Machine Knitting Adventure! My New Taitexma TH-160


Seriously Spoiled Wife alert: my husband got me a knitting machine for my birthday! I never asked for one, never researched one thing about it, *maybe* saw one sitting in a knitting studio once... and he did ALL the research, ALL the forum scouring, ALL the dealing with an importer/distributor and picked a fabulous machine!!!


... and he's a smarty pants because I am hooked. (Kind of literally actually. I learned the hard way that you should NOT wear hand knits while using a knitting machine, it will grab you all over the place!)

This is a brand new Taitexma TH-160 (knitter) / TR-180 (ribber) 6mm mid-gauge manual metal bed machine. WAIT, don't lose me now! Let me translate:
  • "Taitexma": This machine is a Taiwanese re-make of the much loved and now discontinued Silver Reed (Japanese name)/Singer (NA name)/Studio (European name) SK-160. The SK-160 was the updated version of the plastic bed LK-150, a number you'll find all over the internet. It is also very similar to the Brother KH-230/KR-230.

  • "Knitter" vs. "Ribber": You can do stockinette, intarsia, shaping, slip stitches, slip stitch colorwork and more with a Knitter alone. Everything is knit though, no purl is possible (that means no garter stitch, either, by the way). If you want to do knit and purl in the same row like in ribbing, you need the second bed (on the bottom of the picture above) to accomplish that. Before you ask though, the knit and purl needles will always be knit and purl -- i.e. you can't do moss stitch.

  • "6mm mid-gauge": Machines come in 3 gauges. 'Standard' is the small gauge you typically see in store-bought men's sweaters -- not something you can usually hand knit without losing your arm. 'Bulky' does large yarns. 'Mid-gauge' is ideal for DK and worsted yarns -- yes, the ones you probably already have avalanching in your craft room. That's definitely what I need so I can start finding my way to the door!

  • "Manual": There is no electricity here. You mount stitches by running a carriage over a set number of needles, sort of like a loom shuttle. This machine also does NOT have punch cards, which are little printed patterns that the machine can read to set up the next row.

  • "Metal bed": Beds (the place where all the needles go) can come in plastic (less sturdy but portable) or metal (lifetime).

Phew! Was that too much? Don't worry, this post isn't a tutorial on how to machine knit -- instead, it's a chronicle of what I was able to do in a matter of TWO DAYS right out of the box. And remember, I knew nothing at all about knitting machines as of two days ago.

The pictures and videos below are in higher resolution in my Instagram story called 'Machine'! If you'd like to follow my daily knitting adventures, IG is the place to follow me: instagram.com/dayanaknits


I decided to follow the Knitter manual from front to back. First the basics: stockinette. You choose the number of needles you want to knit with, and then run the carriage over them so that they pick up the stitches. Play with the sound on, it's loud! In fact, a friend recommends ear plugs if you do this a lot.


(punchline is below)

I then learned how to bind-off, which honestly takes way longer to do than in hand knitting because you have to manually transfer each stitch in 3 tedious steps. Buuuuut, since you can knit an entire body in, like 15 minutes, I can accept that. Here it is coming off the machine. Sound on, again, if you are an ASMR person!


I cannot believe how perfect the knitting is. People joke and call me a 'knitting machine', but now I know that is not the case, lol.



I should mention that you can't change the needle size for different drape fabrics. The needles are a certain width and only your yarn and perhaps a bit of fiddling with the tension dial will change the look. In general though, just swatch with your yarn and that's the gauge you'll need to calculate for.

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe!


Delivered by Dayana Knits

I was wondering what I was going to do with this big brown acrylic piece... and omg it fits perfectly as a backing to my vintage rhino needlepoint I did last year!

That bottom thing is the "cast-on comb" that you attach weights to. The stitches are live.

Oh my, your workload definitely comes quicker with a knitting machine. Now I have to find and insert and sew a pillow for a project I had NO intention of finishing in 2019! 😂

Next in the book was a big jump in skill level: intarsia. Whoah, I still don't understand how it works -- instead of using the yarn feeder everything is done with the yarn lying in front of you on the floor. Things were going well until all my needles dropped their stitches and what I thought was a tree became a stump. 😅


Next came slip-stitch patterns. I bet there's a ton you can do, but my book only had a few. To slip a stitch you just put the needles you want to skip in a different position and then switch a lever on the carriage to ignore those stitches. Here's the "tuck stitch".


And here it is with 2-different colors. 


So pretty and all you do is switch a knob and move some needles occasionally. You can follow everything with a chart like this:


Next was a cool "skip stitch" that I'm not even sure of how to knit!


That's one of two reasons this whole unexpected endeavor is interesting to me. First, it will let me do stitches that are not typical of hand knitting, or tedious. Second, it lets me get through mundane knitting like stockinette or ribbing to be able to get to the interesting hand knitting part.

Next was using slip stitch to do mosaic colorwork. Gosh, it's so perfect looking, it really does look like fair-isle!


Finally, the Knitter can even cable -- with some major finagling on your part.


I'm not sure I'd be able to get through a cabled garment without messing it up though, because you have to transfer stitches manually using crazy tools like this!


Do you remember me mentioning that the Knitter was only half of the machine?! Well, I had to move to a new table once I attached to Ribber onto the Knitter. Look at this thing! At the end of the movie it will go up and show you the alien praying mantis-like yarn tensioner.


The two beds have their own carriages, but they get linked so that they move together at the same time. In this movie, you'll see how the stitches look in 1x1 ribbing when they are set up.



You might be able to tell that this more like a slip stitch ribbing. That's because the easier way to do it only uses half the needles at any given time. The first barrier I hit was trying to do the full needle ribbing, my carriage kept getting jammed. That'll be the first forum answer I'll be looking for!

But staying with the simpler way, 2x2 ribbing wasn't far behind. I even learned how to take it off the Ribber and continue in stockinette on the Knitter! Can anyone say.... SWEATER?!


I think my first full machine knitting project will be just like this. Ribbing and boxy stockinette with drop shoulders using a beautiful stash yarn I never knit with because it's too busy for anything but. Like this one by Shirsty Cat Designs that has been languishing in my stash forever!


Ok. Can you believe we are still on Day 2?? Well, there was one more thing in the book and you might not believe it... you can knit in the round!


Now before you get too excited, you can't rib in the round. Or maybe even do much of anything else in the round... but you can totally keep the stitches live and do toes, ribbing and an afterthought heel on your own! Then again, I know nothing (yet) so I'm sure there are even more unexpected things to do with this amazing machine.

And that ends my 2-day adventure! I took today off to write this blog but the machine is calling to me 👀. What will be my first project? I'm going to try to get through the boring ribbing on this Anny Blatt number (Bela from Book 221) so I can get to hand knitting the floof right away!


... and JUST THINK how much more I would have enjoyed these recent projects if I had been able to machine knit the endless stockinette on the back of my Martin Storey KAL pillow or my Bowland Poncho side panels!


For those of you interested in getting this machine, my husband use the importer All Brands.

Do you have advice for me or just want to ooh and ahh and ask questions? Leave a comment here!


Follow @dayanaknits on Instagram

Comments

  1. Thanks for such a great post! I always wondered what the learning curve was for these machines. Can't wait to read more as you learn! Happy knitting (and happy birthday)!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful gift this is!
    I'm very impressed with the progress you made i just 2 day's. I've been thi king about buying a knittingmachine, but the thought of a long learning curve withheld me from really going for it. Now it seems more possible 😃
    So thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW! Such a successful surprise present. I'm so glad you're enjoying it - and blazing a trail for those who have always wondered about machine knitting.
    -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

    ReplyDelete
  4. When you were knitting your poncho, I thought of how much easier that long, boring part would be on the machine. A knitting machine allows you to be productive, with professional results, right out of the box yet continue to learn and create for years and years. I’d recommend you pick up a copy of “Hand Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters” by Susan Guigliumi. She has excellent video courses as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations! May you enjoy many beautiful creative moments on your delightful machine. I'm sure you'll manage quiet well. Tailored dresses and lace would be an interesting future endevour. I'm sure your up for the challenge?
    Please keep posting your wonderful adventures and beautiful works of art!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful gift and learning curve for you. Amazing what you have picked up in just a few days👍. Looking forward for more of your work on the machine 👌😊

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! :)

Popular Posts