Needling

I haven’t had a lot of time for machine knitting over the last few
months (something to do with having to be in the same place as the
knitting machine for a chunk of time?!), and when I have sat down at
the machine, it hasn’t been a uniformly positive experience. 

For example, I sat down the other day and cast on 166 stitches for the
back of a cardigan/jacket I started making last fall.  I’ve done
the left & right front pieces and “just” need to do the back and
sleeves.  I really didn’t get very far with it:  the carriage
practically jammed on the first knit row, and by the second, all kinds
of stitches were leaping off the needles.  Taking a closer look, I
realized that a number of needles had bent latches:  they needed
to be replaced.

How many needles?  Well, this many…

Cross purposes

How does that happen?  Well, I guess it’s sort of like learning to
drive standard — if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re bound to
cause some wear and tear on the parts.  Every time the carriage
jams or is very stiff to run across the needle bed, it’s likely that
needles are getting bent.  I’m certainly hopeful that I’ll be
replacing fewer as time goes by and I get more experienced!

What do you do if you don’t have enough spare needles?  Well, I
finally broke down and ordered a serious whack of spare needles (50 for
each bed).  In the meantime,  I pulled some of the needles
from the left and right edges of the machine to replace the bent ones
in the middle 166.

How bent is bent?  I guess I’d ignored/been in denial about the
problem for a while.  But, finally, the seven I pulled suffered
primarily from bent latches — they would not open fully, as is the
case for the needle in the background in this next picture — the latch
is as open as it will go, but it should flatten all the way down to the
stem.  Another failure mode is that the needle gets bent sideways,
as you can see in the foreground needle below (it’s not lying flat on
the table).

FailureModes

After replacing the 7 needles, with some trepidation I cast on my 166
stitches once more, and passed the carriage cautiously (and
smoothly!)  across the needle bed…

TwentyThreeTwentyFour

Hurray!  That’s 2324 happy little stitches a-hanging from the main
bed!  And, if ever you *doubted* the fun of machine knitting,
completing a couple thousand stitches in a matter of moments will
convince you!

Probably one of the reasons for the bent needles on the machine is that
I’ve been struggling to find the right yarns to use with the standard
gauge machine.  It was (is) hard to get used to just how fine a
yarn the standard gauge machine uses.  Essentially, it’s happy
with laceweight yarn.  But, I kept doggedly trying yarns that I,
as a hand knitter, considered “fine”, and they just were too thick for
the machine.

Well, too thick for *that* machine.  Not too thick for *this* one
🙂

NewNeedles

A while back, I found this Studio SK890 on eBay.  It’s a *chunky*
gauge machine.  That means the needle pitch is 9.0mm (to the
standard machine’s 4.5mm needle pitch), and it has 110 needles on the
bed (to the standard machine’s 200). 

As I observed a while ago — knitters fall into exactly one of the
following categories:

  • have no knitting machines
  • have one knitting machine they don’t use
  • have several knitting machines that do get used 🙂

At two machines, I really am just a beginner…