Diane Bennett
         9 Huntley Grove, Nailsea, Bristol, BS48 2UQ England. Tel: 01275 810067


Machine Knitting Online

Old knitting machines

My first knitting machine - inherited from my mother who bought it in 1952 was a Passap M201.  One of the first domestic machines available it was very simple with no automatic patterning and, at first, only a single bed, although a ribber was available later.  It was a nightmare to use at times because the yarn was laid over the needles by hand and if a latch was closed the stitch would drop.  However, it was possible to pattern manually and create some wonderful garments. 

From about the same period was this interesting machine which knits purl and plain rows.  The interesting thing about these early domestic machines was that they was much more basic than the handframes used from the sixteenth century and other machines available from late Victorian times such as the Harrison purl and plain machine. These very early machines, like the Victorian sock machines, were used mainly by servants to make socks and other knitted items for the members of the households in which they worked.  The domestic machines of the years after the Second World War, however,  were aimed at the 'pleasure' market. 

 

Following on from these machines were the European double bed machines of the 1960s.  Most, like this Orion, were made by manufacturers who have long since disappeared.  However, the pink Passap  and Singer were the forerunners of the Passap and Singer electronic machines while the Twinmatic was an early Knitmaster machine - but very unlike their later punchcard and electronic machines. . 

An unusual machine of the 1980s was the Simple frame.  Almost a cross between hand and machine knitting had no automatic patterning and was available in different widths.  By this time most machines had automatic patterning.  The first of these machines had push buttons or dials, like the Brother 585 and 588 and Knitmaster 302 and 305.  Later they were followed by machines with patterning based on punchards, from late in the 1960s and electronics from the late 1970s. 

 

This is a machine produced made in very small numbers.  The Brother 800 was produced at about the same time as the first true punchcard machines (Knitmaster 313 and 321).  A 12 stitch machine, the 'cards' were very easy to produce.  Just slip an piece of thick paper or thin card into the patterning area and use the 'punch' provided to make holes. 

Internet users abroad will use different names / numbers - e.g. Knitmaster (now Silver Reed) is also known as Studio and Singer, while UK Singer machines are called Superba or White elsewhere.  

 

Visit Metropolitan, Nantwich to see their collection of old machines and the framework museum at Ruddington, near Nottingham for a working frame workshop.


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