Pingouin Plain 'n Purl Machine
Pingouin Machine - a very rate beastie
Knits Garter Stitches Automatically!
I bought this machine via an ad on the internet - Leboncoin in France - and the very kind lady packed it up and posted it to me - it came well wrapped in brown sticky tape but it did the job, I wondered why at the time there was a heavy long steel bar in the package and soon realised that it was to protect the machine which has a plastic bed. Good idea don't you think!
Hassle, Hassle and more Hassle
I have been days with this machine and its not an easy machine to operate. Weights are necessary – and keeping the heavy metal carriage close to the bed is also essential or it shears the heads of my precious needles. Like all of its ilk, I think a new set of needles would do it the world of good. Faulty latches cause all sorts of problems – the machine itself is in good condition but it’s a quirky beast that needs slow cautious knitting.
Wax the Beds - it's essential
You must wax the beds – very unusual – my best idea was to set up a spare Passap tension mast I had and this helped enormously. It has a sort of carriage release -you unscrew the front plates and lift the carriage, on no account should you force it, as it simple shears the head or latches off, ie reminds me of my old sock machine. Needles are an expensive commodity and nigh on impossible to renew, no needles – no machine. It’s a slow process and I smooth my fingers over the latches to ensure none protrude and that the latches are open before taking the carriage slowly across. I have yet to get a sample without holes and sometimes I think the latch plates are a bit suspect as any latch that is closed or with a latch loose drops the stitch and can damage the latch on the needle.
Needles must lay across the beds and be weighted
The needles on the bed lay across the middle to operate and to knitting garter stitch is seriously simple. All you do is arrange the needles in any pattern or alternatively just push the needles from one bed to the other to operate. No jacks etc required. The cast on is simple when you know how – its just a bit of elastic threaded through a comb and weighted either side – I used my Bond clamps to hold the shirring elastic. You then push the needles under the elastic and hang the special comb. Next job is to hang the weights – easiest weights ever. Very easy. Good job as the time I have had to rip the knitting off the bed – once you have done this you push the needles up to the start bit ie a raised bit in the middle of the bed and open all latches on this side – then push
them to the other side with a ruler and do the same again. You then thread the yarn holder in the middle of the carriage – tie the end to a peg and gently run the carriage across the needles and hold your breath. All going well run your fingers over the latches to ensure they are all open and no latches are sticking up and off you go. It’s a slow process but it does knit garter stitch very well and I truly believe that you have to use these machines or they just don’t work.
Holey work and I aint talking about religion
I still have not managed to knit a bit without dropping stitches. I have however found an easy way to pick up and re hand the stitches, you simple lift the bed using the special clamps and knit up the offending stitch. Ok so it takes a while but that's life.
Vintage Machine Blues
Personally I think like my sock machine, if this machine had new needles then it may knit easier but perhaps like all of these vintage machines – it has a design flaw in the carriage, ie the latch lifting plates may get out of shape or it could be numerous other things. The carriage on this machine is seriously heavy compared to the bed but the double beds seem sturdy although white is a funny colour for a knitting machine bed. The wax was the secret weapon in getting this machine to knit, it made a huge difference and to be honest I was surprised.
To conclude as much as I love vintage machines and getting them to work, give me a modern machine anyday. Its taken me about 5 days to get the machine to work smoothly but when it comes to actually knitting a garment, I would be tearing my hair out by now. As quick as it is knitting from one side to the other and knitting amazingly well from one bed to the other by the time I had knitted a successful bit, the garter carriage, which is one of the slowest things ever would have knitted a jumper by now instead samples. Still I would not part with it for the world and I am pleased to own a very rare machine – I wonder why they did not take this model and improve on it. Latch lifting magnets would have possibly been its saving grace, who knows.
White plastic or Bakelite beds - Beds must be waxed prior to use
Carriage is very heavy compared to the rest of the machine – made of metal
The Pingouin has incorporated clamps which when clamped to a knitting machine table allow the user to tip the machine up to examine your work etc.
The needles are placed as and when you need them and they are garter needles ie double ended latch needles.
The metal handle operates the row counter which is built into the carriage
There are 8 square weights and 2 combs plus one tool and a paraffin wax block
Special Pingouin Brush for wax