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Friday, September 24, 2004


Design: Bonne Marie Burns for ChicKnits
Yarn: Phildar “Marjory” 50% Cotton/ 50% Acrylic
Color: Cream & Black
Gauge: 20sts/28 rows over 4″
Needles: #3 & #6
Type: Hand & Machine Knit with Duplicate Stitch Detailing

This little pulli is my maiden voyage on the LK-150 knitting machine I got on eBay. I also have a Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine that I leave out attached to a fabulous heavy maple IKEA table I scooped up at a sidewalk sale this summer. The LK-150 is a Mid-Gauge Machine; the Bond is a Bulky Machine.

These knitting machines are great for doing big pieces of *plain* Stockinette Stitch knitting that can be finished later by hand. I made a few garments when I got the Bond two years ago, drifted away from it, and now, with the arrival of the LK-150 am back on the machine track…

Why Machine Knit? It allows me to make the simply wonderful fitting Utility Sweaters I love to wear to work. Using a machine and high quality ingredients, I can make hard wearing, long lasting, dependable, SIMPLE garments I can’t buy off the rack.

Oh He** – I’ll tell the TRUTH! I have very loooong arms, a short waist topping a long body. I am CUSTOM all the way! I CAN’T buy off the rack unless I get a garment a couple of sizes bigger than what my body needs to meet my length requirements…

It is indeed a time saver. You can make all the sweater body pieces, minus the borders, in a weekend. Then you can hand knit the edge finishings and sew it together at your leisure.

There is a learning curve – but not too bad. If you just make all of the little projects in their included book, you will learn all the techniques you need. Mine also came with a very good video that demonstrated the techniques.

DOWNSIDE: not as user friendly as hand-knitting. AND, this is the real reason that 99.9% of the sweaters you see in the ChicKnits Galleries are completely hand knit – I love the feel and process of hand knitting. The Lap Dance, so to speak…

Machine Knitting is not MOBILE. You really have to dedicate a block of time to the project – I never leave a piece hanging from the USM but finish in one session whatever piece I’m working on to avoid gauge changes in the fabric.

You also really have to understand gauge and count rows instead of measuring to get reproducible results so your pieces match EXACTLY. GAUGE is good. GAUGE IS PARAMOUNT!

But THAT, but of course, is true whether it’s hand OR machine…


some Starter MK Links

What Machine Should I Get?

the Incredible Sweater Machine Group on Yahoo

Bond Knitter’s Internet Links

9 responses to “Friday, September 24, 2004”

  1. Teresa says:

    BM – The part about knitting machines being “great for doing big pieces of *plain* Stockinette Stitch knitting that can be finished later by hand’ –

    Can you tell the difference between the machine knit parts and the hand knit parts? I’m thinking there would be a visual difference between the two?

  2. Bonne Marie says:

    As far as I can tell, I see no difference. Most of the hand finishing you do is ribbing, moss stitch or garter stitch. It is completely a different *space* on the knitted piece. So the only difference is a stitch pattern…

    When I do small areas in Stockinette St by hand (around the neck or shoulders), I also see very little difference becasue you MATCH the GAUGE of the machine knit pieces using the appropriate size of hand knitting needles.

  3. Mimsical says:

    What a wonderful idea!! I think I will go home tonight by way of my sister’s house and steal her knitting machine. I have the same frustrations with body type. Short waist and REALLY long arms, and to be frank, I’m sick of wearing oversized sweaters so that my hands aren’t cold! I recently finished my first sweater for myself, and honestly, the sleeves took me longer than the front and back combined!! Bless you oh divine knitting goddess! :)


  4. Becky says:

    Man, you make me want a knitting machine!

    My M-I-L is both a hand-knitter and a machine knitter. She likes to use the machine for making everyday wear garments because she refuses to buy any knit items! But she hand-knits everything else.

  5. June says:

    I’m also a big fan of the LK150. If you combine a good midgauge machine with a pattern designing piece of software like the Sweater Wizard (NAYY), you are in Custom Production City!

  6. may says:

    i’ve always been curious about knitting machines…

    your creation is super cute!

    oh, I just finished gigi (or my variation of it anyway) was a fabulous pattern!! thanks!!

  7. froggy says:

    awesome sweater. love that rockstar lettering! and the color combination is just perfect (those are cute jeans too!)

  8. Felicia says:

    It’s so cool to know other handknitters own USM too!

    I used to feel like owning USM is like cheating… but not anymore! =D

  9. Toby Wollin says:

    BM –One of the neat things about the Bond Sweater Machine is that it is so simple (i.e., not a whole lot of gizmos) that you can use most handspun yarns on it (not the knobby stuff you produce when you are first learning, but evenly spun 2-3 ply for sure, even if it has mohair or angora in it). Using the Bond was the only way I could a) turn out vests and sweaters fast enough that my teenagers would agree to wear them (they are from the “I want it and I want it NOW” school of fashion)and b) experiment with things like “boiled wool” — knit up a bit honkin’ swath of all-natural yardage, then throw it in the washer, take it out, rub it on a scrub board or such like, shock the mother with freezing cold water, repeat until it’s shrunk enough in your eyes and throw it in the dryer on the hottest setting you’ve got. Even I, with no drier, but forced hot air, got really nifty results. I’m not patient to do anything fancy like moving stitches around to do cables or anything like that, but for good, basic stuff, it can’t be beat. Another tool that is super fantastic, but is out of print, is a book which was published by Interweave Press called The Prolific Knitting Machine. The author is Catherine Cartwright-Jones. Beg, borrow, steal or find it on ebay or Amazon. Worth whatever you have to pay for it. She wrote two other books of charted motifs, called Enchanted Knitting and Tap-Dancing Lizard, which are terrific for ideas, etc., but The Prolific Knitting Machine is a great introduction to why use a machine, how to use a machine, how to get the most out of your machine, and how to make the clothes that you produce on a machine fit, even for people who have extraordinary bodies. The illustrations will slay you.

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