Basic Knitting Machine Maintenance

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How to install a new Sponge Bar or Needle Presser Bar for most models:

  • Replace the sponge bar if the foam is not at least 1/2 inch above the metal or plastic backing.
  • Put the machine on a flat surface with lots of room at the ends for removal of the bar.
  • Remove the old sponge bar by pulling it out at one end.  One easy way is to push it from the opposite end with the end of a flat screw-driver so that enough sticks out for you to pull it out.
  • Clean the sponge bar slot with a long cat-tail brush rotating it clockwise.
  • Insert the new sponge bar into the slot making sure the sponge side is facing down. NEVER USE A HAMMER OR FORCE THE BAR INTO THE SLOT.
  • While inserting sponge bar, push machine needles down so that the sponge side slides on top of the needles. You can only push a few down at a time.
  • Stop if pushing the bar if it becomes difficult or it jams. Do not force the sponge bar into position.
  • Use care when installing to be sure sponge bar goes in straight and without bending.
  • If the sponge bar is slightly longer or shorter, it will not affect the performance of the machine but the sponge portion must reach across all the needles.

How to Remove Needles from your Knitting Machine:

  • Put machine on flat surface with lots of room at the ends for removal of sponge bar
  • Depending on which needle (or needles), you want to remove, pull out the sponge bar far enough to remove the needles.
  • Pull the needles all the way forward towards the front of the knitting machine (D position)
  • Tip them down in the front enough so they clear the back of the needle guide slots.
  • Raise the needle in the back and pull up and towards the back they should pull clear of the needle guide slot.
  • To replace needles, simply reverse the instructions.

Troubleshooting Your Machine:

Dropped Stitches

  • First check your needle retainer bar / sponge bar to make sure it is not compressed or damaged.  Replace if foam is not at least 1/2 inch above metal backing.
  • Every row at the same spot: check for bent needles, sticky or broken latches, card punched wrong & bent gate pegs.
  • Random locations: Feeder plate adjustment, antenna tension wrong, dirty needle latches
  • Now and then: Yarn threaded wrong, tension pulling too tight, 2nd antenna wire not hooked up, worn needle presser bar, too few weights or weights possibly hung off balance.

Faulty pattern selection

  • Same place every row: bent needle, bent latch, card punched wrong, card not feeding properly.
  • Random failure to select properly: tension too tight, bent latches, worn needle presser bar / sponge bar, excessive knitting speed.


  • One side only: worn or frayed brush, fabric presser out of adjustment, yarn wrapped around a brush, excessive knitting speed, weaving brush left on, worn needle presser bar / sponge bar.
  • Both sides: worn or frayed brushes, weaving brushes left on,yarn or lint under brushes, fabric presser out of adjustment, excessive knitting speed, inadequate yarn tension, yarn not threaded properly, antennae not pulling up slack in yarn, worn needle presser bar / sponge bar.loose fabric presser assembly / carriage not seated properly, worn or damaged needle guides in carriage, worn or damaged needle slots in machine bed (needle tracks), yarn under carriage brushes or caught in carriage mechanism.
  • Drops work off in lap while knitting: color button on & no 2nd yarn in feeder,yarn not threaded properly in feeder, no yarn in yarn feeder, yarn broken while knitting the row.

Machine Damage - common problems

  • Main Bed - look for the following:
    • needle track damage (infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication)
    • sinker post bent (dropped machine
    • Improper handling of machine)
    • machine needs cleaning & lubricating
    • broken needle in bed
    • dropped stitches (needle presser bar worn or torn.
  • Main Carriage
    • needle guides or mechanism (dropped carriage)
    • broken cams, wheels or guides (infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication)
    • buttons do not work independently of each other (some models) - (infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication)
    • broken springs (older machine - possibly metal fatigue)
    • sticky cams - (infrequent cleaning and/or wrong lube or no lube) Do not use WD-40 - using WD-40 or similar lube other than knitting machine oil or it will RUIN your machine and makie it unrepairable.
    • lack of symmetry in levers (possible carriage damage or infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication)
  • Lace Carriage 
    • presser wheels bent (damaged - possibly dropped carriage)
    • presser wheels pushed in too far (older machine - possibly rubber or metal fatigue)
    • worn or damaged wheels or guides (older machine - possibly rubber or metal fatigue)
  • What you can do
    • Clean and Lubricate regularly and be sure to use only Knitting Machine Oil - do not use sewing machine oil or WD-40)
    • examine magnets for attached debris
    • examine brushes for caught yarn or strings - remove yarn
    • examine for loose or broken parts
    • examine for loose screws
    • replace needle presser bar (sponge bar) every couple of years - clean bar track first
    • replace worn brushes as needed - remove brushes and remove lint and/or yarn from under brush journal shaft
    • replace worn, bent or broken needles - check needle presser bar (sponge bar) for wear every 3 months
  • What you should not do
    • do not dig into needle bed track
    • do not set carriage down on metal opbject
    • do not try to force jammed carriage
    • do not change carriage settings in mid row.
    • do not attempt to disassemble carriage
    • do not attempt to disassemble punch card or mylar reader mechanisms
  • Electronic Machines
    • Memory full message - your memory capacity is full with self input patterns (900 series on Brother Knit-King machines). You must delete some or all of your patterns in order to load the new pattern you want to use.
    • For 930, 940, 950, 965 machines do the following:
      • Make sure green light is on
      • Press Input
      • Enter the pattern number you wish to delete (900 series)
      • Press C.
      • Press Input again to return to regular mode
      • you must do this individually for each pattern you wish to delete. Once you have cleared enough space, you may load your pattern
    • For 970 Machine
      • Select the DRAW icon
      • Select the ERASE icon
      • you will get a list of 900 series patterns currently in the Control Box. You may delete them individually or delete them all at once.
      • If your machine locks up and you cannot clear it, or if some of the 900 series patterns are not knitting properly, you may need to clear the pattern storage memory entirely. You should do this only if you are having problems and not as a routine way of deleting patterns.
      • If your electronic machine displays "888" when you turn it on or if it will not store a 900 series pattern, the on-board battery  is most likely dead.  If your machine is over 4 years old, this is most likely the problem. The battery is soldered in place and is difficult to find so you will need to send it in to have the battery replaced.
    • LED light will not light up. This can happen if:
      • you have a blown fuse
      • you've had a power surge and may have burned out electronic components
      • The metal tip of your garter carriage plug hits the metal part of your knitting machine.
      • You have had a large static discharge in the area of your  machine.
      • If your machine does not have an external fuse, it is not recommended that you try to fix it.

Garter Carriage tips

  • Try to practice good housekeeping on your G-carriage. Clean and oil it after each garment you knit.
  • New owners often find hanging the cast on comb difficult to do after the G-carriage has done its E-wrap cast on. It's much easier to use waste yarn to cast on and hang the cast-on comb on to it. Knit a few rows followed by 1 row knitted in ravel cord ans then attach the G-carriage and work the E-wrap cast on.
  • The cast-on comb does not need to be hung on to work. For most yarn, no comb is really necessary.
  • To prevent stitches from drooping when the first row is knitted after casting on, set the
     G-carriage to knit 1 row to the right. Simply move the top switch on the G-carriage from C to G and knit 1 row. Then change to a rib pattern and continue to knit in the normal way.
  • For most G-carriage knitting, very little weighting is necessary.  One or 2 small comb weights is generally enough. The more weights you add, the more likely you are to drop stitches.
  • Patterning errors generally occur when the G-carriage has not been broght out beyond the turn marks at the edge of the needle bed. This is expecially true when going from your cast on row to your rib or other pattern.
  • Make sure you take the G-carriage out to that point before turning off the machine or when you need to reset a row if you have had a power cut.
  • Although the manual says that it is not necessary for the G-carriage to move beyond the center point of the machine, this sometimes corrects patterning errors when knitting 2 halves of a neckline.
  • Remove the extension rails from your machine -- don't worry your G-carriage will not fall off. These may cause the G-carriage to mis-pattern.
  • Use stitch cams to prevent edge stitches from dropping. Group cams together to form lines of stocking stitch. These can be used to create cable patterns within the garter stitch designs.
  • Yarns with neps don't need to go through the back yarn guide. These often get caught in the guide and cause the G-carriage to stop unnecessarily, as they are not real knots.
  • Always be sure to have the needle bed in the flat position rather than on the tilt - this will prevent stitches from dropping.


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