Whoops, Another Hobby…

I’m not sure what inspired me to suddenly ‘need’ a knitting machine. It is not because I needed another hobby – I already have too many and not enough hours in the day! Was it the desire to learn something new? A way of using up all the yarn I have acquired? One thing I do know, is that it would help me better understand what the knitting technicians at work are talking about when they talk racking, transfers and sinkers. I’m familiar with hand knitting and its terminology, but machine knitting is another language!

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After trawling TradeMe for a month or so, I purchased a Toyota K747. Initially I planned to buy a Brother as they seemed the most popular, but I guess I liked the fact that this auction was nearby and Buy Now  – one click and it was mine! The fact it was turquoise may also have helped 😉

As expected with an old machine, the sponge bar or needle retainer bar needed replacing. Luckily the seller was into repairing machines herself, and she told me what to do and gave me a couple of sponges. She also gave me an old table which is very unattractive, but at least I can leave the machine set up permanently. I reckon if I had to unpack and set the machine up every time I wanted to use it, I probably never would!

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The machine came with everything else necessary – a ribber, lace carriage, punchcards and all the manuals and accessories.

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Transfer tools and stuff
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Instruction manuals
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Lace carriage – haven’t even looked at this yet!
Toyota K747 Knitting Machine
Pattern punchcards and instructions – also too advanced for me at this stage

So… I was a little bit nervous because all the needles were out, and I had to get this thing assembled and working somehow. The seller recommended a couple of products to clean everything and polish the needles, and that doesn’t sound like a big job until you realise there are 200 needles on the main bed, and 200 more on the ribber!

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Shiny happy needles 🙂

The next job was to install the needles, slide in the plush new sponge bar, oil the machine, and we were ready to roll!

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Main carriage
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Underside of the main carriage – so many intricate moving parts!

The instruction manual for this machine is straight forward, and I managed to set up the machine and thread it easily. Google is not that helpful when it comes to this particular machine, but there are a few sites that are helpful in more general ways – but be warned they are often dated and tedious!

I am pleased to report that my first attempt at machine knitting was a bit of a failure:

After patiently casting on all those stitches, the first row just fell off! The second attempt was better, and I started to get excited with the speed of machine knitting and what I could achieve – and the fact that I might be able to use up some of my yarn stash within my lifetime!

There wasn’t much point in continuing unless I was actually making something, so I found a pattern for these Fully Fashioned Machine Knit Mittens which I thought would be a good first project. It has increases and decreases and clear instructions with photographs, great for newbie like me.

Do you have a knitting machine, or have you ever thought of getting one? Maybe your mother has one in the attic! My Mum used to have a Brother machine but when they moved off the farm she sold it at a local auction – $2 was the highest bid! That may have been a good price because that was back when you couldn’t give them away, but they are worth a bit more than that now. The build quality of the old machines is great and they are definitely worth restoring. Besides, machine knitting is a lot of fun!

 

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

15 thoughts on “Whoops, Another Hobby…

  1. Those mittens are a good idea for trying out techniques. Best of luck wuth the learning adventure!.
    I have one…it lives behind my sofa, and makes me feel guilty whenever I vacuum there! I had a little burst of activity with it when I first bought it but it’s been a while 😆
    Diana Sullivan on YouTube has some easy to understand videos..and a good beginner series making blankets, hats and showing different techniques – well worth a look.

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    1. The mittens have been a great learning experience! And thanks for recommending Diana Sullivan’s videos – I have checked them out and they’ve been really helpful.
      I really appreciate having the space to keep the machine set up, because setting it up is a little bit of a mission each time :/ Had to rearrange things in my workroom though! I hope you get back to yours soon.

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  2. Oh, I’m a bit envious. I do a LOT of hand knitting, but my next purchase priority is a good overlock machine. Nevertheless, the thought of a knitting maching lurks around my heart and I suspect I will give in eventually. Do post the pics of your projects. I hear they are quite tricky to get the hang off but worth the effort.

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    1. I probably should be prioritising a new overlocker too, as mine is rather vintage! The knitting machine is a bit different to hand knitting, but being able to hand knit is a great help. You’ll pick it up in no time I’m sure!

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  3. I’ve started a 4ply cardigan and this has definitely got my thinking about a knitting machine, I even talk to the Machine Knitting Guild at the Stitches & Craft Show last weekend and they also meet not that far from me so I am getting very tempted to add a new hobby to my list.

    I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

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  4. I owned and used a knitting machine in the early 70s. They are complicated but a bit of patience while learning will pay off later. Something I learned about Japanese instructions is that you must pay careful attention to every word, they are all very important.
    One drawback for some is the math required to obtain the proper gauge. Unless you make some conversions, your pattern choice will be very limited. The challenge of creating a properly sized garment on my machine was endlessly fascinating. I am very jealous of the fun awaiting you!

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    1. Yes I had to recalculate the stitches/rows for my first jumper! However I have yet to sew it up and see how successful I have been. One big advantage with machine knitting is that swatching is done in super quick time, so there is really no excuse not to do it. Naughty me would often skip that stage when hand knitting!

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  5. I bought one myself last winter but haven’t gotten it cleaned or tested out yet. I’m intimidated but also so excited for all the things I want to make with it. I also purchased someone’s complete setup with a lot of the fancy accessories and it came with 4 boxes of acrylic yarn too. I have no excuse to start learning and experimenting. I found some patterns for kids short sleeve sweaters that I want to make while I get used to using it. I have three nieces and three friends with 1-3 year old kids so will have plenty of little sweaters to practice on.
    If you aren’t already, follow #machineknitting on instagram.

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  6. Oh, man, I’m excited to see what you make with this. My mom told me about knitting machines years ago, and then I saw one for sale at my local thrift store a week later! I didn’t buy it, mostly because I really don’t have the space for it, but I do wonder, every once in a while, if I should have just gone for it.

    I’m looking forward to seeing if you end up liking this for more than just the novelty. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I think if you are still thinking about it, then you should quietly look around for one! Do the research and when you find one at the right price you can take the plunge. I didn’t think I had the space either 😉

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  7. I’ve been looking for fellow newbies to machine knitting so thank you for the post! I myself purchased a machine last winter, took a lesson with a local machine knitter and am in love with it. Like you said it’s a whole new language, but I’m ready to learn how that I have some down time. Looking forward to more of your project’s!

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  8. It takes a while to learn your machine. I started by just creating lots of samples of different stitches. This helped me find out any problems with the machine, like bent needles etc. Interpreting patterns can be daunting but I now have a simple jumper pattern that I can use and am now trying to come up with the instructions for a simple cardigan. I like finer knits and love how quickly you can knit these on a machine. Good Luck.

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