MachineKnitting

So I picked up two Brothers the other day…

Look at that capital B doing a LOT of heavy lifting.

If you follow my Instagram you already know I am talking about knitting machines and not anything more salacious. A Brother KH940 standard gauge and a Brother KH260 chunky/bulky gauge machine both came to live with me recently. I wasn’t looking for more machines, but the ad came up for me on F*ce*ook Marketplace, and with a price so good I initially thought it was a scam, or the machines were smashed to pieces. Not a scam, just a really, really good deal, and it HAD to be mine. I received:

  • The Brother 260 main bed, including all parts, punch cards, weights, and accessories, possibly needing a repair to the timing belt (turns out it didn’t, just a minor adjustment and it works perfectly!);
  • The Brother 940 main bed, in perfect condition, not missing anything, working like a charm;
  • Ribbers for both machines (kr260 and kr850), needing a good clean but otherwise perfect and with all their associated bits;
  • Intarsia carriages for both machines;
  • A KnitLeader, plus all the stuff for that, (I don’t know which one it is yet);
  • A tilt stand;
  • A krc900 colour changer, plus two other colour changers, I think one of which is a single bed. I did have to find a branch tension mast for that, that was missing, but not expensive;
  • The Brother fb100 disk drive (probably won’t use it but you never know);
  • A Bellinky linker, complete with comb;
  • A garter bar (although maybe missing needle stoppers);
  • A yarn twister, jumbo ball winder, and a couple of other winders;
  • Not to mention, every weight, comb, and tool you could ever think of.

I mean, WHOA!! That’s like Christmas, my birthday, and a few other holidays rolled into one. The KH260 is what initially drew me to the ad – I have long wondered if I made the right call when I bought the SK155, and now I can decide for sure which machine I like better – but the KH940 is SUCH a cool machine that I never thought I’d find at a price I would be willing to pay. I have also been really missing being able to make real transfer lace since I sold my Singer SK360, as it is something the Superba can’t do, so when I saw two of my “unicorn” machines together, I had to snap them up, and I am so glad I did.

I was worried about having to do a big repair to the 260, but luckily for me it was a simple fix – the piece of metal that stops another piece from turning on the belt drum at the right side of the machine had become bent, and wasn’t doing its job, causing the punch card to advance several times each row. Thanks to the Answer Lady on YouTube, I had just watched a video where this very problem was mentioned, and was able to bend the piece back. A two second fix and the machine is working perfectly.

Once I got the machines, carriages, and ribbers cleaned, buttons unstuck etc., refurbed the sponge bars, and adjusted the ribbers, it was time to get testing.

Brother KH260 and KR260 in the space formerly occupied by my SK155/SR155
Brother KH260 and KR260 in the space formerly occupied by my SK155/SR155

First Impressions – Brother 260

My general first impression of the 260 is that yeah, that 24-stitch punch card repeat is awesome. I don’t do a lot of fair isle on the SK155, but maybe I will now that I have more than 12 stitches to work with. The machine also seems to have more capabilities than the 155 – you can use a colour changer with it, for example – and I like how it knits. I think it also has more needles on the main bed, though not on the ribber, which is a little strange.

Testing fair isle and tuck on the 260
Testing fair isle and tuck on the 260

One of the things I use the 155 for the most is circular knitting, so I tried my usual pattern to compare. It is harder to push the carriages on the Brother, but I don’t know if that’s because the sponge is so new, because it needs some more cleaning on the ribber, or because it doesn’t have the handy little rollers like the 155 does. That SK155 main bed carriage just glides. I also noticed that when I made the same pattern at the same stitch size, on the Brother it came out WAY larger. It doesn’t matter because the project gets felted, but stitch size 10 on the Brother is much larger. I guess this would mean there are more options for yarns, in theory.

I haven’t tried all its capabilities yet – I recall liking drop lace (I think that’s what it’s called where you drop the stitches every so often with the P-Carriage) on the 155 so I’ll have to try the Brother equivalent. Also the intarsia carriage is nice and small; the SK155 has a gigantic intarsia carriage, as big as the main one. I have never used it in the year or so that I’ve owned the 155 though, so this is probably something that really won’t make a big difference.

One thing I don’t like is the KnitLeader. Admittedly I haven’t tried it yet, but that thing is MASSIVE! Using full size patterns just seems a little silly to me. The KR7 for the Singer is such a nice little size. I don’t know that I will bother fussing with a gigantic KnitLeader roll in daily life, but I still want to try it.

I haven’t fully decided if I will sell the SK155/SR155 yet, because I like both machines. If I had room I’d keep both, but I definitely don’t, so I’m going to have to pick eventually!

First Impressions – Brother 940

Brother kh940 with kr850 ribber in the middle of my basement
Brother kh940 with kr850 ribber in the middle of my basement

Well, where do I start? This thing is AWESOME! I guess it’s a bit of an unfair comparison to the SK360 I had before, because it’s electronic vs punch card, and it obviously has different strengths to the Superba, but oh I do love it. I love that all the Stitchworld patterns are just in there, waiting to be used! I don’t have to program anything myself (although I can if I want to,) I don’t have to have any cards or mylars or third-party hardware, it’s all just inside at the push of a button. Now, of course if I want it to hook up to the computer, I will need the special cable and Img2Track software, which I plan on using eventually, but there’s already so much I can do without it.

Testing fair isle and tuck on the 940
Testing fair isle and tuck on the 940

The lace carriage works flawlessly, and I’m thrilled about all the possibilities for that. I like the lace-making process on it much better than the single-carriage version the Silver Reed machines use, because there is no awkward threading and unthreading of the carriage. Although it does take up more space with the giant extension rails. I tried making proper thread lace for the first time, and that was beautiful too. Needing a comb or cast on rag doesn’t bother me either, as I’ve gotten used to the Superba in that regard as well. Singer/Silver Reed fans may not like it as much.

I can see that the kr850 has more capabilities than the srp50 I had with my Singer, such as lili buttons, and DBJ on an electronic is obviously superior, but really the only things I can’t do some variation of with my Superba setup are the thread lace and the transfer lace, and maybe plating/plaiting. There’s a feeder included for that and I need to look into that more and try it.

Comparing it to my Superba, it is a bit heavier to push the carriage(s), and the machine itself weighs more – it’s like a boat anchor! – but it still knits easily. Of course I wish it was a “true double bed” machine like the Superba – I find having to change out sinker plates cumbersome, and wish I could adjust the bed spacing – but a machine with all of these things combined simply doesn’t exist. The ability to knit with the ribber dropped down doesn’t really make a difference as I’ve gotten used to knitting with it up on the Superba, but for some people they like to see the work more easily. It obviously doesn’t do as many jacquard variations as the Superba, and the 4.5mm is a little bit more limiting in terms of yarn thickness, but it’s a mind-blowingly cool machine.

Basically I love them both for different reasons and couldn’t pick one over the other, although if I didn’t have Superbaknit and was using the original light scanning box, the Brother would win simply because of not needing mylars.

This post is extremely long already so I’ll end it there for today, but if you are thinking about picking up either one of these fabulous machines, you will not be sorry.

Happy knitting!

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