It's a whole other level of frustration to be working on a piece of knitting and having a machine break. Either the keys have come undone or broken off or your carriage is stuck and refuses to budge. There are ways of repairing your knitting machine without having to take it into the shop for an expensive repair. All of them require patience, know-how and a do-it-yourself spirit. With careful execution, you can repair minor problems on your knitting machine without assistance.
Check your keys if you begin to drop stitches inexplicably. One of your keys may be broken. Check the key above the dropped stitch and make sure the gate or closing arm at the end of the key is intact.
Secure your knitting by taking a transfer tool and placing the stitches on adjoining keys. You may want to release the direct weight for that particular section to keep it from pulling down too hard as you work with the machine. Bind off the stitches with yarn or improvise by placing a same-sized knitting needle through the stitches.
Remove the broken key by pulling it all the way back and sliding it up. This works best on an Incredible Sweater Machine. For more advanced models, check the manufacturer's instruction guide to best ascertain how to loosen the needle guide from the bed. It should come up easily in small sections.
Place a new key into the slot by placing the end down and pushing it into the slot. Replace the cover if necessary. Place the knitting back onto its original keys and fix any dropped stitches with your latch tool.
Take the yarn out of the carriage and check to see if any loose yarn or yarn fibres have become entangled in the underneath of the carriage. Remove any loose fibres and make sure the needles surrounding the carriage are in working order as well.
Secure your knitting by either threading a length of yarn through the stitches that are still on the keys or by placing the stitches on adjacent empty needles if a stuck key has occurred at the end of a row.
Lift the carriage off of the bed and check underneath to see if the gears are in proper working order. If not, you have to order a gear from a local knitting repair shop. Check your knitting machine's website for contact information on a repairman, or if you feel confident enough to replace a gear, order the parts yourself.
Call a repairman if you cannot get any further with your stuck carriage, or call your local dealer for advice. You may want to consult with the local machine knitting guild for advice. An older knitter who has dealt with your particular brand of machine may know how to loosen the carriage and can offer her advice or assistance.