Silver Reed SK120 bulky knitting machine

Silver Reed SK120 knitting machine is a flat-bed metal knitting machine with needles 8.0 mm apart. The bed contains 120 large needles.

This bulky-gauge knitting machine was released to the market in 1978. It is also known as Bulky Eight, Studio SK120, Kantan Bulky, and Silver SK120. Another interesting name this machine is known for is “Fancy Bulky”.

I had a chance and a privilege to work on this machine (read and watch all my tests). This machine can knit various yarns: thick wool and acrylic blends, mohair (fuzzy yarn), textured yarn, and 100% acrylic – see a video of all my tests with all these yarns.

The handle on the carriage is not detachable but nicely when in storage.

The needles are short and very distinct from its other bulky sisters. These needles are available in my independent or in my Etsy stores for purchase.

This machine has a very unique, very recognizable, look. Despite having only manual patterning capabilities, it can still be accessorized to knit various things. For example, it can be matched with the SR120 ribber. Additional accessories include intarsia carriage AG-1.

The machine comes with a standard set of tools and minor accessories, which fit nicely into a toolbox with a lid.

This knitting machine has a very unique retaining bar: it is very narrow. The retaining bar is 108-109 mm long meal strip, 5 mm high. The widest part of the metal on top is 3 mm. The opening to insert the sponge is under 2 mm. Thus, finding an appropriate sponge for this retaining bar might be problematic After a long Internet search, I discovered the product below:

It is somewhat tricky to insert it too but I got a hang of it and made a video of it too so others can learn from my experience.

The row counter is a standard row counter used on most Silver Reed/Studio/Singer/Empisal knitting machines. Thus, if your machine comes without a row counter, you can easily purchase one, for example, in my independent shop or in my Etsy store. It, however, needs to be attached to the special plate, which then gets inserted into a machine (watch my video on that).

Pros and cons of Silver Reed Sk120:

PROS:

  • Very simple
  • Sturdy needles
  • Narrow bed and no lid, thus, relatively lightweight to transport and ship
  • Detachable row counter – easy to replace if broken
  • Big needles, far apart – bulky gauge allows this machine to handle thicker yarns that a lot of hand-knitters have in their stash
  • Easy and straightforward to setup
  • Excellent for beginners and those who transition from hand-knitting to machine-knitting.
  • Very easy to deep clean – all moving parts are mechanical
  • Metal bed: there are several similar-gauge knitting machines but with plastic beds. The metal bed of this machine makes it more durable and less prone to breaking and therefore there is still a lot of Silver Reed SK120 machines on the used market in great shapes.

CONS:

  • no automatic needle selection, thus, only manual stitch and needle manipulation is possible
  • replacement parts hard to find
  • unusual needles – seem to be specific for this model only (but available in my store)
  • sometimes chokes on yarn too thick. Might need frequent (more than usual) oiling and waxing.
  • very narrow retaining bar – hard to insert a new sponge
  • the sponge is hard to find (see above for what I used)
  • no lid for the case: thus, if stored not properly, can get dirty quickly.
  • even on a full bed, the width of the panel is limited (to only 120 needles). Thus, if you want to knit oversized garments or blankets, you need to be creative with your designs or stitch several panels together. It is, however, typically for most bulky knitting machines.

In conclusion, the best thing about this machine is that it creates knitted fabric totally looking like hand-knitted ones. To confirm what I felt myself, I am attaching this advertisement brochure from the 1970s I found in my stash.

Don’t forget to check out the fun and beginner-friendly projects that can be done easily on any machine.


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