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Scroll down to read a free article on buying second hand machines with happy results.

© 2016 Kathryn Doubrley

Got knitting machine fever? Of course you do. And you want a bargain. But what exactly is a bargain when buying a second hand machine? Letís explore that.

Should you visit a yard sale and find a more or less complete machine for ten dollars, itís a bargain. Even if it will never knit again, dismantling it for parts to help other knitters restore similar machines is potentially profitable plus a nice thing to do and a good way to make knitting friends. Worst case scenario is that you salvage the tools for use on other machines and make the needle into latch tools. If you arenít sure how, there are instructions in my Cool Tools, Cheap Tricks and More book.

But quite a few amazing finds are restorable and many knitters do knit on found treasures. It usually takes some patience, money and experience to bring these back into full usefulness so you really canít think of it as a ten dollar machine. Ten dollars plus one hundred hours plus an undetermined amount of money to rebuild the sponge bar, clean and service it are more likely. If you enjoy that kind of thing, itís still a bargain for an experienced knitter. Itís not a great first machine, though.

We love EBay because it puts us in touch with a world market. Someone a thousand miles away can connect us with a treasure from her great auntís attic. That is very cool. But we sometimes hate EBay because there are enough nightmare experiences to spoil the fun. There are a few uninformed or irresponsible sellers and a sprinkling of actual criminals in the mix that we must be careful of.

When shopping EBay for machine knitting items, here are a few rules that help avoid nightmares. First, what is the sellerís feedback? If itís not 98% or better, proceed with caution. If there is some negative feedback, read it. A lot of complaints about poor communication, sloppy packing, late shipping, missing items suggest that this is truly a person to avoid. Complains such as ďthis knitting machine makes me look fatĒ are safe to dismiss. Just as there are a few scoundrels on the sales end there are a few kooks on the customer side.

Next, ascertain whether the seller actually knows what he or she is selling. Quite a few sellers are completely honest and up front. A listing that says ď Brother 892. This was my personal machine. I have enjoyed it for 10 years. All the tools are present. It is clean but will need a new sponge bar. Only selling because I inherited my auntís KH970 and donít have room for bothĒ suggests that the seller knows what she has and is being as straight forward as she can. Whereas this one ďGREAT! RARE! Looks like it was never out of the case. Brothers 970 knitter machine in PERFECT condition. Seems like it would run nice. Slider thing goes to and fro OKĒ suggests that the seller is not a machine knitter and not qualified to make these enthusiastic comments.

I have bought machines from people who didnít know much but had rescued them from storage buildings, and estate sales. Thatís fine as long as you, the buyer, realize that the seller cannot provide you with everything you need to know. Ask as many questions as it takes to see if the machine is in a condition that you can work with. Honest effort at answering the questions is a good sign. Even so, the buyer must realize that there is some uncertainty in this purchase and the price you pay should be one that you are willing to offer in spite of that uncertainty.

Unrealistically low shipping prices may seem attractive but are not an encouraging sign. Do you want your machine tossed into any old box with a wad of paper? Thought not.

This is most unlikely to be the lowest dollar option but may very well be the best bargain all around. In a direct sale from a person in this category, you should be able to get clear answers about the age and condition of the machine. Thatís good. You will likely be offered a swatch that was made on the machine. Also good. In most cases you may have a hands on demonstration of the machine working. In some cases you can even get lessons. All of these things are of great value, especially to new knitters.

This kind of seller is likely to clean the machine, replace the sponge bar and test it thoroughly before she offers it for sale. Thatís great. But it takes many hours and a financial investment. Sheís also going to spend more personal time with you than an EBay seller. You must expect that these advantages will be reflected in the price of the machine. Itís only fair and it still may save you money in the long run. It will certainly save you time.

This is tricky. The family of a knitter usually thinks its know a lot about her machines but very often does not. It would be cruel to insult them by saying ďplainly that machine has not been cleaned in a decade!Ē but in fact, it may not have been. Declining health or eyesight may cause an avid knitter to lose track of maintenance, tools and other things. The family may truly have no idea that Mama, who was so particular about her machines, became less so. Each family is unique. Just tread carefully and gently but mind your interests, too.

If at all possible, give the machines a test drive yourself. Estate finds are a better deal for experienced knitters than for newbies. If you are invited to visit and try out estate machines, determine the models ahead of time and buy appropriate sponge bars to take along. Very, very likely, they will be necessary to test the machines. A sponge bar doesnít last all that long. A knitting machine simply cannot be properly tested without a good one.

Push the limits of your bulky machine to use worsted and bulky yarns. Create items with a real hand knitted look fast. Super comfy and warm and lots of fun!