The knitting machine is a Singer Magic Memory KE-1200. Do not be put off by the weird pink colour… this machine is fun and a bit complicated!
Theoretically you can programme 2-colour patterns with a 12 stitch wide repeat using the punched cards, or by selecting the buttons below where the punched cards are fed in. However this mechanism is prone to selecting the wrong needles, which will cause glitches in your pattern.
You can still use the machine as you would a regular manual knitting machine. It has a standard needle bed with 200 needles.
There should be a really useful box somewhere which contains instruction books and some accessories for the machine.
When getting set up, it is important to set the correct tensions for the thickness of yarn you are using. The thickest yarn the machine seems happy with is DK weight, and even this can sometimes produce bad results. Better to use a lighter weight yarn. Some yarns have been tested on the machine, with the following results:
It also comes with an additional carriage for doing lace, but this has not been tried yet.
Needle selection errors occur when using either punched card or selection buttons. When moving pins by hand on the bed, errors do not occur (i.e. it's not the carriage at fault). The solenoids engage correctly so it's not likely to be them either. The mis-selection seems to be caused by the 12 plates that run along the back of the needle bed (that push pins forward via a raised tab) - these stick together when they lift up and therefore push pins forward when they are not supposed to. The machine has been disassembled, cleaned and lubricated but the problem remains.
It would be nice to be rid of the 12 stitch repeat constraint, and the fault needle selection mechanism, and instead have every needle individually controllable. This would require hacking, perhaps (servos, cams?). It is possible to buy electronic knitting machines that bypass this constraint and are known to be hackable, but these are 100s of £££.