Singer Memo-Matic 360K Knitting machine

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Singer MemoMatic 360K knitting machine is a flat metal bed machine with 200 needles, positioned 4.5 mm apart.

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It is a standard gauge knitting machine manufactured by Japanese company Singer. It is the same machine often branded as Studio Mod 360K. Sometimes similar machines are branded as Silver Reed. It was released to the market in the early 1980-ies. It features a 24-hole punch-card reader, which allows the machine automatic pattern 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.

The handle is permanently mounted on the carriage and folds for easy storage.

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I’ve seen yellow, orange and cream-colored Singer MemoMatic 360K knitting machines with brown and contrasting orange accents.

Unlike the pushbutton on the carriage of Brother knitting machines, the carriages of Singer knitting machines have tuck, slip, stockinet, punch-lace and knit-in (aka fair isle) settings on the carriage dial.

Unlike many other machines with punch-card capabilities, the Singer MemoMatic 360K comes with a built-in knit leader to automatically shape the panel to make garments.

The machine comes with standard assesories.

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All minor assesories fit inside a built-in compartment with a lid. The assesories include several tools for single-motif knitting, namely, yarn separators, two-point cams and magic cams.

There is a holder for the tools right next to the knit leader knobs and the row counter. Built-in row counter ensures that a row counter will never be lost.

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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.

Singer MemoMatic 360K can additionally be accessorized with optional lace carriages LC2 and 260/360LC, weaving arm AW1, SC3 linking carriage (which I tested personally also – nice to have but sometimes cranky Smile), YC2, YC3, YC5 and YC6 color changers and AG20 intarsia carriage. Ribbing attachments that can be used with this machine are SRP20, SRP50 and SRP60, which also work well with 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.

I personally really like this model and its patterning mechanism, which seems more straightforward compared to Brother punch-card knitting machines. I worked on several of these machines (read in my blog and watch on my YouTube channel).

However, unlike Brother punchcard machines, Singer 360K and 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.

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.

For the longest time I could not figure out why it is called MEMO-matic… I think it is similar to the word AUTO-matic. So, the prefix MEMO comes from MEMORY. The drums store memory of the needle position to knit various patterns. As for the latter “K” in the name: I think it indicates to the user that there is a built-in knit leader on the machine.

Singer knitting machines with patterning drums, like this model, often have very specific problems. Some of them (together with their solutions) are outlined in my other article.

I worked on several Singer MemoMatic 360K machines over the last two years (check my channel and blog for the numerous videos and articles) 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.

Pros:

  • 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.
  • The other optional brochures included with the setup up contain information on the settings for punch cards to achieve certain patterns as well as how to knit garments of various shapes. I know these are available online, but when one knits, it is always nice to have a hard, high-quality, copy handy. All brochures can be found online.

  • 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 built-in box on the left-hand side of the machine.
  • 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 tool holder
  • Built-in row-counter
  • 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.

Cons:

– 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

– 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.

– The row counter is at the end of the bed, after the knit leader. Not too inconvenient but when knitting a swatch or a small part, knitters need to make sure they take the carriage past the row counter’s tripper to account for all rows knitted.

– Unlike Brother knitting machine, lace carriage comes in a separate box (and is NOT stored inside the lid). Just one more thing to keep track of…

– Not 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).

(-) End-racks are rubbery and deteriorate and crumble with time. Need to be replaced once in a while.

Singer 360K 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 them. SingerMmemoMatic 360K knitting machines are often available for purchase in Etsy store.

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Singer also has similar models of knitting machines with 24-hole punch-card-reading capabilities without (Singer MemoMatic 210 and 321)  and with built-in knit-leader:  260K, 3XX series (e.g., 321, 326, 327, 328), and MemoMatic 700K to name a few. So does studio: Studio Mod360K.

24-hole 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, KH830KH836, KH838, KH840, KH860, KH864, KH868, KH880, KH 890, KH892 and KH894.