I was going to STOP buying knitting machines. I had actually done a pretty good job of moving some of my machines on to new homes, but still had a few that I needed to clean, lube, test, and advertise.
Hubby, though, has an RSS feed that sends him a copy of each Craigslist ad with the words "knitting machine" in it. Sure, sometimes you get an ad with knitting needles and a sewing machine and no knitting machine, but you can eliminate those false positive and you have a clever way to know when there's a machine for sale. He sees a cool one, sends it to me at my office by email, and I take two minutes to glance at it and email him back that we really shouldn't...yeah, right.
I went to see this Princess Hi-Memory machine. The seller, who picked it up at a thrift store, was a really nice gal who isn't a knitter and just thought she'd resell it. She was careful with it, had no idea if it would work (and neither did I, at first). She couldn't quite close the case. The manual was gone. She thinks it's an KE2500. I could only manage to find a KE2400 manual online. I don't see KE2500 on the machine anywhere. It looked like the punch cards weren't there, just blank ones, and like the hand tools were missing (I think this is a Silver Reed/Studio/Singer, and they usually used an accessory box). We made a deal, I paid her, and off I went.
Got it home. John hadn't seen it yet, but he was fascinated, too. Right away, we pulled the sponge bar, which was nearly flat and almost rotten. I had some Studio sponge bars, and the dimensions matched, so we put one of those in. We couldn't get over how clean it looked. Had anyone ever knitted on it? Was it a gift, and the recipient just wasn't interested? Everything was dry and stuck, though, so we got out our trusty Hoppes Elite Gun oil and started lubricating and playing.
So much of the engineering is different. On the bottom, the clamps are attached and hinged to the case. The bottom has rubber pads, which makes it less slippery, a nice feature. We clamped it to the kitchen island.
The punch card mechanism is in the carriage, which is something I had not seen before.
The lace carriage does not select needles. It's separate, though; it seems to me, although I haven't tried it yet, that it will do simple, single-transfer lace in one direction only unless you pick it up and move it to the other end of the bed. The extension rails have flat areas like little metal tables for either side of the machine.
By reading the downloaded manual, I could see what the unfamiliar-to-me controls did. Once you fold the handle up into working position, there's tension slider on the main carriage. You turn a little knobs and then slide the lever to change the tension. Plain, slip and tuck are on knobs for each direction.
The one thing we found really tricky was learning to put the carriage on. It has wheels in the back that need to match up to the right spot on the bed - little tangs go into the larger slots. It's a little tricky, but John got the hang of it. If you don't put it on correctly, it just stops.
It didn't want to knit at all in one direction, because a cam under the main carriage was entirely stuck. John lubed and loosened that up, and by the end of the evening, we had it "air knitting." We weren't ready to put in yarn.
An avid knitter, like me, really shouldn't try to sleep with a brand-new-to-me machine sitting in the kitchen. Questions were popping into my mind. How did that lace carriage work, since it doesn't select needles? What should I knit with it to test it thoroughly? Does it do punch lace or thread lace? It is like a Juki Hi Memory? Could I buy punch cards?
This weekend, I really must do other things. I am, after all, teaching a seminar in beautiful Denver next weekend! I have to pack. I have to review the materials, and make sure I have everything I need and I'm not rusty on any demos. This is going to be big fun - I really enjoyed a prior seminar in Denver, and love to teach and meet knitters anyway.
This morning, the new baby is still on the kitchen island. I looked at the manual some more, answered a few of my mental questions, and discovered - oh, joy - that the punch cards are actually here, underneath the blank cards, and the hand tools are in a compartment in the bed.
Though y'all would get a kick out of the pictures, and selfishly, perhaps some kind soul can tell me whether it is a KE2400 or a KE2500 and might even have a manual, if I haven't got the correct one.