lath (for want of a better word) was pushed. As the lath was pushed from one end of the machine to the other it “pulled” the front row of nails backwards past the rear nails and created a row of stitches.
Mum also worked out how to create different patterns by “dropping” stitches and then by using a hook (like a rug making hook) she was able to create rib, cable, etc. stitches.
At the peak of the machine’s popularity Mum was selling 100+ machines, in an afternoon, at the Bloomsbury venue. How many of them only came out of the box once, one can only imagine!
It is now about 60 years since the knitting machine was on the market, but I think Mum was employed by Trumod for about 4-5 years, before sales declined and it was taken off the market.
Brian Furner 28.01.2020