Singer MemoMatic 700 knitting machine appeared on the market in 1985. It is one of the last punch-card models manufactured by Singer. (Other known names might be Silver Reed and Studio). Maybe this is why most machines I encountered and knitted on come in such a great shape.
Singer MemoMatic 700 is a standard-gauge knitting machine with 200 needles, separated from each other by 4.5 mm on the needle bed. It features a 24-hole punch card reading machine capable of slip- and tuck- stitch patterning and fair isle knitting. The pattern is transferred to the needles through the patterning drums on the carriage, which get the positions from the patterning pegs on the punch-card reader. Singer 700K also comes with a built-in knit leader, which allows the knitter to automatically shape the panel to make garments. This is, very likely, why the name has the letter “K” after the number. The name MEMO-matic comes from the ability of the machine to keep patterns in its “memory” (like AUTO-matic supposed to do things automatically). The drums store memory of the needle position to knit various patterns.
The standard setup includes all typical minor assesories, including knit leader sheets.
The assesories are neatly packed inside a built0in box when not in use.
All major assesories (sinke rplate and the tension mast) are stored inside the lid.
The machine is very similar to the Singer MemoMatic 360K but with some advanced features. For example, the carriage moves much better/easier (maybe it was just the feature of the Singer 700 machine I tested – they seemed in newer/better conditions than the Singer 360K machine I worked with). Additionally, the row counter is not at the end of the bed (like in Singer 360K) but more in the middle. Another difference is that the knit leader is wider and accepts the sheets for a full garment size, not just for half like in most Singer machines with built-in knit leader. However, because of the expanded knit leader, Singer 700K has no a built-in holder on the panel but 360K does. The last, but absolutely not least, huge advantage of Singer 700K knitting machine over all other Singe knitting machines that the intarsia function is built into the mane carriage and no separate carriage is needed.
The handle is permanently mounted on the carriage and folds for easy storage. The carriage has a dial with tuck, slip, stockinet, punch-lace and knit-in (aka fair isle) settings (unlike Brother knitting machines with these settings being activated by the button on the carriage). The two Singer 700 machines I worked on had cream color with brown accents.
The patterning mechanism of Singer MemoMatic 700K seems a bit straightforward compared to Brother punch-card knitting machines.
The retaining bar is metal and contains a long spongy strip. The whole assembly is often called a sponge bar. This sponge needs to be replaced every 6-12 months depending on usage frequency and how often and heavily you oil the machine. Without the retaining bar or with an old (and very flat) sponge the needles will be too wobbly and will lose stitches as well as damage your needles and even a carriage.
able clamps are simple but, unlike Brother knitting machines, they have a distinct protruding top bracket. Brother knitting machines have both bottom and top brackets on the same level.
Singer MemoMatic 700K can additionally be accessorized with optional lace carriages LC2 and LC260/360, weaving arm AW1, SC3 linking carriage (which I tested personally also – nice to have but sometimes cranky ), YC2, YC3, YC5 and YC6 color changers. Ribbing attachments that can be used with this machine are SRP20, SRP50 and SRP60. These ribbers and Singer 700K work well with the RT1 transfer carriage.
However, unlike Brother punchcard machines, and like almost all Singer knitting machines with patterning drums, MemoMatic 700K have so-called side racks. They prevent the machine from mispatterning if the carriage is moved a bit past the main bed. The side racks help to maintain the drums in their patterning state. These side racks are made from rubber, which with time crumbles, and the parts detach from the main bed and decompose. Honestly, these side racks are only needed for full-bed knitting, where the carriage indeed can go off-track.
But even when knitting on a full bed, the carriage can be slowed down a the end of the bed and a knitted panel to ensure that the patterning drums do not go past the main bed and the pattern will be preserved even without these side racks. So, in a way, these side racks expand the main bed. However, the side racks can be replaced. They are available in my store as well.
- The most significant pro of this machine is that intarsia function is built into the main carriage and no additional intarsia carriages are needed.
- The patterning drums make it very easy to move the machine. They engage with the punch card mechanism very nicely without much noise.
(When I worked on this machine, I had a shoulder injury but was able to move the carriage across the full bed without any pain.)
- The manual is very well-written and I was able to follow the instructions with ease and to learn all the techniques.
- All manuals and brochures are available online.
- All tools fit nicely into a built-in storage box, the cover of which actually shows how to arrange them.
- Easy-to find replacement needles since these models are relatively “newer” ones.
- The carriage has a release lever (earlier Studio/Singer models do not), which comes handy when the carriage gets stuck and needs to be removed from the bed in the idle of knitting.
- The tools are pretty standard and are pretty interchangible with other models.
- Some might find having the built-in knit-leaders very handy: there is no need to have a separate long setup laying around – in this setup all fits into one carrier box
- I found that putting this machine to storage and opening and closing is much easier than multiple brother machines I had a chance to struggle with. There is a very clear schematic on the cover with the order of how placing the parts together. I found this extremely helpful as putting these machines away is often a big frustrating struggle.
- Built-in row counter: knitters should not worry that a detachable row counter would be lost (like for Brother machines).
- The row counter in in the middle of the med (not at the end like earlier Singer punch card models).
- All parts fit into a case. The schematics on the case lid shows how to put away the machine and it is very easy to follow (much easier than on Brother).
- Easy-to-learn patterning. The knobs on the carriage are straightforward – just follow the steps in the manual.
- Knit leader sheet feed is a slot (versus a roll as on earlier models). Less things to clean and less bulky features on the panel.
The cons are:
- The most significant flow in my mind is that the patterning drums often get stuck if not oiled regularly, especially when not used for a very long time or put into storage (I restored already two OTHER machines where the drums were simply shut… They needed soak in an oil bath and some heavy-duty disassembling). To avoid this problem, put some light oil regularly on the patterning drums.
- Yarn and fiber might roll around the patterning drums and their axes. To avoid this, inspect the drums frequently.
- I personally wish the setup included cast-on bars but it might also be my personal preference. However, cast on bars can be easily purchased.
- I found knitting single-motif fair isle somewhat challenging for a beginner. So, this is definitely a skill for an experienced knitted. So many things to keep track off… I got overwhelmed.
- Plastic components of the machine, including plastic parts on the carriage, end caps, and others are prone to discoloration due to exposure to sunlight even through the window. Thus, please cover your machine with a thick curtain or a towel to prevent further sun damage.
- The absence of a timing belt (like on Brother punch-card machines) makes it a bit harder to push the machine especially if knitting on the full bed (but not by much)
- Unlike Brother knitting machine, lace carriage comes in a separate box (and is NOT stored inside the lid) because it is an optional accessory. But… just one more thing to keep track of…
- The repeat pattern is limited to 24 stitches. If you want more flexibility, you will need an electronic kitting machine, like Studio/Singer models 500, 511, 550, 560, 580, and Silver Reed knitting machine model SK840.
- The sponge bar needs to be replaced regularly.
- Needs to be stored properly otherwise the machine will rust.
- The standard set of punch cards is somewhat limited. Knitters who want other designs will need to punch their own (a quite tedious process if done by hand and a step-learning way if done by Cricut or similar automatic cutters).
- End-racks are rubbery and deteriorate and crumble with time. It needs to be replaced once in a while.
Singer also has similar models of knitting machines with punch-card-reading capabilities without (Singer MemoMatic 210, 321) and with built-in knit-leader: 260K, 3XX series (e.g., 326, 327, 328, MemoMatic 360K) to name a few. So does Studio: Studio Mod360K.
Punch-card knitting machines from Brother with built-in knit leaders are KH871, KH881 and KH891. Brother knitting machines without knit leader are KH800, KH810, KH820, KH830, KH836, KH838, KH840, KH860, KH864, KH868, KH880, KH 890, KH892 and KH894.
These machine as well as Singer MemoMatic 700K are available in my Etsy store.