Trouble Figuring Out an Ultimate Sweater Machine


I recently got a nice deal on a used USM. The person I bought it from online wasn’t the OG owner and didn’t know much about it. I seems like it’s in fairly good shape aside from one rusty needle and all the parts are with it.

I have no personal experience with knitting machines, however this didn’t seem overly complicated, I understand the principles of how it’s SUPPOSED to work, and I like to think I’m reasonably intelligent. I’ve gone over the directions thoroughly several times checking and rechecking each step, but I cannot get the thing to work smoothly. Something “just doesn’t feel right.”

The biggest issue seems to be that the carriage is just REALLY HARD to push across the row. And after every row the needles are out of alignment and have to be reset. Sometimes it just jams ouright and I have to take it apart because I don’t want to force it so hard something breaks.

I am not using the “yarn it came with” of course because I don’t have that. But I am using a smooth, new, worsted acrylic yarn and I doubt that’s the issue.

Some of the little hinged thingeys on the ends of the needle hooks are a little sticky/don’t easily flip back all the way. I’m not sure how critical that is or what to do about it other than work them back and forth a bit, but that should have nothing to do with the carriage being able to move the needles.

The only thing I can think of is that there is a strip of foam underneath the retaining bars, which makes the needles slide less easily. However the instructions manual says nothing about removing this (doesn’t mention it at all). And when I tried removing it, the needles seem really loose and tended to rattle around more than it seemed like they should, and that doesn’t seem to work well either, which is why I put it back in.

I’m lost. And confused. Any suggestions or advice? TIA! :slight_smile:


Kudos to you for trying something new! I’m not sure I can address all your issues, especially since I read your post just as I’m getting ready for bed! Are you on Facebook? The Ultimate Sweater Machine group on there would be a big help. There is a lot of help on YouTube from Cheryl Brunette, Diana Sullivan, Roberta Rose Kelly and others. This machine is also called the Bond (original name). Cheryl has a whole series on learning to use the Bond. I highly recommend that!

If the squishy thing (called a sponge bar) is a problem, you can replace it with a couple strands of thicker yarn or headliner (used in cars). There is probably a YouTube video for that.

Sometimes the drag is caused by the carriage catching on the needle butts. Some users have carved out a niche in the carriage to allow more room for the needle butts to pass. A dremil tool works well to do that. I put some fabric between the needle selector plate and lid of the carriage which helps.

I haven’t used my USM for quite a while, so I’m rusty on all the specifics.

The original yarn that comes with it is Caron Simply Soft. As long as your yarn isn’t too thick or stiff (like cotton), it should work fine.

I can’t scroll up to see what else you mentioned. I hope I addressed it all. I know my answers aren’t complete, but I hope I’ve pointed you in the right direction to get started.


Yes, you need to use the sponge bar. If it has lost its sponginess, replace it like I said earlier.

Yes, the thingys (latches) on the needles must work. Perhaps cleaning them would help. Google how to clean knitting machine needles. Otherwise, you may need to replace them.

If you’re really interested, you might want to purchase a newer machine. I bought mine at JoAnn with a 40-50% off coupon. eBay is another good source.


Waxing the underside ridges of the key plates will help. You can use a white candle or canning

You can spray the bed of the machine with lubricant but be absolutely certain it is safe for plastics.


Thank you for taking the time to offer some ideas and clarity. I appreciate it! :slight_smile:


I think that next time I get a chance to mess with it, I will take the retaining bars out and sort thru the needles. I will see how many still have smoothly moving latches and/or can be cleaned/loosened easily. It didn’t occur to me that the sponge bar could be replaced by another material, so I will experiment with that as well!

I expect fixing those two issues should give me something usable (even if I don’t have a full bed of needles). At least I can play around with it a bit and try out some projects (which is all I really expected after all).

thanks again!


Sorry late to this discussion! I would emphasise the sponge bar. I am looking to buy a second hand knitting machine and am doing lots of research on google, and that seems to be the one given priority - replace the sponge bar!