“When she was good She was very, very good, But when she was bad she was horrid.”
How many of you have not heard that quote before? Hm? Show of hands…good. That little excerpt infiltrated my brain the first time I tried the Ultimate Sweater Machine. When it worked, I wanted to marry the thing. We’d have little children together–Intarsia, Alpaca, and George. But when the machine didn’t work well, I wanted to throw it out the second-story window then beat the smashed remains with a baseball bat until every ounce of plastic was pulverised into a lumpy goo. But I’m really not that violent. Really.
(Everything else is behind the cut, if you don’t see a link)
Setting up the machine for casting on.
In addition to the basic pieces to run the machine, the Ultimate Sweater Machine comes with a free skein of yarn, a pattern book, helpline phone number, and how-to video. So of course the first thing I did was watch the video. The production quality of the video is not that great. In fact it looks like a couple people filmed it in their basement, but it actually gets into a lot of information, from setting up your machine to running it to trouble shooting.After the thrilling (and informative) video, I began to play with the free yarn. I worked up about 50 rows with 50 stitches in less than 5 minutes. Then stitches fell off. I needed to go to bed anyway so I frogged the piece. It took me longer to wind the yarn I used than to knit it.
The following Sunday, the Husband had tennis. So I thought I would take the new yarn I purchased to make my first knitting machine scarf and whip it up while he was gone. I would wow and amaze him with the speed. You know it didn’t work out like that, don’t you.
Look, Ma! I cast on a row!
My first attempt was…pitiful. The passing-thingy (technical term) constantly became stuck over the needles. By the way, the passing-thingy is the purple thing in the pictures. You move it back and forth over the machine and it pushes the hooks forward and back making stitches. If a stuck passing-thingy wasn’t bad enough, I was dropping sitches left and right and had to frog a few rows too often for my taste. It was awful and I was close to tears. The few rows where I was successfull was quite fun. But for two minutes of fun, there was about twenty of frustration.
I recently learned that when I become frustrated, to just walk away. When I approach the project from a fresh start, it all goes better. Plus, stopping before meltdown prevents me from throwing the object of frustration into the street with oncoming traffic.
About 5 minutes of knitting (without issues).
So with a few days off, I tried again. I had been thinking about my problems with the machine and devised a strategy. First, I would rewatch the troubleshooting video. A wise step, because while I remembered most of the tips, there were a few I had forgotten. Second, I would pass the passing-thingy slower than I had been. And it worked. I still had a couple problems, but not nearly as many before and it was comparable to hand knitting issues. In less than 30 minutes before work one morning I knit up over a third of my scarf with very little problems! I did need to frog about 20 rows but that was only because I didn’t like how long one color section was. At this point, I was seeing rings and honeymoons with my machine.
Getting close to done. What’s it been? About 45 minutes?
Then in another 20 minutes, I finished the scarf. I think I took more time casting off with what they call the back stitch cast off than actually knitting up the scarf. All I had left to do was the seaming, weaving in ends and tassels or fringe or whatever you wish to call it.
What the video calls back stitch cast off. I’ve also seen it called the sewing cast off. Or something like that.
Overall, I like the machine. There’s this amazing zen-like rhythm to it and while I’m passing the passing-thingy back and forth I find I become quite calm. This is much like when I knit (not when I’m frogging or messing up mind you). I love the action for the sake of the action not to win a race. Will the machine ever replace my knitting? Nope. It can’t do everything as easily as I can by hand. Quicker, but not necessarily easier. As far as I can tell, garter stitch is nonexistant while ribbing requires dropping stiches. I can do cables, but again, I’d need to drop stitches. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be easy if I kept at it and practiced. On the plus side, Fair Isle and Intarsia are both very possible and seem easy to do. And increase and decrease are easy to do.
You do have to weight down the knitting from what I can tell so I’m not sure how it will affect fibers with memory or fibers that stretch easily. I have seen that it can be done, but have yet to try it. Something to look forward to.
Hot off the presses.
So all-in-all I love it. My little machine is not a bad tool to have on hand. I can make potholders, scarves, sweaters, and so many other things in mere hours. Definately a gizmo to use for some of the projects on the list. I think it just needs a name.
And finally, scarf specifics. I used Caron Simply soft in black and gray because it was cheap and soft. There was no intended receiver of the gift, but since there are a few too many flaws I don’t feel right selling it or giving it away; however, flaws are good for the Husband so it seems to be going to him!
As modeled by the Husband. Bonus points if you know the anime reference. And then of course we need a close up shot.