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HopkinGreen
Chatty Knitter

182 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2006 :  6:19:06 PM  Show Profile Send HopkinGreen a Private Message

quote:
Originally posted by kdcrowley

You know, in all my years online, I find that there are groups that insist on having only the highest quality of tools....and then those who can do just fine with less.

In sewing and serging, there are those that buy only Bernina, or Pfaff, or Singer or whatever....and anyone that has something else, has an inferior tool. I particularly ran into this with sewing machines, with folks telling me that my old Singer that was only 129 in 1991 was a boat anchor....but you know, I kept it tuned, I used it for hours on end on a weekly basis for over 10 years without issues and still have it to hand down to a child. Same thing with the serger....everyone swore that my cheap Simplicity machine for 269 would not last, but you know, it works just fine, I have no trouble threading the machine when things go wrong, and again I use it extenisvely and have for at least 6 years.

While this is true, there are also those that can do wonderful things with less....I am one of the latter....I think my success with the tools is due to a willingness to learn the limitations of the tools and how to work around them. I have a Bond USM, which is the same as the ISM, just a different bundle...the USM includes the Row Counter, Intarsia plate etc. It works fine for me. Occasionally, I drop a stitch or get hung up, but I have learned how to fix it....which I think makes me a better machine knitter. That said, I don't think that I will ever be a big machine knitter....it's not portable and is more like sewing that handknitting....

Of course, I still plan to use it for making Caps for the Capitol with my extra yarns.....and plan on roping DS into it, as he loves the knitting machines....

so which are you?

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com




Well, I don't think I was being a tool snob in my response here... And I often do work with less than the best. I don't have Addi turbo knitting needles to replace all my old nylon circulars. And there are definitely times when nylon knitting needles work better than the sleek Addis do. My knitting machines are mostly ones I got from auctions over a long period of time, (used and in desperate need of tender loving care) with the exception of my first singer LK150 - which was new, but worth it for the technical support that I received from the place I bought it from. My KH 230 seems to be in okay shape too, but probably in need of some maintenance.

To say that I didnít get along with my USM doesnít mean that Iím in some way lacking patience or that Iím not willing to take the time to learn. Obviously Iím taking the time to learn how to use the LK 150 and my brother knitting machines. I just find that I get better results personally with the LK 150 than I was getting with the USM. There are limitations with the LK 150 and the brother machines, just as there are with all knitting machines. If I wanted a knitting machine without limitations, Iíd get a dual bed Passap E6000 that can whip out double knitted coats in complicated intarsia. The machines I use are ones that donít require electricity and use very much the same mechanism as the USM, with the exception that the carriage is better designed (in my opinion), the needle bed is more stable and there is a yarn tension guide. Other than the fact that I feel itís simply nicer to work on the LK-150 for me personally, the work I do on it is more or less precisely the work someone would do on a USM. Iím still moving the carriage back and forth, using waste yarn, rip cords, weights and other devices for making sure that the knitting goes smoothly.

I wasnít trying to be a smart-aleck with my response. It honestly does seem like either knitters love or hate the USM. And I did point out that some knitters out there are able to do amazing work with it. But I donít think that means that Iím somehow less serious by my not being able to cope with working with a machine that I felt I had to fight with in order to get what I needed from it to the point where the process was no longer enjoyable to me. Everyone has their own comfort level of what theyíre willing to work with Ė their craftsmanship tolerance zone. Some people donít knit using aluminum needles, while others prefer them. Some wonít knit using plastic ones. Some only prefer bamboo. Some only use Addi turbo circular knitting needles and some go for rosewood. None of these people who knit are using something inferior if it gets them what they need and theyíre happy with the process. The USM is not inferior to those who are happy with it and are making good progress on their WIPS and find it enjoyable to work on.... but neither is it inferior to prefer a different machine either.

Since the topic of this thread was to elicit peopleís opinions of the USM, I made my own contribution, based on my experiences with it. Others had better experiences with it than I had. Different people prefer different things. Weíre still all knitters.

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Bookratt
New Pal

USA
17 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2006 :  1:05:16 PM  Show Profile Send Bookratt a Private Message
I have had the ISM without the upgrades since the early 90s and love it. I bought it after watching a late nite infomercial ad, back when Carol Duvall was helping to promote it.

It is non-electric and non-computerized and you can knit with it straight out of the box (though it is nice to have a good table reserved just for it or a row counter, etc). The number one reason people have trouble with it at first: not enough weight on the hem or sides as you knit and having an uneven table or surface under the table. Both cause dropped stitches, jamming carriages, uneven tension or pulled stitches, etc.

I used to use an old folding wooden table to clamp mine to, and I just put it on the living room carpeted floor in front of my chair or the sofa and I COULD use it. But the lighting was bad there, the cats and kid got into it occasionally, it was often out of level, I initially started out using poor quality yarn or yarn too thin for it and had trouble with tension, etc.

Since it's what's called a hobby or bulky machine and knits best with dk or sport weight yarns that are bulky (3 or 4 ply is best) using thinner yarns can cause trouble at first. Twining or combining two thin yarns can work but stick with what they recommend when you first start. Get into more complicated stuff later.

Use a hardwood or solid surface (ceramic, concrete) floor under your table/set up and BE SURE both the floor and the table are level. The floor might be, but the table may not and vice versa. Dropped stitches, or a jammed carriage and thus, many hours of frustration can result. I use that rubbery shelf liner stuff (you can also use carpet grip pads that aren't sticky-backed) under the machine, on top of your table surface, which will help with any minor uneven surface problems and helps cut down a little on the noise. But it IS made of metal needles and as they open and close and as you move the carriage across, it can get noisy. Using silcone spray helps some, too as does waxing keyplates when/if needed.

I no longer knit in the living room, but rather use the time to listen to music via earphones as I work in the third bedroom/office. Several hours go by easily when I do this and I once knit a complete baby sweater with full- fashioned sleeves and ribbing, with a lace pattern to it in that time, almost without realizing it. I even put it together and when I came out with it all done, my husband was amazed. I can crochet pretty fast and am trying (once again) to learn to needle knit, but I have never been that fast at anything crafty I've ever tried.

Start out slowly, take the time to learn the techniques you can find at the bond-america website (they have a free email newsletter called bond buzz) or at any of the various yahoo groups that deal with this machine, and work your way up to making bigger and "better" things with it.

See these sites/groups to get started:

http://www.knittingtoday.com/BondClub/index.html

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/incrediblesweatermachineclub/

http://www.bond-america.com/

Then, if you find knitting machines are really your thing, go splash out the minimum $400 you need to get started with other makes and models and work your way up from there to the double bed computerized machines that require expensive accessories to do all they are capable of doing.

I have never found the need to do that, but am not a production knitter and am happy with the range of things I can do in the limited time I have to play with this machine. I also love that the items made with it look like handknitted, not machine made. Many people with the fancier machines still own and use their Bonds, so it's not an eithor/or kind of thing to most people.

The ISM and USM by Bond can get expensive after you add a row counter, upgrades for the ISM to make it a USM, pattern and techniques books, weights, additional hems, videos, etc, but they are still within reason, especially if you get things 40 and 50 % OFF using JoAnn coupons or get the machine used at ebay.

When just starting out, this is the perfect machine to use without breaking the bank.

I hope you like yours as much as I have always liked mine.

Happy knitting!







"I cannot live my life without books"---Thomas Jefferson
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Junnetta
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2006 :  2:08:41 PM  Show Profile Send Junnetta a Private Message
hello margaret9,

I am new here but I thought you would enjoy this link to a few free videos to help you with your new machine.

http://knitfits.theotherbell.com/bond-video-club.htm

Here you can download free videos for the bond user. Most of them are very helpful. Happy Knitting, Junnetta
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Gelsomina
Chatty Knitter

250 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2006 :  4:26:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit Gelsomina's Homepage Send Gelsomina a Private Message
I bought the Walmart version of the USM. I just happened to see it in the store, thought it'd be great for quick knitting boring things, like plain stockingnet. I later went on the Caron website to check it all out. It turns out the Walmart version is the same as USM, except for a few plates. So I bought it at Walmart for about $70, and bought the extra plates from Caron for about $12.

It was worth it to me at this price, I didn't expect much from it other than quick stockingnet. Pleasantly surprised it does more than that.

I only have problems with it when I'm not paying attention; it takes me about an hour to get accustomed to it after not using it for a few months. It really saves time on the boring stuff.

I live in a loft, so it's hard for me to keep it set up and out in the open all the time, so I attached it to a wood plank about 8" by 6', and just put the whole thing away when not in use.

It was worth it at that price, and you can always return stuff to Walmart if need be.



:-) Gelsomina
http://gelsominalucchesi.blogspot.com
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kdcrowley
Permanent Resident

USA
4773 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2006 :  5:43:13 PM  Show Profile  Visit kdcrowley's Homepage Send kdcrowley a Private Message
HopkinGreen, I was not trying to imply anyone was a snob, just trying to say there's two camps and the trick is knowing which you are in.

Sorry if it seemed otherwise.

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
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lmarshal
New Pal

8 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2006 :  04:25:12 AM  Show Profile Send lmarshal a Private Message
I've had my USM for 5 years but used it very little until the past couple months. I love it. Most problems are pilot errors and inattention. The thing that has helped me get more use from the USM is having the "proper" set-up so that I can use the machine more conveniently. Moving it from place to place was a pain...not enough light, in the way, not always level. Now that I have it on a permanent base with plenty of light and out of the way, I use it frequently: wonderful, smooth fabric; easy-to-do techniques; so very, very fast! Oh, and I actually like the sound of it...really rather pleasing! Linda from Indiana
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margaret9
Chatty Knitter

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2006 :  6:45:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit margaret9's Homepage Send margaret9 a Private Message
Thank you all for your opinions. I've had my USM since august and am really enjoying it. Getting claw weights was a big big plus, and eliminated the problems I had with those silly tension bands they give you.

I'll be interested to move up to a more complicated knitting machine at some point when I can afford it, but right now, this is great!
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Dottie Mae
Chatty Knitter

USA
155 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2006 :  8:03:36 PM  Show Profile Send Dottie Mae a Private Message
I just purchased an USM after reading all of the KR comments. No one scared me away. I got the USM for $75 at a local store--waited for their coupon in the craft dept.
I am still learning, and I am having great frustration with losing stitches on the ends despite moving their rubberband weight system on every row. I am about to try heavier weights.
I am disappointed that it does not do garter stitch, increases of more than one stitch at a time, and bulky and novelty yarns. I am finding it very limited, but it is teaching me machine basics. I can use it for a few shortcuts, so it is worth the small expenditure.
I like hearing it click along.
Can anyone out there suggest my next "move up" machine?
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2006 :  11:46:03 PM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
Dottie Mae, I am sorry you have had some troubles. right off the bat, did you check that the surface your USM was on is perfectly level? And I mean by using an actual level? If not that's likely most of your problem.

If you read the web site it clearly states it does not do garter stitch. You can indeed increase more than one stitch at a time. It also clearly states it is not designed for bulky yarns, but there aresome tricks such as using every other needle that make using some bullky yarns possible. I have not had any problem with novelty yarns - eyelash, Snowflake, Disco have all worked on it.

I suggest that you buy the DVD from Linda's Craftique to see all the things the machine can do.

The two biggest aids to learning are patience and practice, which you can't get a DVD for!

Brought to you by the tongue in cheek-y monkey
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http://greenfishoutofwater.blogspot.com
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2006 :  11:48:44 PM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
Dottie Mae, I am sorry you have had some troubles. right off the bat, did you check that the surface your USM was on is perfectly level? And I mean by using an actual level? If not that's likely most of your problem.

If you read the web site it clearly states it does not do garter stitch. You can indeed increase more than one stitch at a time. It also clearly states it is not designed for bulky yarns, but there aresome tricks such as using every other needle that make using some bullky yarns possible. I have not had any problem with novelty yarns - eyelash, Snowflake, Disco have all worked on it.

I suggest that you buy the DVD from Linda's Craftique to see all the things the machine can do.

The two biggest aids to learning are patience and practice, which you can't get a DVD for!

Brought to you by the tongue in cheek-y monkey
---------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.femiknits.blog-city.com/knitting_for_canadian_troops.htm
http://greenfishoutofwater.blogspot.com
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margaret9
Chatty Knitter

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 01/02/2007 :  1:07:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit margaret9's Homepage Send margaret9 a Private Message
As long as your machine is level, those claw weights will make a HUGE difference, take a look at the accessories for sale on the bond america website, and you'll see a lot of extras there that are a big help, the silicon spray helps the machine to move much more smoothly, the smaller hem is good for little items, and the claw weights are so necessary that I wonder why they didn't include them in the package.
Knitting machines are a completely different animal than knitting by hand, and some things are frustrating, but I just handknit the garter or ribbed bands, the quickness of the stockinette makes it totally worthwhile :)

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kdcrowley
Permanent Resident

USA
4773 Posts

Posted - 01/02/2007 :  1:43:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit kdcrowley's Homepage Send kdcrowley a Private Message
Dottie Mae, also make sure that you are not catching the knitting wrong at the beginning of the row or catching a loop on the edge of the carriage....those two are my bugaboos for losing stitches.

Just push the knitting back a bit when you start a new row, make sure that you have the yarn centered in the carriage, and that should take care of the problem.

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
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AuntieK
Warming Up

75 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  09:47:51 AM  Show Profile Send AuntieK a Private Message
I recently got the USM and have had no problems with setting it up and doing a few test swatches. Now the reason I bought it was to be able to do double strands with worsted weight yarns (i.e. Patons Merino wool) for felting. This is where I'm having a problem. I'm using keyplate #4 but it keeps dropping stitches or dropping one of the two stands. The carriage has a lot more resistance with the double strand verus just one strand. Is this normal?

Any suggestions? Or am I just pushing the limits of this machine?

Thx....Karen
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kdcrowley
Permanent Resident

USA
4773 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  10:48:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit kdcrowley's Homepage Send kdcrowley a Private Message
Auntie K, that may be too much yarn for the machine. You can try using every other needle, but also try knitting with one strand and felt it to see what you get. It may be satisfactory.

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
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Gelsomina
Chatty Knitter

250 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  2:53:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit Gelsomina's Homepage Send Gelsomina a Private Message
I like that: "pilot error"! (I'm a pilot). Now that I think of it, any time I've ever had a problem with the machine it was always, ultimately, something I was doing wrong. I've learned to get myself down when I immediately get frustrated by the machine, pop in the video to figure out what little thing I'm doing wrong.

Caution: don't try to watch anything engrossing on TV while using the USM. Whenever I do, I always seem to drop stitches, etc. As long as I keep my eyeballs on the yarn at all times, things are fine. Lots of TV shows are mindless anyway and you can just listen to them while machine knitting.

AuntieK, I tried pushing the machine alot at first with bulky and complicated yarns. It's not fun, so I told myself to stop it because the frustration wasn't worth it. But, if I use a single ply bulky wool, I can get it to behave. You might want to consider switching from 2 yarns to 1 if speed for felting is your goal.

I don't mind the noise much, either. But I did mind it when I was frustrated with the machine; get myself worked up and easily ticked off. Hee hee


:-) Gelsomina
http://gelsominalucchesi.blogspot.com
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AuntieK
Warming Up

75 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  3:00:47 PM  Show Profile Send AuntieK a Private Message
Kelley,

I tried every other needle and though it was better it still gave me some problems. So I did a single strand and felted it and it's a bit lighter weight than I wanted (I was looking for a heavier felt) but it came out very nice. I'm now playing around with some bulky (Lambs Pride) using every other needle. So far so good. I'll felt this piece and see how it turns out.

Thanks for the suggestions....Karen
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Gelsomina
Chatty Knitter

250 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  3:02:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit Gelsomina's Homepage Send Gelsomina a Private Message
Forgot to say:

Someone emailed me from Canada asking about purchasing the Walmart version, but I lost her email.

Back when I bought mine, I think 2 years ago, I noticed it was not available at Walmart's online website store. I'm not sure if they even carry it anymore, but they probably do. And I don't know if they have Walmart in Canada. If they do, you could call around to your local Walmarts to check to see if they have it in stock. I think it's worth it to save 50% of the price of the USM.

Caron probably wouldn't be overly eager to help you find the Walmart version, when they can get you to buy the USM for double the price. You can't blame them really, Walmart does it to many manufacturers: sort of holds them hostage to a low price. My brother's bicycle company went through that with Walmart; basically told to either sell their bikes at Walmart almost at a profit loss, or risk that a competing bike company will be selected and get a corner on that huge discount market.

:-) Gelsomina
http://gelsominalucchesi.blogspot.com
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kdcrowley
Permanent Resident

USA
4773 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2007 :  4:35:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit kdcrowley's Homepage Send kdcrowley a Private Message
Gelsomina, my son who was 3 at the time, got my machine at Joann's with a 50% off coupon online, which made it a steal, and it was the USM deluxe version, which is a better deal with the extras, like row counter intarsia plate etc.

Might want to suggest that as an alternative


Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
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margaret9
Chatty Knitter

USA
223 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2007 :  5:58:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit margaret9's Homepage Send margaret9 a Private Message
Ebay is also a fantastic place for this. But you have to keep your eyes peeled for someone who got it, used it twice and then packed it away in a closet and wants to sell it for cheap. I got my (barely used, complete and showroom shiny) USM for 75.00 (and that includes the shipping)

I wouldn't have been able to afford it at regular price.

And just wanted to add that you won't be able to consistantly knit with 2 strands of yarn on this. I was able to make a shrug with KP panache, which is bulky I think.
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levis_mama
Chatty Knitter

USA
188 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2007 :  6:52:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit levis_mama's Homepage Send levis_mama a Private Message
How timely a topicfor me! I have tendoititis in both wrists right now and am off the needles till atleast the end of February. I got my USM the other day and am trying to learn. I've been figuring tat the problems are mine and not the machine's. Good to see that that is the case. Off to play.

StephanieR
Somebody get me something deep-fried and smothered in chocolate! --Fairy Godmother

http://stitchandkvetch.blogspot.com
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