In part 1, I talked about the basic knitting machine, i.e. the main bed, and everything it can do. If you missed it, you can catch it here. In part 2, I’ll cover the ribbing attachment, the yarn changer, and the lace carriage.
Again, I’ve had to borrow some images off the internet. Clicking on them will bring you to the source. The following websites have also been very helpful and I encourage you to check them out.
The ribber is a whole second set of needles you can add to your machine. It attaches at about a 90 degree angle below the main bed and comes with its own carriage that can clip on to the main bed’s carriage. Here is the image from Angelika’s store for a machine like mine.
And here’s a closer look at my machine.
So what does this do? Well, ribbing. You can do pretty much any combination of ribs you want without needing any sort of punch card or link to a computer.
But that’s not all! I like to do cables with the help of the ribber. It’s all hand manipulation but it works well. I used this technique for the PRP Winter Wonderland skirt and the PRP Signature Style sweater.
There are a few other cool things that can be done like a tuck rib, English rib (use the E on the main rib carriage), and circular knitting (use the C) but I confess that I haven’t tried them. I would scan them from the instruction book but you wouldn’t see a thing. The images are already not of the greatest quality and scanning them would make them completely useless. Oh! There is one I’ve done! The swing. It’s the easiest. You just move your ribs with the help of the thingie (technical term) at the bottom left.
And this is the result.
And last, possibly my favorite technique: jacquard. I mentioned the S-J on the outer dial in the previous post. It’s used for slip stitch but it’s also used for jacquard. This allows you to create a pattern on the front with a stripe on the back. No floats! I use this technique for my elf hats.
Unlike the two color knitting you can do on the main bed, jacquard only uses one color at a time. It takes two passes with the carriage to knit one row of the pattern, one pass in each color. Stitches knit in the non working color are simply slipped, which is why both slipped stitch patterns and jacquard are knit with the same setting on the dial. So every other row, you have to switch your yarn which brings me to the…
The yarn changer is able to hold 4 yarns. It’s just a mechanical system so it can be used without a punch card reader or connection to a computer. You set which yarn you want to switch to (those little orange buttons at the bottom) and when you bring the carriage to the yarn changer, it puts your current yarn in its space and puts the selected yarn in the carriage. If you’re only knitting with two yarns, this is really quick because the orange buttons automatically switch positions when you switch yarns. If you’re using more colors, you’ll have to manually change the buttons. The yarn changer is kind of just a yarn holder but if you’re going to do a lot of stripes or jacquard, it’s really really really useful!
The lace carriage. Such a different beast. It actually moves the needles out of their line! It does not play with the ribber at all, just the main bed. And it really needs a punch card or computer otherwise it can’t do anything other than jersey. Oh, and it can’t do patterns that increase and decrease the total stitch count from one row to the next. Here is mine.
See the outer dial? It’s set to O which means the carriage will knit plain jersey, just like the regular main bed carriage. The N on the right means nothing. No, really, it literally means nothing. If you set it there and move the carriage over your stitches, nothing will happen. It actually is useful sometimes. In my case, mostly when something has gone awry…
On the left are L and P. L stands for plain lace and P stands for fashion lace. I don’t get why fashion lace gets a P but there it is…
Plain lace is when a yarnover immediately precedes a decrease. So all the decreases in one row go the same way. Like so.
If you want to have regular stitches between the yarnover and the decrease, have decreases going in different directions on the same row, or really anything that isn’t plain, you need the fashion lace. And fashion lace… It took all I had to get this sample there.
What happens with fashion lace is that the carriage will move needles one at a time to get all the stitches in the right place. There can be quite a few passes where nothing is actually being knit. The carriage is just moving things around. And then, it finally knits the row. Rinse and repeat. As much as I love some of those fashion lace patterns, I still avoid fashion lace as much as possible. My experience has been that stitches can be dropped during any of the carriage passes. It’s just very fiddly for the carriage so a lot can go wrong. My sample was knit in bamboo and that wasn’t a good choice. It’s slippery so a dropped stitch can drop down several rows. Wool is stickier and probably would have worked out better. Still fiddly though.
There are two more items that I don’t actually own so I can’t say all that much about them.
There’s and A-frame stand to attach your machine. When you have the full contraption like I do, you tend to just leave it set up somewhere. The stand was out of stock when I got my machine so Mr. Mouse built one out of wood. It works okay. We had the stands at school and they were definitely better. They’re in stock at Angelika’s now and I haven’t ordered one so the wood stand must be just fine…
Finally, there’s an intarsia carriage. It’s fully manual so need for a punch card reader or any electronics. It allows you to knit, well, intarsia. Exactly like in hand knitting. From what I understand, you have to lay your yarns on the needles manually and then pass the intarsia carriage over them.
And that’s it! There’s tons of good information on the three sites I mentioned earlier. Angelika’s site has a very educational section for any hand knitter considering getting a machine. About Knitting Machines has a bunch of information on current and discontinued machines. Finally, Knit It Now sells patterns and stitch patterns as well as machine knitting books. They have tips and tutorials for machine knitting. I haven’t registered on the site but it looks like a neat resource. I actually may register!