Super Crank-y

In my last post I mentioned that I had purchased the Singer Knitting Machine. So here is my review:

I bought the Singer Knitting Machine for $22 from Walmart. It looks almost exactly like the Addi Express Knitting Machine – just differently colored and with differently styled feet. I needed to kick out some more scarves for the Box of Warm and use up some of my stash – so I decided to give the machine a go so I could go faster.

It comes with two options for knitting: Tube (round) and Flat (square) [there are symbols on the side of the machine to determine the knitting setting circle for tube/round and a square for knitting flat]. I’ve only used the Tube setting so far – and I didn’t have much luck my first go at flat.

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Thoughts: Not a bad little machine! Awesome for $22.
I read a lot of the reviews before I bought it and before I started, so to address some of the issues they found.

  • One video reviewer found it wobbly: My initial guess was that the legs might be made purposely two different lengths… two short for front and two longer for back – however, this is not the case as the legs are all the same length. My machine’s legs were wobbly out of the box and I found it was because of the mold lines of the plastic that run smack dab through the middle of the bottom of the foot. So, before I even attached them, I filed that line down smooth and had no wobbliness.20160930_0952412
  • Second, reviewers talked about how it shifts around as you crank since it doesn’t come with table clamps: if you hold one of the front left legs and brace the machine with the fingers on your left hand or your thumb as you hold it – you’re good to go.
  • Some reviewers found that it skipped stitches: watching them in their videos I think they were cranking too fast and too jerky. When I tried I found that if you cranked the machine like a music box/jack in the box (slow and steady) and had no stitches skipped. After some extensive use this is all I have discovered… the smaller the yarn weight, the better. Worsted is tough on this machine. Since the machine is a $22 machine and not super built there came a point where I would crank and it would make a grinding like noise and the needle ring would not move and if you force crank it the stitch will skip. I found out that it would happen at a certain spot every time- so I made a mark on the outside of the machine with a sharpie and the needle on the ring where it happens so that when it lines up and “catches” I do not crank but use my hand and manually move the needle ring past the line I drew and had no issues with cranking until it lines up again on the next round.20160930_0950512

One thing I had an issue with: The directions to remove the project from the machine. The directions tell you to crank the whole way around twice and it will fall off the needles – when you do this ALL THE STITCHES ARE LIVE AND OFF THE NEEDLES and the tiniest movement can start to unravel your project (which is why the directions will tell you to add more rows than needed for just this reason). There are directions for the Addi on the internet that show you how to bind off while your project is still on the machine – follow those or just be ready with the enclosed crochet hook or tapestry needle to gently catch the dropped stitches and bind off that way.

 

Was it worth $22? Definitely, I’ve made 10 scarves this way so far and put a nice little dent in part of my stash and filled up the Box of Warm by a nice chunk. I haven’t been too adventurous with the machine – but that’s mainly because I am afraid of breaking it and I bought it specifically to make scarves. I think going in, knowing what issues I might encounter beforehand and adjusting before I began made it a lot easier. For real though, I made six scarves in a day, a feat I would never have been able to accomplish before.

How are the instructions? They’re… okay. When I pulled the booklet out I was excited since it was thicker than I had anticipated it was going to be; I honestly I expected a big folded piece of paper with some directions a la boxed hair color. However, only about three pages are instructions- the other pages are those same instructions in other languages. It says that it gives patterns… and it kind of does in that it gives you general instructions like crank a tube for a scarf until it’s a long as you want or for a hat make three flat knit rectangles and sew them together. I found YouTube videos a little more instructive. Again, in this instance, having watched a lot of review videos on YouTube I knew what to expect before starting so I was able to jump start on using it.

Overall? Get it. It’s a fun little machine if you know it’s going to be a little finicky at the get go and adjust beforehand. Make sure you get the NKOK/newer version- Singer previously released one where it had no legs/feet and basically looked like a mini version of those machines they use to wrap Christmas Trees in netting for transport, and I’ve found nothing but reports of heartache in regards to that model.

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You can knit tiny nets for tiny Christmas trees!

 

Final Thoughts? I saw in a few videos that users were worried about yarn tension. I watched their fixes which showed them holding the yarn with the non-cranking hand to keep tension. I started with that, but I will honest in that I think that is what caused my machine to start “skipping” and “catching” after extensive use. Even the yarn coming from the center of a store bought skein seems too tight. So I wind my yarn in to cakes and pull out long lengths and let the machine handle the tension until the cake is loose and then stop pulling and let the machine do the pulling of the yarn. Don’t use worsted on it. I did it once and won’t again because it was too rough on the machine- stick to your smaller weights. I haven’t tried buying clamps at Home Depot to clamp it to my desk yet – but I think I might to free up my hand which I’ve been using to steady the machine while I crank. I might also buy some non skid padding to cut and glue to the bottom of the feet for extra non skiddyness. Again – even with all that it is still a value at $22.

10/3/2016 Edit: I wanted to add some additional findings. I created my own homemade knitting machine weight by using a chip clip and a metal cased compass and I had zero issues- it worked out very nicely! Also- 20 scarves down!

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