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NOTE FROM KATHRYN: Dear Knitters, if you are having dropped stitches, grinding noises, patterning problems, trouble knitting in one direction, etc, consider that static may be a player. It is very, very common and most common in dry climates and heated rooms but it may occur anywhere. After making sure the sponge bar is the right one and in good condition, static is the next on the trouble shooting list of likely problems.

Static electricity can cause all manner of trouble for knitting machines. Using synthetic yarns in heated rooms is a major static producer. Dropped stitches, mis-patterning and gruesome grinding noises are all possible symptoms.

Jack often gets asked what to do about this and he says that we need to ground the machines. They need not be grounded in the complete sense that a TV or other appliance needs to be which involves a strap that actually goes to the earth. Instead, we are aiming to spread out the surface that will be available to dissipate the static electricity that naturally builds up from the knitting process. (A production knitter is likely to need a true ground strap. Jack is working on a video)

Jack suggests an easy process that will help: Begin with a length of flexible electrical wire. It should be long enough to reach from your machine clamp to the table leg plus considerable ease for making end connections and wrapping. Bare both ends for about 2.5", removing the insulation on these areas. Use the bare wires on one end like a twist tie fastening the end firmly around the clamp that holds the machine to the table. Carry the other end over to the table leg and wrap it around and down the leg, then twist tie it near the bottom of the leg in the same manner that the first end was fastened to the clamp. The supporting table should not have rubber feet. Wrapping the leg is just a safety precaution to avoid creating a hazard with the loop of wire hanging down any old way.

In addition, Jack says that we can help the static to dissipate by touching the wired clamp occasionally when at the machine. The electricity will disperse through us!. If wearing rubber soled shoes, this won't work very well.

Additional notes from a question we received:Knitter:

Please ask Jack what knitters who almost always wear rubber soles should do. Only my really dressy shoes don't have rubber soles.

Kate: Jack says for you to put one hand on your machine and the other on the chair you are sitting in. Again, you won't create a true ground but will spread the static over a larger area thus minimizing its naughty effects.

Kate: Alternative: take a copper scrubby pad and put one leg of machine stand on it. Attach a ground wire as described above to the scrubby pad. To keep the machine level, you
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