You know I’m a dedicated thrift store and garage sale shopper. My habit has saved thousands of dollars over the years while also giving me the thrill of the hunt and the occasional Big Score.
Must confess, though. Thrift stores can also be places to blow money on impulses. To wit:
A few readers may recognize those as knitting machines. (Technically the white one is a knitting machine and the other a ribber.)
I knit. Sometimes. But until earlier this week I only dimly realized that such things as kitting machines existed.
Then the manager’s son spotted me pulling bags of yarn out of the freebie box behind my favorite thrift store and he enthused, “Mom’s got three knitting machines back there, barely used. They just came in. You should take a look.”
The machines were in the employee office. Chris didn’t even plan to put them in the store because, after all, “Who buys knitting machines?” She didn’t know thing one about them — except their eBay prices, which she uses to guesstimate what her own prices should be for unusual items (hint: waaaaay lower).
I looked inside two of the enormously heavy cases (we couldn’t get the third one open) and was immediately fascinated. Such mysterious, complicated workings! Such obvious quality and superb condition.
I was intrigued. I had no real use or place for anything like this. But I told Chris I’d research and get back to her the next morning. Off to the library …
The main things my research told me is that flat-bed knitting machines are versatile and fast once you’re used to them, but they’re fiendishly difficult to learn and tricky to operate. One devotee said, “We’re practically born knowing how to use sewing machines, but knitting machines are completely non-intuitive.”
I also learned useful things about the specific machines to pass along to Chris — their vintage (late 80s) and the sizes of yarn they were built for. They were a “thing” back then, but apparently only one manufacturer still makes flat-bed knitters.
I kept reminding myself that I had NO use for them. But I felt like I did when I was 11 and wanted the erector set that Mom eventually talked me out of because (sigh) “girls don’t play with erector sets.” Elegant machines! So much to explore.
In the morning I went back, got the stuck case unstuck, and sat on the floor more closely examining the machines, the books, and the box of attachments. An hour later the Toyota (yes, Toyota) KS650 knitter and Toyota KR350 ribber were mine. I left one knitter — and sufficient info for Chris to market it knowledgeably — behind.
I paid $30 for the knitter and books, $10 for the ribber, and $5 for the box of attachments. Forty-five dollars is a YUGE splurge in thrift store terms. I tell myself I can sell the machines and their do-dads on eBay for five times what I paid, but I doubt I will.
I bought them simply to learn how they work. To play with them. OTOH, they’re also mechanical, not electric, which could make them useful-ish small-scale production devices in SHTF times or for somebody living off grid.
Both have their manuals, which contain parts lists. When I spread everything out on the kitchen floor, I discovered (“That never happens,” said Chris) that not one single part or accessory was missing — except, of all things, a garden variety crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches, an item every hand knitter already has.
I’m getting ready for company at the end of the month, so it may be a while before I set the knitter up. Anybody out there ever used one of these beasties? I still feel decadent and wildly impulsive for buying them.