Knitting Machine Project

I’ve been interested in building a knitting machine for some time, and I’ve just got round to looking into it again. I found a few other projects in this area:

  • Knitic – this re-uses Brother electronic knitting machines. I did some research and they’re pretty expensive, even second hand.
  • Circular Knitic – this builds a circular machine from scratch. This project provides useful ideas, but would seem to be more of a concept piece, but maybe it would be extensible with a little work.
  • Openknit – this builds a dual-bed machine from scratch. This provides some useful ideas and resources.

However, I don’t need to build a machine from scratch: I already have one!

This is a Sliver Reed LK150. It was actually delivered to us by accident by a major UK retailer when we ordered something else. We returned it to them (after spending 30 mins on hold!) as it was clearly delivered in error. They picked it up, and the item we actually ordered turned up. Then, three days later, the knitting machine was redelivered to us again. Oh well 😁

So, I intend to use this as the base platform. Although it is a machine, its still pretty manual: you need to move the carriage and position the needles by hand. Any sort of yarn selection is done by manually changing the yarn.

I basically need to replace the carriage: Most machines have the same basic principle and needle design, so perhaps this could be adapted to other similar machines in future.

Examining the carriage shows there are several main areas of work involved:

  • Needle movement.
  • Needle tip/yarn catching.
  • Needle pattern selection.
  • Yarn selection.
  • Carriage movement.

I’m currently working on needle movement. I have a prototype design up on the whiteboard, so I’m letting it settle for a few days before hitting Fusion 360. A key complexity is that the mechanism needs to be bidirectional, which adds some extra fun into the mix 🙂

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