Ultimate Sweater Machine

Well, after a lot of frustration, I got it figured out! Check out what I did! If you are having trouble learning how to use the knitting machine, you will get there! Really! Once you get it, you will wonder why you had so much trouble. I made a lot of attempts and just kept dropping stitches! FRUSTRATING! As I was learning to use the machine, I found the following to be CRITICAL. If you don't follow these tips, you will end up with dropped stitches.

  1. The most important thing is making sure when you set the weight in place that the hooks are all open and the elastic is on every hook.
  2. The weight has to hang FREELY - My table has a rounded edge and the weight did not hang freely, causing stitches to drop.
  3. Make sure to hold the yarn somewhat tightly until the carriage starts picking up stitches.

If you are careful to follow these tips, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and frustration.

One thing is for sure-- after so many attempts, I feel like I am an expert at getting the machine set up for knitting! :) :)

Now that I can get through basic knitting, my next step is binding off. Stay tuned![slideshow]


I'm SO glad I found this blog. I'll be following. I haven't touched my machine in a few years. I was all gun ho there for a while. Susie

Thanks, Susie. I have been having a hard time finding the time to spend some more time with the machine, but be patient and keep watching. I will be doing some more. Your comment will encourage me to get back to work on it! Thanks!

I'll be watching. :) Susie

I got my UMC many years ago, and I love it. I am a crocheter and my mom was always an expert knitter. I learned the basics of knitting as a teenager but was always frustrated by it. If you drop 1 stitch it can run alllllll the way down. In crochet if you drop a stitch you lose that stitch, so I never really had the patience for knitting. One night I saw an infomercial about the UMC (technically mine is called The Incredible Sweater Machine), and I fell in love. With the help of a friend, my husband 'surprised' me with it that Christmas, and nearly 20 years later he still brags that it was the only time he was able to surprise me. The next Christmas my brother made me a table designed specifically for my knitting machine, complete with a little drawer for my tools. Anyway, I wanted to pass along a tip I learned along the way. When you are knitting the first row, it helps to go very slowly while pulling down gently on the weight at the bottom. Once you get the first row done, you can fly through the rest. I also use spring-type clips or clothespins to hold yarn ends when changing colors and such, and different sized fishing weights for projects too small to use the large weight on. Earring wires hold the fishing weights nicely without snagging the yarn. One last thing, I always had trouble keeping my balls of yarn feeding evenly without having them roll away, so I put the balls in a high-sided bowl on a chair on the other side of my table, causing the yarn to feed evenly so I don't wind up with uneven stitches and they don't become cat toys. Enjoy your machines, ladies. I don't know if you got a pattern book with the machine like I did, but the pattern book I have means for you to knit the patterns in order because each pattern teaches you a new skill or technique in the order you need to learn, such as casting on and off, joining panels on the machine, increasing and decreasing, etc. I learned the most by doing the projects in the order listed in the pattern book. I hope this helps!

Great history story! Ahhh - I remember that infomercial well! Roger and I had just started the business and an infomercial company approached us, saying the ISM would be a perfect infomercial product. We had a hard time believing that, but, by November of 1993, a month after the infomercial started to run, it was in the top 10 infomercials in the country. Crazy time, for sure. The Bond had been around since 1983, but that wasn't an infomercial name, so I came up with "Incredible Sweater Machine." The USM was the name for the second machine (different carriage, really) was "Ultimate" - because where can you go from "Incredible?" :-) You are so right about where best to hold the yarn. Whenever possible, I make sure there's a distance between my USM table and the yarn so there's no tension coming from just the angle of the yarn. You're also so right about the pattern book. I figured that most people want to have something at the end of their learning, and, because I'm totally application-driven, it only made sense to have patterns that were also teaching vehicles.

Hi Cari, Thank you for your reply. I was thrilled to see that an upgrade kit is available for the ISM, and hope to purchase it when I eventually get back to work. This economy has been tough. I love the way you laid out the pattern book; each pattern contained a lesson for a technique, and each lesson built upon the next. It made learning to use the machine very intuitive and completing each pattern left me with a sense of accomplishment. I got my machine when my youngest son was about 2 years old and made the baby blanket and sweater for him. He is 18 now and still has the blanket, and my cousin's toddler now wears the sweater. That Christmas I made everyone on my gift list one of the 5-panel afghans that lace/braid together; 8 of them all together, and each one only took me 3 days to make, including crocheting trim around the edges. My husband still uses the one I made him in his favorite football team's colors. I can't tell you how much I love my ISM. It is a high-quality machine that has incredible potential and allows one to express their creativity in a fraction of the time it takes to knit with manual needles.

Many of us who in the 80's purchased an ISM and putting away for one reason or another, are now retiring and are back enjoying crafts. I am delighted using again my ISM. I just upgraded it to a USM. The new carriage is indeed much easier to use, with less hassle. I wish BOND would start again producing and selling their fabulous garter bar. It is so handy for making garter stitches, especially in children garments! Two of my friends have recently bought a USM after seeing the sweater I made in 6 hours. I think the USM is coming back. Caron definitely needs to advertise for it more. It would be a real revival of the USM!

Great post, Alexandra! So glad you're enjoying your ISM/USM and I think you'll see more of it going forward. Please know, however, that Bond never made a garter bar. That was made by another company that made an 8mm machine, however, the machine (and the company) were only in existence for a few years. I know there's someone online who's making and selling her own garter bar. I don't have a contact name, but I know I've seen it. Perhaps just do a search and I'm sure something will come up. Best of luck and have fun!

Cari, can you please tell me how to find the attachments for sale for the USM. I couldn't find them on the bond-america.com web site. Thank you, Edith

Hi Edith - Most attachments are available at the buy.caron website. Hope you find what you need!

This post is almost 3 yrs old but I'll comment here anyway in case people are still reading it. I just got the USM at Michael's craft store for $79.99. It looks like they are clearancing them out. I haven't opened mine up yet so I can't comment on how well it works but for those of you who were thinking of buying one, call Michael's and see if you can nab one cheap!