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Yet another Pingouin (TP3)

I have been lucky enough to source another rare model of a Pingouin knitting machine. I travelled to Dinan about 60 kms away to pick it up so 120 km round trip but needs must and lets face it Dinan is a lovely historic town.

A very rare vintage garter stitch knitting machine
Pingouin TP3 Knitting Machine

Another model of a garter stitch machine, the Prior differs from the Pingouin because it operates with jacks to select needles whereas the Pingouins knit as selected without the aid of jacks, however as I have never seen one I cannot comment further. I was offered a Prior some years ago from a gentleman who lived in New Zealand but the cost of getting it here to France was way too high for me. Believe me or not, I rarely pay high prices for my vintage machines and some have been kindly donated. I did pay dearly in my working days for my modern Passaps and most of my electronic machines and these are there for me whenever I need to knit. With respect to machines that knit garter stitch, there are a few out there that are more akin to knitting looms in that you turn a comb end over to achieve the stitch and an example of this type of machine and probably the best of them is the Regina II – knitting garter stitch on this machine is relatively easy compared to some of that ilk. A garter stitch machine can be identified because the needles are double ended

The necessary accessories for the Pingouin TP3
Box of accessories for the Pingouin TP3

My latest Pingouin, I believe is the Pingouin Model TP3. Altogether I now have 6 Pingouins, I have 2 that I consider to be the sort of prototype, not easy to knit with and the very heavy cast iron carriages and these two eat my supply of precious of needles, however the TP3 type is a much better design, and was the first of my Pingouins - this was sent from the south of France to my address and it arrived in good condition – it knitted so much better than as the carriage had a different design. With this in mind, I would class the 2 similar types mentioned above as TP1’s and my initial purchase as a TP2. The special needles for these three TP1 and TP2 machines are all the same design and are interchangeable. I have a limited supply of these particular needles so I tread carefully. The main reason I keep a lookout for these older Pingouins is because they provide spares needles for the TP2. The older machines have a white bed with a pale green carriage.

A very necessary addition to any Pingouin knitting machine
Pingouin boxes of 100 rare garter stitch needles

This brings me to my latest find which is has a yellow bed and pale blue carriage. The machine has been well used – the French gentleman who sold it to me said his mum used to knit for the whole family with machine. It came with loads of needles (most important) and the boxes had printed on them TP3/4 – so I assume this model is the TP3 and the maroon Pingouins are TP4. The TP4 model has a dark grey bed and a maroon carriage. I have tried to research them but have not come across any other types of Pingouins, however I am always happy to receive further information if it is available.

Still to be cleaned etc this is the Pingouin TP3 carriage
Pingouin TP3 Knitting machine before

This Pingouin TP3 after being cleaned and waxed knitted fairly easily although no where near as easily as the latest version, which has a much larger carriage and so much better yarn tensioner.

The TP3 has a smaller carriage with the unusual Pingouin three leaf clover type of gadget that clicks the end cams off and on. As usual with the older models, the ball bearing that allows this clicker to work properly is missing so I must try to buy some small ball bearings as I now have 2 non working end tensioners. It is not the end of the world as you can actually hand tension the yarn but it is a pain as the cast iron carriage is so heavy it benefits from the use of two hands. The other part that goes on these machines is the wire tension arm that is fixed onto the carriage and in such a place that you can catch it and break it. Now in the old days you could buy spares for this and in fact there was a handwritten letter dated in the 1970’s from Pingouin in response to the owners plea for a replacement

The difference in size of the latest of the Pingouin knitting machine garter carriages
Comparison between the Pingouin TP3TP4 carriages

One of my TP4 Pingouins had this bit broken off however I was able to get it to knit far easier using a Superba tension are which I managed to set up because the Superbas have the same slide along fixing style on the back rail. I like to keep the original fittings though if possible. I love getting the old boxes that come with the machines and they usually contain loads of interesting information and this one had an added bonus of a book of stitch types for the Pingouin.

Just a couple of pages from the extensive Pingouin stitch pattern book
Pages from the Pingouin stitch pattern books

I have to admit, some of them would have tried the patience of a saint as the method of working with this machine depends a lot on even weight. The needles sit across the 2 beds with latches on both ends so you must get your brain in gear to perform the necessary operation. If the weight is not even then the fun begins or not! If not properly weighted the carriage jams, then you have to open the beds by turning a spanner type mechanism then attempting to either set the machine to not knit ie free move or alternatively lift the carriage off the bed and then to my mind its easier to start again


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