Brother came out with a 24 stitch repeat Punch Card Series, the 800 Line. Below is a list of these machines, the year they came out and a little information that I could find. They were manufactured during the 1970’s and 1980’s. For the most part these were well made machines, popular and stand up to the test of time because they are either a push button system or punch card system and not computerized. They are a great starter machine and you can usually pick one up for a couple of hundred dollars. BUT, make sure you ask questions and especially find out if they have any rust. If they are rusty, move on. Below is a picture of a Brother 868 Punch Card Knitting Machine with Ribber, so that you can get a feel of what they are supposed to look like when in excellent condition. You can still get parts for this knitting machine.
For the most part all the 800's Series Brother Knitting Machines can pattern with Tuck, Fair Isle, Skip, Weaving and only some can do Thread Lace, Intarsia and/or use a Garter Carriage, so take care when you purchase accessories for these knitting machines. You might also need to modify the knitting machine to be able to do all the different stitch patterns. The table below will help you understand which machines are capable of which stitches, refer to the Brother Accessories area to see which Garter Carriage works with which model knitting machine.
TIDBIT: There were a few "manual" machine made and they were the:
Brother Manual KH 588: Very old machine, made in 1969. The average age of this machine is thirty plus years. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. Virtually no accessories available.
Brother Manual KH710: A later model but very limited in it’s specification. The patterning is via push buttons system, row by row. Made in 1969. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. There are virtually no accessories available other than the KR710 ribber.
Brother 24 Stitch Punch Card Machines
Brother KH830: The first of the 24 stitch punch card machine. Basic 24 stitch punch card with lace carriage, it has a limited spec. They made several different versions of this machine the difference mainly being in the mechanics. The early versions were heavy to push but all of the models are sound machines and will give years of service. Made in 1974 - 1976 and cannot use the Garter Carriage. (KH836)
Brother KH840: Same sort of age as the 830 but has a slightly better specification, it is capable of doing a single motif automatically. A nice machine but again these models are getting on and will almost certainly need a full service. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage, Circa 1977 - 1987.
Brother KH860: This machine has the full specification same as the KH881 but without the built in Knitleader, Circa 1978 - 1989. The KH860 uses the GC81 Garter Carriage. The KH868 does not come with a lace carriage.
Brother KH881: This was one of the best machines that Brother made in the punch card range it had the best specification of it’s time. It included a built in Knitleader (patterning device) and lace carriage. It was a very popular model with the machine knitter who wanted to knit for profit. Some of them may be in poor shape because they have been thrashed and used by a professional knitter, be careful when buying. The case is prone to UV light staining and is Circa 1978. It will take the correct Garter Carriage.
Brother KH836: This was a much later version of the KH830. It was sold as a budget model so they took out the Lace Carriage Set and sold it as a separate accessory. Unlike the KH830 it will take a Garter Carriage (must be the correct model). Circa 1976. A really nice budget model it should give years of service. Brother made & sold loads of this model.
Brother KH890: This was the later version of the KH860, it had the built in Garter Carriage "RAIL" (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. When in good condition an excellent machine, along with the KH891 they are the best punch card machines made. Circa 1976 - 1986. The case is prone to UV light staining. KH892/KK98 and the KH894 has a built in intarsia.
Brother KH891/KK93/91: This was the later version of the KH881, it had the built in Garter Carriage rail (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). It has a built in Knitleader (patterning device). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. Circa 1976 - 1987.
Brother KH864: Think of this as a KH890 without the lace carriage set. One of the last punch card machines Brother made. Nice machine but not so many of these around. Circa 1978 - 1990. The KH868 has the same specifications.
Brother Punch Card Knitting Machines
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KH218 - 1958
KH561 - 1960
KH710 - 1965
KH800 - 1971, 12 STITCH
KH820 - 1974, CAN DO MOTIF