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Machknit vine

July 28th, 2013 by kate

Finally, I have made some progress with the knitting machine! Before I show any finished products, here’s a couple of little Vines of the machine working (working beautifully). Mouseover and click the volume icon to turn on the sound  (whizz, whizz, random comment, whizz whizz)…

“Umm, actually yeah, that’s a good point…”

(Thank you R, for the cinematography)


How to clean the drum units on a Singer 323 knitting machine

November 22nd, 2012 by kate

And now, for those who want/need it, how to clean the drum units on a Singer 323…

All the following details relate to a Singer 323, obviously things differ from model to model so use caution and common sense.


  • A couple of different-sized screwdrivers (medium – small ones – I had one of those sets of small ones, plus a regular-sized one). A magnetized screwdriver helps to ‘pick up’ little screws when you’re taking them out of little places, without them getting lost deeper in the machine. We magnetized a regular screwdriver by running a fridge magnet over the tip a few times.
  • Denatured alcohol, for cleaning (available at the hardware shop)
  • Lubricant – I used Inox-MX3. You could also use gun oil (?). Don’t use WD40, apparently it gums up over time.
  • Pen, paper and double-sided sticky tape. For sticking screws on, and making notes about where they came from.
  • An old toothbrush, for cleaning
  • A hacksaw, to saw a new groove in a stripped screwhead (this was frustrating, I hope it doesn’t happen to you).
  • Rags / newspaper
  • A jar to part-fill with denatured alcohol to soak parts in
  • You probably won’t need the wrench and extra screwdriver you see in that photo above.

Ready? …


This video nicely shows how to take the plastic cover off the carriage – it’s shown on a different model from mine so a couple of things are in different places, but with common sense it wasn’t too hard to figure out.

Main differences:

  • Mine had more screws to remove that attached the plastic cover to the carriage bed (near where handles attach, and at back of bed)
  • I had to turn the tension dial the opposite way to in the video – to two clicks past 0
  • You don’t need to unscrew the screws that you see “through” the holes where the handles connect – they’re part of the deeper workings, not the cover.
  • To get the plastic cover off, I had to squeeze the front corners inwards (towards each other) to unslot a little plastic hook on the inside
  • My cam lever had been stuck so took a bit of fiddling to get the cam lever ring out (make sure lever is clicked over to knit-in position)

Once that was off, R and I had a good poke around and decided that yes, it was the secondary drum that was stuck (some people call it the sub-drum).

To remove the primary and secondary drums, we mostly followed the instructions in this helpful post by Ravelry user Elizabethruns, in the Aussie Machine Knitters discussion board.

Again, it took a bit more commonsense-figuring and examining to figure out, but basically is as follows..



The primary and secondary drums are both attached to a single metal plate (let’s call it the “drum plate”), which is attached to the carriage bed by four screws. Remove the screws, remove the whole plate with both drums attached.

There’s a metal “arm” which sits in with the main drum, this arm is attached to the drum plate by a single screw. Remove the screw & set aside the arm.

(NB: Elizbethruns on Ravelry warns not to let the drum units themselves come apart as they have lots of little components you don’t want to put back together (or lose). It looks like you would have to deliberately unscrew the nuts on each drum to make them come apart, so don’t do that…)



There’s a clip on the top of secondary drum, which you’ll need to remove. It’s sort of C-shaped – use a screwdriver stuck into the curve of the C to lever it off. After taking the clip off, take off the metal washer underneath and set aside.

You should now be able to pull off the main drum and the secondary drum. It may take a bit of leverage – on mine the secondary drum was really stuck, with a bit of wiggling and pulling it came off. There’s a metal washer at the bottom of the secondary drum, remove it and set aside.

This is where the double-sided sticky tape comes in handy…



Use denatured alcohol to clean everything – the drum spindles (and where the spindle goes inside the drums), and around the cam lever, any other gunky bits on the carriage bed.  Soak metal parts in alcohol for 30 mins to remove gunk.  (NB: some people say to remove plastic parts before soaking in alcohol? Couldn’t remove plastic parts from these drum units without going mad (see note above) so just poured a bit of alcohol in and let it sit for a minute or two. )

Lubricate with Inox-MX3 or gun oil. Don’t use WD40, apparently it works short term but can gunk up and damage your machine long-term. Most on the Ravelry Aussie Machine Knitters group recommend Inox.



Elizabethruns says: “When you put it back together, it doesn’t matter how the drums align, there is no secret there.”

Replace the outer plastic cover – squeeze the front corners of the outer plastic cover to get those little plastic hooks into the bit on the metal frame where they go.

NB: Don’t screw the cover in now – wait until a few steps on when the cam lever and tension dial are in place & turning properly before you screw the plastic down, it took me a couple of goes to get them in right.

Before you replace the inner plastic cover, make sure that the black triangular-ish plate that sits kind of “on top” in the middle of the carriage (see pic below) is pushed as far forward as it can go. It has to be forward to get the tension dial on later (guess how I know that).


Replace inner cover and cam lever ring:

  • Fit the cam lever into the plastic cover – there’s a metal bit that tucks under the plastic cover.
  • Align cam lever ring with its spindle – there’s only one way it will go on because of the notch in the spindle and corresponding gap in middle of cam lever ring – i.e. with lever in “knit-in” position. (I took the above picture before I’d figured that out.)
  • At the front of where the cam lever sits, there’s a black metal lever-ish spring thing, with two prongs. The BOTTOM prong should sit in the little ‘V’ grooves around the cam lever ring – the picture below shows what it would look like without the inner plastic cover. Make sure the cam ring gets past the top prong and all the way down. Make sure the lever can move around to all the positions (from ‘tuck’ through to  ‘knit-in’).

Replace tension dial  – the tension dial sits inside the cam lever ring.  Align the dial with the space between 0 and 10 to the front (the same way you took it off – it will only work one way), and push it in.  The TOP black prong inside the carriage at the front sits in the grooves around the bottom of the tension dial. Make sure the tension dial turns easily and ‘clicks’ into each tension setting.

Screw the plastic cover back on, and screw the handle back in.

DONE! Now you have a clean, happy carriage.


Knitting machine: before the knitting

October 7th, 2012 by kate

So, the knitting machine. It was secondhand, in excellent condition but for all the things that happen when a machine has been sitting unused for years. I would guess that most people who buy a secondhand machine would have to do the following too, so I’ll record these tidbits here in case someone stumbles across this post in search of guidance.

1. Clean and oil all the surface areas. Because I didn’t have anything else, I used fresh new sewing machine oil, although apparently gun oil is better (who in Australia has gun oil?). Don’t use WD-40, apparently it gums up after a while. Better to use Inox, which I now have and love.

2. Replace the sponge bar. Instructions here – starting from “What is a knitting machine sponge bar and where is it located?” through to removal of the old one and putting in a new one (including how to make your own, although I ordered mine for about $15 from Sunny Choi at the Hong Kong Knitting Machine shop).

3. Take apart the carriage to get rid of old, gummed up grease, then clean & lubricate. All the manuals say not to take the carriage apart, but I had to do this, as one of the drums was completely stuck – the drums are at the back of the carriage and are supposed to spin freely; if not, the carriage won’t move across the needle bed.

The deep cleaning was both easier and harder than I thought…

I made some very detailed notes about taking apart and cleaning my SK323 carriage, I’ll put them in a separate post. For anyone not needing the boring details, here are some pictures…

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I’m back, with a knitting machine

September 29th, 2012 by kate

An overdue blog update, what’s been happening since, oh, six months ago!

A couple of weeks ago I bought a knitting machine on eBay, a Singer Memomatic 323, and after some deep cleaning and replacement of a few minor parts, it’s working beautifully.

By way of introduction,

“Machine knitting is not just a hobby, it has been said that it is a way of life. Many people buy knitting machines for many different reasons, not just because they want to knit lots of sweaters. Sometimes the machine is a prize in a competition, sometimes it is unearthed from the attic, and sometimes it is bought when something, anything, is needed to fill a gap that some tragedy has caused. Whatever the reason, you can be sure that whenever a machine knitter has troubles she is not sitting worrying or getting down in the dumps about it, she is knitting away, and if you were to ask her what she has made most with her machine she would probably say friends.” – Ratcliffe, Hazel (1986)  The Pan Book of Machine Knitting, London: Pan Books Ltd, p89

For the record, I didn’t buy it for any of the reasons outlined above; simply that I’ve wanted a knitting machine for a while and after a Laneway Learning class by the delightful and talented Brianna Read of Jack of Diamond Knits, I was hooked and couldn’t resist.

Also for the record, a big thanks to Oenone for sharing her machine knitting knowledge and books, from which the above gem comes.

More soon on the dismantling, cleaning & refurbishment of my 323…


March 4th, 2012 by kate

We have recently been eating a lot of chia seeds (in yoghurt, in smoothies), and we have also been making terrariums in glass jars … glass jar + moss + chia seed = chia terrarium. No need for terracotta animals.

We are slowly filling our apartment with plants…

{ This is not the same jar… this is a chia forest }

Hanging hoya

January 25th, 2012 by kate

I made this hanging pot plant holder last Sunday. Once I had all the bits together (which took me about three weeks, not because they’re hard to get, just because I don’t get to hardware stores often) it was really easy – the hardest part was choosing a plant and a non-dripping container for it to sit in. This is a hoya, which we chose because it has beautifully shaped variegated leaves and apparently it will do ok inside (but won’t flower unless it gets good sunlight, which it won’t)… and because my mum and dad have a hoya which I love.

There’s a tutorial for this “not too desperately retro” macrame hanger and some inspiring photos on Skinny Laminx.

Paper anniversary

January 22nd, 2012 by kate

Two dear friends of ours celebrated their first wedding anniversary last week, so I made them a card (they had gorgeous colourful bunting at their wedding..)

Paper is (one of) the traditional gifts for the first anniversary, so  it seemed appropriate. Plus I’ve been making a lot of pop-up cards recently, enough of them that working out the heights and measurements and where to put the cuts isn’t too stressful.

And the leftovers are often quite pretty too….

There’s a good introductory tutorial for pop-up cards at Oh Happy Day, if you’re interested.

Framed fishing flies

January 8th, 2012 by kate

On a weekend trip to Tasmania last year I found a framed set of fishing flies at a secondhand stall in the Salamanca market. Each fly is a beautiful little creation, they were carefully attached to the backing and were hand-labelled: Red Doctor (Salmon), Victor, Yellow Dog etc etc… but I was ruthless, I wanted them re-framed on a clean, white background. I finally got around to doing it this weekend.

More dyeing

November 21st, 2010 by kate

I dyed some more yarn today, using black beans again. When I cooked the beans afterwards, the water boiled over. This is what the stove looks like now, kind of pretty, no?

Dyeing yarn with black beans

November 14th, 2010 by kate

cotton yarn dyed with black beans

A couple of weeks ago I dyed some yarn with black beans. The results are above, a lovely silver-blue-grey colour which changes slightly depending on what’s around it and the light. (I didn’t tie my hank very well so that pile of yarn in the background is waiting to be untangled.)

My dyeing process, which I cobbled together from many places, is below, along with some links to general info on natural dyeing.

This is what the yarn looked like before:

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