Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is it Tuesday yet?

I've had three Mondays already this week...

I'm tired, I have a billion things I want to do after work, but I'm on my feet all day this week, and it's not always going as planned. I mowed and weed-whacked after work yesterday, then woke up 8 or so times during the night to pee. I guess I'm not dehydrated!

I'm slowly working my way through the lessons in the manual for one of the knitting machines sitting in my house. It's quickly becoming my new favorite machine in the house... The one in the dining room is still awaiting parts I ordered a week ago. Apparently there was an accident in the stock room at the shop and all (ALL!) their sponge bars for standard knitting machines were bent to a 90-degree angle. They're supposed to be straight.

And there's one in the basement still, set up and has a project on it and one waiting.

There has been a very steep learning curve for me with these machines. I can figure them out, and fix them, and clean them, and stuff, but getting them to knit what I want? Whole different story. Somewhere in between understanding the physical configuration of the machine, and coaxing it to do my will, there's a giant leap of faith and gap in understanding. I can take them apart and put them back together now. But make a whole sweater from start to finish on the machine? Haven't got there yet. It's not so intuitive to me as knitting by hand or taking care of machines.

I'm still trying to figure out when I turned into a mechanic, anyway. I was not a mechanically-minded child, nor teenager. I could change a tire and check the oil, but that was mostly because my parents wouldn't let me get a driver's license without doing both in front of them. But anything else under the hood? Mystery. Clueless. Frightening. I didn't understand it, and was in awe of anyone who did.

I still don't fix my own car, though I did do some maintenance on my Tempo when I was broke and in grad school. I still don't understand all of it, and every car gets worse with all the computerized whatchmajiggits they keep adding...

I want my Tempo back.

Anyway, somewhere between then and now I became the go-to person for laboratory instrument maintenance and repair. I understand them, intuitively know what symptoms mean, and can fix them fairly well. (I don't say very well because weird things have a tendency to happen when I'm on the fix-it the fire.) Our calls to service techs have gone WAY down in the last few years.

And so it is with the knitting machines - I am fixing them, maintaining and servicing them, and intuitively know from symptoms (or can find) the source of a problem.

Unlike the lab, though, I am not a fully comptent and trained user of them.

Maybe that's the problem.


Kathryn said...

If you are comfortable taking apart and putting the machines back together, you are head and shoulders above many knitters. Your comfort getting the machines to do what you want them to will come. Most machines languish under beds and in closets because the owners are completely intimidated by them.

Your sponge bar story made me laugh in sympathy. I've heard horror stories of how one mail order shop literally bent a bar in half on purpose so it would fit into the mailing box. When the knitter complained, the employee couldn't understand why she wouldn't just "unfold" it.

If it will help you in the future, I should have my post on how to make sponge bars up in the next week. It is easy and very cheap. For maybe a $15 investment, you can make close to 30 bars.

Keep at your machines. You are through the worst part of the learning curve - the fear. Knitted garments will follow.


Gloria Patre said...

I agree with Kathryn! If you have knit a garment by hand you can do it on a machine! In many ways it's much simpler - everything is stretched out in front of you and the decreases & increases are sitting there looking at you - really!

Kate Hussein A. said...

My god, the strange twins-separated-at-birth thing continues! I have a vintage (50s) knitting machine in my closet that I spent several happy days cleaning and fixing. I got it working, but then became to incredibly frustrated with the knitting part that I put it back in its closet and there it has stayed. But I think the problem is really with the sponge bar - or what passed for that piece in this old model. The original one was all nastily decomposed of course, so I had to scrape it out and improvise a new one, since I can't get a replacement. My first try wasn't so hot, though, so I've been planning to try again with some better ideas ever since, but so far haven't gotten around to it...

And, I too discovered a hitherto unknown knack for mechanical things only relatively recently. For me it started with working as a projectionist during college - I had to know how to trouble-shoot the projectors, and discovered that machines were actually really easy, and fun, for me to understand. I hit a complete brick wall with anything electronic, though. I just don't understand that stuff.