Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Gift Surprise

I would have loved to buy a brand-new, expensive New Zealand Auto Knitter for myself for Christmas. I saw that Kiwi had a beauty for sale on eBay in blue powder-coat. I looked at it every day. Nobody bid on it. I thought maybe it needed a good home with me, but my husband John thought the price was, well, astonishing.

Months ago, I decided that 72-stitch socks would be very nice – thicker and softer with more tiny stitches than the 54-needle socks. Also, now that I’m knitting some socks for men, I need to make wider socks. If Santa would give me that NZAK, I’d put a 72-stitch cylinder in it with a 36 dial and some other sizes, too, compound cylinders for children’s sizes or maybe more slots for hats.

Some months ago, I had decided to get the 72/36 combination working on my Legare 47. I had some Kool-Aid dyed yarn that I especially liked. I made an excellent sock with a ribbed cuff on the 72-stitch cylinder from tye-dyed blue Knit Picks Bare. Unfortunately, on the second sock, even after many attempts, occasional cylinder stitches dropped during ribbing. I mended the dropped stitches and finished it so as not to waste my yarn and effort.

I mended that second sock and finished it. It’s wearable, but far from my best work. I was disgusted. I decided to take the 72-stitch cylinder off the machine and go back to my happy experiences with the 54. In other words, I was giving up.

John and I had extra days off during the holidays. He began to change the cylinder out for me, but in his usual cheerful tinkering way cleaned and greased the cams while the thing was apart and encouraged me to try again. I decided to take one more crack at that 72 cylinder, practicing on ribbing tubes.

Working a few minutes at a time in between other activities, I analyzed and experimented with it. I figured the timing was perfect. The timing screw is pretty much fused in place, and I knew it has always been fine and unlikely to move. That leaves the ribber plate height, the yarn carrier height and distance to the cylinder, the cylinder and ribber stitch sizes, and the needles. I tried this and that and finally on Christmas morning (while the “young adults” upstairs were sleeping in instead of rushing downstairs at the crack of dawn to open presents the way they did as kiddies) I realized that the yarn carrier was a itsy bit too far from the needles and sometimes, the yarn didn’t catch in a hook.
Legare’s yarn carrier is a single piece of metal, not adjustable like an AutoKnitter. When we first got the machine, John bent it a little to get it closer to the needles. If we were to bend it any more it would rub in various places. I experimented with putting a little pad on the carrier to hold the yarn a little closer, which I believe would work if I got it just right.

Then I got out my large eye needles, swapped them for the cylinder needles, and suddenly, it knitted beautiful ribbing. The larger eyes are wide enough to catch the yarn even if it’s slightly farther from the cylinder.

The large cylinder needles are not my preference for regular sock yarn. They make a machine harder to crank because there’s more strain pulling the stitches over the bigger heads. I still want to come up with a pad to bring the yarn a little closer to the needles.

I realized on the spot that having my beloved Legare knitting on 72 was almost like getting another sock machine! I’m cranking!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Selling Knitting Equipment

We are becoming empty nesters, but we have a terribly messy, cluttered, crowded nest! Just before Christmas seemed like a very good time to sell a couple of knitting machines, among other things.

Knitting machines are hard to sell. Locally, there aren’t a lot of MKers, so the Internet is one’s best option. You’ve got to pack and ship them, and pray they arrive undamaged. I’ve read plenty of horror stories about sellers and buyers dealing with dropped machines. They’re long, heavy and awkward, and prone to being dropped on one end.

I decided to sell a Knitking Compuknit 5 Star (same as Brother 965i). I had bought a local lady’s machine when she downsized thinking it would give me a terrific spare to maybe use with the garter carriage, but shortly afterwards, I got a chance at a Brother 970 and bought that. The 970 hasn’t even been set up due to space issues. Obviously, something had to go, and I put the 965i on eBay.
I also sold an antique Auto Knitter that isn’t the whole complete antique set with the box and accessories but knits well. I actually had three antique CSMs purchased because I couldn’t resist, and I can only knit on one at a time. Selling it involved taking lots of photos of it working because it seemed to me that its main value was not antique but in knitting socks.

The economy is tough. I didn’t expect to get great prices, but I think I did okay. The buyers did okay, too, and I made some space. My dad used to tell me that the only good transaction is one in which both parties are satisfied. The money helped us with Christmas expenses.

I haven’t heard a peep from the KnitKing buyer other than notifying us it arrived. I suppose everything is fine. We spent an entire evening building the main package before we shipped it.

The AutoKnitter buyer, though, is communicating. She’s a nice lady, out of state, and has never used a sock machine before but has used flatbeds. Boy, am I nervous about this tricky antique finding its way to a beginner! Sock machines have a huge learning curve, and I don’t know how to teach something so very visual over a long distance. I sent her some tips and hints and am hoping it goes well for her and she can find some local helper. I also sent her information about the Yahoo group.

The AK was packed tightly in bubble wrap and double-boxed. I had needles in it and a sock hanging from it. It arrived with a few needles sheared off, which means it had to have been dropped in shipping. We mailed her more spare needles. I worried that such a drop might knock some adjustments out, after I had it adjusted perfectly, but John says it wouldn’t.

I sent her instructions the other day on how to find videos on For some reason, I was browsing there and was amazed at the increasing stock of circular sock machine videos. I suggested to her that she search for “circular sock machine” and watch those, then for “NZAK” and watch the New Zealand Auto Knitter lessons.