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How To Make A Knitting Machine Needle Retainer Sponge Bar Part 3: Fuse Interfacing, Tape Ends, And Reinstall

sponge bar fuse interfacing to topYou are so close to being done.

Now that you have cleaned out the old gunk and glued in the new foam, it is time to attach the interfacing, tape the ends, and reinstall the bar into your knitting machine.

You will need a steam iron, woven fusible interfacing, ruler, pen, fabric scissors, and a small bit of packing tape. A rotary cutter and cutting mat are optional.

     

What To Buy

Fusible interfacing comes in a variety of fabric blends, thicknesses, and widths. I found woven worked the best. If you have some non woven at home, go ahead and try it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

If you need to buy, choose woven. For all the friction generated by the carriage moving the needles back and forth under the sponge bar, a woven variety should hold up better. I used both types of interfacing for this tutorial. Each adhered easily, and seemed to work identically. How it holds up long term is yet to be determined.

For woven, I bought 4 feet (122 cm) of Pellon Stacy Shape-Flex SF101. It is 20″ (50 cm) wide, 70% Polyester 30% cotton, and sold for $3.49 a yard. For non-woven, I got Pellon ShirTailor 950F. It is 22″ (56 cm) wide, 100% polyester, and cost $2.49 a yard.

Where To Buy

JoAnn’s on a 50% off sale. The woven set me back $2.32 for 4 feet (122 cm). The non-woven $1.65. Ridiculously cheap when you consider how many 3/8th inch (1 cm) strips you can get out of 20 inches (50 cm).

How To Finish

     

sponge bar measure interfacing for cuttingMeasure a 3/8″ (1 cm) wide strip at least two inches longer than your foam.

To make my life easy, I buy 4 feet (122 cm) which is more than long enough for my lengthiest bulky machine. This gives me a little extra to hang over each end when I fuse it to the foam.

     

sponge bar cut interfacing to sizeUsing fabric scissors or a rotary cutter, cut the interfacing.

     

sponge bar lay interfacing beyond end of barLay the fabric on top of the foam with a bit sticking off each end.

     

sponge bar use iron to pin interfacing in placeFollowing the directions for your fusible interfacing, turn on your iron to the specified heat and spot tack the material to the foam.

For my woven interfacing, I used the medium steam setting and held the iron in place for two to three seconds. I tacked the fabric every 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm).

     

sponge bar use damp cloth between iron and interfacingAfter tacking, lay a moistened pressing cloth on top and iron the interfacing to the foam. My Pellon directions required 10 to 15 seconds per each overlapping section.

You do not have to press down hard. As long as the iron makes solid, gentle contact, you are good. If you remove your pressing cloth and find the interfacing is not stuck, simply go over that section a second time.

     

sponge bar ink bleed through interfacingIf you don’t glue the marked side of the foam to the bottom of the metal tray, this is what happens.

The steam iron causes the ink to bleed through the interfacing.

Not the end of the world. Just a tad ugly.

     

sponge bar trim excess fusible interfacingAfter the interfacing is all fused, trim off the excess from each end.

     

sponge bar lay scotch tape on endCut off two pieces of strong packing tape, such as Scotch, and secure both ends.

You will want about a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) of the tape on the foam and the other 1/2″ (1.3 cm) on the metal.

     

sponge bar scotch tape down endsThe tape should cling tightly all the way around the bar.

Your knitting machine needle retainer sponge bar is officially done.

To make sure everything is set and dry, I’ll wait 24 hours before installing the refurbished bar in my knitting machine.

     

sponge bar hold needles down and insert with metal side upWhen you are confident your glue has dried, it’s time to reinsert the bar into your knitting machine.

Pick either side. While holding down the needles, slide the bar down its channel.

     

Share Your Thoughts

After making over a dozen sponge bars, I’m thoroughly pleased with how well they work, how inexpensive the materials are, and how easy it is to do, especially after getting over any nervousness of needing to cut foam or interfacing perfectly. Several of my attempts had gouges in the foam from an unsteady cutting hand. It made absolutely no difference in their performance.

If you make a bar, please share your results in the comments below, regardless of how far into the future you find this post. How has your bar held up? Did you use a different product that worked better for your situation? How long did it last? What did you use to clean out the old gunky glue?

Our machines benefit from everyone’s input.

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July 26, 2008

100 comments

1 Mar { 07.27.08 at 11:01 am }

Very neat. I’ll try this when I replace sponge bars for my bulky and standard. With the Brother KX 350, there is, unfortunately, not metal strip to adhere the foam to. It’s just a piece of foam with ribbon on both sides. I could do the interfacing on both sides, like yours. It would have been nice if they had made the machine so that a metal strip guides the sponge through. Oh well.
Thanks again!
Mar

2 Kathryn { 07.27.08 at 11:32 am }

I think your idea to put interfacing on both sides is an excellent one. Hopefully the KX 350 can also use the 1/2″ (1 cm) foam. Other widths are hard to find and trimming the thicker foam is a pain.

On a side note, since this is your third comment you have received a link back. Thank you so much for taking the time to add to my site. Depending on your blogging platform, it may take a day or so for the link to show up in your user panel.

3 Judi { 07.28.08 at 4:46 am }

Kathryn
that was the BEST idea since sliced bread!!! KUDOS to you!!
I cannot believe that sponge bars have become so expen-
sive, so your solution is fantastic!! (I had also thought
that perhaps a length of felted fabric would work well
instead of the foam – any thoughts on that??)

Judi/Knox, IN

4 Anne { 07.28.08 at 5:35 am }

I have replaced the sponge in several bars using storm door stripping. It works O.K. but your method seems much more practical. Thank you for such a good explination. I also have a KX 350 and I do not think the purchased foam strips last long enough. I will try this next time with only the interfacing. Again Thank You.
Anne

5 Kathryn { 07.28.08 at 5:47 am }

Judi,

Your idea on using felt is intriguing.

The only hitch I could see is if the amount of felt needed to maintain the needles at the proper height prevented the bar from sliding in and out of its slot. The foam really squishes down when inserting or removing the bar.

Inside the machine, the sponge bar channel is deeper than its entry point at either side. The foam has room to gently expand.

6 Terri { 07.28.08 at 7:04 am }

Another thoroughly professional teaching job!

Thank you so much for giving of your time to help fellow machine knitters. I just finished stripping my DM8O following your instructions which (like these for the sponge bar) are clear and concise,

Well done!!

A note for KX350 users … when I had one of these machines – I would stitch one end of the new strip, to one of the ends of the old strip (using a couple of big granny stitches). So – when you pull the old one out – the new one followed in its wake and slipped easily into place, without having to take out any needles.

Thanks again – Terri

7 Marian { 08.03.08 at 7:47 am }

Having just paid out a considerable, though I consider perfectly reasonable for what was done, amount of money to have my 950i repaired I was somewhat frustrated to find that my Brother 260 was working less than efficiently, ie dropped stitches, ragged edges, mispatterning etc. I diagnosed that most of the problem was due to the fact that the sponge bars were about as thick as an ice cream wafer and just about as crisp. I was delighted, just by chance, to come across your article on making a replacement sponge bar, so I thought I would have a try, before spending more money than I could really afford just now. Apart from the foam, which was easily obtained from the local market, I had all the other items required and so I set to work and after a couple of hours I had a spanking new bouncy sponge bar. I have installed it into my machine and all appears to be working well at present. Only time will tell just how durable it is but thank you so much for your article. The instructions and diagrams were clear and easy to follow and I shall certainly pass on a copy of them to another knitting friend.

8 Kathryn { 08.03.08 at 8:21 am }

Terri and Marian,

I’m so glad you found my tutorials helpful. I try to pick topics that fix a problem I’m having and then share the results through lots of photographs.

9 Andrea { 08.09.08 at 11:06 am }

Thanks for your detailed and useful tutorial. The photos are an excellent accompaniment to the written instructions. I appreciate the time involved in compiling this information.

If only I had had this guide before I purchased a number of sponge bars on eBAY! I still plan to make at least one, so I can compare it to the ready-made sponge bars.

Thanks again for your efforts.

10 elaine uk { 09.09.08 at 1:58 am }

BRILLIANT! thanks a lot x

11 janet tortora { 09.15.08 at 5:43 pm }

Well.. I am a new knitting machine user, and I put a purchased sponge bar into my machine upside down, anyone have any clues as to how to get it out of there. I have the metal side down, sponge up, have taken all of the needles off and it’s just plain stuck in there!!!

I hope that someone can help me! It’s a brother palie machine

12 Kathryn { 09.18.08 at 2:31 pm }

If no amount of gentle pulling/prying/coaxing/swearing works, your only remaining option is to take apart the machine. It is not hard, but the first time it is a bit scary.

I wish I had an easier answer.

13 Michelle { 09.25.08 at 4:29 am }

Thank you thank you thank you. I have been wanting to try machine knitting and today picked up a cheap 2nd hand one in the Op shop for $10 – however after trying to knit and it jamming, I found out about sponge bars, found your site to DIY sponge bars, ran down to the hardware store and within an hour I had a beautiful pratice square made prefect!

Now I can play around with machine knitting and all up it cost me $10 for the machine and $5 for the parts to make the sponge bar :-)

14 Pat { 10.04.08 at 9:01 am }

Your tutorial on refurbishing sponge bars is so excellent! I made my first one the other day and installed it yesterday. I was concerned that the 1/2″ foam would be WAY too thick as the old one that came out was flatter than the height of the sides of the bar. But it slid in with some coaxing and works great. We were out of the Goof Off, so hubby said to use lacquer thinner, and it worked perfectly. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain and show (love the pictures!) us how to do this. Awesome!

15 Kathryn { 10.07.08 at 8:32 pm }

Pat,

I’m glad to hear that lacquer thinner works too. It is more widely available than the Goof Off.

16 Lanette { 11.03.08 at 9:54 am }

OH MY!! I am so happy to have found this site. I have an EXTRA long bed Studio 700 with a sponge bar 58″ from end to end. I was beside myself with what to do. I am going to find the needed supplies and do this and thank you so much for the effort you put in to such great instructions!
Sincerely,
Lanette in MS

17 Jan { 11.03.08 at 8:52 pm }

WOW! I’m impressed. Just found your site while looking for Passap information. (Someone gave me an older Passap with no instructions . Using your great info we were able to at least set it up! )

Then I noticed your sponge bar instructions. They are so clear and easy to follow, – and inexpensive. Will definitely try them next time I need one for my Brother machines.

Am looking forward to trying some of your patterns, too.

Thank you! Thank you!

18 Sheila { 12.08.08 at 12:41 am }

THANK YOU!! I have recently purchased a few older used knitting machines. A couple came with new sponge bars but most did not and the idea of $25+ dollars to our local (1 1/2 hrs drive) dealer made me cringe. Tomorrow I will get out the stuff and go at it. Thanks again, great information well presented.

19 Jacqui Bates { 12.31.08 at 4:23 am }

I was very pleased to see your clear instructions on replacing a sponge bar. I read somewhere on the internet last year about using self adhesive heavy duty draught excluder strips to make a sponge bar but couldn’t find any instructions. I went ahead and made one anyway, but actually took out the plastic strips either end which was very fiddly.

It worked but your idea is so much easier, and I shall try again with my Brother KH881 which definitely needs a new bar.

I can never understand why they are so expensive, but this solves the problem, and very cheaply. Thank you.

20 Diana L. Sullivan, CPA { 01.22.09 at 5:29 pm }

I loved your detailed instructions!

We have a wonderful MK club in Austin, Texas, and I’ll buy the foam and interfacing and make this a club demo. We can share the supplies. This will really help the ladies who have oddball sponge bars and can’t get replacements.

Thanks so much for all the work you put into this. It’s marvelous. Do you mind if we link to your site?

21 Kathryn { 01.23.09 at 8:21 am }

A link would be wonderful!

The more votes of confidence Google finds for my site, the higher I’ll rank for searches when other machine knitters are looking for information.

Thank you.

22 Gina { 01.23.09 at 10:31 pm }

This is a real easy way of making a sponge bar. I have made them out of self adhesive draught excluder tape but they are only an emergency measure. Can’t wait to try this!
The iron on interfacibg is a brilliant idea…thank you so much, I will share your link with the ladies in our knitting club.

23 Joyce { 01.25.09 at 3:57 pm }

Enjoyed your tutorial.
I too, have redone sponge bars. I did find a weather seal foam 3/8 ” wide that worked perfectly. It had pull off tape with self adhesive which meant I didn’t have to glue.
I bought 3/8″ ribbon that I glued on with a latex glue. The water soluble glue is a great idea.
These are every bit as good as purchased ones in my opinion, and does save a lot of money, especially on shipping costs.
Joyce,
with 5 knitting machines, ribbers and 3 G-carriages. More is always better, right?
Must be why I have 5 kids, you think?

24 Gabrielle { 02.10.09 at 4:20 am }

Thanks so much for your very helpful and informative tutorial. I just bought my first machine yesterday – an Empisal KH680L from 1975 in great condition. A lady in one of the Yahoo groups I belong to recommended that I check the sponge bar and sure enough – dead!

I have spent ages searching the net for new ones to no avail, so imagine how thrilled I was to find such fabulous instructions for making my own!

I plan on taking pics and blogging my progress with my machine so will send some in for you when I get a chance.

:) Gabrielle in Brisbane, Australia

25 Gabrielle { 02.10.09 at 4:21 am }

PS – For those Aussie machine knitters – orange oil works a treat at getting the glue residue off (so I heard – yet to try it).

Gabrielle

26 dakota { 03.16.09 at 3:33 pm }

thank you my mom really wanted one thank you

27 John { 03.27.09 at 8:02 am }

Thank you very much. I’m definately bookmarking these instructions!!

John L

28 Vicki { 04.26.09 at 1:37 pm }

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first knitting machines (albeit used, but THREE of them!). Having done what I feel was considerable research on these, I knew that one of the first things I needed to check was the sponge bar. Last night I watched a video on replacing the spongebar using the weatherstripping, but today I found this site and have decided that your method seems much more practical!

Unfortunately, none of the machines I purchased have manuals, one is a Studio SK120, and the others are Juki – one a lace machine and the other a ribber. I really appreciated your tutorial on setting up the km’s and off to see what other goodies I can find here!

29 sylviatx { 05.26.09 at 11:18 am }

I found you through the ravelry machine knitters group. Thank you for these instructions! I refurbished my foam bar this weekend.

I used somet stuff in the garage to get the gunk out, it was called Engine Brite degreaser, worked fine. I also found a nice iron-on “mending tape” that was woven, it’s about an inch wide and worked great (instead of the woven interfacing).

After I put the bar in I was able to knit my first swatch on my very used knitting machine – a Brother 550. thanks!

30 Terry { 06.10.09 at 10:30 am }

Thank you so muh for the interesting tutorial and for the great photos.
Never again will I have to order a sponge bar from Hong Kong!

31 Betty Cummings { 06.20.09 at 1:14 pm }

As I have eight machines and two of them need new sponge bars I am about to try this as I live in New Zealand some of the brand names will differant but I get the general idea. Will let you know.

32 Gloria Heazlewood { 07.08.09 at 1:49 am }

Thank you so much for this. I am setting up my Singer Memo-matic after being packed away for about 25 years and I wasn’t sure what I would do about a new sponge bar. A very helpful knitter from Canada told me that I would need one. However trying to get one in New Zealand could be difficult. See there’s another Kiwi on here – hi Betty! Your photos and instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Once again, thank you so much.

33 Joan Smith { 08.13.09 at 3:47 pm }

Thanks so much, I’m cleaning an old 303 Studio with absolutely no wear marks on the carriage or needles, maybe one swatch worth, and the sponge bar is flat, but is about 4/5″ shorter than the newer model sponge bars. So guess where I’m headed….

Joan Smith

34 Jane Wade { 09.07.09 at 7:06 am }

Thank you, thank you. I just made 3 and they work!
My question is… How do you clean the whole machine? Once I knew to remove the needles and clean them in “something”, but what?
Also the machine manufacturers say use nothing but Knitting Machine Oil. What is special about KMO?

35 Emily { 09.17.09 at 1:47 am }

I WANT TO SHOUT FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

ALL THE WAY FROM SAN DIEGO.

36 Emily { 09.17.09 at 1:49 am }

I WANT TO SHOUT FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ALL THE WAY FROM
SAN DIEGO……………………………………………………..

37 Rosemary Kennedy { 09.17.09 at 1:38 pm }

Great tutorial. I also have an Empisal knitting machine. I bought it new about 35 years ago, and used it while my kids were little then packed it away in a box for years and years.

I recently hauled it out and have set it up again … this time for the grandkids. I was able to purchase a replacement foam bar – though at a price of $25.00 I will be making my own in future. However, I need some replacement needles and can’t find a website that is offering them. Any suggestions?

For the moment I’m using the extreme outside ones to replace those in the centre, but obviously can only do that so many times before it becomes a problem. Anyone who knows of a source to buy them, I’d love to hear about it. Brother and other knitting machines are not transferable to the Empisal because of that little kink in the back (a bit like the NIKE swoosh) … other machine needles are completely straight.

38 Sarah { 10.02.09 at 4:54 am }

My brother 836 works fine at the moment but I’ve just purchased a lace carriage which is bending a few needles and catching on every row – i presume it’s because my spongebar needs replacing?

How long did your spongebars hold up? I am keen to use this method rather than pay out for a new bar but not if it’s only going to last another 3 months. I use my machine everyday.

Thanks for a fab tutorial though – would really like to hear if it works!

39 Donna { 10.14.09 at 1:43 pm }

Hi,
Thanks so much for your instructions…I have 5 bars that need refurbished.
I understand the foam is 3/8 inch wide but am unsure about the height is
it really an inch thick? Where could I purchase the foam?

I just received the email for your site and already have the goo begone on it.
Again,
Thanks,
Donna

40 Carolyn { 10.22.09 at 8:13 am }

Thank you, thank you. I have just repared four bars with two more to go. Wow, easy and such a great time/money saver!!!!!!! I taught machine knitting at Haliburton this past July and spent the first day reparing sponge bars with what I could find wich was weather stripping. Now I’ll take all this stuff with me as beginners always have machines from under someones bed or back of a closet that has a totally melted sponge bar!!!!

BTW I used a roll of Laundry Tape that I got for $3:99 for 12m (13 yards). Already the right width and iron on.

Love your blog.

41 Sarita Purdy { 11.22.09 at 9:38 am }

I bought a Brother-knit machine a long time ago and struggled to get it working but never could. Just a few months ago I tried again by having my mechanical husband and father look at it with no luck.

Two weeks ago I found a Singer machine with ribber at the Goodwill and risked the $50 they were asking for it. I thought that this time I was going to do things right, so after some search I found a shop that had someone who would teach me how to set up and use the machine ($30 for 2 hours). They told me that I must change the felt bar first and made it sound like a very specialised and precise piece of machinery. They refused to even look at the Brother as it was too old a machine for them to bother with. After going through the set up for the Singer, I realised that the Brother may have a similar bar, so off to the internet I went and immediately found your site.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

I will try it this afternoon and if it works, I can join knitters heaven with two working machines.

42 Jay { 01.12.10 at 3:37 pm }

Have you tried ironing the interfacing to the foam before cutting? I have several needle bars to refurbish and ironing the interfacing prior to cutting would save a lot of time measuring and cutting.

43 Kathryn { 01.14.10 at 6:59 am }

I haven’t, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t work. Go for it!

44 Vicky { 02.09.10 at 4:04 pm }

I did it made my own sponge bar, will know tomorrow after it dries if it worked, I’m sure it will, Thanks for the info.

45 Sue { 02.18.10 at 11:39 am }

Many thanks for your instructions. I had been replacing the sponge with draught excluder but it doesn’t last very long. I have now refurbished two sponge bars – one main bed and one ribber on my Toyota 901. Brilliant. I found the foam and interfacing on eBay uk and bought a rotary blade in a local shop. Found the glue reduced in a stationers. After scraping off the old foam with a screwdriver I used Methylated Spirit to soak the residue and then it scraped off really easily.

46 redhead83402 { 03.18.10 at 9:12 pm }

Oh How many times might I say thank you!! How about a little haiku instead ~
lace carriage jams up
ancient sponge bar is to blame
Kathryn is genius
~
ok, so that was spur of the moment and sucked mightily, but hey, once again, THANKS!!! I just picked up 3 knitting machines (an old punch-card knitking kk98, a knitking compuknit IV, and a knitking compuknit bulky) at a garage sale for an unbelievable $50 for all 3, and brought them home and tried them out. They worked ok, but the lace carriage just jammed something snasty on the 4.5mm guage. That led me to an internet search and VOILA! there you were with your wisdom and the wonderfully good graces to share it!!

Unfortunately, I just spent $25 bucks for 2 new bars on eBay, but I am excited to replace these ones with homemade anyway, since I have one more to go, and besides which, I just hate the thought of shelling out $25 everytime the bar goes bad.

I do have a knitty question for you though, do you have any good ideas on homemade punch cards? I see that they are available on eBay, but again would prefer to make my own if possible.

Thank you for your time and talents!!
Sincerely,
Cara

47 redhead83402 { 03.20.10 at 3:38 pm }

Just thought I’d report back and let you know that indeed the sponge bars work VERY well!! I only had the green-ish foam available here, and I used a woven interfacing, which I attached all at once, so that when I rolled the left-overs up & put them away, that step is already done. Also, I found the foam cut more true with the interfacing already on ~ or maybe it just made it easier for me to see how I was cutting.

At any rate, the bars are installed, and what do you know ~ the lace carriage no longer jams up! In fact, the whole machine is knitting better! Once again, thank you so much ~ what an awesome post!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!!
Sincerely,
Cara (Red)

48 cindy { 03.22.10 at 7:20 am }

I just made one for a chunky knitter but cannot slide the bar back in. I bought 3/8 X 3/8 weather stipping and used the interfacing & taped the ends but it just will not go back in.

49 Kelli { 04.24.10 at 10:50 am }

Hi Kathryn! Thank you for the lesson! Last night I bought 3/8″ carpet padding (10 lb. high density foam), made the sponge pad, and reinserted it this afternoon. I am having a problem. The needles are not lifting up at all. In fact. they are slipping up at the back of the grooves that hold them so you can see the end of the needle. I have a Singer 700. Would you suggest getting a thicker foam for this model????

50 Josephine { 05.25.10 at 2:14 am }

Thank you so much.
I have a bulky knitter and knew that it was the sponge bar that was the problem. I did the sponge thing but it was the iron-on interfacing that had me beat, so to-morrow I will have another go at it. I’m so exited. Like most of you I have some lovely thick wools that I would like to make into garments. Thanks again from Aussie land

51 Josephine { 05.25.10 at 2:18 am }

I also have a garter bar (I think that is what it is called) that I have no instructions for, is there an instruction book that I can buy or a website that has instructions on its use.

52 Roz { 05.26.10 at 12:31 am }

Excellent tutorial. I have just refurbished the main bed and ribber bed of my Knitmaster 151 at a fraction of the cost of buying from a dealer.

53 Cheryl { 06.14.10 at 12:03 pm }

i went to a auto repair dealership and got a strip of car liner. got the length i needed for my brother kx-350. Cut it about 3/8″ wide…taped the end for stability, used needle nose pliers to help guide the sponge in with the material side facing up (will be against the needles) and inserted it….so far the machine is working like a dream. I was concerned that it might not be thick enough but it seems to be working fine so far. spent $1 for the materials. didnt have to glue it in or anything!!

54 Linda Spangenburg { 06.25.10 at 5:27 am }

Hello,

I really want to thank you for this information. My brother is a diabetic and is on dialysis three times a week, 4 hours each time. With that and the many doctor visits he has he was beginning to really hate his life. He is 67 and can nothing but watch tv and go to the doctor.

So I got him knitting on some knitting looms and he really took to it. He began asking me about my knitting machines.

Well we got him one but I didn’t know the sponge bar was missing. He was so excited and when we discovered the missing sponge bar I could see his face and spirit take a nose dive.

It is a Brother KX350 and I know it is different that what you are showing but with your help I believe I will be able to get this up and running for him.

I just wanted to thank you for your great guide, you have helped a very sick man have hope again.

Linda

55 Miki Miller { 07.01.10 at 2:28 pm }

You flippin’ ROCK! Thank you so much for your tutorial and all the fabulous pictures. I just got my first knitting machine and am excited to get started!!!

56 Audrey Hall { 07.24.10 at 4:26 pm }

I got my information from an Australian magazine years ago and she suggested using Eucalyptus oil for cleaning the old guck out, not only does it smell nice but it works. Repairing my own sponge bars is very satisfying.
Thanks for sharing . Audrey.

57 Amanda { 09.12.10 at 2:39 pm }

I just drug out an old machine that my Mom pawned off on me after she had it sitting around for… ummm.. .er… anywho, and who knows where she got it from….

So, after much cursing trying to figure out what is going wonky where it seems like the carriage works one direction and not the other, I’m wondering if this is the problem?

I just pulled the sponge bar out and its definitely very icky, going to get the bits to make a new one shortly… any other ideas on what would make it act weird? (Studio mod. 321 fwiw)

58 Anne { 11.13.10 at 10:40 am }

I’m off to JoAnn’s to buy supplies for this! Your site has been so helpful to me so far. I took my Brother KH890 apart last night and boy is the sponge bar in sad shape. Looking forward to getting this new one installed to see if I can knit on this thing (it was just gifted to me and i’ve never used one as fancy as this).

59 Emma { 12.02.10 at 8:38 am }

Wow! Thanks so much for this! Has saved me a fortune! Sponge bars in the UK are around £20! This cost me around £3! Just waiting for the glue to dry! Whoop whoop! Thanks again

60 Joyce Raab { 12.08.10 at 5:10 pm }

Your website is such a goldmine of information. I thank you for being so generous with your knowledge.
I have made some of my sponge bars using weather stripping foam. I used 3/8ths wide nylon ribbon (lavender) glued on the top. At either end, I used the small black clamps to hold it down overnight. It was such a feeling of accomplishment.
Just wish I had done it before I had paid out a hundred & twenty five bucks online.
Now I am looking forward to taking my machines apart for a through cleaning.
Thank you and blessings upon you.
Love, Joyce

61 sue { 12.14.10 at 5:18 am }

needs some help….on my brother 910, i redid the sponge bar and now can’t get it back in….sounds stupid, but unless i force it, it stops about 1/2 to 1 inch from being all the way in…..this causes needles not to catch. Do i force it in??? have taken it out three times now and checked ends. Doyou haveany ideas. sue

62 sue { 12.14.10 at 5:47 am }

another thing i just noticed that when i pull needles to “E” posiions, they are very loose…..as if i am going to replace the needle….something is wrong?? any ideas. it has been 15 years since i got outmy machine.

63 beverly { 12.31.10 at 4:38 pm }

I did not know that knitting machines had a sponge bar until I found this site. But I did just as it says now I just need to place it back in the machine. Thank you for the information.

64 Helen Hunter { 01.20.11 at 8:36 am }

Thank you so much! I had a blue Toyota K747 when i first married 33 years ago, which I adored, made all the kids and families sweaters. I eventually sold it and bought a fancy electronic singer which I never got to grips with.
I then bought a Brother chunky and ribber (which still has a home in the attick). I was thrilled to find by chance last summer a mint condition Toyota K747 exactly like my original in a second hand store, with lace carriage, knit radar, intarsia carriage and all mint condition instruction books and tools. I bought it for 15 UK pounds including stacks of wool! The machine looks unused, but the needles need coaxing from B back to A position, despite cleaning and oiling. I thought it had been damaged until I saw your article about the neeedle bar. On examination it looks exactly like the dead one in your picture. I think the foam has perished and compressed over time. anyway, it’s a long winded way of saying thank you for re-igniting my enthusiasm! I have cut out my foam and just need to buy some glue. My husband is groaning at the thought of more clutter!

The internet is a fabulous resource thanks to people like you who take the time to share your expertise. You have my heart felt thanks the way from Scotland!!

Helen

65 Jeannette Pirkle { 01.21.11 at 6:41 pm }

I’m cleaning and refurbishing a Brother knitting machine and looked in on your site after someone told me to look at the sponge bar. I’m glad I did. It needs replacing. Now I can do a proper job due to your tutorial. This machine will be used for making Linus blankets for sick children so I want it to work well. Thanks for the information. I still need to take apart the bed and clean it and am looking for those instructions next.

66 pam { 01.22.11 at 11:54 pm }

I have replaced 2 sponge bars within the past 2 months, and when it came to replacing a third ( my ribber) I said NO MORE. I was going broke just on sponge bars, $26 each, including shipping. that’s money I could be spending on yarn :-)
Today I went to Jo Anns and bought the foam ( 1/2 price :-) . So for 1/5 the price of replacing another one I have refurbished 3 .
THANK YOU!!!!

67 Jean { 01.28.11 at 4:15 pm }

28th Feb 2011

Thank you so much for your excellent instructions, I had wondered whether it could be done with draught proofing tape and asked Jeeves on the internet. Thankfully it came up with your site.
I have recently retired and have just brought my Brother 260 down stairs after storing it in a spare bedroom for twenty years. I have just finished ironing on the woven interlining left it to dry before taping the ends. So fingers crossed that it will work for me.
I purchased the foam and interlining on ebay because there are no longer any craft shops near me, ebay is a lifeline. I was amazed at the cost of replacements and all comming from Hong Kong now not Japan. If you could see my lounge it is full of bin bags of yarn all brought down from the loft by my son. My husband had put it there all those years ago but he died 18months ago. At least they are not in anyone elses way because I live alone.
My grandchildren are in need of warm wollies and I began hand knitting a few weeks ago but it is so slow. I began using this machine a week ago it was fine at first but then the needles of the ribber just kept dropping down a nightmare. I have a Brother 950i in a cabinet in the spare bedroom at least I will know what to do when I start with that one and have the materials for many more now.
Thank you again and to all of the ladies who left their comments it is so helpful. Kind regards Jean

68 Jean { 01.28.11 at 5:53 pm }

29th Feb 2011
For further info, that may help anyone else in the U.K. looking for supplies

I bought a piece of packing foam 60ins x 20ins x 1/2inch for £7.35 it is soft and not too dense.
A length of woven fusible interlining 100cmx150cm for £1.50 +89p postage.

I used the clean sponge bar to draw a line on the foam, found the rotary cutter useless so used scissors, I was very nervous at this stage but it was perfect no kidding!!!! I folded the interlining to about 4ins again used the sponge bar as a guide marked it with a silver christmas card pen because the fabric is black and cut along the folded strip again I was amazed it worked a treat better than trying to cut along the whole width.
I didn’t have any gunk remover in the house and looked on line for household remedies cos I didn’t want to spend any money unless I had to.
I cleaned the glue off the sponge bar with WD40 sprayed along the channel (outside for safety) wiped as much off as I could with cotton buds. Then again with a clean cotton cloth. The last residue I cleaned off with vinegar. Then finally used a little washing up liquid on a damp cloth to make certain it was absolutely clean and wiped it off with a damp cloth before drying thoroughly. I used pva glue to stick the foam in place leaving it overnight to dry before ironing on the fabric.

I have just inserted the renewed sponge bar. I found the needles a bit stiff but ran the carriage without the sinker attachment on back and forth a few times over all the needles in working position and it seemed a bit easier. Bed time now it is quarter to two in the morning but can’t wait to use it tomorrow.

69 Shirley Tarr { 01.29.11 at 10:35 pm }

This is really great I knew a new retainer bar was what I needed but the cost plus shipping was rediculious. Your presentation is wonderful. Thank You.

70 Pamela Smith { 02.01.11 at 12:35 pm }

I made my own sponge bar with wx stripping. Twice now. The first time I used a a contact spray to make the wx stripping stick then I also used the spray to tack down gross grain ribbon to the top of the wx stripping.
This second time I had to clean the sponge bar frame with white gas to get all the gunk out. Mostly because it was all I had on hand. After reading some where that you could use the wx stripping with the paper it comes with attached to it , I decided to try it. So after cleaning the channel, I put down wx stripping using no glue because it is sticky on the bottom, you have to be careful not to streacth it too much as you lay it down, and for added height I removed the paper from the first piece of wx stripping and layed another layer of wx stripping on top of that leaving the paper on the top layer in place of gross grain ribbon. This works very well. I used a razor blade to cut the stripping both times at the end of the channel. and also used tape to hold down ends as you did above. So far the bar works great in my knitking 881. It is alot less work than all the gluing of ribbon etc. I’ll get back to you on how long it holds up, but even if you have to change it once every few months , its quick and cheap.

71 joan kissell { 02.05.11 at 10:08 am }

I got the heading material but there is material only on one side, I doubled it, but then it was hard to get the needles back in, so i pulled that out and put in a single thickness OH forget to say this is a kx-350 machine. now I know that s not thick enough because when you pull the needles to the E position and put your fingers under them and raise them a little they Flop so that shows there is not enough cushion.So now I have to take the needles out again. I`ll have to glue two layer of the header material together and try that again. at least I`ll become an expert on taking out and putting in the needles. ha ha ?

72 joan kissell { 02.05.11 at 6:57 pm }

I also had seen on another site ??? to pull the old strip out a little and tack stitch the new sponge strip to the old one and then pull out on the other end , the new will follow right along perfectly. much easier that trying to thread it thru. THIS IS INFO. FOR THE KX-350

73 Annie { 02.14.11 at 7:43 am }

Hi i made my sponge bar twice and twice it seems to lift up the needles at the back? I use 3/8 then 1/2 weather stripping? put the fusable fabric on top and taped the ends as per instructions. where did I go wrong?
I have a SK740

74 Lacey { 03.07.11 at 3:53 pm }

Okay, I have one question… when you put the bar back in, does it go foam up or foam down?? I totally didnt pay attention when I pulled the darn thing out!!

Thanks!
Lacey

75 Malcolm { 05.29.11 at 11:21 am }

Hi again, I ordered 2 new spongebars off Ebay before reading this. I still will have the old ones to try a refurb job. My suggestion is, as the sponge bar is just a channel with 2 plastic clips either end, crimped together with 2 tabs, would it be an idea to prize the tabs apart, taking the plastic ends out before inserting the strips, so the new material will sit under it, hence doing away with the scotch tape? I know it’s probably more hassle than is necessary but I just wondered what your thoughts were on it. Thanks for the totally brilliant cash saving idea, I paid £15 plus postage each and will definately not be so quick to buy next time.

76 Sentonal { 06.17.11 at 7:09 pm }

Kind of nice to see this fix confirmed!!! I went to bed last night wondering why the Brother KH-930 I just spent $50 bucks on with stand and 20 cones of yarn wouldn’t cast on. There are precious few close up videos of the yarn positions on the Brother models and I spent about 8 hours trouble shooting the issue because my oldest daughter wanted to play with it and the darn thing wouldn’t work!!

I pulled ALL the needles and the top plate and giving them a full cleaning with G-96 (a gun cleaner that has more uses than WD40 and is imho a better overall metal lube and cleaner) and that had ZERO effect. I should mention that yesterday was my daughters birthday… and I ain’t the kind of daddy to disappoint the munchkin, so I pretty much obsessed on getting it fixed… should have went online and done a search and would have done this first!!

Anyway… I went to bed thinking about what could be wrong and I woke up this morning and had the thought that the needles were too high in the bed and that the spongy thing I pulled out to get to the needles might not be pushing the needles down far enough to catch the yarn on the gate pegs.

The thought was correct… because I did nearly the exact same procedure you outline and it WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!. Except I used G-96 to loosen the adhesive (cause it really works on goo removal too) and ironed on about 2 inches of interfacing first to the foam which made it easier to cut to width with scissors.

Basically…. this is a…. If you cant cast on…. then do this…. FIX

(after make sure your yarn is in the cartridge properly and your needles are in working position)

THANKS FOR POSTING IT!

77 Sue { 06.26.11 at 5:51 pm }

Thanks for the instructions. I’ve made three of these so far with no problems. I’ve started making them for my friends and they are amazed. I’ve directed them all to your site.

78 Ian { 07.05.11 at 2:38 am }

Just repaired sponge bar on a Singer (Studio) 321 (approx. 40 years old). Now the machine can cope with knitting 175 needles wide. Thank you for the magnificent instru ctions. The sponge on the bar prior to repair was only as high as the edge of the channel.

79 Marie { 08.07.11 at 7:23 am }

A Thousand Thanks to You !!!! With your very clear tutorial I have been able to repair my Toyota knitting machine after 20 years in the loft … and now it works !

I am especially happy since there is no way to find spare parts for Toyota knitting machines now.

I was able to get rid of the old foam and glue and to cleanse the bar pretty easily with acetone (= nail polish remover). It works even better than alcohol.

For the new sponge, I used 3 layers of self adhesive insulation strips (for European users : the brand name is Plasto 9 mm wide high density insulation seal), which was exactly the width of my bar. The strips are 4 mm thick, hence the 3 layers. They have a plastic interfacing on the upper side, which must not be removed. I cut the top strip 10 inches longer than necessary and stripped off the foam from the excess length on both ends to keep only the plastic interfacing, which I folded over the ends of the bar and secured with Tesa tape. There was no need then for a woven interfacing.

The bar was quite easy to insert back into its place and I am perfectly happy with my knitting machine now… and most grateful to you. Total cost : 4.50 euros.

80 Mary { 11.08.11 at 4:44 pm }

Sounds great. I just printed the instructions and I am going to try it.
Any thoughts on taking a ribber apart and cleaning, oiling, etc.?

81 cathy(new comment) { 01.23.12 at 7:39 am }

I just replaced my sponge bar using this tutorial! Great photos! I am really happy to have found your site!

82 Dee(new comment) { 02.19.12 at 1:37 pm }

My husband took one look at the sponge bar and said “I can fix that.” He took the sponge bar to his shop and used a brass wire wheel to clean off the the old sponge and glue, being careful not to hit the plastic on either end with the wheel. He then spread out a piece of green felt (commonly known as “pool table cloth”) and put the bar down on it with the metal side up and used a surgeon’s scalpel to cut two strips the same width and length as the bar. He used contact cement to put in the first strip, and then glued the second strip on top of the first. After cutting each end on a bevel and taping them, the bar was installed. That was five years ago and the bar is still going strong.

83 Nick(new comment) { 05.04.12 at 2:00 pm }

I found your site last spring and as new sponge bars in the UK cost around £21 I thought I would give it a go.
Well I have repaired 5 sponge bars to date and they all work fantastic I cleaned out the old glue with some corse glass/sand paper which is not so messy as a solvent. So thanks so much for this site , I love it ,I am so glad their people out there like you. So keep up the good work . Nicholas Andrew Mountain from the UK

84 Don Fulthorp(new comment) { 05.18.12 at 12:07 am }

I used 3/8 x3/8 closed cell foam. Works great. Didn’t really have to clean the metal all that much as it is under the foam and it doesn’t really show.

85 Joan(new comment) { 05.29.12 at 11:09 am }

Wish I had found these instructions before I spent money sending for a kit. Oh, well! Next time. The only thingI might add is when you replace the bar into the machine, do it with the metal side up. I didn’t notice that it was metal face up when I removed it so put it in foam side up. Lucky for me I happened to see a post somewhere that said it should be metal side up. Thanks for a great tutorial!

86 Lady Gator(new comment) { 07.25.12 at 11:30 am }

Thanks for an excellent tutorial. I replaced my sponge bar in my Singer 360, which has been sitting unused for a decade or so. Making your own new sponge was no where near as traumatic as I imagined. Since I am a rather handy person, the actual process went pretty well.

The original sponge was flat and crumbly. Practically walked off the bar on its own. Clean up went well and the new sponge is in the bar and in the machine doing its proper job. With the new sponge and the clean up on the machine, it looks almost new again. ;~))

Now my needles are firmly aligned and the carriage crosses them smoothly. Thanks for the help.

87 Vicki Fisher(new comment) { 08.12.12 at 5:23 am }

Thank you so much . So easy and saved so much. Have not machine knit in a few years and I am trying to get machines up and running. Great tutorial and I WILL share!

88 Becky(new comment) { 09.02.12 at 4:20 am }

This is fantastic. Someone very kindly gave me an old old knitting machine, which was very exciting. But I then had the child at Christmas problem of having a new toy and not being able to get it to work straight away. After a bit of investigation I decided to check out the foam bar, which was flat as a pancake.

Threatened with having to shell out over £10 for a free machine I scouted out this tutorial. Thank you so much! It didn’t look like the neatest foam bar anyone had ever made, but it’s worked a treat. Now to start on making everyone a jumper for Christmas!

Thank you again for the wonderful tute, very helpful and clear.

89 Willie Mae(new comment) { 10.05.12 at 9:49 am }

Thank you for your help. I almost thought I would have to pay around $30 to buy a new bar. You saved the $30. I had to try another method. We had some left over 3/8 inch wide by about 1/2 inch thick foam weather striping with self adhesive backing that was separated with white slick paper so that it wouldn’t stick to itself. It comes in a roll. I thought to myself, I wonder if that striping would work. After cleaning the bar I placed the sticky side in the trench and left the white paper on top and secured the ends down with packing tape. It worked like a charm. This worked quite fast.

90 Allison(new comment) { 11.28.12 at 6:55 am }

Thanks so much for such a great detailed post! I just found an Singer lk100 at my thrift store, and while I haven’t checked the sponge bar yet, I can’t even get the carriage to slide across – so I’m assuming that’s the issue. You just saved me a ton of time and money!

91 Gia(new comment) { 12.02.12 at 7:56 pm }

Ok. So I made it step by step and its looking awesome with high density foam. It’s all they had in the length needed. It was 1/2 inch thick. My cutting was hard, but got through it. Fabric stuff on, and went back in easy.
I had to figure out the needle bed, but got them back on too.

Now, when I put them out to cast on, they pop out the back and te carriage jams on them.

What should I do??? I have yet to cast on anything. All my supplies cost me over 40$ and I have Tripled the low cost of the machine as I find all these troubles I fix.

Please help. How do I get the needles not to pop out the back and finally get to use this thing. Thanks!!

92 Gia(new comment) { 12.02.12 at 9:05 pm }

Update;
I see what I did. I hope you add these comments to help others.

What I did was place the bar under the bed. and when I entered it I had them pulled all the way out to E. which made them pop up. Now they are on top. It took me awhile to figure out where to hold down as everyone was talking about.

Now I casted on, but the return row is not happening bits a huge mess. Won’t catch on and about to drive me crazy. I’m taking pictures the whole way so if someone can help. Please do. ! Thanks for helping with this site. I feel I’m almost there. Lol

93 Anne Rogers(new comment) { 12.08.12 at 1:13 pm }

Not related.
Heop. Desperately searching for Knit-Tek or KniTek in WA state.

94 Dave(new comment) { 12.26.12 at 10:20 pm }

Thanks for the inspiration!

Our second-hand lk-100 came without a metal retainer bar and aftermarkte window insulation in place instead of the sponge/fusing. It seemed to work fine … until the workstation was bumped.

We’re in a small place and it does not have a dedicated place. In addition to the storage problem (it gets put away when not in use), we don’t have a solid workbench. Even the desk and counters we use tend to have a lot of motion. Rather than create the sponge/fusing combination you’ve shown here, I modelled my new retaining bar after the dampers in a piano.

I used several layers of felt – but I could have gone to two – a heavy piece, in contact with the needles, and light piece between the heavy and the bar. The new bar is a set of 3 heavy-duty zip ties melted together (go slow with a candle flame for a nice, solid bar). It isn’t a perfect fit, but the plastic is more flexible than the metal bar, so it still “fits”…

The carriage has much more resistance from the needles, as they’re held firmly in place against the heavy felt. It has held up to several relocations and the needles don’t budge. My wife has been working on it when I bump the corner accidentally, and it doesn’t miss a beat.

Just a thought for anyone who has small children, attention seeking pets (cats!) or an unstable workspace.

95 Donna Moore(new comment) { 01.13.13 at 6:51 pm }

Thank you so much. I am just getting back into machine knitting after a many year hiatus and my sponge bars are dead. I will be picking up the materials this week. I look forward to relearning what I knew and learning so much more. Thank you for your site.

96 HuggyMJ(new comment) { 01.20.13 at 3:18 am }

Greetings and thanks from England.
I too have just taken my knitting machines out after being in the loft for ten years. I needed 3 new sponge bars!
I cleaned them out with a screwdriver and baby oil.
I marked out a 3cm strip of “Vilene Medium Woven Cotton White iron on G700 (Pellon SF101) (Vilene G700) ” (from gonetoearth.co.uk) and also marked it in 1 cm strips.
I ironed this onto the 1/2″ thick Light density sheet foam from efoam.co.uk and then used dressmaker scissors to cut the 3 marked out strips of 1cm wide 130cm long. I glued them in with Glu & Fix. My machines are now working fine. The glue set quite quickly and I used the bars within a couple of hours.
1cm equals 3/8″. With postage it cost me about £20 instead of £60 so thank you once again..

97 Jean(new comment) { 04.20.13 at 4:44 pm }

This is a wonderful tutorial. I pulled out my machine after 10 years and thought it was being more tempermental than I remembered. I bent two needles with my lace carriage, and replaced them by pulling the sponge bar, not realizing that the sponge bar needed to be replaced. I didn’t remember that it used to be puffy.

The picture of a good sponge bar and a flat sponge bar on this site clinched it for me.

I’m so glad I found this site. I bought the pieces and replaced the foam – all done on the same day. The lace carriage moves smoothly now.

98 Paulette(new comment) { 04.21.13 at 7:37 am }

Thanks so much for this tutorial – I just bought a used Singer 350K and have been unable to get it to knit. I’m going to replace the sponge bar using your instructions and give it another try! Your tutorials are very nice and clear – thanks so much.

99 Terena(new comment) { 05.15.13 at 9:29 pm }

Just made a replacement sponge ribbon using window draft stop and a satin ribbon. It has cost me $4.95 NZ. So thank you very much for your website!

100 Mariella(new comment) { 06.05.13 at 6:13 am }

Oh! Thank you!

I am new to machine knitting and bought a second hand Singer Memomatic and could not get it to do anything! It just tangles itself over and over. The carriage gets jammed and I have to stick scissors in the gaps to cut the tangled “stitches”. I came across a video on YouTube about the sponge bars and then researched their purpose. I had no idea that it existed!

Thank you so much for this great idea! I’ll be doing this tomorrow and finally will be able to start knitting for Australian winter!

All the best!! And thank you so much for sharing!

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