What to consider when buying a knitting machine
Someone contacted me recently via my email address asking for information on buying her first machine – and had read my blog re the Passap and nothing else would do. This brings me to a point one never considers when you have been using machines as long as I have, how easy it is to simply slip into machine knitting, but for this lady who had never used a machine before - it was anything but. The Passap is probably one of the more complex machines to learn.
No amount of advice is going to tell you that the machine is of a certain age and its in good working order, most of these machines when sold have not been operated for years and they need a good deep clean, service and oil. Then you have the problem of what can go wrong and in the Passap E6000’s case there is a lot. You have the consul and its age ie before being upgraded or not, memory wise – the serial number should give you that information, plus you need to know the locks still work and the front electronic one is the one to check, I had 2 faulty front locks (and I used to worry about the consul) you then need to consider whether it has been well used or has it just been stored for years or even worse left on its stand in a room – you can tell this by the colour usually.
I bought one that had been left up for many years – although it had hardly been used and had the most up to date chips – in the case of this machine there were several problems to sort out and fortunately for me, my main interest was the 4600 motor rather than the machine and at that time the price reflected that. It was badly discoloured and that too can devalue the machine. You have to consider things like the strippers which nowadays cost a lot to replace and then there are the tools, ie are they all there – are the books there, does it have a 4 colour changer – does it have a simple U70 transfer carriage – is there a motor – so many questions its hard to give constructive advice.
Ages of Knitting Machines in general
I think nowadays with the average age of so called modern knitting machines getting on for over 20 years, its now getting to the stage where you have to be an expert to buy them safely. The Passaps are now getting thin on the ground or should I say decent Passaps.
Passaps aside, my old Brother 940 was starting to play up and did not select properly – I had blamed in on the download cable but during in depth testing, I have discovered – now using DK 8 and a new computer (possibly the root cause) it works fine again, I wonder if the limited ram and old Windows XP system was at fault – who knows? It’s a fine machine and I have knitted loads of stuff on it but its getting on a bit now and that is the problem with most knitting machines.
I cannot even say that he colour of the machine every time is an indication of age or misuse because it is not – I bought a second Knitmaster 580 electronic for 35 euros along with loads of great books and it was a total mess, cracked case, discoloured and very dirty, it had been stored in an outhouse and was damp to boot – however, once I had cleaned it up thoroughly and plugged it in, it worked beautifully, it had not had much use, just bought and badly stored, this machine I bought for spares had a PE1 card reader, spare card full of designs, and all its books plus SR60 Ribber, there was no way I could lose. (On top of that it came with a fortunes worth of knitting machine books and magazines.)
There are many good machines out there, 24 stitch punchcards by Knitmaster, Brother or Toyota – good workhorses as long as all is there. Then there are the lightweight Singer/Superbas, when I say light weight – I do not mean rubbish, these are beautiful machines that are fine if you are unable to handle the heavy stuff like the Duomatics etc. and they produce some wonderful fabrics, however, remember that the Superba range use weights
To buy vintage or not?
Lots of my old vintage knitting machines still work beautifully and that’s because they come into the category old but normally never used and of course there were many of these machines that do not work and are tedious to knit with although they were well packaged and well made. People in those days generally bought a machine to make a living with and probably found them too difficult to operate. Imagine hand selecting needles every row to do fairisle, nowadays you just press a couple of buttons, download from a computer, or load up a punchcard and your design appears before your eyes, BUT you still need the skill and expertise to knit the garment and most importantly put it together.
Do your research!
So the message is, if you are really keen, do some research, there are still good machines out there, its important that if at all possible, you physically see the machine so you know what you are buying, its great to get its history, and private sales usually bring the best bargains but if you want guarantees then go to a dealer – you will pay more but you do have peace of mind. Finally you still have the option to buy new, but you do pay a hefty premium and if you are just doing it to try machine knitting then don’t even think about it. The reason to buy new is that you know exactly what you want and you want it in the best possible condition ie new. It will run like a pussycat and if you look after it, will last you for donkey’s years.