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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Static Monster Revisited

I decided to knit a scarf for my daughter's chiweenie, Oliver, because he's always cold. I knit it in the round and was disturbed to see, when it came off the machine, that there was a stitch that intermittently tucked. (See the white pointer.) O well, he's a dawg, so I gave it to him anyway. At first I thought I had a bad needle latch so did some switching of needles. But when I knit a sample again, a different needle tucked. In fact a bunch of them tucked where they were supposed to be plain stockinette. Grrrrrrrr. I should have realized sooner, this was the dreaded static monster coming to roost upon my machine. After implementing a bunch of anti-static measures, I was able to knit other things with no problems.

If you find the carriage really hard to push or it glides easily one way and not the other, you find the machine mispsatterning, or if you step up to your machine, touch the metal and get a shock, it's not hard to deduce, you have a static problem. Other symptoms of static include yarn jumping over needles and not knitting through or mispatterning of design. Natural fibers seem to have less static than man-made, but natural still does get static. In fact Ollie's scarf is 100% wool. When it starts, you can't believe it's true! Here are some suggestions to deal with it. If you find that your machine is acting like it's possessed, give one or all of these suggestions a try.

1. Spray your yarn with Lori Lynn Yarn Spray or Static Guard. Lori Lynn isn't being manufactured anymore, but some dealers still have a supply of it. If you find, grab. LL does have an odor---I don't think it's objectionable. To me smells like vanilla. Put the yarn in a garbage bag, spray, close and let it sit overnight to soak into the fibers. If you don't have the time to do that, just spray all sides of the cone every so often. I've been known to spray Static Guard onto a soft cloth and rub the machine down with it.

2. Rub down all parts of your needle bed and carriage with a dryer sheet (i.e. like Bounce).

3. Attach the dryer sheet to the mast and let the yarn run over it.

4. Stand on an anti-static mat like those used in factories. Put another mat under your cone of yarn. Some have said they are available at office supply stores. I have one that a friend gave me. She cut it in half --- one piece for me to stand on and one for the yarn to sit on.

5. Get an anti-static bracelet such as the computer technicians use.

6. Leave a humidifier running in your knitting room. If you can, direct it right at your cone of yarn.

7. Purchase a copper mesh from Northtipton that grounds your machine. The kit used to be about $10.00. The kit has copper mesh with grounding wires.

8. Oil your machine per manual. Often.

9. Slather hand lotion on your hands every so often. (Suggestion from Carol Wurst at Rockinghorse Farm.) If it doesn't stop the static, you'll still have lovely soft skin.

10. Use wax on the yarn mast to let the yarn glide over it. Most machines come with some but yours may be lost or used up. You can make your own with parafin and the molds that tea candles come in. Melt, pour, let harden, release from mold, drill a hole with a small heated knitting needle. Then attach to the mast. On Brothers, there's a post that sticks up that the wax fits on.

12. Put your yarn in the freezer overnight.

13. After you get a row or two done, pin one of those little brass pins to your knitting. Remember when we wore slips and were told to do this to prevent static? Worth a try.

13. Offer incense and a static dance to appease the static gods.

There may be other ideas you know about to calm the static monster. And if so, I'd love to hear about them. I seem to be a prime candidate for the problem.