Toy knitting machine

My toddler has been taking up more of my time than my crafts and craft-posting lately.  I suppose that’s healthy!  But it means few posts here.

My husband recently discovered a fun item for me at the thrift store that I must share:

Kenner Knitting Machine

Kenner New Automatic Knitting Machine ca. 1967

A Kenner 1967ish toy flatbed knitting machine!  It boggles my mind to think that there was once a market not only for adult housewives to crank out knitwear on these fun-but-fiddly machines, but also that their children might want to imitate them on kiddie-versions thereof.  I seriously wonder if this was a niche-market or considered a mass-market thing.  Sometime I’d like to see some stats on yarn-hobby-industry sales over the decades, and find out what portion was hobby machine knitting.  Because it seems like they were making a lot more knitting machine stuff 50 years ago.

Trying to look up my $7 Kenner thrift-treasure, I did find some posts on vintage/nostalgia boards talking about the hair-pulling experience of trying to use the toy knitting machine as a child.  I’m hoping that my adult-sized knitting machine experiences will make it easier for me to troubleshoot this little machine.

It does use standard-sized knitting machine needles, and the manual says it produces a standard gauge (and to borrow Mom’s leftover “regular weight” yarn).  But it only has 24 or 28 needles (it’s not in front of me at the moment).  It seems to be mostly complete and in decent shape.  The carriage bumpers for the two ends are dry-rotted, and the needles on the far ends of the row seem too sticky/tight, but I think I can loosen some screws to help with that.  Amazingly, all the needles are there and not a single one is bent or broken!  Since most of the original yarn-balls are intact, and there is little evidence of use except for a few remnants of pom-pom cuttings, and some tiny bits of fiber caught in some of the needles, I suspect this toy machine was tried once and given up quickly.

Knitting Machine box contents

Inside the Kenner New Automatic Knitting Machine box

I hope I can get it working.  I think it might be more convenient than my regular machine to keep out of my baby’s way since it’s so small, and it should be big enough to crank out some mittens if it works ok.  Down the road, I am tickled by the thought that my kid might want to try using a knitting machine, and that I’d have a kid-sized one for him to try out.  That is, assuming, he has any interest in crafts… I can only hope.

Until next time, keep those needle-beds clackety-clacking!


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