yesterday. It is made of purple plastic. Apparently it eats yarn. You have to thread it up with yarn around four little hooks and latches. When you feed it the yarn you have to turn a little handle at one side so that it can also digest the yarn. If you do this for long enough it is supposed to produce a long thin worm-like cord. Yes, it is supposed to make "French" knitting or "tomboy" stich or "idiot" cord - or just i-cord. I think the Americans may also call it "spool-knitting". (If anyone reading this knows another name then I will be interested to learn of it.)
If you are old enough you will remember the joys of wooden cotton reels, four nails, a "bobby" or "hair" pin and some wool. You threaded the wool through the hole in the cotton reel, wound the wool around the needles and then, very slowly, looped the loops of yarn over the nails until you had a long, thin worm coming out of the hole. The excitement when that happened was immense.
Everyone I knew made yards of it in school - now they make metres of it with four ice-cream sticks stuck to a cardboard tube. It is not the same.
Making it with the little machine is not the same either. This was demonstrated to me. Thread the yarn, make sure the little weight holding the yarn in place is attached, turn the handle, turn the handle, turn the handle...
I have always had a problem with anything mechanical. It gets boring after a bit. The result it produces is too uniform. It lacks the challenge of trying to get each individual stitch over a nail. I found that almost impossible. I never managed to produce more than a few inches of worm. It was not for want of trying. My paws were just not made to do it. My nephews and the Whirlwind produced more in an hour than I managed to produce in days. My father was kept busy for days turning out new cotton reels (they no longer make wooden reels) and banging in nails. The Whirlwind once went to school with enough "cotton reels" for all eighteen girls in her class.
I can remember one boy in primary school making enough of it to go right around the school yard. Nobody knew quite what to do with it. Most of it was, I think, coiled up and turned into pot-holders. It was too light to be turned into skipping ropes but I suppose there were also tea-cosies and, perhaps, hats. The Whirlwind's class made toys for an animal shelter. Yes, a good use but there is only so much you can use for that if you can crank out metres of it by the hour.
But apparently there is now a much greater need for all this cord. This is why you need the little machine. I am still not quite sure what you do with it all. I may knit some of it if the Whirlwind can produce enough. It needs investigation.