Replacing the tension dial on the carriage of a Knitmaster 700, some tricks and tips to make this easier. Knitting socks and hand spinning yarn for machine knitting socks.
After years in the doldrums of the spare room, I have finally got this machine somewhere I can get to work on it properly.
I am fortunate to have instruction manual, pattern book and several knowledgeable authors books on the subject, which have helped a lot. But still it took me a while to remember what I had forgotten and learn a few new things – or maybe I had totally forgotten these?
It’s an early model so at the moment won’t take downloads – (or is it uploads) from Designaknit, but I hope to rectify that soon. Meanwhile I need to get up to speed. Luckily it’s just the programming as I am confident on Duomatics and all their dials, buttons and foibles, and do love the knit quality from a Passap.
I am slightly ashamed to be sharing such a basic sample, but will do so nevertheless.
Not being able to switch patterns mid swatch is really annoying compared to the Japanese electronics which are more flexible. It seems all the patterns and knit techs have to be input before to start. Or am I missing something?
I remembered that I can skip through a cast on that is already knitted and on the machine to a pre-programmed pattern using GX and empty rows. But am stumped by having to have input all my patterns before I start. I feel sure I worked out how to do this before…
Back to the machine for another test run now.
Today I had a lovely day with Long Buckby Machine Knitting Club. They had asked me to come and talk about my book Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting and gave me a wonderfully friendly welcome. This meant talking about my experiences as a machine knitter was like sharing with friends.
I met so many interesting people who have interests in common and was pleased to see some younger faces on the audience.
Janet Collins, Chair of the Knitting and Crochet Guild was there and spoke to the meeting about the recent amalgamation of the Knitting and Crochet Guild and the Guild of Machine Knitters. She also gave an impassioned plea for members to encourage younger people to become members. She told me that if the Guild is not offering what young knitters want, the way forward is to find out what they do want and make this an aim, otherwise the Guild will dwindle. As there are 1,500 members this would be a real shame.
I’m now on my way home feeling a warm glow from the kind words and the opportunity to meet genie machine knitters with so many skills.
Today I ran a workshop that introduced members of Brighton Textile Art Group to machine knitting. To give a wider experience both a Knitmaster and a Brother machine were used, one standard and one chunky gauge. The chunky was particularly popular once it was found that it can knit handspun yarns.
Techniques explored included shaping, fair isle, single motif fair isle, knitwear (again great for hand spun), holding and short rows and simple, manual lace transfer.
I took along a little circular machine to demonstrate the difference between the two machine types, but the real interest was in the flat bed Japanese machines.
After the workshop response were really positive; people who had thought they would hate it had great fun, and those with machines were enthused to go home and get them out. Unfortunately the workshop clashed with the East Sussex Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers meeting, so another workshop had been requested in the Spring or Summer of 2020.
I will be talking to Long Buckby Machine Group next March about my career in knitted textile and knitwear design, and the inspiration behind ‘Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting’.
I’m looking forward to meeting members of this well-established machine knitting group.
There is only one photo to go with this post as I was so covered in oil I didn’t feel secure holding a camera!
I am running a machine knitting workshop for my local Brighton and Hove Textile Art Group (TAG) in a few weeks, and most uncharacteristically I decided to plan in advance and check out the machines I will be taking along.
TAG is affiliated to the East Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, so most members spin in one way or another (drop spindle or wheel), so knitting hand spun yarn seems a pretty sensible thing to cover in the workshop. Because of this I intend to take my Brother KH260 chunky, single bed machine. I do love this machine, but haven’t used it in several years. Whilst I was working on ‘Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting’ I used my two electronics, a Knitmaster mid-gauge HK160 and a Knitmaster punchcard, so there just wasn’t room for the 260 to be out. Since completing the book I have been diverted to spinning and dyeing for a refreshing change, hence the long storage of the KH260.
When I unpacked the machine it was frustrating to find that the timing belt seemed jammed. The carriage would knit fine in stocking stitch mode, but everything else refused to work. Luckily my long experience at machine maintenance stood me in good stead to sort out the sticking cams on the carriage which were preventing the KC dial from activating and connecting the carriage to the timing belt, taking the machine cover off to expose the workings at the back, and understanding the basics of the patterning mechanism. For a start, the carriage and pattern mechanism parts were all covered in yellow, thick gloopy oil that I know glues the workings of the machines when they are left unused, so I applied LPS1. After watching many of ‘TheAnswer Lady and Jack’ YouTube videos when working on various machines I had invested in a can of this spray cleaner/lubricant; it works really well and is to my mind well worth the rather high cost (in Europe, not sure about elsewhere). According the Jack, LPS1 does not damage the plastic parts of the machine like mineral oils do and is similar in chemical composition to the Bellador oil supplied with Passap machines.
Having replaced a broken Brother timing belt before I’ve found its quite a long and exacting job so I am wary of timing belts and did not want to stretch or break this one whilst sorting out the problem. The service manual (downloadable from the wonderful resource at machineknittingetc.com) is really useful, but I still couldn’t work out what was jamming the belt. So it was back to ‘The Answer Lady’ and Jack, who is a fount of all knowledge on knitting machines.
After watching two of their helpful videos about the Brother timing belt I was pretty sure that the problem was connected to the right hand end of the belt and the associated cog and cam. On the right of the card reader, there is a round cog with a spring on the top that the timing belt goes around and inside this there are cams that activate the patterning mechanism; this clog refused to move more than a third of the full revolution, and felt ‘sticky’. So I soaked it in LPS1, making sure to get the little tube over the holes so that the spray would penetrate fully into the enclosed middle. But 24 hours later it was still stuck, but the black roller rotated, and now the card roller knob popped up and down when the cog mechanism revolved the short distance it was able to, but this still jammed after a third of a revolution.
After a further trawl of YouTube I found another, slightly older video that discussed reasons why the pattern mechanism won’t advance in a bit more detail. In this video, Jack explains that a drive cam hidden underneath that right hand, cog mechanism rotates the lower of the two card mechanism rollers (the white plastic one), which I had already noticed was not revolving when the top (black) one did. I now knew that the problem was definitely under that right hand mechanism. More LPS1 went into it; the machine case was now awash with the stuff! After another hour or so soaking the time had arrived for another test run.
With a rag to help my grip I nudged the clogged mechanism into a place it didn’t want to go. I could feel the gunk fighting me, but it was slowly yielding, and most importantly, as I nudged it, the lower, white roller began to revolve. I was now certain that the hidden cam was stuck up with gunk, and needed to be helped to free itself. I connected the carriage to the timing belt by setting it to KC, and if I gently moved this in the right direction I could add a little more leverage – gentle was the word here, remember my fear of damaging the timing belt? More LPS1 went in, and a bit more nudging back and forth, and slowly it all began to free-up. At last the cam gave and the clogged mechanism moved fully, the lower roller rotated and the punchcard mechanism advanced!
Next came a test with a punchcard, which seemed to select needles and rotate OK. It took several rags to mop the LPS1 out of the case; it was leaking a bit and I didn’t want it to run out on the floor when I put the machine back on its end for storage.
Before putting the case back on I tested the patterning by knitting a piece, which worked up no problem. I felt wonderful – its such a kick mending something.
Those oily rags then came in useful to wipe off all the yellow gloopy oil that was left on parts of the inner workings of the machine. After that the case went back on. I’d reserved an oily rag to wipe down the beds and other exposed metal parts to protect and lubricate the machine; we live near the sea so I am very conscious of the rust factor. My old Knitmaster 700 had a rather sad case of rust when I was bequeathed it, but LPS1 was a great help in restoring it to good health.
I now have a working KH260, shiney and ready for the workshop. On to the next machine…
The Answer Lady and Jack videos can be found on YouTube, and these were the ones I used to help me with this problem.
Several Reasons why a Brother card reader might not advance, The Answer Lady and Jack, on YouTube.
About ‘Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting’.
‘An outstanding read’
‘Here’s a new hardback book that’s packed with all the information a machine or hand knitter would wish to find.’
‘You’ll have no regrets, as this will be your best ever buy as a machine or hand knitter.’(Guild of Machine Knitters newsletter February 2019)
‘Vikki Haffenden outlines the necessary knowledge, especially of stitch construction – the basic necessity for knitting by all methods’.
‘Throughout the book the author uses very clear diagrams and photographs to explain stitch patterns, techniques and equipment’.
(Annec Cartwright in Slipknot, newsletter of the Knitting and Crochet Guild, June 2019)
‘I cannot tell you how much I adore this book’
‘Thanks to your work my eyes are open to the possibiliites of working on fresh and modern projects without having a background in fashion or textiles’
(Turtlemelon crafts, via Instagram)
‘Hi, I’m Barbara from Italy and want to thank you for writing “Translating between hand and machine knitting”. It’s just great, I can now understand the differences between silver reed and brother. I have one of both but got frustrated trying to use the silver reed, so just stopped working with both… now I have the chance‘
Thank you Barbara, its great to hear your feedback.
Lace knitting – see more about this on my Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting page, but in brief, yes this is explained in loads of detail, with helpful photos and diagrams, examples and step-by-step instructions.
The book does not include garment patterns, it explains how to knit different stitches by hand and machine, and why some stitches are more suitable for hand and others for machine knitting.
When hand knitting lace it is so easy to make a mistake or drop stitches, even on the plain rows, (I have a habit of dropping the yarnovers).
To save yourself the hassle of having to unpick and rediscover your pattern, adding a lifeline is a real life-saver; although it may seem tedious at the time.
A lifeline is a piece of thread passing through all the stitches along one row of the pattern so that if a stitch unravels some rows above it cannot drop below this retaining thread.
Decide where you want the lifeline to be, this would usually be at the end of one full vertical repeat of a lace pattern, on a non-patterning row, (usually a purl row). If it’s a short lace pattern repeat that is only two or four rows high, then you might put a lifeline in after every four or five repeats of the pattern.
To prepare and insert a lifeline:
- Choose a contrast colour that’s no thicker and preferably thinner than your knitting yarn. On fine lace sewing thread is ideal.
- Cut a length of yarn that is 20 cm longer than the width of your fabric.
- Thread the yarn into a large eyed bodkin sewing needle. Avoid using a needle with a sharp point as this may split your stitches.
- Using the sewing needle thread the yarn along the stitches on the needle, making sure the thread goes through each stitch.
- Pull the lifeline gently so that there is an even length of thread at each side of the knitting.
- Remove the bodkin sewing needle and knit the row as normal.
- Once you have threaded another life line in place at your next chosen position you can remove the first one.
You can use a lifeline in exactly the same way when machine knitting, it is just a little bit more fiddly to thread the yarn through the stitches. But believe me, its worth it!
The image below shows a lifeline (yellow yarn), being inserted into lace knitting being worked flat, but using a circular needle. A circular needle has a thin wire in its centre (in this case its a red wire), and sliding the stitches onto the wire before inserting the lifeline creates more space inside each stitch, making it easier to thread the lifeline through.