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Cleaning Knitting Machine Needles Instead…A Dirty Diva’s Story

I have been itching to get back to the knitting machines…I’ve been studying patterns, thinking about fit and designs, colors and existing yarns. I have ordered some knitting books, some MK how-tos and some patterns. This book, Plaids, Argyles and Scandinavian Knits by Pat Frette Designs, self-published Jan 1999, especially got my interest. I’m in love with argyles.

Lying across the page you can see a diskette in the DAK6 Format. That’s useless to me as I don’t have the DAK program so I have to learn how to program a pattern into my KnitKing IV electronic machine’s computer memory. I have knitted a Fair Isle pattern that was already in the computer and that was easy! Just turn on the machine and follow instruction until the computer in it had the pattern ready to knit!

I spent last night diligently reading up on how to program a pattern into the knitting machine and the use of the FB100 to export that pattern onto a floppy disk so I can save my work.

Yes, these old machines need old technology. That really is a brand new box of Double Sided/Double Density diskettes. I bought 17 boxes from a knitter that was de-stashing. Lucky me!

Now I know how to chart out my wonderful argyle patterns onto graph paper, stitch by stitch. Once that’s done I then use the console keyboard on the knitting machine to enter the pattern, stitch by stitch, into the computer’s memory.

And if I set the yarn masts up correctly I can knit fair isle and add a 3rd color by manually switching out one of the contrast colors as I go through the pattern.

All right! Concept down.

But reality hits hard when facing the machine.

I haven’t sat down to this machine in over a year and today I was met with one of the most important things on the road to a cooperative knitting machine: maintanence.

The carriage that is supposed to slide easily across the bed and through its channels and levers creates the stitches and patterns, would not budge off the right hand of the needle bed. Oh yes, I remember having difficulty as I struggled to finish my last project. There must be bent needles or latches.

Cleaning 200 needles is the first order of business, as well as brushing out the interior of the machine and vacuuming, cleaning the carriage and wheels, and lightly oiling the rails upon which the carriage rides.

I divide the bed of 200 needles into bunches of 50 needles each and let each bunch wait it’s turn in the nice Isopropyl Alchohol bath. I use a rotation of 4: Bunch A is the far right hand 50, followed by Bunch B, Bunch C and Bunch D. While one bunch soaks I wipe clean each needle, inspect for bent needles and latches and very slightly oil the latch if it needs it. Anything bent gets replaced with a brand new needle. Here Batch C is soaking and Batch D is waiting it’s turn.

It’s amazing how dirty metal parts moving against metal parts can get. Yuck! And I had only used this machine twice since I last cleaned it 2 years ago. I’m beginning to think that I didn’t in fact, cleaning these needles when the KnitKing IV moved in…. Nice machine, even though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a new machine.

Below is a dirty needle next to a brand new one and the cleaning cloth that still has 100 needles to go!

When everyone is bright and shiny Bunch A and Bunch D, the two outside sets of 50 will move to the inside: A to C’s location and D to B’s location. The order will be from right to left: Bunch C, Bunch D, Bunch A, and then Bunch B. This will even out the wear on the needles, kind of like rotating tires on a fine automobile.

All nice and pretty…

I’m not so pretty…I’ll have to do a bunch of dishes before I can knit

I am so ready to knit. Sooon, maybe soon….


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

3 responses »

  1. MaryBeth that is a fascinating story about the maintenance of your machine knitting machine. I hope every bit of dirt will vanish and you can start with using your beloved machine to do some argyle knitting soon.

  2. do you have to run some test yarn though it, to be sure there is no residual oil left on the needles & latches. Reminds me of all the work of reeds and heddles back when I used to weave.

  3. Great blog, good job getting it all together 🙂


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