The Vogue or Swiss Knitter
Today after an email enquiry re the Vogue, I decided to take another look. This is a well-made machine – the bed is stainless steel and the case has a leather look. I have some original letters to the owner of the machine, which are dated October 1962. Obviously she was having problems – the sinker plate is fine when you know how to attach, but that is not as easy as it sounds. You have to take the carriage off the machine and turn it upside down to attach the plate, and it has to be done correctly ie under the rubber knobs and this takes a bit of wangling until you get used to it. It has an unusual tension are that attaches to the carriage and it knits smoothly again providing you thread it properly – took me ages to get this done as the books pictures are not too clear. Once threaded correctly it knits well and at a reasonable pace. I used the ewrap cast on with a 4 ply and even though this machine has been sitting for a while it still knitted smoothly and purrs like pussycat. It has a holding position and an unusual fairisle device (actually it is part of the machine) called the “magic device”.
E wrap Cast on and knitting
So I started out casting on and knitting a few rows to loosen it up, it does the tuck stitches ok, and then I thought I would attempt to use the fairisle device. Quite a clever bit of kit again once you get the jist – it operates by dropping the needles into the bed so they do not knit – initially you select the needles re the pattern – in my case 2 up 2 down - so you select with a lever on the front right edge of the bed and move this to either 0, 1, 2 or 3 positions. It’s a sort of racking lever. On the right side of the bed there is a white knob that you turn and it drops the required needles, you then thread the yarn through the main yarn centre (not through the complex threading device) and knit say 2 rows base colour – then rethread and knit 2 rows contrasting colour. You then must turn the white knob to engage all the needles before turning the front lever to rack 2 positions to the left, then again drop the needles using the white knob and off you go. It’s a very efficient if a bit tedious method of knitting fairisle but it knits very smoothly. The picture above shows the correct way to thread the device when knitting normally and if this is followed it knits very smoothly from the yarn cone on the floor.
The Vogue Magic 5 Step Device
The patterning on the Vogue is a one off, it has five steps according to the book and basically they are the steps you take to set up and knit so you have the number of stitches, Stitch Removing Lever at 0 - 3, Needle Select Dial (selects the combination of needles eg 2 by 2, the colour selections, finally the number of rows.
Needles shown in 2 up 2 down setting
The lady who bought the machine must have had problems with the sinker plate as she was advised to press it downward to ensure it knitted the stitches off.
All due given, it came with a load of spares including brushes and rubber knobs etc plus loads of needles. They come in an attractive blue plastic box and there are 2 of them – and I have in fact 2 of these machines – my second one has a different finish to the first which is shiny stainless steel, the second one has a sort of burred finish. Nice machines with 4.5 mm pitch and 200 needles.
Not an easy machine to operate
I am experienced with all types of vintage knitting machines so I did not find it difficult to get it going but I feel the less experienced with vintage machines may have a problem as the instructions are not so clear. I expect if used all the time, the machine would loosen up and be quite a useful machine unlike so many of its ilk.
A couple more pictures of the fairisle and the full main bed.