Machine knitting

Functionalities, capabilities, and applications

Knitting machines, also known as knitting looms or knitting frames, are devices used to automate the process of creating knitted fabrics. They offer an efficient and fast way to produce knitted garments, accessories, and textiles. These machines are widely used in the textile industry, as well as by hobbyists and artisans. 

It’s worth noting that knitting machines can vary in terms of complexity, capabilities, and sizes. Some machines are small and handheld, while others are large-scale industrial units. The choice of machine depends on the intended application, user expertise, and production requirements.

Each type of knitting machine offers different functionalities, capabilities, and applications. The choice of machine depends on factors such as the desired fabric type, complexity of patterns, production volume, and the user’s skill level and requirements.

Types of Machines

Flat bed knitting machines:

  • Single Bed Flat
  • Double Bed Flat

Circular Knitting Machines:

    • Single Cylinder Machines
    • Double Cylinder Machines
    • Circular Flat

Warp Knitting Machines:

  • Tricot Machines
  • Raschel Machines

Electronic and Computerized Machines: these machines incorporate advanced electronic controls and automation features. These machines often have programmable pattern selection, stitch manipulation capabilities, and can create complex designs with ease. They are widely used in both industrial and domestic settings.

Handheld and Portable Machines: these machines are compact and lightweight devices that allow for knitting on a smaller scale. They are often used by hobbyists and artisans for personal projects and small-scale production.

Manufacturers and models
  1. Domestic Knitting Machines:
    • Brother: Brother offers a range of knitting machines for home use, including both flat bed and circular machines. Their models often come with electronic controls, pattern selection, and stitch variation capabilities.
    • Silver Reed (Studio/Singer): Silver Reed is a well-known brand offering domestic knitting machines, including both punch card and electronic models. They provide a variety of options for different skill levels and project requirements.
    • Addi: Addi produces circular knitting machines designed for knitting tubes, such as socks and hats. These machines are compact and suitable for hobbyists and small-scale production.
  1. Mid-range Knitting Machines:
    • Passap: Passap knitting machines are known for their double-bed design, allowing for complex knitting techniques and pattern possibilities.
    • Toyota: Toyota offers knitting machines that cater to both beginners and more advanced users. Their models often feature punch card or electronic pattern selection systems.
    • Studio/Singer: Studio/Singer knitting machines are popular mid-range options, providing a balance between affordability and functionality. 
Advantages of knitting machines
  1. Speed and Efficiency: Knitting machines can produce fabrics at a much faster rate compared to hand knitting. They can knit multiple stitches simultaneously and have high-speed operations, resulting in increased productivity and reduced production time.
  2. Consistency and Precision: Knitting machines ensure consistent stitch size, tension, and pattern execution throughout the fabric. This consistency leads to uniformity in the final product, minimizing variations and defects.
  3. Complexity and Versatility: Advanced knitting machines can create intricate stitch patterns, complex designs, and textured fabrics that may be challenging to achieve by hand. They offer a wide range of stitch options, allowing for diverse fabric structures and artistic possibilities.
  4. Exploration of Advanced Techniques: Knitting machines enable the exploration and application of advanced knitting techniques, such as intarsia, fair isle, lace, and cable knitting. These techniques can be executed more efficiently and precisely on knitting machines, allowing for greater creativity and design possibilities.
  5. Integration with Technology: Electronic and computerized knitting machines can be connected to computers and digital design software.
  • Needles: these are specific needles designed for use with knitting machines. They come in different sizes and types, such as latch needles, bearded needles, and transfer needles. 
  • Yarn Carriages: holds and guides the working yarn across the needle bed. It moves back and forth, allowing the needles to catch and form stitches.
  • Yarn Tension Units:
    • Yarn Tension Mast
    • Yarn Tension Springs
  • Claw Weights used to provide tension on the knitted fabric while it is being worked on the machine.
  • Cast-on Combs and Weights
  • Row Counters are handy tools for keeping track of the number of rows or pattern repeats in your knitting.
  • Transfer Tools are used to transfer stitches between needles, whether for shaping, joining, or creating specific stitch patterns.
  • Needle Pushers and Latch Tools are used to push or hook the needles into position when setting up or troubleshooting the knitting machine.
  • Machine Manuals and Instructional Materials.

What would you choose?

Hand versus machine knitting
Difference between hand and machine knitting

The choice between hand knitting and machine knitting depends on personal preferences, project requirements, and desired outcomes. Hand knitting offers creativity, flexibility, and a slower pace, while machine knitting offers speed, precision, and efficient production capabilities. Many knitters enjoy both methods and choose to use them interchangeably based on their specific needs and preferences.

Why to choose machine knitting?

For those who are interested in increasing productivity, achieving precise and consistent results, and exploring complex techniques and patterns, machine knitting can be a valuable tool. While machine knitting offers a lot of  advantages, it’s important to note that it does require an initial investment in purchasing a knitting machine and may have a learning curve to understand its operation and maintenance. 

Difference in yarn

There is an overlap in yarns suitable for both hand knitting and machine knitting. Many commercially available yarns can be used for both methods, but it’s always a good idea to check the yarn label or manufacturer’s recommendations for compatibility with machine knitting if that is your intended use.


Advantages of Knitting Machines:

    • Speed and Efficiency: Knitting machines can produce fabrics at a much faster rate compared to hand knitting.
    • Consistency: The automated process ensures consistent stitch size and tension throughout the fabric.
    • Complexity and Versatility: Advanced knitting machines can create intricate patterns, complex designs, and textured fabrics.
    • Reproducibility: Once a pattern is programmed, it can be reproduced accurately, making it ideal for mass production.

Applications of Knitting Machines:

    • Fashion and Apparel Industry: Knitting machines are extensively used in garment manufacturing, producing items like sweaters, T-shirts, dresses, and sportswear.
    • Home Textiles: Knitting machines are employed to create blankets, throws, cushions, and upholstery fabrics.
    • Accessories: Socks, gloves, hats, scarves, and other accessories can be efficiently produced using knitting machines.
    • Industrial Textiles: Knitting machines are utilized for manufacturing technical textiles, such as automotive fabrics, medical textiles, and geotextiles.

Hobbyist and Artisan Use:

    • Knitting enthusiasts and artisans often use knitting machines for personal projects and small-scale production.
    • Hobbyist machines are available in various sizes and configurations, catering to different skill levels and project requirements.

Functionalities, capabilities, and applications can vary within each type of knitting machine, depending on the specific model, brand, and features. Manufacturers often offer a range of options to cater to different production needs, skill levels, and budgets. It’s important to note that the market for knitting machines is dynamic, and new models with advanced features are regularly introduced. When exploring the current market, it’s recommended to research and consult manufacturers, retailers, and online resources to get the most up-to-date information on available knitting machine options.