Back in the 1980’s, an Englishman by the name of Roger Curry, set out to design a knitting machine which would be simple to use and could produce machine-knitted garments that would look as if they had been hand-knitted. What he created was the Bond knitting machine which was a very basic, manually operated machine.
It was called ‘Bond’ after a famous shopping street in central London, which at the time, Roger Curry described as “the epitome of British fashion sense.” And Bond street is just as well-known now for its up-market fashion shops, as it was in the mid-1980’s.
The first Bond knitting machines to be sold in the UK were the Bond Original and later the Bond Classic. These machines could handle all the popular yarns including wool, cottons, mohair and even hand-spun wool but it didn’t handle well, yarns finer than chunky knit. These knitting machines were simple enough that hand-knitting patterns for sweaters, for example, could be adapted for use on them.
1988 saw the introduction of the Bond Elite knitting machine which in addition to the chunkier yarns could also handle 4-ply and double-knitting yarns. The Bond Elite came complete with a row counter, tools for helping create fancy stitches, a needle pusher, an illustrated instruction book, and an instructional video which demonstrated how to set up the machine and how to knit with it. One of the innovative aspects of this particular model were its four, double-sided keyplates which made possible different stitch sizes, and by turning them around, they could also be used for picture knitting (known as intarsia).
One of the drawbacks of the Bond knitting machine was that it wasn’t possible to knit ribbing. If you were knitting a sweater with a ribbed hem and cuffs, the garment had to be removed from the machine in order to knit the ribbing by hand. But by 1989 a ribber attachment had become available. Today, Bond knitting machines remain popular, being lightweight and virtually maintenance-free, and can still be bought secondhand in the UK.