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Hobby-Knitter: Visions of Knitters Past

On Friday, I received a new knitting gadget in the mail. No, that’s not true, really. The item I received is actually quite old, and best as I can tell, never used, or only very gently used. It is a Hobby-Knit I-cord machine, and it was manufactured in about 1949. Somehow a knitting vendor received some remaining new old stock of this device, and I’ve been eying it for a while. I don’t know why, but I-cord fascinates me, and I have collected all sorts of devices for making knitted cord for years. Yes, I know that I-cord can be made with knitting needles, by hand. But I love the cranky machines, antique spools, and all sorts of gadgets that have been created with the idea of making a simple knitted tube.

Here’s a photo of the machine with all of its parts, including the original manual:

Hobby-Knit with all parts shown
Hobby-Knit with all parts shown

And here it is, all set up and ready for knitting.

Hobby-Knit machine set up for knitting
Hobby-Knit machine set up for knitting

Here’s a closeup of the knitting mechanism:

Closeup of the knitting latches under the plastic yarn guide
Closeup of the knitting latches under the plastic yarn guide

Here’s a closeup of the original label on the machine… it looks like new! The label says, “Hobby-Knit, Pat. App. for Montello Products Co., Montello, Wis.” Even the abbreviation conventions are suggestive of its age.

Label on the machine
Label on the machine

My friend Rachel and I made a short video of the machine in action. Check it out; it actually works!

We didn’t use the yarn spool in our demonstration because we wanted to try knitting straight from the yarn ball. It works, but we found that we have to put additional tension on the yarn coming from the ball with a free hand, as shown in our video. Here’s a closeup of the yarn spool:

Closeup of yarn spool
Closeup of yarn spool

And finally, here’s a photo of the cord as it’s coming out of the bottom of the machine:

I-cord knit on the Hobby-Knit machine
I-cord knit on the Hobby-Knit machine

The resulting cord is a finely knit 6-stitch beauty, which I think would be the perfect size for jewelry making and other things requiring a not-too-thick cord. Isn’t it lovely?

The truth for me is that I’m not sure how often I will use this machine. I’m betting I will use it for some jewelry making from time to time, but so far I find the machine fussy to set up and work with. I’m sure I’ll get better with practice, but there are other machines I have that I also enjoy but are a bit easier for me. That said, there’s something magical about this little beauty. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia to use it. I wonder how many people in the past actually might have had one of these and what they made with it. I’m thrilled that this machine is part of my collection. It makes beautiful cords, and makes me feel like I have something special.

14 responses to “Hobby-Knitter: Visions of Knitters Past”

  1. Sheryl Avatar

    I bought one of those too. I am thinking of getting another one becasue I am using only four needles with the one I have. I knit I-cord for my diaper covers. It is a real hassle to change the needles when I want to do a six stitch am thinking maybe another one??

  2. Diane Roeder Avatar

    Hi Trish,
    I found your blog because I bought a Hobby Knit on eBay and wanted to see what was out there on the web about this little gadget.

    Mine was used but in decent working condition; I got a tube going on my first try. I was using two ply sport weight yarn that I had spun commercially from my own and other local sheep, and it was wound in a cake (I have the same Stauch winder that you have). I did not add additional tension as you did; based on a comparison of your photo and what I produced, I think that my method produced a tighter, smaller diameter tube than yours. I also tried two strands of the same yarn: a very very solid tube.

    I couldn’t find information in the accompanying directions about how to END your tube; do you have any advice? I simply cut the strand and continued knitting; next time I think I need to leave a longer tail but I’m wondering if there’s an easy method for finishing it off.


  3. Dina Avatar

    What an excellent tutorial, thanks Trish. You’ve inspired me to look for one on ebay.

  4. Elizabeth Avatar

    I found one of these at a tag sale, but no directions. Still can’t figure out how to start. But, on Friday, October 26, 2012, there was an article with (Hand knitting) directions for a “Loopy I-Cord Necklace” in The Detroit News written by Jocelynn Brown. I was able to go on their website and get directions. It’s real cute.

  5. rene Avatar

    need to order needles for the hobby knitter can yiu order them

  6. Cindy McCormick Avatar
    Cindy McCormick

    Hi to everyone,

    I have a hobby-knit machine and I love it.
    But I need to find a replacement needle for it,
    and I was wondering if you or anyone out there
    could tell me where I could find a needle for
    My little knit machine.

    Thank you,

  7. Lil Avatar

    Replacement needles available from

  8. Gail Avatar

    I just purchased a use machine on ebay it knits well. I’m so happy that I fiinally found one.
    I watched your video
    Thank You

  9. DORIANNE Avatar

    Trish I would love to have one of these hobby knitter machines…I’ve been looking for some time now. Have you heard of any available. I’m looking, looking, looking.

  10. M. Mitchell Avatar
    M. Mitchell

    Where can we get replacement needles?

  11. Marcia Avatar

    I saw a new listing on EBay for one of the 1948 Hobby-knit machines. Hope anyone looking for one finds it:) just thought you would like to know

  12. Mrs.Louise McKay Avatar

    Hello, Trish I also have the same machine and need some new needles. Do you know where I might get them.?

  13. Trish Avatar

    Unfortunately I do not know of a current resource.

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