DIY Hem Weights for the Bond USM

When knitting on the Bond USM, as with most models of knitting machines, you need to hang weights on the project to stop the stitches lifting up off the needles. The machine comes with plastic hems that you slot metal rods into. You do a row of elastic cord that attaches the hem, then a few rows of waste yarn, then start with project yarn.

I have a wide hem and a short one, the latter being a part of the extension kit that came with the machine. But what if you cast on lots of extra stitches at one side of a project? How do you weigh that bit down? Or, if you don’t have the extension kit, what do you do if the big hem is too awkward and heavy for your project?

Well, you can make your own hems. I discovered this while exploring machine knitting forums on Ravelry, and then found a tutorial on YouTube for making them. The video I watched used pvc pipe filled with lead for the weights. I’m using metal rods and long bolts.

To make one I cast on with the plastic hem as usual, then knit six rows in waste yarn. I used the 2.5 keyplate and enough stitches to match the width of the rods plus four more for a seam. I knit ten rows in a robust yarn – I’m using basic acrylic 8ply/dk.

Then picked up the stitches of the first row and popped them on the needles, starting from the right, to make the pocket for the weights.

Another ten rows then switched to the largest gauge plate – 4 – and knit two rows. You might want to use a different coloured yarn for this to help you find these rows later.

Knit another ten rows then cast off.

One off the machine it looked like this:

I popped the rods in the pocket and sewed up the sides. This is the finished hem, ready to go:

And since I wanted to make another, smaller hem I immediately put it to use. The trick is to fold it along the rows of longer stitches, stocking stitch sides together, so the larger stitches pop up. They can them be easily hooked on the needles.

None of this messing about with elastic. And then I used another tip I picked up recently on Ravelry: ravel cord. It’s a row of smooth crochet cotton that you just pull out when you’re ready to remove the hem. Brilliant!

I knit a few rows of waste yarn after it, but only because using a different colour it made it easier to hook up the stitches for the pocket in the second hem I was making.

What I love about this is I can custom make hems for any projects that require them, so long as I can find a weight of the right length. I can probably get longer ones by simply inserting a row of long bolts.

Between these hems and the ravel cord – and screwing the machine onto a piece of wood – knitting on the Bond is so much easier. What did we do before Ravelry existed?