Thrifty Knitting Machine – Singer Silver Reed LK-140

A couple of years ago, I really wanted a knitting machine. I like yarn and the thought of making pretty things with yarn has always appealed to me. I started teaching myself to knit and crochet while I was pregnant with Finn. He is eleven now, and it takes me two days of work to make a single dishcloth. So, a knitting machine seemed like a good compromise to speed things up a bit. They are kind of hard to come by, though, especially a well made machine. Besides, I knew nothing about how a knitting machine works, so I got my embroidery machine instead.

Fast forward to two Sundays ago. The family and I were having fun thrift shopping for some office furniture. (That could also read as, “Chris and I were dragging the kids around to thrift stores, with much protesting on their part.”) The first Goodwill store we went to didn’t have much in the way of office furniture. They did have lots of bins out full of miscellaneous stuff that I really wasn’t interested in digging through, until I happened to notice this long rectangular box poking up out of one bin.

That’s the one. It for is a Singer LK-140, made by Silver Reed. It is a plastic bed hobby machine, but a durable hobby machine. I’ve since learned that, except for having ten fewer needles, it is identical to the newer LK-150 knitting machine. That means parts are easy to come by.

The box was so well taped, and it had a good weight to it, so I decided not to even open it before buying it. I figured I probably wouldn’t even know what may have been missing. Also, let’s zoom in on the price tag:

Back when I was actively looking for a knitting machine, I would have thought getting one for $80 on eBay was a fairly good deal. At $5.49, it was worth it even if it was only good for parts.

When I finally opened it at home, I did notice a few parts were missing, but only the table clamps, manual and transfer tools. I found a free manual online, and the other two items are easily and inexpensively replaced. They also aren’t essential, so I have played with it a bit.

I did need to replace the sponge strip. That’s pretty standard for an older machine. Luckily on this machine, foam weatherstripping works great as an inexpensive replacement. I also needed to clean the needles, because they were covered with gunk from the old sponge strip. With that, I was able to set it up and play.

There is definitely a learning curve, but it is fun. I have noticed, though, that you can still tell it is my own handiwork.

See the dropped stitch. It’s like my signature. The best part, though, is it only took me a minute or two to make that swatch, as opposed to a day or two. A little more practice, and I might be able to make two or three dishcloths a day without dropped stitches, or a scarf with a few holes. Seriously, though, it is fun, and I look forward to coming up with new projects and products to make.

As for office furniture, I felt bad that I got a new toy but we hadn’t found the thing we really needed, so I did a quick craigslist search. There just happened to be a desk posted locally in the free section.

Excuse the mess. That photo was taken while everything was getting tossed around with moving in the desk. There is a trim piece that needs to be put in place on the top. Overall, it is in good shape. More importantly, it provides us with the two main things we needed for the office: more desk space and shelving. Best of all, it was free!

Weekend Projects: Crib to Co-sleeper

Chris is sick, Beckett is over the cold but still teething and Finnian is a crazy six year old. You’d think I would do nothing but try to stay sane and see that everyone survives the weekend. Instead I decide to turn the mostly-used-as-a-playpen crib into a co-sleeper (search “how to sidecar a crib” for many better than I could write tutes) and simplify diaper changes by resurrecting Finn’s old changing table.

Check out the freshly ironed sheets.

The co-sleeper allows Beckett to have his own space while still being close enough that no one has to completely wake up for the 1-2 night time feedings. I left the crib mattress a little lower so that he can’t crawl over to our bed and then headfirst off the edge as quickly. This will allow me to (maybe) leave the room while he’s asleep and hear him over the monitor in time to prevent tumbles.

Ideally the changing table would have gone in the bathroom to make poopy diaper rinses easier. Our bathroom is the size of a postage stamp, so that was out. It was obnoxious in the hall outside of the bathroom. I finally settled on using it between the crib and wall as an added security measure to prevent the beds from separating. It is still usable as a changing table, and probably safer with less room for B to roll. I can’t access all the shelf space as easily, but I can keep the essentials in reach. Still doesn’t make rinsing poops easier, but at least it’s more streamlined than our changing pad on the bed wipes under the crib diapers on the baby chest of drawers method we’ve used for the past almost nine months.

Mystery nest

My car has a vacuum leak that requires removing the intake manifold to fix. It is our only car, so we’ve been driving it like this for a few weeks so Chris could fix it over summer break. He even drove it earlier today to the parts store.

When he took off the manifold, this is what he found:

I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know. I’m just amazed that a) the wiring is intact, and b) it hasn’t caught on fire.

Simple Cupcake Crayons

Preschoolers seem to attract crayons. This has resulted in Finn having an OVERFLOWING shoebox of crayons.  I sorted through and removed all the stubs and short broken crayons to recycle into cupcake crayons.  Now he has a slightly less full shoebox of regular crayons and six slightly swirly cupcake crayons.

How to DIY:

  • Line a muffin pan with foil or a double thickness of cupcake liners. (Note: The wax will likely melt through, so you probably want to use a pan that you reserve for non-food projects.)
  • Remove all the paper from your crayons.
  • Break into smaller pieces if needed.  I just broke them as small as I could with my fingers.  Most pieces were about an inch long or smaller.
  • Sort the pieces into the lined cups.  I sorted by color, but you could also mix for super swirly crayons.
  • Fill the cups to the top but don’t overfill.
  • Melt in the oven at about 200-250 degrees F. I recommend setting a baking sheet under the muffin pan.  You really don’t want to have to scrape melted crayon off your oven.
  • Check about every 10-15 minutes.  I let them cook until there were just a few solid chunks in the middle. Then I gently swirled them with toothpicks to sink the chunks and blend the colors.
  • When they are sufficiently melted, turn off the oven.  You can carefully remove them at this point or let them cool in the oven.  I didn’t need my oven, so I let them cool in there overnight.
  • Once they’ve cooled completely you can remove the papers and color away. smile

Up on the Roof

Last night I climbed up on the roof to help Chris lay shingles. Mind you, I’m not very fond of heights, I’m clumsy and I think I’ve been on a roof briefly once before. Our roof isn’t very steep, though, so it wasn’t too bad.

We worked from about 10pm until 2:30am and got quite a bit done. There is some rain in the forecast today, so we wanted to be as close to finished as possible. One of Chris’s friends is supposed to show up this afternoon. With another person, it should be done tonight.

I really should have taken pictures while I was up there. If nothing else, I’ll have to get up there to take some pics when it’s finished and have Chris take a picture of me actually on the roof.

If you follow my Facebook, you’re probably wondering what my “I’m not drunk…” comment was all about. It goes back to my little brother’s 21st birthday a few years ago. He and my sister were at my parents house. They stayed up late hanging out in the back yard celebrating. Mom walked out to find them on the roof of the garage out back. One of them calls out to her “We’re not drunk…we’re on the roof!” Needless to say they were both drunk and on the roof.

Mom went back to bed, and luckily there were no injuries.

I’m off to get another cup of coffee. Have a great Monday!