Friday, June 19, 2015

Inspiration at Machine Knitting Fun

Very nice cowls on a Brother 270 -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sponge Strip in a Brother 350

Barbara and Carl came over today, and along with John and I, we figured out how to change the sponge strip in a Brother 350.

The Brother 350 is a lightweight plastic bed machine that I find quite nice to carry along as a portable.  It's easy to use, inexpensive on the used market, and fun for beginners.  Instead of a sponge bar, it has a strip, and if it isn't knitting properly, the strip is likely worn out.  It takes some finagling to replace it.

I currently have a couple of these, one of which needs a sponge strip, and Barbara and Carl brought another over that needed a sponge strip.  Foam rubber simply deteriorates over time.  I had looked online to see how to do this, and we dived in and did the job on my dining room table while we all chatted. 

You know, it's kind of fun to change a sponge strip with three other people whom you enjoy!

John remarked that once we did this Brother 350 sponge strip, I could do it again on the one I have that needs a new sponge and film it for YouTube.  I hope to do that. 

We started by turning it upside down and removing all the metal brackets.  There are brackets that hold clamps and brackets that hold the three sections of plastic bed together, and we needed them off so we could get to the sponge strip.  The sponge strip, which was worn flat, was easy to pull it out.

After that, you can flip the machine over and remove all the needles.  We had three of us working on it, so it went fast.  We'd pull the needles out to hold position, close the latches, and pull them out.  Next, John put them in denatured alcohol to soak them clean, and we went to work getting the sponge strip in.  This was the hardest job.  Carl had the bright idea of attaching a string to it to draw it into the little channel, and even then, he had to patiently work it through, doing one section of the machine at a time.  He showed me how the sections clipped together.  While he was wrestling with that and then putting the clamps and brackets back, Barbara and I worked on the needles, with her drying and then me oiling the latch on each one.  We had put our hands in old, worn out cotton socks.  I was using a gun oil that's safe on plastic to lubricate each latch.  The needles had not been very dirty, as there was hardly any sediment left behind in the alcohol.

By then, Carl had wrestled the strip into the 350 and trimmed the extra from the ends.  Carl and I each took an end of the machine and worked in the needles.  As far as we could tell, the machine has just the right amount of pressure on the needles so they'll stay in place but also knit easily. 

One of the things we talked about was how easy it would be to combine two machines to make a very long bed, perhaps to knit seamless afghans.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Knit Natters on Saturday, June 13

Our club met yesterday.  Since our president moved away (Sob!  We miss you, Sylvia), none of us remembered to send a reminder to the list, but bless them, a bunch of people showed up anyway, and two ladies volunteered to start helping with the organizational things Sylvia used to do for us.

I was very excited about my demonstration, a lace circle scarf (coming to this blog later, thank you), but since we meet in a church, I had to take a tilt stand, machine and tools and set it all up.  Barbara had prepared an amazing demonstration of a Passap flared skirt, and when I got to the church, she of course had her machine all set up and the room organized with the camera, television, chairs, tables, and her knitting gear.

I set up my stuff, and when Norma arrived she helped me program my 970 (which hadn't been out of the closet for a few months.  I've been demoing on other stuff, and I have an older brother 965i that's my everyday standard gauge).  The lace is quite an easy beep-in, and the demo went well until I realized I forgot my garter bar.  Bless him, Barbara lives close to that church, and her husband Carl brought me one.

Barbara's demonstration was terrific; I want to make that skirt.

This had to be one of the best show-and-tell sessions in a while, with members bringing in lots of great projects. 

The club has two Brother Profile 588s which were donated to either help a new knitter or sell for the club treasury.  I brought them home to look at - they appear complete, but Carl showed me some broken buttons and rusted needles.  The Profile 588 was a push button machine with a lace carriage, quite vintage, and you just don't see these often.  One of them even has a ribber and a Knit Leader, but that's the one with some rust.  As old as these machines are, parts can be found.  With two machines, we ought to get one working quite well, not even having to purchase parts.  Knitting machines seem to knit forever with just a little common-sense care.  These might make good starter machines for a beginner. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Adventures With Used Machines

A few years ago, I met a wonderful lady at one of the knitting clubs who works very hard for our craft.  She not only teaches (as a volunteer), she repurposes all the poor stray knitting machines that happen in a club - you know the story - the member changed machines, downsized, got sick, passed away, or something, leaving some machine sitting, gathering dust.  They have no dealer in that area, but if you tell her which item you need, she can probably find one for you.

My husband John is extremely supportive of this hobby, and was also very impressed with the same person's efforts.  Over the past few years, he's gone after various homeless knitting machines and we've sought to repurpose them to other knitters. This makes a lot of sense in our community, because we have no knitting machine dealer.   We don't want to be a dealer, but it's kind of fun to clean them up, check them over, and find them homes as starter machines. 

Knitting machine prices are all over the place, some very high and some very low.  There's something bizarre about finding a machine that originally cost thousands of dollars for sale for peanuts.  You do see them sometimes, though.  Some of them are wonderful, some not so good.

We had a little adventure recently.  John saw a Craigslist ad for a machine and we went to see it.  It's a marvelous machine, a Brother 270, but sadly incomplete - missing the case lid and all the hand tools.  The one missing part that's difficult to find is that case lid.  The seller didn't know how to work it, had inherited it, and said the rest of the items were at her mom's house.  It had been her grandma's machine.  We could tell from the assorted odds and ends which were with it that there were other items, so we asked her to let her mom know that we'd be interested in the rest of the stuff.

We went to see the mom a couple of weeks later and bought the rest of the items - well, what she could find.  We ended up with the case lid for that 270 (hooray), just missing a couple of obtainable parts, and a 970 that's missing it's CB-1 (the electronics for the machine), all hand tools, the manual, and I'm not quite sure what else.  I figured the 970 would be a non-patterning machine unless I dug up another control box, but I read online that you can do things with a 970 with a missing box by hooking up to a computer.  I have DAK, and I'll have to play with that.  I already have an excellent, complete 970, so I plan to find a home for this new baby.  I can tell from the piles of parts that the grandmother had a color changer, a garter carriage, ribber, garter bar, and lots of other items, but this family has not yet sorted through the items they need to sell.  I told them to call me if more KM items turn up. 

So, when I get a chance, I'll clean, oil, and test these latest machines and start ordering the parts I can find. 

These old Japanese knitting machines are so sturdy that as long as they're not rusty, they're probably going to knit just fine. 

John found another item this week, and I told him, nope, nothing more for a while, okay?  It's all getting ahead of me; I haven't room to store it or much free time to fix them.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Favorite Provisional Cast On

When I hand knit, this technique featured over at Canadian Artisan is also my favorite provisional cast-on.  This is the one I always use for round dishcloths that I plan to graft invisibly.

It's MAGIC!  So easy to remove, just pull the string.  The important thing is to use the bumps on the back of the crochet chain, leaving the strands that look like a chain alone:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New Video for June - Brother Floppy Disk Drive Repair - Belt Replacement

The old Brother floppy disk drives are usually broken by now, but we need them if we have old floppy disks with patterns.  At the very least, we need to get the patterns off and into a modern computer.

It turns out that most of the time, what breaks is the belt inside the floppy disk drive. This is a simple little part, quite like a rubber band, and John taught me how to change it.  I've made a video of my changing out that belt:

I put this video up because I found it quite interesting, but here's a disclaimer:  I'm not a knitting machine repair person, and neither is John.  Please don't ask me how to fix machines, because I usually don't know what to tell you, beyond the usual clean it, oil it, and put a good sponge bar in it. 

There are a few things John fixes for me, but we're not claiming to be experts.  We don't have time to run a repair business, and we don't have a stock of parts.  If you attempt this yourself, you're going to need to take the usual precautions (unplug the thing, for instance, and keep track of the screws as you remove them).  You'll also need to order the belt, make that company's minimum order, and pay a bit of shipping.  You might prefer to work with one of the several knitting machine dealers around the country who do repairs and would do a terrific job on your disk drive.  I am very grateful that there are still terrific repair people in the business.