Hard Kore Machine KnittingMarianne Henio
Hard Kore Machine Knitting with Ida Bee Gamey
Some of us know Ida Bee Gamey from the Facebook group Hard Kore Machine Knitters. Ida is certainly a keen machine knitter and a great motivator. I wanted to share Ida’s Knitting Story with you all.
Ida has lived in Southern Illinois, USA, all of her life. Her career as a 911 dispatcher and trainer for her local police department spanned 8 years. Previous to this Ida was a stay at home Mum, and when she finished in this role, she became a stay at home Grandma.
She says: “My family is everything to me. I have been married to my best friend for 33 years and we have been together for a total of 37 years. I met him when I was 13 years old. I have a 32 year old son and 31 year old daughter. I have a 10 year old granddaughter and 7 year old grandson who, along with their mother, live with us here. Our home is very special to me.”
I can see why! In 1993, Ida’s family lost everything to the floods of that year. They happened upon their current home while waiting for the realtor to show them another house. Their new home is up on a hill with no chance of flooding and has been their home for the last 23 years. Ida says: “It was just meant to be our home.”
Four years ago Ida was watching the TV and saw an ad for the Ultimate Sweater Machine. She had never seen a knitting machine before and presumed that they had just been invented. She says: “I thought it was the greatest invention since sliced bread!”
At the time, Ida didn’t know the difference between knitting and crochet. Before Ida’s discovery, her passion had been wildlife photography. She had never knit a single stitch before. She told her daughter’s best friend about this new invention – this machine that knits – who immediately went ahead and bought one. Ida was allowed to try it out and from that moment on she was hooked!
Ida bought her own USM and rigged it up with some hardware to make it portable and so that it knit perfectly every time. She practiced, practiced and practiced until, she tells us, “I wore the instruction manual out that came with the USM and learned a lot from it. From there I found Cheryl Brunette and watched her videos over and over. After that I joined a couple of groups on Facebook for machine knitting and found out that there were other, more advanced machines out there. I read everything I could get my hands on and when I read that the Passap was the ‘Cadillac’ of the knitting machines, I promptly bought a Passap Duo 80. Talk about a shock. From there I heard about Diana Sullivan and watched her videos over and over, eventually buying several of her books/DVDs. The Brothers soon followed, first the bulky 270 and then the 970.”
So, the passion had begun. Ida explains her current set up: “I have the Passap E6000 with a Electra 4600 motor. This is my absolute favorite for making large afghans. I have a Brother 270 Bulky with a KR-260 Ribber. I love this one because I can use thicker yarns, mainly Caron Simply Soft, my favorite. I have two Brother 970s. One is set up with the RK900 Ribber and the other is set up strictly for using the Garter Carriage. I love my 970s because of the CB-1 box. LOVE that about them. It makes programming anything in, a breeze. I actually had bought a 965i and sold it to buy the second 970 because I was so spoiled to the electronics. I have six Garter Carriages. I got my first Garter Carriage and absolutely fell in love with it. I realized how finicky they can be and how hard the needles were to get so I went on a mission to find GC needles and I ended up with a total of 6 Garter Carriages, five 93’s and one 95, just so that I’m never without. As you can tell, all of my machines are my favourites. I have all four set up at all times and I move around to them all, all the time. I have the USM but it is retired. I have a Passap Duo 80 that is also retired, I kept it for spare parts for the E6000.”
Ida has tried all sorts of projects with her machines but admits that she really enjoys making baby blankets the most. She says: “I love all of the bright colors and the thought of a precious little baby being all bundled up in the softest yarn and being all warm and snuggly is just a wonderful feeling. I also like the idea that you can give one as a gift, say like for a baby shower, and that is a gift that will last years after the diaper pail is gone and becomes a cherished keepsake. I still have a crocheted blanket that was given to me for my son, who is now 32.
But she likes baby blankets with her own special take: “I just really like going for that ‘Awe! That is so cute!’ look. I absolutely love color so I really like to mix colors that really make each other stand out. I don’t just stick with the typical pinks and blues. I love the bright, vivid colors like the greens and yellows, bright blues and orange. I really love the variegated yarns. When I make the GC blankets I leaned on my photography background to set up ‘scenes’. I wanted them to tell a story. A Christmas tree or Trick of Treating as a child.”
I asked Ida about her favourite yarns. Her reply was: “My absolute favorite is Caron Simply Soft and Caron Simply Soft Light. I love to use the Light on the 970. I use Tamm 3 ply on the Passap for the afghans but I just haven’t found anything quite as soft as Caron. Although, having said that, I did just discover Red Heart Gum Drop and absolutely love the colors and the softness. I have tried to broaden my horizons and have been getting some Alpaca and Silk and a few different wools.”
But what about Ida’s wardrobe? What does she knit for herself I wondered. She told me: “I really don’t have one lol. I have several sweaters that I have made and several scarves. I am such a jeans and sneakers kind of gal, and such a homebody that I just don’t have much of anything special. I do love Cardigans but I just haven’t made the ones that I want to. Last year’s resolution was to finish projects that I started. I would leave them with a couple of inches to finish and never go back. I have done really well with that New Year’s Resolution so I think in 2017 my New Year’s Resolution will be to conquer the swatch and being able to make any pattern with any yarn.”
So what is the story behind the setting up of the Hard Kore Machine Knitters Group? This is what Ida told me: “I had worked really hard to learn machine knitting and was very proud of how far I had come and what I was creating. I felt like I had really paid my dues in learning all about the knitting machines; not only how to use them, but how to take them apart and put them back together, cleaning and repairing.
“I loved machine knitting entirely. I started thinking about how I wanted to be around like minded people. People who were willing to put the time in to learn their machines, to practice and fail and practice and get it. People who knew what it felt like to drop a thousand rows on the floor. People who knew what it was like for 15 new cuss words to be created when the ribber wouldn’t act right. People who knew that amazing feeling when you successfully get something awesome off the machine without a single dropped stitch.
“I know there are other knitting groups out there. And I admire them all. But I am a Hard Kore Machine Knitter! And I know there are others out there just like me. And I am so hard kore that I am changing the spelling of core!
“I jumped in and created the group and was so nervous that nobody would want to join my group. I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want to just collect members for the sake of collecting members. I didn’t care if we only had ten members as long as they were active and machine knitting. I didn’t want it to be a hodge podge of hand knitters and crocheters and sewing people. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those people I just wanted to concentrate on machine knitting.
“You are hard kore if you make your knitting machine work for you, you don’t sit around waiting for it to do something magical. The group has grown and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I invited those that taught me everything I know and those that I admire so greatly, and to my absolute delight, they agreed to join. I have an amazing group of knitting friends now and the rest, as they say, is history.”
I, for one, am pleased to have been invited to join Ida’s group. I am a member of many other groups that I enjoy and get a lot of motivation and inspiration from them on a daily basis. I wouldn’t be without any of them.
I asked Ida, as a relatively new, and now very learned machine knitter, what she has gained and what she would wish to share with us all – new or experienced in machine knitting.
She says: “I guess if I had to choose something to say it would be that yes, these machines have learning curves but they can be learned. I refused to let a machine beat me. If you want to get really good at anything you have to keep at it and practice and machine knitting is no different. You can’t just expect it to happen overnight. Don’t ever let yourself be jealous of what someone else can do, or what machines they have. Instead make it a personal goal. If you want to be able to knit like someone you admire, start practicing and learning. If you want the machines that someone has, start saving your money. Put it on your Christmas list or birthday list. If you really want them, you will find a way. If you really want to learn, you will find a way with that as well.”
Wise words Ida. Thank you for a wonderful Knitting Story.
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