Just a little love and engineering

The problem with eBay is that you go looking for one thing and end up buying something totally different.  Sometimes this is because you have had a wonderfully convivial evening at the end of which there seems to be nothing more to but to buy a wreck of a boat unseen from the other end of the country.  Sometimes it’s because you only realise you REALLY need something once you have seen it pop up on the screen.  Sometimes you get carried away and get into a bidding war over something you don’t really want just because if other people are bidding then it MUST be good.  On this occasion my downfall was none of these.

I had visited this online emporium to look at spinning wheels. Spinning wheels are very expensive so I thought by having a look here I might be able to pick one up super cheap.  Alas, it was not to be – even on eBay they seem to go for quite a bit.  But just as I was about to give up a surprise item popped up.  It was a knitting machine!

Now I have used a knitting machine before, my mum used to have one and I remember many a happy hour spent untangling wool from it.  I can’t remember what I made – but I’m sure it was good.  I texted my mum to ask what had happened too it… She confidently assured me that she had sold it or given it away.  I was thinking about it lots now.  I had had a lovely time playing with it.  It made a special knitting machine noise and everything.

The auction had a very bad picture.  I like it when that happens as it usually means that no one else would be bidding on it.  The description was a bit pants too, but on closer reading promised the boxed knitting machine came with books and an intarsia carriage!  Wow.  I was getting very excited by this point.  I decided to sleep on it as the auction didn’t finish until the next day.

The morning dawned bright, cheerful, and very,very quickly as I was up at an ungodly time for my team meeting.  It was a really busy day and only after lunch that I realised, horror of horrors, that I had missed the end if the auction!!!!

I was devastated. In my head I had already knit four jumpers and a pair of socks on it.

Unable to resist checking how much it had gone for I called up the listing.  It hadn’t sold.  I couldn’t believe it!  Undeterred I dropped the seller an email offering cash and a collection later that night – it was in the same village as one of my friends from the sailing club and I thought offering to pick it straight up might close the deal.

After a nervous wait I got a response.  YES!  I was now the proud owner of a ‘zippy-punch deluxe’ which I immediately decided to name Jeremy.

I was so excited.  And when it turned up at the club I was beside myself.  I unpacked it from its original box and polystyrene packaging and started to set it up in a corner of the club house.

Unpacking my amazing knitting machine

It was like new and had obviously hardly been used.  Having put it all together I moved the carriage across the needles for the first time.

It was amazing – it sounded just like my mums, all knitty and clippy and zippy!  I threaded it up, and with much reference to the manual, cast on.

This is kind of where it all goes wrong so if you are of a nervous disposition please stop reading now…

Having moved the carriage right to left, I tried to return the carriage to the right.  It wouldn’t move.  On closer inspection it appears that the needles were all getting caught underneath the knitting carriage – when they were meant to be inside it.  Well I had a few words with Jeremy, but even talking nicely to him wasn’t solving the problem.  After half an hour of this a qualified engineer and all round fixer-of-things finally stepped in and brought his years of experience to bear on the problem.

Open carriage surgery

And then it looked like this.

I’m not sure there are meant to be bits left over

That little bit of cardboard is really important.  It’s one of the bits that were screwed into Jeremy to make his knitty mouth bigger so the needles pop back into it.  Special thanks to my special engineer friend!

An hour (and some beer) later and we were ready to go.  It worked!  Well…. kind of.  It turns out the problem with knitting machines is that they don’t quite do what you expect.  After a perfect cast on and rattling backwards and forwards I discovered a little problem.

What’s that bit of loose thread on the right there?

My first bit of knitting looked very exciting.  Except that there were some needles without wool on them any more.

Well that’s OK – I have special tools to pick up stitches with.

Turns out the special tools to pick up stitches need to be used every time you touch Jeremy.  I think he is a bit sensitive having been left in his original box for so long.  It is now past midnight.  Everyone else has had beer and I just have a grumpy Jeremy and some hacky looking wool I have spent most of the night untangling from Jeremy’s innards.

All of a sudden it comes to me – what I made on my Mums knitting machine.  The reason I couldn’t remember was because what I actually made was – nothing.  I just spent hours doing exactly this!  Are knitting machines the biggest con of all time?  How do Marks and Spencers get jumpers knitted if they don’t work?  I must be missing something.

I am sure that Jeremy just needs a little love and he will be just fine.  And after all it could have been worse – an evening playing with wool is never wasted.



Should have bought a spinning wheel.


  1. sounds like jeremy needs needlebar foam….. i had a similar experience recently i bought a zippy deluxe perfect cast on but the rest was like spagetti junction with loops and dropped stitches. being a fixer of things albeit normally computers… i stripped, cleaned, oiled…. rebuilt no avail :O refusing too submit to this machine i googled and turns out… most commonly caused by needle bar foam needing replaced. if its depth is less than 3/8 inch it needs replaced. me being impatient couldnt wait a few days ordering on ebay i bought dbl sided foam tape 3mm deep, carefully removed old tape scrapex off 25 yo residue (ewwww) tjenapplied 4 layers of foam tape only leaving the backing on the top layer. my machine now works like a charm 🙂
    the tape cost me a £1 and took a few minutes too apply, its relesed using a pencil/butt end link tool too push out. (pic in manual) for a pound worth trying , nothing much too loose, hope this helps.

      • Sounds v exciting. I actually heard something similar from someone at the machine knitters guild. I plan to have a crafting assault over the Xmas break – this willl def be on my list as Jeremy is currently sitting unloved in the corner of the spare room….!

        Thanks for the break down of what has worked for your s – will keep you posted how it pans out!

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