Refurbishing an old knitting machine

A dear friend of mine, Ellen Judith Müller, who is a (3D) knit designer and knit programmer (check out her work here, it’s totally worth it) made me aware that one of her colleagues is selling an old flat-knitting machine from 1956. The manually operated machine was produced in “Karl-Marx-Stadt”, former GDR (East Germany) and was used and stored in a West German knitting mill. The mill stopped it’s producion a few years ago and it is now selling their machines. I didn’t think twice about getting it, because I’ve learned to knit on the same machine type seven years ago during my bachelor studies. The machines are reliable and (almost) unbreakable – which is necessary because no company produces replacement parts anymore. So I went to pick it up with my the help of my mom in Germany and drove it to the workshop of my dad (also in Germany), so I could start cleaning it before bringing it to the Netherlands where I work.

cleaning the frame

On the first glance, the machine was in a okay condition, some rust here and there and many spots where the old lubricant had resinified, but most importantly it worked – even in that condition. The person selling it had kindly put new ceramic eyelets in the machine as well. In short the cleaning went like this: I took the machine apart almost step by step (frame, needles, clips, screws, needle bed, handles, bars, sled etc.) cleaned them separately (with special industrial cleaner), sanded some parts, lubricated everything and put it back together. That took me about a week (with my mom and dad helping here and there). The cleaning was great because I learned a lot about the construction and parts of the machine and I discovered which parts are broken (and/or missing). I added a short list of broken things at the end of the page which might be interesting for the knitters of you. As said before, there’s no replacement parts anymore, so if something is broken I need to fix it myself (with the help of others). But for now, enjoy scrolling through the process of cleaning the machine and transporting it in a MINI to the Netherlands (yes, it fits). Pictures about the first knitting tries will follow soon!

preparing for disassembly
removing carrier slides

cleaning needles
assembly part 1
assembly part 2


  • yarn carrier no.3 and no.4
  • two thread guides for yarn rack


  • double ceramic eyelet on yarn carrier no.1
  • metal spring on yarn carrier
  • operating button yarn carrier no.4

broken and fixed:

  • thread guide with broken tip (dad soldered it again)

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