Bond knitting machines have been around for quite a long time. Although I don’t think they are still manufactured, there are many machines still in active service and a great many more, gathering dust in attics and closets and under spare room beds. The Bond knitting machine is very basic, with a plastic bed and carriage and metal needles. They came in several flavors; the Classic, The Incredible, the Elite and the Ultimate. I don’t know what the differences are, but I do know that there were at least two variations in the needle spacing that was used.
Bond knitting machines aren’t the easiest of devices to come to grips with and many new owners gave up in frustration, considering them to be a waste of time. For those who persevere though, these machines prove to be extremely capable, producing excellent results with various weight yarns,
My partner, Jan has several Bond Knitting Machines and she loves them. She is what you might call a ‘power user’, turning out a couple of garments each week, every week. She has been using her current, Bond Elite for more than two years and it is still working perfectly.
Bond Knitting Machines are remarkably robust, despite the impression of fragility that I mistakenly arrived at, when I first saw one. They do however have one serious weakness ….. a weakness that is the bane of every owner of a Bond Knitting Machine. These machines use a thing called a weighted hem, to hold the initial stitches in place. A weighted hem, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a strip of material that has a weighted rod held in a hem along each edge and a series of slots through its centre, which fit over the needles of the knitting machine.
The great weakness in Bond knitting machines, is the weighted hems that were provided. The material between the slots invariably breaks. Most users make a futile attempt to repair their weighted hems. I know we did. But as fast as we’d repair the breaks, more would occur.
Jan purchased a replacement weighted hem which was sold as a ‘heavy duty’ version and we eagerly awaited its arrival. It proved to be about as robust as its predecessors. Jan spent a lot of time on the internet, searching for solutions to this problem. What she discovered was that some folks had made their own substitutes for weighted hems. One suggestion involved a wooden hem with metal hooks that would attach to the ravel cord, between the needles. Another was for a knitted version of the weighted hem. None of the proposed solutions sounded very viable for a user who was churning out garments the way that Jan was.
In the end, we concluded that the original design was probably the best approach but the material used to make the hems was the obvious fault. I got busy and made Jan a few weighted hems using upholstery weight vinyl (leatherette, naugahyde, PVC …. depending on where you live). The slots were cut by hand and they are hemmed using #40 weight, bonded nylon thread. They are tedious things to make. Every slot must be carefully cut with exactly the right spacing to match the machine’s needle bed. One slip and the entire job is ruined. The end result though was far better than we would have dared to hope.
Jan has been using my weighted hems constantly for several months now. Not only have they outlived any of the commercial ones that she bought previously, but they are showing no signs whatever of wearing out or failing in any way.
(Wow! I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I wrote this post. Having produced many hundreds of garments over that time, Jan is still using the same weighted hems that I first made and they’re still showing no sign of failure. I get a huge kick out of knowing that my hems are now serving in literally every corner of the globe and will probably outlast me by quite a margin!)
If you have been struggling with an original weighted hem that is more repairs than original material, or if you are trying to achieve good results using some alternative design then I just can’t recommend our approach strongly enough.
If you can’t quite be bothered making your own, we are offering these for sale and have already mailed our home manufactured hems to buyers in the UK, the United States and Europe. If you are interested in obtaining one of our hems, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I charge 35 cents AUD per stitch i.e. $35.00AUD for a 100 stitch hem and can produce hems to whatever length you require. Mailing costs are currently $17 AUD for USA and $20AUD for the UK and Europe. **** These rates were current when this post was written …. six years ago. Please ask regarding current charges. As at December 2021 costs are 40c AUD per stitch and postage charges are currently $21 AUD to the United States and $26.40 AUD to the UK and Europe.
We have sent our hems all over the world and we have never had one go astray. Although Jan does list them on Ebay, we would be very grateful if you would purchase them directly from us instead and help us to avoid the Ebay fees. We can accept payment via Paypal and will send you a Paypal invoice when you order by email (email@example.com).
Please note: the actual hem weights are not included when I supply a replacement hem. The weights are simply lengths of mild steel rod of 6mm or greater diameter and roughly the same length as the hem. Most people already have the steel rods from their old hem but appropriate lengths of steel rod can be obtained very cheaply from your local hardware store. The cost of mailing lumps of steel all over the world would far exceed the purchase price at your local hardware supplier
My hems are manufactured with a few extra stitches which saves me counting them manually. If you require that your hem be an exact number of stitches, please state this when you order.
Bond knitting machines are an excellent, simple design and, given appropriate care and maintenance, they will last indefinitely. If you can get by the weakness of the original weighted hems, they will produce beautiful knitted garments of excellent quality … and will keep on doing so for a very long time.
HINTS AND TIPS
If you use a Bond Knitting Machine, there are a couple of pointers that I can offer, having watched Jan working with hers for quite a long while.
1. Never attempt to use your Bond Knitting Machine in a cold environment. Jan has found that her machine operates far better in a warm room and never tries to use it until her work area is warmed to a comfortable temperature.
2. Service your machine regularly. Remove all traces of fluff and lint from all parts of the machine. Lubricate the bed, the inside of the carriage and the stitch plates. Jan uses silicone spray, sprayed onto a rag and wiped over all of the relevant surfaces.
3. Use appropriate ravel cord and change to new cord regularly. Jan changes her ravel cord at the first sign of it binding in her work.
4. If using a vinyl weighted hem of the kind that we do, make very sure that the underside of the vinyl comes into contact with the ravel cord. Under no circumstances should the ravel cord contact the shiny (finished) side of the vinyl. Doing so can cause the ravel cord to bind and damage your weighted hem …. even if you only make this mistake once! (Ask me how I know).
Well, there you are. I hope this information will prove useful for those people who are still operating their Bond Knitting Machine. Having seen countless examples of the great results that can be had from these machines, I can’t praise them highly enough. While they might not be the easiest machine to master, they certainly do provide wonderful rewards for patience and perseverance.
If you’d like to see just some of the lovely garments that Jan makes, check out her web album …… http://s109.photobucket.com/user/tassiejan/library/jumpers?sort=3&start=all&page=1 She has an Ebay Store at http://stores.ebay.com.au/tassiejanknitting
Bye for now,
Andrew Caddle 2015-06-02
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Thank you, Andrew.