A handmade sweater shows love and dedication, but in today’s busy schedule, you don’t always have time to hand knit an entire sweater from start to finish. If you are a beginner knitter, you probably cannot imagine how long it would take you to complete an entire knitting project on your own.
That’s where knitting machines can help. If you are not familiar with knitting machines, they are semi and fully automated machines that can speed up the knitting process tremendously. If you want a homemade sweater that doesn’t take up too much of your time, a knitting machine can be the answer for you.
What are the best knitting machines for making sweaters? The best sweater knitting machine should fit the needs of your intended projects. It will need to be large enough with the right number of needles (total possible stitch count) and have the right gauge. Whether it is flatbed or round is a matter of preference, but flatbed is more versatile.
If you’re not sure what all that means yet, don’t worry! We’ll walk you through the basics here.
In this article, we will walk you through some basic information about knitting machines, as well as some of the most popular knitting machines on the market.
What to Know Before Buying a Knitting Machine
If you are used to hand knitting, you are probably already familiar with stockinette stitches and purl stitches already. However, compared to hand knitting, where you just use two knitting needles to create new stitches, knitting with a machine can feel like a brand new sport.
Knitting machines come with “beds” of knitting needles that will help you establish and knit your stitches and lengthen your piece.
The shape and size of your knitting machine will have a big effect on how your garment will look. Smaller machines can only make smaller pieces; but you can always sew smaller pieces together to create a full size garment.
Flatbed knitting machines can only make flat pieces, but round knitting machines can produce tubes and sometimes flat pieces as well. These look and act a lot like standard, commercial knitting machines.
When creating a stockinette stitch on a knitting machine, the purl side is actually the right side (not the wrong side). If you want to knit a flat piece, you won’t have to flip the piece over to start a new row. The machine will go in the opposite direction when you want to create a new row.
Once you are familiar with a knitting machine, it is actually much easier and quicker to knit compared to hand knitting.
A knitting machine that uses a hand crank doesn’t require any battery or power source – you just have to crank away to create new rows. This mechanism gives you an advantage in speed; you can actually complete an entire sweater in just a few hours. This advantage is why many people prefer using a knitting machine!
Types Of Knitting Machines
There are several types of knitting machines on the market, each of them designed for a different purpose and stitch design. The two most popular knitting machines that you can find on the market are circular knitting machines and flatbed knitting machines.
1. Circular knitting machines are small circular looms with 20 or more small needles placed around a circle. Each of these needles can be used to create a single stitch.
You can use circular knitting machines to knit in the round to create small tubes. Alternatively, you can also use circular knitting machines to knit flat pieces. Most circular knitting machines are small semi-automated machines that you operate with a hand crank.
2. A flatbed knitting machine is a flat board with a row of up to 200 needles, each needle holding a stitch. The knit carriage will move back and forth across the board to create new stitches and patterns.
Although a flatbed knitting machine can only be used to knit flat pieces, it is arguably more versatile than circular knitting machines. Some flatbed knitting machines work with punch cards or computer programs to create cable or color patterns. With a flatbed knitting machine, you will be able to create different designs for your sweater and knit more efficiently. You usually have more variety in size, too.
Most flatbed knitting machines are electronic, meaning that they will require battery power. Since operating a flatbed knitting machine can be a bit complicated, the knitting machine often comes with detailed instructions to help you create your pattern.
After finishing individual flat pieces, you will have to sew the pieces together to get the final 3-D garment.
Just as knitting needles come in different sizes that allow you to knit different sized stitches, knitting machines also come in different gauges that will work with certain sized yarn.
Gauge is determined by the distance between each needle on the board. The closer the needles are, the smaller the gauge is.
The four sizes are fine gauge (lace weight yarn), standard gauge (fine and sports weight yarn), mid-gauge (worsted weight and DK yarn), bulky gauge (bulky or chunky yarn).
You will need to use the correct yarn with the correct size gauge. Using finer or bulkier yarn than the machine’s recommended yarn size may cause the yarn to snag or split when you knit.
The stitches created using a knitting machine may look a bit different compared to hand knitting. The needles can be adjusted to non-working, working, upper working, and hold to create different patterns.
However, the patterns created using a knitting machine may not be as detailed or intricate as hand knitted patterns.
Since it is a bit difficult to replicate some complicated stitches with a knitting machine, your best bet would be to use simple stitches and patterns that the machine allows. If you want to create a garter stitch, for example, you will need to purchase additional garter tools to do that.
Just to be clear, while you don’t need to know much about knitting to work a knitting machine, you will need to know some very basic sewing.
The knitting machine will knit up all your pieces, but if you’re making a sweater, you will have to sew the sleeves to the body, and you may need to sew the sides of the body together, depending on your design of course.
You don’t need any fancy stitch work, just a tapestry needle and the simple ability to maneuver it. You can always watch video tutorials if you’ve never tried sewing with yarn before.
The Best Sweater Knitting Machines
Now that you know what your options are and have had a chance to decide which you’d prefer, let’s look at some choices. Here are our top 9 favorite knitting machines out there:
|1.||Addi Express Knitting Machine||46 needles, mid-gauge, round|
|2.||Abbcoert Knitting Machine||48 needles, standard gauge, round|
|3.||Prym MAXI Knitting Mill||44 needles, standard gauge, round|
|4.||Bond Incredible Sweater Knitting Machine||100 needles, mid-gauge, flatbed|
|5.||Caron The Ultimate Sweater Machine||100 needles, mid-gauge, flatbed|
|6.||Focket Electronic Knitting Machine||200 needles, standard gauge, flatbed|
|7.||Focket SK155 Knitting Machine||110 needles, bulky gauge, flatbed|
|8.||aikeec LK150 Knitting Machine||150 needles, medium gauge, flatbed|
|9.||PLLO Knitting Machine||48 needles, round|
We’ll also look at each one more closely below. So happy reading and happy knitting – or, cranking!
1. Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine
This circular knitting machine from Addi Express is designed to knit tubes like hats and sleeves, but the machine can also be manipulated to knit a flat piece as well. This is a semi-automated machine operated by a hand crank, so you can create new stitches and row just by rotating the crank.
This knitting machine comes with 46 needles with a mid to large gauge (regular needle size 5mm – 8mm), which means it can work with DK and worsted weight yarn, and even chunky yarn.
If you use it to knit a flat piece, the width that this machine can give you is approximately 45 centimeters, which is not big enough for the average adult-sized sweater but would be perfect for knitting a baby or toddler-sized sweater.
This machine can help you finish a sweater in just a few hours, and after sewing the pieces together, you should have a new garment ready to go!
2. Abbcoert Knitting Machine
This circular knitting machine is another lightweight, beginner-friendly option for those who are just learning to work with a knitting machine.
With 48 needles and a standard gauge (recommend for US size 3 yarn), you can create small sweaters for babies and toddlers with this semi-automated machine.
This knitting machine is made of high-quality plastic, so it is very lightweight and easy to set up. To operate the machine, you only need to turn the hand crank to start creating new rows.
If this is the first time you are learning to knit with a knitting machine, this machine can be a great option for you. It will take a minute for you to learn how it works and become familiar with the machine’s mechanism, especially when knitting flat pieces, but when you have the hang of it, you can knit an entire sweater in no time.
3. Prym MAXI Knitting Mill
If you are looking for a quick way to knit some beautiful sweaters for babies and toddlers, this mini knitting machine is just what you need.
The circular knitting machine can work with fine and sport-weight yarn. Since baby yarn is usually sport weight, this circular knitting machine would be perfect to create some baby garments.
The plastic machine houses 44 needles, so it’s very light and portable while still getting the job done. Although this is a circular knitting machine, it can be configured to knit a flat garment. You will need to knit two flat pieces and sew them together.
The machine has an electronic row counter, although it’s not very useful for knitting flat pieces. The mechanism of the electronic row counter would only function well for knitting in the round, so you will have to keep track of your row count using other methods.
4. Bond Incredible Sweater Knitting Machine
This flatbed knitting machine seems quite intimidating at first, but it can help you knit an entire adult-sized sweater in no time. The flat needle bed comes with 100 needles with a mid-gauge construction, so you can use it to work with sport weight, worsted, DK, or chunky yarn if needed.
Of course, with 100 needles, you can knit quite a big garment. The machine can create up to 1,000 stitches a minute, so you can imagine how fast it would take for you to finish a sweater. Not only that, this machine can help you knit other big garments like afghans or blankets.
Since this is an electronic machine, it is fully automatic, although the machine does come with some hand tools that allow you to create ribbing patterns, as well as doing increases and decreases to shape your garment.
Although this machine looks quite intimidating at first, it is not that difficult to set up. We highly recommend this machine for knitting sweaters.
5. Caron The Ultimate Sweater Machine
This knitting machine is also another great, beginner-friendly option for beginners who aren’t familiar with knitting machines. This flatbed knitting machine has 100 needles, so you are able to make a large garment with this setup.
This machine is also a mid-gauge knitting machine, so it would work with worsted, DK, or chunkier yarn. Since this machine is electronic, knitting a sweater or any kind of big garment with this knitting machine is quite fast and highly convenient.
To knit a full-sized sweater, you will need to knit several flat pieces and sew them together when you are finished knitting. The machine does come with a few handy tools that allow you to shape your garment and create a few simple patterns, so you can customize your design if you need to.
6. Fockett Electronic Knitting Machine
This stainless steel knitting machine can help you scale up your production and make a lot of sweaters and afghans in a short time and with very little effort. If you are a small business owner hoping to sell your creations, this is a knitting machine that you should consider.
The flatbed knitting machine comes with 200 needles – so it can create a wide garment. The standard gauge (4.5mm) would work well with DK or chunkier yarn, so you can clearly see your pattern and stitches. The machine also comes with a complete toolset to help you adjust your garment and create complicated patterns with a few steps.
Since this machine is stainless steel, the stitches will go on and off quite smoothly, so you don’t have to worry about snagging or breaking your yarn. The stainless steel also makes the machine quite lightweight and portable – you can set it up wherever you want and put it away when you are finished knitting your garment.
7. Fockett SK155 Knitting Machine
This amazing electronic knitting machine can help you create a ton of fancy stitches and patterns. If you want the look of beautiful handknitted patterns but with less effort, this is definitely the knitting machine to consider.
This stainless steel knitting machine comes with a bulky gauge (9mm), so it would only work with chunky or extra chunky yarn. The flatbed houses 110 stitches, enough for your to knit a sweater or even a big garment like an afghan or a blanket.
In addition to the various tools that help you shape and customize your stitches, this knitting machine also comes with a 12-stitch punch card pattern center, which helps you create beautiful stitch patterns, whether it’s cables or fair isle color pattern. A machine-knit sweater doesn’t have to be boring – you can be as creative as you’d like with this knitting machine.
This machine will help you create a beautiful chunky sweater for the colder months. Better yet, you can make as many as you’d like in a short time and even sell your creations so others can enjoy them too!
8. aikeec LK150 Knitting Machine
The LK150 knitting machine is a medium gauge (6.5mm) knitting machine that features 150 stitches on a flatbed, which allows you to knit with chunky or super chunky yarn to create beautiful garments in a short time.
This is an adequate size for a knitting machine, allowing you to knit small to medium size garments like sweaters or afghans. The knitting machine comes with all the tools that you will need in order to customize your design to the right fit and even create some simple patterns.
Compared to similar models, this knitting machine is made from high-quality plastic, which is quite light and beginner-friendly. Those who are intimidated by the metal constructions of other knitting machines can learn the craft using this knitting machine first.
9. PLLO Knitting Machine
This plastic knitting machine from PLLO is a great option for beginners. If you’re looking for a gift for a protege knitter in your life, this might be it.
But what about this little pink knitting machine makes it worth buying? One of the best aspects of this machine is that it comes with easy-to-follow instructions, allowing you to start creating right away.
It has a dual setting of T-ring looping and P-stitch plain weave, so you can switch between the two depending on your needs.
One potential downside to this knitting machine is that it cannot weave with yarn that is thicker than 3mm. Double-check your yarn thickness before getting started.
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