Troubleshooting Knitting Machine Problems

Troubleshooting Your Knitting Machine

 Dropped Stitches

  • First check your needle retainer bar (sponge bar to most of us) to make sure it is not compressed or damaged.  Replace if foam is not at least 3/8 inch above metal backing.
  • Every row - same spot. 
    • Bent needle at knee,
    • Bent, sticky or broken latches,
    • card punched wrong
    • bent gate pegs.
  • Random Locations.
    • Feeder plate adjustment,
    • Antenna (tension spring) setting incorrect
    • Needle latches broken
    • Yarn Threaded wrong
  • Now and Then
    • Yarn threaded wrong
    • Yarn hang up from cone
    • tension pulling too tight
    • 2nd antenna wire (tension spring) not hooked up
    • worn needle presser bar
    •  too few weights or possibly hung in wrong spot
    • trying to make lace on end needle
    • knitting with too tight garment tension

Faulty Pattern Selection

  • Same place every row
    •  bent needle
    • bent latch
    • card punched wrong
    • card not feeding properly
  • Random
    • failure to select pattern properly
    • internal machine problem
    • tension too tight
    • bent latches
    • worn needle presser bar (sponge bar)
    • excessive knitting speed. SLOW DOWN!


  • One side only
    • worn or frayed brush
    •  fabric presser (carriage) out of adjustment
    • yarn wrapped around a brush
    • carriage travel excessive
    • weaving brush left on.
    • worn needle presser bar (sponge bar)
  • Both sides
    • worn or frayed brush
    • weaving brushes left on
    • yarn or lint under brushes
    • fabric presser (carriage) out of adjustment
    • carriage travel too excessive
    • inadequate yarn tension
    • yarn hang up in yarn path
    • yarn not threaded properly
    • antennae (tension spring) not pulling up slack in yarn (yarn too heavy?)
    • short antennae (tension spring) not hooked in 2nd color
    • worn needle presser bar (sponge bar)

Carriage hanging up or hard to push

    • Lack of lubrication
    • 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) 
    • damaged or broken tripper lever
    • broken tripper lever springs 
    • yarn under carriage brushes (or caught in carriage mechanism) 
    • worn needle presser bar (sponge bar)
    • metal derbis stuck to magnets
    • If your machine has roller balls, they need lubrication

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)
    • internal machine problem (infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication)
    • broken needle in bed (needle presser bar (sponge bar) worn or torn
    • dropped stitches (needle presser bar worn or torn (sponge bar)
  • Main Carriage
    • needle guides or mechanism bent or not working properly (dropped carriage)
    • broken cams, wheels or guides (infrequent cleaning and/or lubrication), possibly dropped carriage.
    • buttons do not work independently of each other (especially some Brother models) - (infrequent or improper 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, sewing machine or similar lube other than knitting machine oil will RUIN your machine and making it unrepairable.
    • lack of symmetry in levers  (possible dropped 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 - possible 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 yarn or strings caught - 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 also using long cattail/rattail brush - especially if using home spun yarns!
    • 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 object
    • 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 


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