Studio mod.326 knitting machine appeared on the market in 1976. It is sometimes comes under different names, like Singer and/or Silver Reed.
It features flat metal bed with 200 needles, located 4.5 mm apart, which makes this machine standard-gauge. It also has a punch-card reading mechanism for advanced and “automatic” patterning using tuck, slip and fair isle. This mechanism accepts 24-hole cards. The pattern from the punch card is transferred to the pattering drums, which then establish the selection of the corresponding needles through the intricate mechanism of the carriage.
I personally really like Singer/Studio/Silver Reed knitting machines with patterning drums since the way the machine patterns seems a bit more straightforward to me compared to Brother punch-card knitting machines.
The handle is permanently mounted on the carriage and folds for easy storage. Unlike Brother machines with the corresponding buttons on the carriage, the carriage of the Studio mod.326 has a dial allowing for the selection of the tuck, slip, stockinet, punch-lace and knit-in (aka fair isle) settings.
I personally worked with a Studio mod.326 machine with yellow hues (and tested it in full bed with tuck, slip and 2-color fair isle). However, one needs to keep in mind that plastics from the later 20th century often did not have UV-protection additives in them and thus became discolored when exposed to sunlight due to UV damage.
Studio mod.326 with a built-in knit leader to automatically shape the panel to make garments. This built-in knit leader is the first generation since it features the roll (not just a slot as on the later model).
The machine comes with standard assesories. The assesories include several tools for single-motif knitting, namely, yarn separators, two-point cams, and magic cams.
The standard setup comes with a special stand-alone box (with a lid) to fit all assesories. The box is, however, often missing or broken since the plastic is too old and crumbles a lot.
On the right-hand side end of the machine, there is a built-in tray to hold the assesories when using the machine. In later models, this section was replaced with a built-in tool storage and a tool holder. The row counter is built-in: zero changes of its being lost. Also, it is convenient that the row counter is in the middle of the machine (not at the end like in some later models).
Table 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.
Studio mod.326 can additionally be accessorized with a weaving arm AW1, SC1 cast-off linker (a small carriage), YC2, YC3, YC5 and YC6 color changers, AG20 intarsia carriage. Ribbing attachments that can be used with this machine are SRP20, SRP50 and SRP60. They work well with the machine and RT1 transfer carriage.
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.
Unlike Brother punchcard machines, Studio mod.326, similarly to other knitting machines with patterning drums, 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. The original 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 at 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.
I worked on several Studio machines with punch card patterning capabilities, including Studio mod.326 and I feel that I know this model really well. So, below are pros and cons that I personally experienced and was able to judge after and before working on other similar knitting machines.
- The patterning drums make it very easy to move the machine. They engage with the punch card mechanism very nicely without much noise.
- The manual is very well-written and I was able to follow the instructions with ease and to learn all the techniques.
- Easy-to-find replacement needles (on a new and on a used market) since these models are relatively “newer” ones.
- The tools are pretty standard and are pretty interchangeable with other models. All tools fit into a storage box that fits onto the main bed under the lid when the machine is not in use.
- The machine has a built-in tray to store tools during machine use.
- Some might find having the built-in knit leaders very handy: there is no need to have a separate long setup lying around – in this setup, all assesories fit into one carrier box. Knit-leader sheets are included with a standard setup.
- 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 to place the parts together. I found this extremely helpful as putting these machines away is often a big frustrating struggle.
- Can be accessorized with numerous attachments
- Built-in row counter, which is in the middle of the bed (not on the side like in some later models).
- The Knit leader sheet feed is a roll (versus a slot on later models), which would be gentler on the knit leader sheets.
– Single-motif knitting might be challenging for a beginner with all these cams. It 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. However, still not too bad.
– The patterning drums get stuck in not in use for prolonged periods of time. To avoid this problem, clean the drums regularly and oil them lightly.
– Yarn and fiber might roll around the patterning drums and their axes. To avoid this, inspect the drums frequently.
– No built-in intarsia capabilities
– 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).
– The tool storage box is not built-in. Easy to lose. Also, the plastic for these boxes is somewhat not sturdy so it crumbles and breaks easily because of its age. The lid for this toolbox is also not attached to the toolbox: easy to lose.
– End-racks are rubbery and deteriorate and crumble with time. It needs to be replaced once in a while.
I strongly believe that Studio mod.326 knitting machines are great machines for both advanced and beginner knitters. They are easy to use, fold, and store. I had a lot of fun working with one machine I had the privilege to work on. This and other models of Studio knitting machines are often available for purchase in Etsy store.
Studio also has similar models of knitting machines with punch-card-reading capabilities without (model 210, 321) and with built-in knit-leader: 260K, 3XX series (e.g., 327, 328, mod. 360K), and 700 mod, to name a few.
Punch-card knitting machines from Brother with built-in knit leader are KH871, KH881 and KH891. Brother knitting machines without knit leader are KH800, KH810, KH820, KH830, KH836, KH838, KH840, KH860, KH864, KH868, KH880, KH890, KH892 and KH894.