Needle Retainer (Sponge Bar) Knitting Machine Mis-patterning

It’s a long title, and it was a longer problem. 

I was cleaning and overhauling a friend’s Brother KH891/KR850 combo.  Sadly, it had been sorely neglected and needed a lot of work.   

I removed all the needles, soaked them, then wiped them down, then inspected each one before inserting it back into the needle bed.  200 needles, 2 beds, took some time.

The needle retainer bar, or sponge bar needed replacing and a new one had been ordered and was dropped off with the machine.

Now, I’ve been machine knitting for a long time, and have replaced numerous bars, but this one was different.  It seemed to be a little tiny bit larger in width and the sponge was quite hard.  It did go in however.

Time to test the machine. 

After a few ribber adjustments the rib cast-on went well.  I transferred all the stitches to the main bed, set the stitch size to suit the yarn and knit about 20 rows. 


Punch-card time.  I test with card 1 because you can do all the stitches except lace carriage work with the one card. 

 card 1 

Set selector dial on KC, knit to the left, again, beautiful, every other needle came out to pattern.  Pushed in the tuck buttons, released the card, knit back to the right and OMG, crazy patterning.  There was no rhyme or reason to the needle set up.  I struggled for hours, checking the card reader, the bottom of the carriage, all seemed well.  

incorrect patterning

Then I took my own carriage off my 894 and tried with it.  No success.  All was fine knitting to the left, but crazy patterning when knitting to the right.  I KNOW my carriage is fine!

As a last resort I changed the needle retainer bar for one that was not so puffy.  It came from another knitting machine that I just happened to have set up, (different brand, too, so too long.

Now the machine is working properly.


This was a real brain twister for me and I’m glad I solved this problem.  However, the real problem is the fact that a new replacement part caused this.  Brother is not making knitting machines anymore, so this part is being manufactured elsewhere, and I suspect that quality control is somewhat lacking.

I wrote this post just in case any of you machine knitters that follow my blog run into the same problem.

3 thoughts on “Needle Retainer (Sponge Bar) Knitting Machine Mis-patterning”

  1. I was recently refurbishing a Brother 860 to use with a garter carriage. I took out all the needles and thoroughly deep cleaned the machine. The sponge bar was not too bad. The machine worked perfectly. I then inserted a sponge bar from a pack of 5 bought from ebay. I had exactly the same mispatterning problem. The sponge bar was stiff and difficult to insert. Now looking at refurbishing old bars from ebay kits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *