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.

Cute As a Bug in a…

Hand-painted ladybug corder with two pegs

Hand-painted ladybug corder with two pegs

Isn’t it adorable? I got this little corder from Noreen Crone Findlay at http://www.crone-findlay.com. I don’t know why but I have a thing for do-dads that make i-cords. Sure, I can just knit them myself, and I usually do. Or, I crank them out with one of any number of the crank style that I already own. But someone posted this link on the KnitList last week and I couldn’t resist. I even got a couple of idea books that show how to make animals and dolls out of i-cord. I’d never seen a 2-peg corder before, and the lady who makes these does them all so cute, I just had to have one! It was actually pretty hard to decide.

This weekend started out with a knitting disaster. For some reason, the stitches around my second buttonhole started to unravel. No photos to show of the event, but I estimated that I had about three days worth of knitting that I lost. Not that I typically knit a lot in one day, but I hate having to rip out. I tried to avoid the ripping, but since I couldn’t really see the problem, fixing it was not possible. So I ripped to below the buttonhole and re-picked up the stitches. And I knit, and I knit, and I knit. It was a marathon knitting weekend. And you know what? I managed to knit past the point of my mistake. Still, visually, it doesn’t look much different than the picture I took the other day so I’ll spare you another one for now.

My friend Steve was over for supper yesterday too, and he wound the rest of the yarn that I had bought. So now all the balls of yarn are just ready and waiting to be knit. I have no more logistical issues that will keep me from progressing on this project.

Alas, it is a work week again, so time for knitting will be sparse. But I have a renewed commitment to knit at least a little, every single day. What’s that I hear? An audible gasp from the readership? Yes, it’s true. There are days, especially lately, that I have not knit at all. Sometimes for two or three days in a row. And yet, I wonder why it can take me three months to finish a hat. Well, no more. I have no illusions that this sweater won’t take at least half a year, but hopefully it won’t be because I simply don’t knit. If I ever expect to get anything done, I just have to keep on knitting.

And on that note, I’m off to bed. Ciao for now!

FO Report: Halloween Scarf

Halloween scarf completed

Halloween scarf completed

Project Name: Halloween Scarf
Source: http://circe.canalblog.com/archives/2009/04/23/index.html
Yarn Used: Various, but featuring Vitreous Humor, by Insubordiknit
Needle Size: 13, for the eyeball yarn
Date Started: June 2, 2009
Date Completed: June 9, 2009

Notes: I knit most of this scarf on my Singer Cord Knitter, so each cord went fairly quickly. The eyeball yarn cord was knit by hand on size 13 needles. I actually have a little bit left over so I’m trying to decide what to do with it. I think I’ll keep it for decoration. I braided most of the cords loosely and tacked them together a little bit but I did not tack down the eyeball cord in case I ever want to recycle it for another scarf. I’ll try to get a photo of my daughter wearing it tomorrow. It looks much better on a person than on a chair!

Yarn Yummies

Look what I got in the mail yesterday!

Cascade Eco Alpaca

Cascade Eco Alpaca

It’s Cascade Eco Alpaca which I purchased from The Loopy Ewe for 20% off. Sheri is hosting a knitalong for Jared Flood’s Girasole pattern, and well, I had to jump on the bandwagon! The knitalong is supposed to run through October 1, but I doubt I will finish in time. But, wow, the yarn is SO soft and SO yummy… I had to jump at the chance to get some at a discounted price. Oh wow, even though I know I can’t start my blanket just yet, I really want to! I can’t wait to have that yarn in my fingers. Yummy!

Well, I guess I better get to bed before I turn into a pumpkin… just wanted to share the day’s knitting news with people who I know would understand and share my joy. I’m sure most of you know what it’s like to live with people who love you but only tolerate your knitting? That’s what it’s like for me most of the time. Nobody here shares my excitement over the softest yarn ever or the joy of a completed project. (Though I do think my daughter is coveting a skein of the Eco Alpaca at the moment–guess I’d better be sure to count them before casting on for my project!) So, thank you for reading and sharing in the moments with me. It’s great having a community of knitters to share these little things with.

Until next time…

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Crankin’ Out the Cords

I’ve been busy cranking out the i-cords with my handy dandy cord knitter machine:

two i-cords next to balls of yarn

two i-cords next to balls of yarn

The two cords that I have made so far were done with Rowan Wool Cotton and Cascade 220. Now I’m wondering if I should try it tomorrow with my Noro Kureyon yarn. Should I dare? If so, I’ll let you know how it goes.

This machine works well, if you use it very slowly and make sure you push the errant stitches down on the hooks so they’re below the latches as the next bit of yarn is being caught in the hooks. And I find I have to put my hand down on the base to hold it steady as I crank because the suction cups don’t stick well on my table. Your mileage may vary on that. I definitely need to use the weight to hold the cord down as it comes out the bottom. That helps a lot. So I alternate between using my thumb to push the stitches down as it goes round and round (I only need to do this every four or five stitches) and placing my palm on the base of the machine as I crank.

The second cord went way faster than the first. The first one took all evening to get the rhythm of the thing. The second took just under two hours. So, despite its quirks, I say this thing is a success. For me at least, the not-speed-knitter, it was way faster than doing it by hand. So, yay! Only the fattest cords will be done by hand. So this project will go very fast. That, my friends, is a very good thing.

A Beautiful Little Song

Someone on Ravelry posted this little song on YouTube on Monday. I heard it yesterday for the first time and it just about brought me to tears. Have a listen:

See? I told you so.

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