Save time with 5 of the best knitting machines to buy online
Let technology take your stitches to the next level with a knitting machine!
For those of you who love knitting in all its forms, welcome to the exciting world of knitting machines! These clever machines come in a few different styles, from simple ones that even kids can use to high-end industrial machines which can knit fabrics in minutes.
With such a huge range available, there’s also a wide variety of price tags too. Professional knitting machines can cost hundreds of pounds… and potentially even higher!
To help you find your perfect machine, we’re taking a look into the best knitting machines that are available to buy online.
Types of knitting machines
Knitting machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most fall into one of two categories - circular machines and flat machines.
Circular machines are generally less expensive and are targeted towards domestic hobbyist crafters.
Flat knitting machines usually have higher price tags and are more often used by expert crafters/professional designers or small scale garment manufacturers.
The circular knitting machines have the potential to create flat fabric as well as being particularly suited to knitting in the round.
Flat knitting machines can only create flat fabrics, which can of course be joined to make circular shapes. They can create a larger range of fabrics and stitch effects making them much more suitable for creating garments on.
Is there such a thing as a crochet machine?
While both of the main knitting machines do technically use hooks instead of needles (more akin to latch hooks), there is currently no such thing as a crochet machine on the market for the general public.
This is largely due to the flexible nature of crochet and the fact that a single hook is inserted and reinserted into specific stitches. This is difficult to replicate through technology.
There are some large industrial machines that can create fabrics that look very similar to crochet fabrics, but these are often actually made from knitted lace fabrics.
Many crochet shapes such as granny squares can only be made by hand, so if you do come across these being mass-produced then it is likely using cheap labour, or has an appropriately higher price tag.
However, with technology evolving all the time and the advancement of AI, it’s only a matter of time until we see the development of a crochet machine!
Where to buy knitting machines
Knitting machines went through a popular period in the 1980’s, but unfortunately they’re not as readily available as they once were. Many of the big brand names are no longer producing new machines. This is largely due to them being a relatively niche product, and a growing divide between hobbyist craft products and more industrial professional machines for mass production.
More like this
While brand new flat knitting machines aren’t as readily available as they used to be, you can get a bargain by shopping second-hand. Check out sites such as ebay, Etsy or other online marketplaces. The top flat knitting machine brands to keep an eye out for are Brother, Silver, Singer and Knitmaster.
Knitting machines do come with a pretty significant price tag, so it may be worth trying one out before splashing your cash. You can sometimes find local studios, universities or individuals that will allow you to hire a knitting machine, or ask around at your local knitting group – you’d be surprised how many people have one collecting dust in the attic.
The best knitting machines to buy online
1. French knitting tool
Best for kids and complete knitting novices
Before we start looking at proper knitting machines, we thought we should begin by looking at where it all stems from! Knitting Dolly’s or French knitting/spool knitting tools are a device that dates back over 400 years, and are still popular with young and old today.
They’re essentially a device with multiple nails or pegs at the top, where the yarn is wrapped around the pegs twice. Then using a needle or hook (or even fingers), the lower loops are lifted over the upper loops to create stitches. This produces a tube of woven knit-style fabric
Calling them a machine is a bit of a stretch but they’re still a great way of learning how a traditional weaving technique can be used to easily create quick knits. You’re limited to making relatively small tubes on a knitting dolly, but these can be used to create bracelets, necklaces and other small accessories.
Pros: So easy, even kids can do it.
Cons: Limited potential, not available in the US.
2. Sentro 48 needle circular knitting machine
Best for hobbyists
There are many of this type of circular knitting machine available online, however this one by Sentro is by far the most popular entry level knitting machine.
There’s plenty of positive reviews and Youtube tutorials available for this device too. There’s videos covering everything from how to set up your machine to making a range of projects.
This hand-cranked machine has the ability to produce both tube and flat pieces of fabric, meaning that if you can knit it by hand, you can knit it with this machine too!
There are smaller versions of this machine available, however we’ve picked this 48 needle one as it’s big enough to create adult hats. Tubes created on smaller machines are unlikely to be large enough.
If you’re looking to try machine knitting for the first time without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with this Sentro machine.
Pros: Affordable, knits both tube and flat fabrics.
Cons: Varying prices, many similar non-brand products, and although most reviews are positive there has been some feedback of problems with build quality.
3. Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine
Best for serious crafters
If the previous circular knitting machine caught your attention, but you’re more prepared to invest in a well-known and reputable brand, then the Addi Express King Size knitting machine is the one for you.
Again it can create both circular and flat pieces of knitted fabric, and can handle a wide range of yarn from fine mohair to chunky yarns (although they need to be able to flow smoothly through the machine).
The build quality is the real selling point, being the most highly reviewed of the domestic circular knitting machines. There’s also a smaller Addi express model available too if you want to try smaller knits.
Pros: Excellent build quality, trusted brand.
Cons: More expensive, some reports that the handle takes a bit of getting used to.
4. Silver Viscount Reed LK150 Knitting Machine
Best for semi professionals
We’re onto the first of our flat knitting machines – the Silver Viscount Reed LK150 Knitting Machine. This flat knitting machine comes with a 150 needle bed and is most suitable for using with DK or thicker yarns. In our opinion it’s the perfect entry point for new machine knitters.
Flat knitting machines use a knitting carriage which is slid along the length of the needle bed. This triggers the individual needles in the needle bed to catch the yarn, which in turn creates one row of stitches with each pass.
The machine is lightweight and comes with handy clamps, although you will need a wide and sturdy table to position it on.
Pros: Great introduction to machine knitting, lower end of flat knitting machine prices.
Cons: Limited colourwork capability.
5. Silver SK280 Knitting Machine
Best for serious professionals
If you’re wanting to get really serious with your machine knitting, then raid the piggy bank and invest in the Silver SK280 Knitting Machine.
This 200 needle machine is perfect for using with 4ply and smaller yarns. There’s even the option to incorporate further parts and accessories if you really get stuck in!
Perhaps the main selling point of the SK280 knitting machine is that it comes with a punch card facility included. This gives you the capability of creating lace or Fair Isle colourwork patterns with ease, as the machine will select and change needles or colours for you!
Pros: Integrated punch card facility.
Cons: High price tag.
If you’re all about combining technology and craft, we’ve got loads more buyers guides to help you make the best purchases. Why not check out our pick of the best embroidery machines for beginners.
Choosing if a knitting machine is right for you
Knitting machines can be lots of fun and many artists and designers love the ability to create knitted fabrics quickly.
However, they can be expensive and relatively tricky to learn, so it’s worth considering whether the investment of time and money is worth it for you.
If you’re more of a hobbyist crafter, you might enjoy trying other crafts that allow you to create interesting fabrics quickly.
Learn to weave on a loom
When it comes to creating fabric textiles, weaving is one of the oldest methods around. It’s loads of fun and very satisfying when you get the hang of it.
You don’t need loads of expensive equipment to start, just check out our beginners guide to weaving and get making with Gathered!
Matt Spiers is a crochet artist and designer who has been overseeing Gathered's crochet articles for over 2 years. He previously worked as Digital Assistant for Simply Crochet magazine and is our in house video editing pro. What started as a hobby a decade ago led to Matt developing a passion (and then a career) with crochet. As well as still regularly writing and designing for Simply Crochet magazine, Matt is a crochet artist in his own right, having displayed and created crochet installations at festivals and fibre events across the UK. You can keep up to date with Matt at @onemancrochet on Instagram.
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