Machine Knitting Tips and Techniques

I mainly have experience on Brother machines, mine being a 
KH-950i, but with many, many hours under my belt and being able to service my machine myself I have picked up a few tips and tricks
Be you new to machine knitting or an old hand take a look....
If you would like to ask a question please just get in touch -

Back when I was using Mylar sheets I tried in vein to find a way to clean them off and re-use them, I would say as they are not cheap that it is better not to waste your sheets this way. Just make sure the patterns you put on them are ones you want to keep.
On the topic of Mylar sheets, if you have a machine that takes them then by all means try to use them. They will help you to make your own patterns quickly but if you can afford to get a program that will allow you to design on the computer and then download them get it- it really does open up new possibilities. Or there is the option of a PDD - but I have not used one of these so can not advise.

Taking care of your machine 
Recently I have been knitting so much my carriage will start to jam and grate up against the needles. This is when you must keep your knitting machine well oiled, I imagine a lot of the problems in my knitting machine's past are because of a lack of oil. This can be bought from a few places but I recommend Andee Knits 

Servicing your own knitting machine takes a lot of patience and practice, don't rush in there and undo all the screws only to find you can not put them back together again. Have a search online (youtube can be really helpful) for your problem and something should be able to help you. Cleaning your machine regularly is pretty important. How often you do this depends on how often you knit but if you have never done a deep clean then it is probably time to do one.
Knitsing has a tutorial on cleaning a Passap here 

I recently bought a booklet on Machine Maintenance from Metropolitan Machine Knitting
This is a very clear and concise booklet about general maintenance, it is good for day to day cleaning and a spring cleaning but it is a bit short on details and not very good if your machine needs mending. Also a few more images would be good.
I would recommend this for a basic starter book on maintenance

Problems with knitting

Carriage jamming? This must be one of the most common problems and can be caused by so many things. When my machine jams there is a process I go through - first don't panic! Don't force it! Take the carriage off and slowly take a proper look at your machine, checking over everything. Is it well oiled and cleaned? What is your tension doing? Check it against the manual for anything that looks out of place.
If your machine is in good working order than it must have been something you did so double check everything.
If your machine is working poorly it's time for a servicing and a deep clean.

Tension is really one of the main cause's of issue's in your knitting. After a while you just get to know the feel of your machine but when your starting out you must always watch your tension. Is the yarn catching or pulling anywhere (from the cone to the needle)? Have you wrapped the yarn too tightly? Are you sure the tension dial is correct?
A little tip is the best place to put your yarn is on the floor directly underneath the tension mast, that way it should take up smoothly.

If your knitting is jumping off your needles-
Is it just one or two? If this is the case then it is those needles, knit a plain swatch with an easy yarn and see how they knit. They may need replacing or your sponge bar may be worn out.
Is it all your knitting? A very serious and frustrating problem that happens to us all. This happens when your yarn does not sit in the needle latch as the carriage goes over. So for this one you need to think about your yarn and carriage. Again do a simple swatch and check it works - if not then it's probably a machine/tension fault. If the simple swatch is ok, it could be your choose of yarn and/or stitch you are using.
There is not a simple fix but just trial and error.

If you have had many problems with your machine one of the main things to check and check again is your sponge bar. When I was new to machine knitting I had so many problems with my machine but once I had changed my sponge bar most of them disappeared!
You can get a new one on ebay easily and they are relatively easy to change - a great article about this can be found by Diana natters here 
I once tried to refurbish my own using high density foam, superglue and fusing, you can find the tutorial on knitsing . However I think this did not last as long as a new one would and I did have trouble finding high density foam.

Before buying a yarn I always check a few things- what is the thickness and twist like? Make sure it will knit easily in your machine. Too loose a twist may cause problems as the needles can separate the yarn. If you are buying in person, give the end of the yarn a little pull. With most yarns you want a little stretch and for it to be fairly strong. If you find it snaps (don't try to snap it though) it is probably an old yarn.
Wash care is important, think about what you are going to making with the yarn.

Swatching is important. Not only for tension but also to check out the colour and look of a yarn. Sometimes knitting it up changes the colour and you may decide it won't work in a certain stitch. I like to swatch all my yarns as soon as I get them. That way I can file them away and always have that reference.

Yarns that are on cones are made for machine knitting and so will work better than yarns in balls or skeins.
Wool on cones is often oiled, meaning it has not been fully washed at the mill. The oil is left on to help with the knitting - the yarn will not catch as much and should knit smoother. However yarn that is oiled will need washing once knitted and if it is Lambswool or any wool it is likely to shrink considerably. Even cotton may shrink.
Cotton is a great summer yarn but I would be careful using it on the machine as it does not stretch as wool does. Don't knit it on too high a tension.
Yeoman Yarns do a great range of yarns on cones and they are starting to become more popular.

Helpful websites-

  • I just recently bought the designaknit and download cable. For me it really helps with Fair isle patterning, much better than the Mylar sheets I had been using as it saves time and mistakes. At the moment this is really all I am using it for but if you are unsure on designing your own garments I am sure this would be a great help too

  • an ebay knitting store, if you need any spare parts ebay is the first place I look as it often the cheapest. If you do decide to buy from a UK company, fair enough, just remember they have to get their equipment from HK too

More is being added all the time - let me know if there is anything you want adding to the list 


  1. You can buy a do yourself sponge Bar for a few pounds On Xena Knits, it will even give you diagrams +instructions on how to do it.

  2. thank you for the mention :)

    we also tell you which yarns we have tested on knitting machines too :)


  3. I am so glad I got to read your posts!

  4. Great advice from an expert!


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