Orion Hand Knitter

I’ve been after a vintage double bed knitting machine for a while now. I wasn’t bothered what make it was, Singer, Twinmatic, Girotex, Orion, I just wanted an old one that I could do up and get working again. I have been tempted by a few before but the snag has always been that they are collection only which rules them out for me as I rarely have access to the car. Last week I had a look on Ebay and found an Orion for £18 with no bids on it and the seller offered postage by courier. I looked at all the photos and from what I could see it seemed to be in good condition so I bid on it. I won, I was the only bidder.

The machine arrived a few days later and it was in very good condition apart from being a little grubby. It is an Orion Hand Knitter Model No. 2. It was packed in it’s original box but was missing the cast on combs and side weights. I wasn’t too concerned about that as I have ribber cast on combs for my Knitmaster and was sure they would work with this machine (they do) but I emailed the seller just in case she had them. As it turns out she didn’t have them.

Anyway, I stripped and cleaned the machine and spent much of yesterday putting it back together. I tested it out last night but for some reason the carriage on the front bed kept jamming.

This morning I stripped the front bed again then re-assembled it. Well I don’t know what I did differently but now it works! It does have the occasional jam but I can put up with that.

I did have to repair the plastic globe that holds the yarn but the seller had pointed out that it was broken and all the bits were there so it was just a case of glueing it back together.

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There is a manual so it made it easier to figure out how to set the machine up though it is a bit vague in places – I did swear at it once or twice!

The samples I knitted aren’t very good, I think I need a bit more practice!

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I’m really pleased with this machine but I don’t think I’ll have chance to play with again until after Christmas.

Also included in the box with the machine was an insight to the lady who originally owned it (not the person I bought it from) . There are two notebooks filled with hand written patterns and other notes. Having had a quick look at them it’s obvious that the lady was selling the things that she knitted. The names of the people she was knitting the garments for are written at the top of each pattern. There are lists of the different yarns she used, tension measurements, how much she charged (pounds, shillings and pence) – it makes fascinating reading! One of the books  is dated March ’66.

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Between many of the pages of the books were notes written on scraps of paper, letters and ball bands.

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There were also some hand knitting patterns, a couple of machine knitting patterns and lots of patterns torn from magazines. There was part of a Stitchcraft magazine dated October 1945!

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This lot will keep me occupied for ages. I’ll have to have a good look through it all and see if I can find out more about the lady who used to own the machine.