October 3, 2012

Knitting time!

Last month, I told you about my first efforts with my new-to-me (but very likely older than me...) knitting machine.
After making the little sleeveless top, I had to stop for a very silly reason: I had used all the yarn I had which was thin enough.
When using a knitting machine, you have to use yarn on cones. Even with a simple hand-operated machine like mine, machine-knitting is fast and the thread from a normal ball of yarn would get tangled up as a result. You can, of course, spool yarn from a ball onto a cone but, when done by hand, that is tedious work and you're bound to get the tension wrong. There are wool-winders for sale for that very purpose, but so far, I've only found those for sale (second-hand) with knitting machines. 
I have yet to find a local store which stocks yarn in cones, but I did find some sellers on a Dutch auction site (the same one on which I found the machine itself) who were selling them. Usually, such cones vary in weight and style and they seem to be either old stock or left-overs from an abandoned hobby. 
To limit shipping cost, I decided to bid on cones from one seller only (the link goes to her page on the auction site but I don't know whether it will keep working if the listings are changed). Of course, if you live near a seller, you can usually make an appointment to go and pick out the cones you want at their place. 
When I exchanged emails with her about the yarn I had been bidding on, she told me she had many more cones, not yet listed, and offered to send me some little balls of yarn in colours I was interested in, so I could pick which ones I wanted to buy. Free of charge. I think that's great service.
It turned out she had quite a lot of yarn I would like and we agreed on eleven cones which would put the shipment just in a higher weight-range. She offered to fill the box up with some other colours close to the ones I'd ordered. Of course, I agreed to that. 

I had expected little left-over bits, but in fact there were some full-size cones there and good colours. In the picture, the cones in the line at the top were the ones I ordered, having seen the swatches. There's a big black cone in the group below which I had asked for. The rest of the group below are the cones she added. Three nice shades of blue, little bits of red and white and a pale beige.  
Now, I not only have a whole lot of sewing waiting for me, but knitting as wel!...

Thank you for the question AllisonMM! How silly of me not to mention that. 
All this yarn, except that extra cone in black, is rather thin. For normal needles 1 to 3 (continental European sizes) I'd guess. This is perfect for the knitting machine but a lot thinner than what you'd use for a modern knitting pattern. I've got a lot of vintage (mostly 1950's) knitting patterns in old magazines which do use such gauges. The ladies' patterns usually call for anywhere between 400 and 650 gram of yarn, depending on the style and desired gauge. The average weight of these cones is 800 gram, so there should be plenty for a sweater in each of these colours. With yarn left over for combinations.


  1. can you get a full sweater out of a cone? I'm not sure how to gauge the amount of material available to you - however it looks like there is a lot of fun in your future.

  2. I have a knitting machine that looks similar to yours (although it can't really do patterns, just stockinette/knit stitch). I use regular knitting yarn in balls without much difficulty. I guess the yarn can tangle but what I generally do to get around the cone issue is pull out 5 metres of yarn or so and use it up and continue along in that manner. I hope that helps!

  3. 25 years ago when I still lived in The Hague, Nottet (sewing machine shop) carried knitting machines as well as knitting yarn. Now I live in the Philippines, I can get yarn remnants from knitting factories, but can't find a knitting machine!

  4. You may want to investigate a mid-weight or a bulky machine as well. Both use more standard knitting yarn, without need for cones. Also, do you pull your yarn from the center of balls? That makes a huge difference in potential tangling, even when you're knitting by hand.

    I find that I want my knitting to be almost exclusively heavier gauge. If I want fine gauge, I usually just buy fabric and sew it :-).