My Knitting Machine Guide. 10 Best & Machine Knitting Facts You Need

There are two knitting machines.

  • Cheaper circular knitting machines for home use/kids
  • Robust and expensive flat bed versions

Want information about serious flat bed machines? See here.

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My Quick Recommendations

Note: The links take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon.

Want more? Read my reviews of the best knitting machines.

I reviewed and updated this post on August 14, 2022.

Table of Contents

The Need For Speed!

Some knitters swear by these tools. Don’t have the energy or hours for hand knitting? A knitting machine saves you time.

Knitting Machines are excellent for knitted hats, cowls, sweaters, and blankets.

A knitting machine is 20 times faster than traditional hand knitting. Discover another world of stitching.

My Knitting Machine review has hand-cranked knitting machine alternatives.

Here are the best and most popular Knitting Machines.

Machine Knitting

There’s an art to machine knitting. Some hand-knitters think it’s cheating.

Machine knitters dispute this. It’s more complicated than hand knitting and being a hand knitter.

Like any new skill and tool, it takes time to master machine knitting.

With practice, the production and process of knitted garments and accessories, machine knitting is much faster.

William Lee invented the knitting machine in 1589. Circular knitting machinery development has changed since.

The difference between machine knitting and hand knitting is

  • Machine knitting is semi/fully automated with knitting needles in a bed
  • Hand knitting is done by hand with two knitting needles.

When a hand knitter moves into the field of knitting machines, there are skills to learn.

Knitting machines can’t produce all hand-knit stitch types and techniques. The tuck stitch is possible on some.

The tuck lace stitch pattern is exclusive to machines.

When creating a stockinette stitch on knitting machines, the purl side is the “right” side!

Also, a garter carriage part (garter bar tool) is required to create a garter stitch (looks like purl stitches).

Hand knitters try machine knitting and find benefits.

  • Saving time with stockinette stitch or rib fabrics.
  • Adding skills to their knitting hobby

Much easier doing it on a machine than hand knitting.

It’s excellent if you knit for a profit and have a buying market for your hand knits.

Most hand knitters going from hand knitting to machine knitting experience a steep learning curve.

Many argue hand knitting is simple in comparison.

Most machines have a dial with numbers for how big the gauge is. However, these don’t match knitting needle sizes.

There is much to master when machine knitting. They’re great for showering loved ones with knitted gifts!

Types Of Knitting Machines

  • Circular Knitting Machines – Creates knitted tubes for cowls and hats by knitting in the round.
  • Flat Bed Knitting Machine – Crafters, smaller-scale knitwear producers, and boutique producers operate flat bed knitting machines. Garments created on a flat-bed machine have side seams. It’s impossible to knit in the round. These machines work rows back and forth. They’re manual. Or punch card (a card with punched holes to determine stitch patterns, where stitches are slipped, tucked, creating texture, like in a cable stitch, or knit in a different color). Or electronic/computer ready. (Aka punch card knitting machines. Flat Beds Knitting Machines are categorized into the weights of yarn they work with, into row gauge machines.
  • (Hand knit gauge is different to the gauge on machines.)
  • Fine Gauge Machines – (handles knitting lace weight yarns, thinnest thread yarns, fingering weight yarn, even baby weight yarns).
  • Standard Gauge Machine – (handles anything finer than DK weight.
  • Mid Gauge Machines – (preferred by hand knitters as they handle sport weight to worsted, including DK weight.
  • Bulky or Chunky Gauge Machines – (copes with a range of yarn thickness)
  • Single Bed Machine – has one flat bed of machine needles. It produces jersey or stocking stitch knitting.
  • V-bed Knitting Machine – two beds located across from each other and produces tubes and flat knitting.
  • Brother Knitting Machines are a brand popular for knitters wishing to create garter stitch on their machines as they offer a garter carriage. It has the option of an additional carriage, a lace carriage.

What Does A Knitting Machine Do?

A domestic knitting machine creates knitted fabrics in a semi or fully automated way.

It’s used to knit flat pieces sewn together to make a garment.

The parts of a flat bed knitting machine are

  • Needle bed with up to 200 needles
  • Knit carriage moving from side to side

The needles look like tiny latch hooks and rest in four positions.

  • Non-working
  • Working
  • Upper-working
  • Hold

A circular knitting machine has needles in a circle and knits in the round.

If the machine is a hand crank, it doesn’t require battery power. It’s much faster than knitting by hand!

Pattern Terminology

  • Cast On – Use the technique the designer decides or your preference. A latch tool cast on in machine knitting matches a long tail cast on in hand knitting.
  • Cast Off – Machine and hand-knit differ. A bind-off on the knitting machine uses a latch tool after the last row is knit. They’re similar once completed.
  • Decreasing stitches – This is an art form. See this tutorial for more.
  • Yarn For Lace Work – Using the transfer tool, move the stitch from one needle to the adjacent needle. Two stitches are on the adjacent needle, and the original is empty.
  • Waste Yarn (Scrap Yarn) – This unusual technique is common in machine knitting. For more information, see this video.

Best Knitting Machine For Home Use

Bottom line, the best knitting machine is the Addi Express Kingsize Knitting Machine.

Create knitted fabric for

  • Scarves
  • Cowls
  • Hats
  • Flat sections

Using a knitting machine for simple creations saves time.

You won’t need to learn too many techniques to use this home knitting machine. See my review.

Addi Knitting Machine Express Kingsize

addi Express Kingsize Extended Edition Check Price On Amazon

#1 Best Selling larger-sized Circular Knitting Machine. The addiExpress King size Extended Edition is worth the money.

This product is loved by knitters who complete

  • Hats
  • Baby blankets
  • Garments for keeping your neck warm
  • Other knitted items

Many call it the best machine for knitting.

Want to speed up your gorgeous finished knits? Consider the addiExpress King size Extended Edition.

The kit includes

  • Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine
  • Five replacement needles (replacement pins)
  • Punch cards
  • 1 threading tool
  • 2 stoppers
  • 4 base feet
  • Needle holder
  • 2 clampers (screw hooks)
  • Decrease needle
  • “Winding instead of Knitting” pattern book
  • Instruction manual
  • addi Express Crochet Hook

The Addi Express King has 46 needles, twice than in the original one, allowing larger pieces.

Perfect for knitting

  • Scarves
  • Woolly hats
  • Infinity scarf

Knitted fabric panels for

  • Jumpers
  • Sweaters
  • Blankets

The machine is cranked by turning the handle.

You finish in a shorter amount of time than if you hand-knit. The time to seam flat pieces together is the same.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction materials.
  • Simple setup, easy to use, suitable for beginners
  • Portable
  • Made in Germany
  • Addi Express machines offer excellent construction quality.
  • Addi Express machines are straightforward to set up and begin knitting on
  • Less time in completing designs.
  • Offers rows back and forth and circular knitting functions for projects requiring the assembly of pieces.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Makes panels.

Cons

  • Lacks tension piece control mechanism: the only thing controlling your stitch size on the Addi is your knitting yarn. The yarn guide is there to keep your yarn in place. You’ll need to use hand manipulation to adjust it.
  • There is no way to adjust the tension piece on these machines to make the stitch smaller or bigger.
  • Experiment to determine whether your knitting yarn works with the machine.
  • The Addi can’t offer anything other than a 46 stitch knitted circle.
  • Unreliable digital row counter with memory function
  • Latch hook may split yarn if it’s too big

Making A Hat On The Addi Express Knitting Machine

SkacelKnitting has a fantastic tutorial on making a knitted hat in 30 minutes.

Impossible? Not with an Addi Express Knitting Machine!

YouTube video

Knitting a Flat Panel On The addi Express Kingsize

Here’s a tutorial on Knitting a Flat Panel piece. Created by SkacelKnitting on YouTube.

YouTube video

addi-Express Professional Knitting Machine

addi-Express Professional Knitting Machine Check Price On Amazon

The addi-Express Professional (aka the addi pro) features 22 needles.

Machine knit circular knitted items in knit stitch and panels on this machine.

The size of the tube is fits around your arm or leg. Stitch together flat pieces to make knitted items wider.

Good for creating knitted items like

  • Premmie hats
  • Doll bonnets
  • Narrow scarves
  • Mittens
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Baby sweaters

This machine has

  • addiExpress Professional Knitting Machine
  • Pattern Book
  • 5 Replacement Needles
  • 1 threading tool
  • 4 feet
  • 2 clampers

Pros

  • 22 needles
  • Create circular and plain knitted items
  • Suits many yarns
  • Great for a beginner
  • Made in Germany
  • Sturdy materials
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Easy to create smaller sized projects in a short time
  • Perfect for making small hats for Premmie babies or dolls, socks, scarves, and fingerless gloves.
  • Wonderful for projects donated to charities

Cons

  • Difficult to get neat edges when creating rows of knit stitches for flat panels.
  • Not for bulky weight yarn, stiff yarn, or cotton yarn
  • Be mindful of the yarn weight
Addi Express Knitting Machines image by @melsnattyknits on Instagram
@melsnattyknits loves what she makes

NKOK Singer Machine

NKOK Singer Machine Check Price On Amazon

Made from plastic but treated with care, it lasts longer.

Younger users need help casting on and off.

Kids need to pay attention to go at a reasonable pace while still having fun making

  • Knit scarves
  • Beanies
  • Shoulder bags
  • Socks
  • Forearm/leg warmers

The NKOK Knitting machine is pink and white. Recommended for ages eight and up.

The pack includes

  • Knitting machine
  • Two skeins of yarn
  • One knitting hook
  • One yarn needle
  • Instructions

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Simple set-up, easier for young ones
  • Great introduction to knitting

Cons

  • Assembly required
Singer Knitting machine
@vethblack loves her toy knitting machine

Smart Weaver Machine

Smart Weaver Knitting Kit Machine Check Price On Amazon

This knitting machine knit

  • Scarves
  • Beanies
  • Shoulder bags
  • Socks
  • Forearm warmers
  • Custom products

Kids love seeing the loops create something they made.

The Smart Weaver Knitting Kit Machine is recommended for six and up. A small circular knitting machine.

Perfect for the little knitter in your life.

Pros

  • Create tubes (circular knitting) or flat bits
  • Suitable for ages 6 & up

Cons

  • Stages of use require adult help
  • No sewing needle

Prym MIDI Knitting Mill Machine

Prym MIDI Knitting Mill Machine Check Price On Amazon

It’s a portable machine.

The largest number of stitches is 20 when knitting in the round and 16 when knitting flat panels.

Try a sample before making something big.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Made in Germany
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for small projects
  • Circular knitting and flat panels
  • Mode switch for added flexibility

Cons

  • Work the machine slowly to ensure no dropped stitches.
  • Takes experimenting to find suitable yarn.

Prym Knitting Mill Maxi

Prym Knitting Mill Maxi Check Price on Amazon

It’s lightweight and hand-operated.

The largest number of stitches is 44 knitting in the round and 40 knitting back and forth panels.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Circular design
  • Made in Germany
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for circular and flat panel design.

Cons

  • Work the machine slowly to ensure no dropped stitches.
  • Takes experimentation to find a suitable yarn weight

Flat Bed Knitting Machines

Silver Reed Mid-Gauge Knitting Machine

SilverReed LK150 Mid-gauge Knitting Machine Check Price On Amazon

The Silver Reed Model LK150 is a good starter mid-gauge (6.5mm) knitting machine.

This flatbed knitting machine knits a range of yarns, including Sport weight through to worsted weight yarns.

Experiment with heavier yarns.

The flatbed machine is lightweight and sturdy plastic. It’s a fancier version of the Bond Elite.

This model doesn’t work with lower quality worsted weight yarn you’d get from a dime store.

They cause stress on the carriages as they’re less pliable than quality yarns.

Knit projects like

  • Sweaters
  • Mittens
  • Beanies
  • Blankets

Pros

  • Excellent for beginners
  • The manual is clear and easy to follow
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up and pack away
  • Finding replacement parts is easy
  • Includes a latch tool

Pros

  • Not for bulky yarns or low quality worsted weight yarns

Here’s a video showing the setup.

YouTube video

Silver Reed Standard Gauge Electronic Knitting Machine

SK840 SilverReed 4.5mm standard gauge electronic knitting machine

The SK840 knits stockinette and hand-manipulated designs.

  • Slip
  • Tuck
  • Fair isle
  • Thread lace
  • Knit-weaving
  • Plating

It knits lace, fingering, and sport weight yarns.

Couple it with the data cables, DesignaKnit Software, your computer, and knit Punch Lace, Weaving, Plating.

This knitting machine is 4.5mm stitch gauge with 200 needles.

It’s excellent for sweaters and large projects like afghans.

Pros

  • Electronic
  • Creates varied stitch patterns
  • Handles finer yarns
  • Suitable for machine knitters with experience

Cons

  • Operating this machine is a steep learning curve
  • Considerable investment
  • Not always available on Amazon

Bond Knitting Machine

Bond Knitting Machine Check Price On Amazon

Great for making

  • Adult garments
  • Coats
  • Afghans
  • Skirts
  • Children’s garments

The 100 needles allows 1000 stitches per minute. The needles are metal, and they sit in a hard plastic bed.

You get the best results with smooth, medium-weight yarn. Extra-bulky, fine, or nubby yarns give unsatisfactory results.

Use fluffier yarns like mohair, but paired with another yarn.

You get four key plates and hand tools to make stitches and complicated knitting machine patterns.

Pros

  • Supports popular handknit yarns
  • Knits 1000 stitches a minute
  • Suitable for professionals

Cons

  • Challenging to set up
  • Not for beginners
  • Some listings are for used machines

Ultimate Sweater Machine

The Ultimate Sweater Machine Check Price On Amazon

A knitting machine with a six-key plate. Superfast for projects like an adult sweater or afghan.

Use yarn of different weights, colors and knitting stitches

  • Cable
  • Lace
  • Fair Isle

Has an instructional video on the basic and fancy stitches.

Compatible with

  • Hand knitting patterns
  • Ultimate knitting books.

This machine has six key-plate to match every size knitting needle from 6 to 10-1/2.

Make an afghan or sweater up to 100 stitches across.

Knits 1200 stitches a minute. Every machine has a detailed instructional video on basic stitches and fancy stitches.

Has a limited manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • Six Key Plate matches knitting needles from 6 to 10-1/2.
  • Made in the USA
  • Yarns from sport to chunky
  • Portable
  • Light
  • Great for any machine knitting patterns
  • Make basic and fancy stitches

Cons

  • Takes time and a few practice sessions
  • Need to watch the instructional video
  • Requires manual adjustment to do fancier stitches.

It’s hard to select the ideal knitting machine.

Regardless of what you choose, you’ll save more time with these knitting devices than if you did hand knitting.

Good luck using your new favorite tool. 🙂

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About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

Jodie Morgan Profile Pic

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

23 thoughts on “My Knitting Machine Guide. 10 Best & Machine Knitting Facts You Need”

  1. I have a daughter who’s not so interested in knitting with needles, I thought she might like a knitting machine. Which is the best for a 10 year old?

    Reply
    • Hello Candice, good idea to introduce your daughter to knitting. Start with the NKOK Singer Knitting Machine. I reviewed it above. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  2. Hi Jodie! Great Post! Which machine does it all? I’m interested in making adult sweaters and hats. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  3. This is good information for basic hobby machines, but leaves out the better quality machines. For sock knitting the New Zealand auto knitter (NZAK) sock knitter is still available, and for flat beds, the Passap, Brother, and Silver Reed machines are all still available.
    All of these options are significantly more expensive, but for those who are looking for a robust, trouble free machine with flexibility and options not available in the ‘toys’ presented here. The learning curve is the same, but the frustration level is reduced.

    Reply
    • Wayne,
      Which machine do you recommend for making sweaters and larger pieces? The Addi Kingsize machine has only 44 needles. I need something durable, reliable, and able to create panels of 100+ stitches.

      Reply
      • For sweaters and larger pieces I would recommend the silver reed machines. The Lk150 is a good start to see if you like it, and works similarly to the better sk360 or sk840 metal bed machines. It should be about $400 or so as compared to the $2000 plus for the sk series. Buy from dealer or reconditioner as they can be a bit pesky to set right.
        Happy knitting

        Reply
  4. Hello, I want to make a lot of hats for my boys (5&7 yo). What addi machine do you suggest to use for kids’ hats? Thank you.

    Reply
  5. I have a Bond incredible sweater machine that has been inthe box (in pristine condition) for 20+ yrs. It has a VCR tape to watch for instructions and I no longer have a VCR. Can I get a DVD somewhere?

    Reply
  6. Which machine would be good to use with wool and other non-synthetic fibres (alpaca, merino, etc)? Like is gauge size the only thing that matters for if the machine will knit it, or do only acrylic/synthetic fibres work? Also what about bamboo or bamboo/cotton blends?

    Reply
    • Hi Lauren. I got in touch with Wayne who is very knowledgeable and was very kind to share this detailed information.

      The difference here is in the elasticity of the fibres. I tend to call natural animal fibres wool, any of the synthetics are yarn, and multi stranded fibres (cotton, nylon, polyester) are referred to as cord. Bamboo and silk are the exceptions, being that they are not generally elastic, and therefore treated as cords.

      Since your reader is looking at natural fibres, I would heartily recommend any of the metal bed machines (or NZAK sock machine). The Brother/Silver Reed lines work amazingly well with all of the natural fibres I have thrown at it. The big difference is in the resilience of it on the bed. I have used everything from homespun, to lace weight, slub spun wool, and even mohair. All work spectacularly – as long as the wool is sized correctly for the machine (standard gauge 0-4 weight, chunky gauge 3-7 weight).

      As far as synthetic fibres – they are not as resilient (stretchy) as wool and while they also work well, takes more attention to the tension (size) of the stitches, and the weighting of the fabric.

      Cottons, cordings and nylon will also work, and I have even done sewing thread and metal wire, but since the yarn will be unforgiving on the bed, attention to weights and evenness of the feed will be even more important.

      As far as the plastic bed machines, yes they will all work — but — as the feed system is not as well designed, and the knotting action is not as smooth, any and all tension issues will be magnified. The frustration level of setting up a knit session is rather higher than with the metal machines, but can be done.

      To summarize: All machines will knit within their designed gauge, any material that will feed through it. New users will knit better with wool on any machine.
      A smooth wool (superwash) will be the easiest to knit on any machine.
      Standard spun wool is great to knit with, but needs proper feed (cone wound)
      A slub aran or rough worsted will be next easiest, with attention to the feed/weights.
      A fluffy mohair is about the middle of the road, and is on par with a good synthetic.
      Eyelash cord and craft synthetic are next, – feed is extremely important here. knit slow.
      Good soft cotton would be next, (or bamboo/silk) with lots of attention to weights.
      Any other non-stretchy cords are the hardest to knit on any machine. the stitches need to be persuaded to form meaning the feed and weights are paramount.

      If you want to ‘push the envelope’ to attempt to knit using material not designed for machine knitting, the metal bed machines would be a better choice, since they have a larger range of adjustments.

      Happy knitting!

      Wayne Burton

      Reply
      • Thank you Wayne! I’m so glad I ran across Jodie’s website and your info! I hope to find even more information as I’m wanting to get started in machine knitting.

        Reply
  7. Hi Jodie,
    I stumbled upon your page looking up flat bed knitting machines. I want to buy one for personal use and wanted to tap into your experience if you have a moment. I used to use the electronic Brother knitting machines (not sure which model) and I’m wondering what would be the best investment. It doesn’t appear Brother makes those machines anymore, and I’m wondering if the machines you’ve mentioned here are manufactured as industriously as the Brother machines are. Do you have experience with Brother machines, and can you give me any insight on the usability/durability of the ones you’ve mentioned here in comparison? I would be using Loro Piana fine cashmere yarn (not sure the weight). I don’t need an electronic machine per se, but I do want one that runs smoothly and can be fixed without having to ship it somewhere. What would your move be?? Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Hi Vivian. Thanks so much for your questions. I am no expert with Flat Bed knitting machines. I have some mentioned here. A very helpful gentleman; Wayne who knows much more than me, saw this post and has given some very helpful information. Please read through the comments below this post. Wayne recommends metal bed machines. “I would heartily recommend any of the metal bed machines (or NZAK sock machine). The Brother/Silver Reed lines work amazingly well with all of the natural fibres I have thrown at it. The big difference is in the resilience of it on the bed. I have used everything from homespun, to lace weight, slub spun wool, and even mohair. All work spectacularly – as long as the wool is sized correctly for the machine (standard gauge 0-4 weight, chunky gauge 3-7 weight).”

      Reply
  8. Can someone explain the differences in yarn used for hand knitting and industrial flatbed machine knitting? (other than their thickness)

    Reply
    • The yarn used for hand knitting and machine knitting are the same although the form is different. Many machine knitting yarns are on cones rather than in hanks or skeins.

      Reply

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