Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Long Road

I'd wanted a bulky knitting machine for a long time.  Yes, my first machine, a KnitSmart was technically a bulky, having a 8mm gauge, but it was very basic.  I wanted something with a punchcard.  I was sort of leaning towards a Singer because I had the LK150 and the Memomatic 327.  But I didn't know very much.  I browsed (Canada's Craig's List) and although I really wanted a double bed set up, it was clear I couldn't afford one and they were few and far between.

Eventually, I found a SK155 for sale.  Getting it was not an easy task, first the money issue and then the icy roads.  Then I had numerous problems with the tuck function, which I think affected the groove of the tension dial.  I had the elusive Knit Contour for it, but it gave me grief too, as it was tricky to figure out with having two ratio settings, and the row size I needed was slightly smaller than the smallest on the dial.

I did use the SK155 quite a bit for small things, but wished it had a ribber. I envisioned making sweaters, blankets, hats, mitts...I don't stuff!

Early in December, in a machine knitting group on Facebook, a woman posted that she had a SR155 that she wanted to give away, for just the cost of shipping from Nova Scotia.  Brand new condition, she said.  How could I pass that up?!  We got in touch and I got her details for the shipping.  She wanted it picked up on Dec 4 which was her birthday, and she's at the stage of her life where she likes to give more than receive.  I struggled a bit with arranging shipping, as she needed to print the shipping label, but I was paying, and there was no way to do this on the website (Canpar).  What?!  Called customer service, got the shipping label emailed to me, then I emailed it to her. 

On December 4th, I get a message from her that she was surprised they were coming to pick it up.  She couldn't find the metal lid so she was packing it in another box from a knitting machine.  Oh, dear.  Alarm bells!!

I was expecting it to arrive sometime on Tuesday.  I had to go out for an hour, and of course, when I got home, there was a "missed delivery attempt" notice.  It said I could go to a gas station on the far side of town (7km/4.3mi) after noon the next day.  So, I headed there the next day at 12:30pm.  There was no package, and the truck had already made it's delivery for the day.  Sad, I went home. 

I went back on Thursday at 12:30pm.  Again, the truck had already come, and no package for me.  What?!  I went home and called the customer service.  She was really nice, but had no explanation, and couldn't even find where my package might be!!  She said she'd put on it to deliver it to my home on Friday.  I was getting worried.  As each day passes, each in and out of the truck happens, so could damage.

Friday came, and indeed, the ribber was delivered that afternoon.  The box was a little mashed at one end.  I held my breath as I opened it.

And burst into tears. 

One end was mashed, and the metal strip that covers the ends of the needles and has the position window for the racking handle was broken off.  Snapped right off.  She had included about 10 spools of ribbon ladder yarn on top of the bed, as "padding", and a couple ribber combs that were standard gauge. The bed looked flat, but I couldn't be sure at that point (it does appear to be flat).  The carriage was in place, with obviously no carriage lock since this was just in a cardboard box for a Brother machine.  I knew the damage could have been much, much worse.

She hadn't found the manual when she shipped it, but did the next week, and said she'd mail it.  I've never received it.

We set the ribber aside for the Christmas season and shortly after New Year's, I was determined to set it up.

There were no ribber clamps.  And ones for the standard gauge machine don't put it at the right angle.  I emailed some machine knitting friends, but no one had extras.  I searched and found someone selling a SK/SR155.  I emailed asking if it was still available, but it had just sold.  I told her what had happened and that I was searching for ribber clamps.  Unbelievably, she had some, and offered them to me, at no cost!  She even mailed them for me with no charge!  I was so happy!!  They arrived around Jan 26.

I got back to work at setting it up.  I realized there was no connector arm!!  I was ready to throw in the towel.  Really?! I get this far and now this?!  I looked it up on and cried.  $156Cdn.  Add in the cost of the shipping (aprox $65), and it was getting up there to the price of what I would have spent if I had just bought the whole set up complete ($250 for each bed).  I'm on a really tight budget, I had felt SO blessed to have been on FB at the right moment to even see the post as quickly as I did and to be able to receive this awesome gift, and now it was going to cost me $241 before I could even knit a stitch.

I sulked for a couple weeks, Rob offered to take me into Peter Smith's shop to pick it up, and shockingly, he even offered to pay.  But we were busy and it wasn't in the cards.

One day I decided to put up a post in a Knitting Machine Sale group on Ravelry.  You never know.  Sometimes people lose things and buy a new one, only to find the original later.  I got an answer pretty quickly, and although it wasn't in Canada, she offered me a great price.  Shipping wasn't too bad, and together, it came to about $90Cdn.  It came wonderfully wrapped in bubble wrap, in a strong box. Finally I could finish the set up!

I got back to work on setting up.  However, one of the plates connecting the bed with the ribber connectors had come off.  It was the side with the racking lever.  Rob, is a mechanical engineer, and with the help of the mechanical schematics of the machine, he was able to get it on.  There was a bent piece that was stopping the racking mechanism, but he got it sorted out.  And then I couldn't find the handle for the racking arm!  He was using a screwdriver, LOL.  He took the one off a Memomatic 322 I have hiding under our bed and it worked.  However, the bottom needle cover is not fixable, and it houses the window that shows what position you've got the racking set at.  We just aligned the last needles.  And I found the left most needle was broken.  Oh well.

So, it was finally set up.  The carriage moved smoothly.  I found the manual on line and loaded it onto my iPad mini.  I set to work to master it.  First up, a swatch for a pattern from KnitWords.  I couldn't even get casted on and it became clear I would need a new sponge bar.  Another delay.  We tried one layer of weather striping but it wasn't enough.  Two layers made for a very tight fit getting it in, but the needles still move well. I made the swatch and fell in love!  It was a little awkward when raising and lowering the ribber as I can't push up along the bottom, and I can't tell what position the ribber bed is racked to, but that's mainly important only if making something you need to rack back and forth repeatedly.

The swatch didn't work for the pattern I wanted to do, so I got a start at adapting my mitten pattern.

The ribber was quick, then I went to do the circular part.  Really, I have to change the MB carriage settings every row?!  What?!
 I worked away, making basically every mistake I could, unintentionally.  It was still very quick though!  However, the gauge was totally off.  And...
 I thought I had fixed the row where I discovered you have to change the settings for each circular row...but somehow I had managed a zig zag row above the ribbing, which connected both sides of the mitten together.  Great for an April Fool's Day joke (which it wasn't yet), but not practical as a mitten LOL!  We had a great laugh about this.
Another attempt at a tighter gauge.  Better.  The tip needs modifying.  But my third attempt was at T1/T2 and it was still too big.  I was using Paton's "Decor" which is 20st/4".

I moved on to the blue scarf I showed in the last post.  How wonderful to knit that in an hour or so!

I am wondering if the tension dial has popped off the spindle again.  I'd check, but I started another project, since it seemed winter was done.  We've since had more snow than we did all December, I think!

So, that is the saga of the 155.  I now have a complete bulky double bed set up.  And can't find anything to knit that really uses the ribber as part of the design.  

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