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my matter compiler knitting machine

I'm new to machine knitting - I just collected my singer 321 today (ebay win) and put it together tonight and did my first test swatch. I think it's pretty cool that on the box it says "the knitting computer" and the man I bought it from said his Mum bought it in 1974 (I know there's earlier ones around). which I think could mean that it's possible women had the first 'home computers'? - running off punchcards etc, creating 'real'/'physical' products/outputs rather than 'virtual' ideas (software programs/outputs) - there were also punchcard sewing machines but I'm not sure what vintage they were originally. the Chart of Knitting Machines: Main Beds & Ribbers website tracks the various knitting machines and lists their production/release years - my Singer SK-321 was made in 1972 (original price $329.95) as was the matching Ribber (original price $124.95). punchcard computers were mostly room sized at that time and most 'personal computers' weren't released until around mid-late 1970s or more commonly in 1980s. wikipedia does mention there were a few tape based computers in the 1970s, so perhaps it's a tie :)
[quote]The first true Personal Computer was the Sphere 1 computer, created in Bountiful, Utah in 1975 by computer pioneer Michael D. Wise (1949-2002). At first, Sphere 1 was sold as a kit, but was later sold as fully assembled PC. The Sphere 1 qualified as The First Personal Computer because it included a keyboard, a number pad, and a monitor.[/quote]

in a way, they all go back to Ada Lovelace & her programming of weaving looms. the knitting machine reminds me of an early "slow media" version the "Matter Compiler" (MC) in Neal Stephenson's book "Diamond Age", and of 3D printers available today (even though cloth production using industrial machines has been around for a while!). ie setup the pattern on the punchcards, then the MC/knitting computer knits them up. so I'm going to call it "the MC" in honour of the book

eg, from technovelgy
[quote]Whenever Nell's clothes got too small for her, Harv would pitch them into the deke bin and then have the M.C. make new ones. Sometimes, if Tequila was going to take Nell someplace where they would see other moms with other daughters, she'd use the M.C. to make Nell a special dress with lace and ribbons.[/quote]

one of the punch cards:

I first thought about getting a knitting machine after reading (& later buying) "The Art of Knitting: Inspirational Stitches, Textures, and Surfaces" by Francoise Tellier-Loumagne and most recently coming across sooz's blog and seeing all the wonderful things she's made. Lisa Anne Auerbach's knitted words - on her machine knitted sweaters & skirts - are pretty cool too. I love the image on the cover of the "Last Week in the Project Space" artist in residence (2005) newsletter/zine too. there are more issues on the steal this sweater site. I think this would be a cool residency to have in sydney too - a knitting machine, weaving loom & yarn spinning wheel for end to end fibre art.

first attempt:
(it did cut the fabric though, I kept having to disconnect the carriage to move it out of the way)

it got stuck a few times but I read in the faq that this could be the spongebar so I'm going to try checking/replacing it - thanks so much for all the useful information at the Ravelry - Machine Knitting group! I'm really happy with the stitches it did when it worked smoothly though! very fast compared to my slow hand knitting. I've done 56 rows altogether so far in about 10 minutes. much faster than hand knitting! and much finer too. it's a bit of hard work though - I have to move the bar manually each row, but once you get in the swing of it (& it doesn't get stuck), it's quite quick

can't wait to try some more!
it does seem to be missing the clips that hold it to the table & a yarn winder. so I'm on the lookout for those - hopefully some on ebay. then I'll try some patterns and the ribber. so much to learn!

useful info on ravelry

Knittsings - How to check your spongebar
Knittsings - how to rebuild a spongebar

other links / bookmarks:

Diana Sullivans lessons for beginners - youtube video

the knitting closet - where to buy spongebars & lots of other things (manuals, yarn etc)

MachineMama For the clamps check with Sunny Choi on ebay :


cast on:

@GrammyLove Have you tried the e wrap cast on or crochet cast on? When doing hats ……one of my favorite cast ons was to use like 10 rows of waste yarn then knit 10 rows of main color……transfter every other stitch to the needle next to it…….keeping all needles in working positition………..knit 11 more rows and take the very first row you knitted with your main color (Not waste yarn) and hang those stitches on the needles and knit one row back to the right side. This will leave a little fancy type of Picot edging

beginner videos on youtube

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