Looking into buying your knitting machine this 2019 but clueless on what to buy, how to use it and how to optimize your knitting resources? This guide is going to present different knitting machine choices and at the same time, equip you with the basics on knitting machines.
Hand knitting vs. Machine Knitting: What hand knitters ought to know before buying a knitting machine
Talk about speed knitting and surely, knitting in machine would come to mind. If you are a hand knitter wanting to make more knitted creations in a matter of less time, I’m sure you thought of buying a knitting machine.
This is also the case with hand knitters wanting to take their knitting hobby into the next level by knitting for charities. Or perhaps it’s because you’ve developed a buying market for your hand knits and wanted to knit for profit.
Any knitter can do best with a knitting machine IF they have thoroughly looked into every aspect of it because for sure, even if you have lots of years of experience with hand knitting, you wouldn’t be an instant expert in producing knits in a knitting machine.
But with a little know-how on some frequently used domestic knitting machines and the manner they function, coupled with your creativity to tweak some of your knitting designs, you can definitely bring out the best in knitting machines in creating your chosen knitting projects.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hand Knitting and Machine Knitting (Weighing pros and cons between knitting by hand and by machine)
- As mentioned earlier, speed and efficiency is the number one advantage of knitting machines over hand knitting. Knitting machines have automatic features that can create your patterns in minutes while maintaining consistency of the design.
- Flexibility in changing design patterns in the middle of a knitting session can be easily done with hand knitting than in machines.
- Intricate designs can be done both on a knitting machine and with hand knitting. However, if you are not actually good in hand knitting, you can still knit colorful garments with intricate pattern with machine knitting.
- For large projects, knitting in machines is a wonderful way to finish it in a much quicker time.
- You can be more creative with hand knitting. Hand knitting is also a calming way to release stress and tension in your mind. Depending on the machine used, some knitting machine produces loud noises while stitching.
Different Yarns for Different Knitting Machines
In hand knitting, the size of the knitting needle or the hook size for crocheting varies for different yarn sizes. For knitting in machines, 4 gauges are basically used. This covers lace weight to bulky weight yarns. There are different types of knitting machines according to its gauges.
- Lace weight yarn: This is the lightest weight yarn that can be used for lightweight items such as thin garments, doilies, and shawls. This is not recommended for beginner knitters.
- Super fine, fine, light yarn: This yarn is a fingering weight or sport weight yarn for knitting smaller items, such as baby hats, socks, mittens, and smaller garments.
- Medium yarn: also called the worsted weight yarn or “aran weight.
- Bulky and super bulky: Thicker needles are used to knit this yarn. It is suitable for knitting bulky blankets, comforters, curtains and sweaters.
If you know these yarn sizes by heart, you can easily input this knowledge in choosing the right yarn for your knitting machine.
Sport, fingering, bulky and worsted weight yarns can be used in knitting machines depending on which type of knitted material you would want to produce. Never use a large yarn on a fine gauge knitting machine as it can definitely be wasted when your knitting carriage jams the yarn.
So, be wary to know which range of yarns you can use in your knitting machine to avoid damaging it.
Selection of Suitable Knitting Machine Gauge
Gauge is used both in hand knitting and machine knitting to indicate fineness size. It can be measured in two ways. In hand knitting, the gauge is measured by counting the stitches. In knitting machines, it’s by counting the number of needles over several inches then dividing by the number of inches in the width of the sample.
Fine Gauge Machines
- Produce an extremely fine yarn and lightweight knitted texture.
- Needles are set at 3.6 mm distance on the knitting bed.
- Suitable for sport-weight knitted garments.
- Knits the thinnest yarns that a person uses in knitting lace weight to fingering weight items.
- In a cylinder knitting machine, it holds 200 very thin knitting needles (1/50th of an inch thick).
- Ideal for business wear, casual wear and for everyday use.
Standard gauge machines
- The needles are set 4.5mm apart.
- It’s a standard gauge machine that knits commercial-grade fibers.
- Knitters use a coned yarn in this type of machine to knit socks, gloves, baby weight yarns.
- Its needles are 6.5mm apart from each other.
- One of the most recommended knitting machines for hand knitters.
- A knitting machine built for flexibly knitting all types of yarns – from sport weight to a light worsted yarn.
Bulky or chunky machines
- Used for knitting the thickest and heaviest yarns.
- Needles are 9mm apart from each other.
- Highly recommended for beginners.
- It is smaller than the ones being used in fabricating a large volume of knitted garments, making it a portable type of machine.
Flat Bed Knitting Machines vs. Circular Knitting Machines
Domestic knitting machines that any beginner can learn easily are Flat Bed Knitting machines and Circular Knitting machines.
The difference between flat knitting and circular knitting is that in flat knitting, the stitch is always knitted from the same side. This can somehow complicate things with using a Flat Bed as compared with a Circular knitting machine since the same stitch (as seen from the right side) is produced by two different movements when knitted from the right and wrong sides.
Thus, a knit stitch (as seen from the right side) may be produced by a knit stitch on the right side, or by a purl stitch on the wrong side. For this reason, the gauge of the machine needs to vary in alternating rows of stockinette fabrics. You can use needles with different sizes to correct this.
Circular knit fabric has a gauge of 12 to 22. The higher the gauge is, the thinner the fabric. On the other hand, flat knit is made with a machine that knits the fabric in sheets (or flat) and the gauge is 2 to 10.
What is a Flat Bed Knitting Machine?
Flat Bed Knitting Machine makes flat pieces. It is one of the most common knitting machines for boutique producers and hobbyists. hobbyists and boutique producers. Items produced with the Flat Bed knitting machine have side seams.
One thing about flat bed is it cannot possibly knit a round item like the circular knitting machine does. Also, you cannot be able to work purl stitches or garter stitch automatically.
Flat Bed Knitting Machines Recommended for Beginners
Silver Reed LK-100/LK150
This plastic bed machine is usually cheaper as compared to metal bed varieties or bulky machines. It also helps that there are not many adjustments you need to do before using this. The plastic build does make it feel less intimidating for beginners, as compared to metal beds.
The Silver Reed Knitting Machine is manufactured from Japan and have been branded under Studio, Empisal, Singer, and KnitMaster.
Newer versions of the Silver Reed Knitting Machines can be easily used even with difficult yarns. If wires may be used in your work, the Silver Reed Knitting Machines can also be able to work with it. The patterns for this machine can be easily found.
Since they are not as adjustable as other machines, they are not manipulated easily as compared to other knitting machines. With this, having custom work and placing different and custom patterns is workable, but it needs a bit of practice.
SK 280 Automatic Punchcard Knitting Machine
This SK280 is a reliable knitting machine that will help you create beautiful stitch pattern for your garments. With a 24-stitch punch card pattern center, you can knit various stitch patterns such as weaving, tuck, fair and slip, to name a few.
Recommended for sport weight yarns, the Standard Gauge Punch card machine features a 200 Needle, 4.5mm Needle Gauge. This single bed knitting machine has a metal bed made from stainless steel, and has a 24-stitch repeating pattern area.
Another highly recommended flat bed knitting machine for beginners is Brother KX350. It has a slightly smaller stitch width than LK-100, but much more versatile, according to its users. It provides a smooth operation and gives beginner the ease to use. Brother KX350 features a cast- on comb, and has a wider gauge, as compared to the standard. This makes this knitting machine a choice for easy knitting. Even with these different features, the knitting quality is recommendable as it creates tight stitches.
What’s a Circular Knitting Machine?
In circular knitting, the machine knits the garment in a tubular way. The weight is usually light and the fabric is thin. Circular knit is made with a machine that knits the fabric in a continuous circle (tube); the weight is “light.” The fabric is thin. There are many things you can knit with a circular knitting machine as a beginner.
Circular Knitting Machines Recommended for Beginners
#1 Addi Express
Addi Express is one of the most popular domestic circular knitting machines ever invented. It makes cylindrical garments such as socks, gloves, mittens and many more. It is so easy to use that any beginner, with practice, can learn to knit with it. When you do, you can knit wonderful creations in a matter of minutes up to a few hours.
There are two types of Addi Express: Addi Express Professional and Addi Express King.
Addi Express Professional
Addi express professional is a smaller circular knitting Addi Express that contains 22 needles for knitting circular knitted products.You can be able to knit small diameter pieces in minutes. You can also make wider items when you stitch patterns together. All Addi knitting needles are manufactured to exact metric sizes.
- Needle diameter is 10-15cm (4”-6”). Knitted items can be around 15 to 20 cm (6″ to 8″) wide.
- Recommended yarn thickness is between 3.5 – 8 mm.
What’s in the box
Inside the package, you will find the express knitting machine, stoppers and a pattern book.
What can you make with an Addi Express Pro?
Examples of what you can make with the Addi express pro are:
- preemie hats
- narrow scarves
- fingerless gloves
- pieced together afghans
- piece together baby sweater.
Addi Express King
Addi Express King is larger than the Addi Pro having 46 needles. It can obviously knit larger items. The addi-Express “Kingsize” model is mounted onto the table and remains securely in position. Yarns used can be 3-8 cm.
- Circular knitting-35 centimeters.
- Flat Knitting-45 centimeters.
What’s in the Box?
Addi not only offers the Express machine in original and King-size, but also available are the stoppers and pattern books. Includes: 46 needles, needle holder, decrease needle, 5 replacement needles, 4 base feet, 2 screw hooks for stable table mounting, digital row counter with memory function.
How Addi Express Machine Works
How it works is very simple. Just crank the handle attached to the circular knitting machine and you’d be able to knit stitches with it. Of course to be able to handle it with ease, you need to learn more on how to use it. There are tons of information on the internet on how to use an Addi Express and many tutorials on making socks, scarves, hats, mitts with an Addi.
Where Can You Buy an Addi Express Machine?
You can buy Addi Express machines ANYWHERE. Here is just a little bit of suggestions of places that I know have a good reputation and great service.
#2 The Prym Knitting Machine
The Prym Knitting Machine is a semi-automatic knitting mill excellent for creating knitted tubes with a stitch count of 44 stitches for circular knitting. Even stitches are produced when precise thread guidance and tensioning device are secured for ideal wool thread tension.
This Prym Knitting Machine can use a variety of hand knitting yarns. It is also very easy to change colors as you knit. By just adjusting the thread tension you can easily vary the thickness of the wool.
Be wary not to use a very thin yarn except when using the Mini version, as the knitting may look like it has a lot of dents.
Also, start slowly with a long piece of yarn to pull on as explained below, otherwise the machine drops stitches. If you are a beginner, you may think the machine is faulty and want to throw it away. Be patient, work slowly at the beginning and pull down on the wool until you are able to add weight to your work.
Different types of Prym Knitting Mill are the Prym Knitting Maxi, Prym Knitting MIDI and Prym Knitting Mini.
Prym Knitting Mill Maxi
By its name, Maxi is the largest knitting mill in the prym line. You can knit scarves, pillowcases and caps with ease. This knitting machine includes the Knitting mill, crank, mode switch, yarn guide, tension piece, handle, plastic needle, legs & instructions. It works well with most yarns and is also capable for hand knitting.
- Foam-backed nylon covering allows easy pinning and marking.
- Can also do the purl stitch.
- Replacement needles are also available in its package.
Features of the Prym Knitting Machine
- Dimensions: 16 x 8 x 6 cm.
- Similar to a knitting dolly but includes a handle so you can make tubes in no time.
Prym Knitting Mill MIDI
- The number of stitches: 20 when knitting in a round, 16 when flat.
- 0,22 lb of wool with a run length of 459 yards are knitted in as little as 15 minutes.
- Knits panel with a width of 4,7″, knits tubes with a dia. 2,35″. Dimension: H8,3″ x W8,3″ x D10,2″
When you start knitting on your Prym Knitting Mill (Any) drop a long string of yarn down the middle of the mill as you start so you can grab it from the bottom and place tension on it as it moves through the mill.
This knitting mill works well with all yarns suitable for hand knitting except very fine yarns,(pin sizes 2-6). Please note that the different types of yarn may need different tension, feed thin yarns through all the slots of the tension piece to produce a loose knit. Chunky and irregular yarns work well if fed through only some of the slots of the tension piece for a tight knit.
Prym Knitting Mill MINI
This Prym Knitting Machine is a really small version of the above and can only do 4 stitches at a time. It is perfect for making cords for decorative purposes or even to make into a circular mat.
It is a lot quicker than doing the job manually and you can quickly whip up cords for whatever project you desire.
How it works
Even absolute beginners can knit with the Prym circular knitting machine. You just need to follow the instruction manual on how to put it together. Basically, you will need to put the handle on and begin casting.
Watch as your creation come out of the base of the mill. The Prym knitting machine works in the air and the knitting comes out the bottom. It does not need to be fastened to a flat surface like some of the other machines of this nature.
Where Can You Buy an Prym Knitting Mill?
You can buy Prym at the Amazon Arts, crafts and sewing store. It is also available at ebay, empress mill, and hague direct.
#3 The Singer Knitting Machine
The Singer Knitting Machine is the most suitable machine for absolute beginners such as kids doing crafts. This circular knitting machine comes in a wide range of sizes, shapes and varieties. It is designed for almost any type or weight knitting yarn.
The Singer is not as popular and in-demand as the other circular machines such as the Addi, but it does have certain features that make it extremely valuable for serious knitters.
Singer Knitting Machines and attachments are readily available for nearly any yarn weight and style so even working with those difficult yarns like the ribbon yarns, the lace yarns and even the chunky yarns that sometimes create problems on knitting machines can be easily worked with. With this machine, you can knit scarves hats shoulder bags socks forearm warmers and more.
- Machine measures 8-inch by 10-inch by 4-inch
- Create a flat or round stitch in seconds.
How it Works
This machine creates a flat or round stitch in seconds with a simple turn of the handle.
What’s in the box?
The package includes the knitting machine, 2 skeins of Fun Fur yarn-purple and pink yarn needle and Do-It-Yourself Project Booklet.
How Much Time Will You Put into Knitting?
People are just so busy right now that most of the hobbies we do are done during very little spare time. If you do knitting just once a week or very infrequent, I recommend starting with the affordable knitting models like the Singer. Once you develop a deeper sense of attachment and passion to knitting that you decide to knit further, you might want to invest into top-of-the-line knitting machines. Most knitters collect these knitting machines and try them out each.
What Creations are you planning to make?
If your quest is to donate to charity or make knitting as a profitable hobby, I’d recommend the Addi Express. It’s a lot more expensive but has a strong reputation among avid knitters. Flatbeds suggested above can also be used. If you want, you can also look into metal knitting machines.
How Much Money Do You Want to Invest?
By now you know how knitting can be a very expensive investment or an affordable pastime. Flat Beds are much more expensive than Circular knitting machines but some knitters prefer them depending on the type of garments they want to produce. On the part of circular machines, Addi is the most expensive, but is the most sought after because of quality and durability. If you want an affordable alternative you can try out the Prym or Singer model.
When you are sourcing for the best knitting machine out there, it really boils down to what you want to achieve and how much your budget is. A lot of knitters prefer trying out different domestic knitting machines and writing their reviews on each. Plastic hobby knitting machines have grown famous for beginners as it’s very easy to use.
If you are looking for your first machine to try, the flat bed and circular knitting machines I’ve suggested above are great to choose from as they are specifically top recommendation for beginners.
However, if you’re looking for something like the industrial metal knitting machines, you can always find used knitting machines in eBay. If you want to buy new ones at a cheap price, Sintelli offers circular knitting machines.
Keep in mind that these machines are for making huge amounts of garments in a day and are used for bulk garment orders. They are very heavy and takes a lot of space. But it’s a great investment if you want to make your own textile industry.