Learn Machine Knitting

About Knitting Machines

Think of all those "boring" sections of your last (or current) knitting project ... stockinette sleeves, large plain sections of a repetitive stitch pattern. With a knitting machine, you can quickly knit these sections and spend your precious knitting time working the fun parts of a pattern.

Knitting machines come in various gauges to accommodate the wide range of yarns available today.
  • Bulky/Chunky - for handspun and bulkier weight yarns or heavy worsted weight
  • Mid-Gauge - for sport weight to light worsted yarns
  • Standard Gauge - for sock weight, fingering weight and baby weight yarns
  • Fine Gauge - for lace weight to fingering weight yarns
You don't need special coned yarn to knit with a knitting machine. Many knitters use yarn on cones so they don't have to work in as many yarn ends as you do with balled/skeined yarn.

Yarn for knitting machines?

Machine knitters can knit almost anything a hand knitter can knit ... only faster! Stripes, tuck (knit in the row below), slip, multi-color texture stitches, stranded multi color work, lace ... you name it!

What Do You Want To Knit?

Different Machines

Deciding what machine to use depends on what you want to knit and what weight of knitting you want to produce. Compare knitting done on US size 8-9 needles and knitting worked on US size 1-2 needles .... big difference! The equivalent is the difference between a bulky and a standard gauge machine.

Machine Knitting is NOT cheating!

When was the last time you pieced a quilt or sewed a seam by hand? You use a sewing machine to speed up the creative process in sewing, why not speed up your knitting? MANY machine knitters also hand knit. They enjoy the process of hand knitting and feeling the yarn run through their fingers, but they also have so many projects in mind that they will never complete them all! Some machine knitters don't hand knit. They enjoy having many finished products in the time it would take to hand knit one.

Most knitting machines are portable. Plan a space about 4 feet wide by 2 feet deep.
Used knitting machines can be quite inexpensive. As with other crafts, you can purchase all sorts of accessories and "bells and whistles", but all you NEED is a machine in good working order to get started.
Many machine knitters start with a plastic bed machine and quickly realize that a move to a metal bed machine will allow them to expand their creativity.


Learn more about Machine Knitting.

Knitting Machines

Gauge a swatch in

Used Machines?

replace spongebar

Learning to use a machine

What type of yarn can you use?

What is Knit It Now

Knit It Now


Do your homework

There are very few machine knitting stores. Most new machine knitters inherit their machines or purchase them used. The majority of used machines are Japanese machines. Brands like Brother/Knit King, Singer/Silver Reed/Studio and Toyota are common.
Here are some things to consider: Knitting machines come in 2 "flavors"
  • Plastic Bed machines
    • good starting point, lower price, fewer accessories.
    • generally use heavier yarns (worsted, hand spun)
  • Metal Bed machines
    • Used machines are reasonably priced, they offer more features including automatic patterning (punchcard or electronic), more accessories.
    • There are more choices on gauge (bulky, standard, mid-gauge and fine gauge),allowing you to use a wider range of yarns.

Some Extra Goodies

  • Automatic patterning. Punchcard and electronic machines can automatically position the knitting needles to create textured and multi color stitch patterns.
  • Many Electronic machines can be programmed directly in the internal "computer"
  • Electronic machines can also be programmed using a PC and special software
  • Lace Carriages - These special tools replace the regular knitting carriage that you push back and forth and allow you to work intricate lace patterns (yarn over/k2tog sequences). You can even mix lace patterns with texture and color patterns.
  • Ribbing Attachment. Flat bed knitting machines cannot work purl stitches or garter stitch automatically. Ribbing can be done by re-forming the purl stitches, but this can be tedious. (Many machine knitters hand knit their ribbing and work the rest of the garment on the machine.)
    The Ribbing Attachment (metal bed machines only) allows you to knit both knit and purl stitches with the push of the carriage. Not only is ribbing a snap, but thousands of beautiful stitch patterns can be quickly knit that incorporate both knit and purl stitches. You can even add slip, tuck and color work when using the Ribbing Attachment.
  • Charting Devices. Many machine knitters chart their own patterns (by hand or with knitting software). There are also charting devices that allow you to draw the knitted piece and follow the drawing row by row, shaping the piece according to the drawing as you knit
  • The majority of hand knitting patterns can be knit on the machine. Once you learn the capabilities of your machine, you'll be able to quickly reproduce sweaters you see in magazines or in stores

Buying a machine? - Ask Questions!

  1. What is the brand of the machine?
    • Japanese machines
      Brother and Knit King were made by the same manufacturer
      Toyota is another common brand
      Singer, Studio and Silver Reed also were made by the same manufacturer
    • Passap
      Passap machines are a different breed altogether. Most machine knitters either use Japanese machines or Passap, but many use both. Research the available gauges and base your decision on what type of knitting you want.
  2. What is the gauge of the machine? In other words, you are asking what weight of yarn would be appropriate. If the seller doesn't know, have them measure (in millimeters) the distance from the center of one needle to the center of the needle next to it.
  3. How old is the machine? There are many reference sites on the web that list the age of machines by their model number. The most commonly available used machines were manufactured in the 70's, 80's and 90's. There are a few new machines being made today. One potential problem with a used machine is finding parts. Metal bed machines are workhorses. Unless they were used for production knitting (another question to ask), and if they were cared for and not dropped, the majority of machines need minimal parts
  4. Where has the machine been stored? Is there visible rust? How much was it used?
  5. What is included with the machine? At a minimum there should be a needle bed with needles, the carriage (2 pieces), a tension mast, instruction manual,power cord (if it's an electronic machine),and hand tools.
  6. Is the machine working? If you are purchasing from a knitter, they should be able to demonstrate that the machine works with the parts being sold. Have them do a little knitting for you. Ask for photos or videos of the machine in action
  7. Is there an instruction manual? Manuals are available online for many machines, but it would be best to have the manual for the machine you are considering
  8. There are many machine knitting forums online with helpful knitters that can answer specific questions about machine brands and models.

Learn how to replace a knitting machine sponge bar

The Learning Curve

Learning a new craft takes time
Lots of buttons and levers
Many beginning machine knitters get overwhelmed with all the buttons and levers on their machines. It isn't difficult to learn, but it does take time and practice. There are 3 mistakes many "newbies" make
  1. They don't practice.
    If you learn a technique in January, but don't do it again until July, you won't remember how to set your machine. Yes, you have a manual and there are tutorials on line, but you have to keep using your machine to increase your knowledge and grow your confidence.
  2. They buy too many toys.
    Choose one gauge of machine and master it. Forget all the Bells and Whistles and work with what you have. Even if a good deal comes along, you won't be able to use a new machine with confidence until you have mastered the basics on ONE machine.
  3. Select ONE method of creating or modifying patterns.
    • If you are comfortable with using computers, select a software package for machine knitters, learn it and stick with it!
    • If you know how to chart by hand ... do it! Why spend time learning software if you are capable of creating your own patterns?
    • Learn to use a charting device that was designed for your machine.


New to Machine Knitting? Get started here.

Find a mentor

  • There are many forums online with knitters who are willing to help. Ask questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question. Don't be overwhelmed by what you read. Remember many of these knitters have been doing this for more than 20 years! If you don't understand something you read, it's a good bet there are others who don't understand either. Some forums are more chatty than others - if you prefer to stay on topic, search for a forum that is right for you.
  • Find a local machine knitter. This can be difficult, but SO valuable! Watching someone and being able to ask questions is the best way to learn
  • Study online videos. Don't just WATCH! Sit down and practice what you've learned!
  • There aren't a whole lot of new machine knitting patterns or books being written today. Books from the past are dated. Many were written with a typewriter, include hand drawn illustrations and very dated styles. Don't be put off! Read every word, practice what you've learned, there is a wealth of information in the older books, even if they are difficult to read today.
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