The Hague Linker

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Ramblings
Several posts ago I mentioned an item called a linker, which basically is an electric seaming machine for knitted items.  I was keen to get one and save myself all that seaming.
So I won one in an ebay auction.  These are $1000 when new, at list price, but I paid less than a third of that.  It arrived in the afternoon one day and Alex and I immediately spirited it upstairs to test it.  I had a machine-knitted silk piece that was earmarked to be a lingerie bag (more on that later) that hadn’t been seamed, plus the Cashmere Jubilee vest for him.
This thing seamed both of them easily.  I was surprised at how easy it was and had grand dreams of timesaving futures.
Later, I knit the front and back piece of a garment with Colourmart turquoise cashmere and Valley Yarns’ tencel (this last was actually the leftover stuff from the skirt of my empire dress).  It came out pretty cool – the tencel made a fabulous pooling design that looks like faux argyle!  I used the linker to seam the shoulders on this one.  It was still pretty easy, but the stitching was very obvious.  The linker makes a chain stitch (crochet-type) seam where I would normally have used Kitchener stitch on the shoulders.  Since I used both yarns to seam, the variegation in the tencel made the stitching visible.  Still, this was merely a lesson to "not use variegated yarn in the linker."  This faux argyle thing was another test project, so it didn’t bother me much.  Cool patterning, huh?

As always, however, I did start to run into real, unfixable trouble.  The trouble began when I took a piece of knitting off the machine.  My pieces end, and then I knit about 10 rows of waste yarn on the end, in order to make sure none of my real stitches drop (you can see this in the pic above:  the waste yarn is the bright blue at the top and bottom).  I have a terrible fear of dropping stitches, and when this happens (in machine- or in hand-knitting), I panic, grind my teeth, and get very tetchy.  So anything that will help me stop that is good.
So I had this idea to put the live stitches on the linker (with the waste yarn still attached) and ‘link’ the live stitches shut with a crochet chain so they didn’t unravel.  Great idea, huh?  Well, theoretically.  Because of all the waste yarn (which was at this point beginning to unravel), and because of the design of the linker, it was very hard for me to accurately see where to place the stitches on the linker pegs.  It took me a long time to do it (with my eyes practically right up at the pegs), and then I linked it.  Sometimes the linking needle pierced the waste yarn, which curls forward; this made a lot of work to cut out afterwards.
You guessed it, half those live stitches were not really on the pegs right.  I took the piece off the linker and it immediately started to unravel – except where the chain had linked through the waste yarn.
Next test:  put the live stitches on the linker, remove the waste yarn (thus making it more easy to see if the stitches are right), and link.
Next result:  problems, because occasionally I ended up hanging the waste yarn stitches instead of the live ones, which made it incredibly difficult to remove the waste yarn.  Also, about 1/3 of the stitches were still not right on the needles and ended up unraveling.  Grr.
So I stopped this idea and went back to hand-casting-off my finishing rows.  This is much less stressful for me, and really doesn’t take as much work.  Plus, I don’t have to hold the stitches up to my nose to see them.
Next test:  seaming a side seam of a sweater.  I’m not sure which garment this was – because mentally I can’t think of another machine-knit garment that I would have tested it on – but clearly there was something, because it was a COMPLETE mess.  The stitches get hung sideways on the linker pegs, face to face, and then the linker makes the chain through them.  I was up close and peering at them, desperately trying to make sure the stitches were all on properly – although doing the side stitches would not result in any unraveling – and yet the seam was crooked and looked terribly junky.  I know that I can hand-seam better than that.
Result?  I resold the linker.  It just wasn’t providing me with the ease and timesaving required.
And yes, I made a tiny profit on it.  $5.03.

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