Saturday, May 9, 2009

Confession Time...

I've joined the ranks of cheater: I got myself a used Ultimate Sweater Machine Deluxe kit off eBay. It arrived in the mail a few days ago:

For those who are curious, here are my impressions so far:
  • It has a steep learning curve.
  • For best results (or results at all), you MUST watch the DVD/video that came with the kit and follow all instructions EXACTLY as they show. If you don't you'll have a lot of dropped stitches or work that falls off the needles entirely.
  • Prepare to have this happen in the beginning anyway even if you do follow the directions to the letter. It takes some practice to get used to how to run the carriage across the needle bed, get around when the carriage jams, etc.
  • When the nice lady on the DVD says take an evening to yourself without the kids or pets around to distract you to learn the USM, DO IT. Otherwise your dog won't come out from under the bed for a week and your kids' teachers are going to be calling you asking where they learned such creative combinations of swear words. Like I said, steep learning curve.
  • If you try to get the USM off eBay, ask the seller about the condition of the machine. Does it have parts that are cracked or broken? How long have you had it? Are there any missing accessories? I didn't out of my excitement in finding one for half the retail cost and discovered upon opening it that a tab on the carriage was broken, a part on one of the needle beds had cracked and broken off, and the pattern booklet was missing. If I had known any of this I would have negotiated a lower price or asked for free shipping - thankfully the broken parts were repairable and minor flaws so it wasn't that big of a deal, but it would have been nice if I'd had the pattern book as it apparently goes into much better detail about using the USM than the DVD does, and I don't think I should have to spend $10 for one online. Not enough to rate the seller as bad, but very possibly neutral.
That said, I'm having fun learning to use the USM and have already done my first project - a long-awaited and promised sweater for my son:

Bear in mind this is before I washed and blocked it, so it looks a little short here. Now that I did, it's a nice length in the torso so he'll be able to wear it nicely. The only part I did not do on the machine is the neckline and that's because it's not possible to do stuff in the round on it. The yarn is Patons Classic Wool Merino in Denim Marl.

I've also started on my second project with the USM - it's going to be a lace shawl using Patons Lacette in Lilac Lace and Cream Caress, double stranded:

There are some people who have claimed on Amazon reviews that you can't do anything intricate with the USM like lace and ribbing. This isn't true - no it doesn't do it just straightforward, you have to remove stitches off the needles and rework them by hand, and it does slow down your work. But it still goes much faster than knitting the work by hand on needles.

It isn't to say I'm giving up making things by hand for good. Far from it! I still have my pride, LOL. I also still love doing socks, making crochet projects, and more. But I love that I can crank something out quickly as a gift or to incorporate with other techniques.

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