How to choose a Knitting Machine

Knitting machine

One question that I am often asked is what knitting machine somebody should buy if they are thinking of learning. So below is a handy list of considerations before you invest.

  1. Brand new or 2nd hand

    If unsure it’s probably best to go for a 2nd hand machine first to check out what you really like.  Many 2nd hand machines (esp if reconditioned from a dealer) can be perfect and last you for years.  But it is prob worth getting one that’s been well cared for.  They can be super cheap on eBay (£30-ish) but it’s a gamble and you have no guarantee how it’s been used or looked after.  I would recommend looking at either Andee Knits or Metropolitan online who both sell 2nd hand reconditioned with a guarantee. You may be looking to spend £300-ish but you will end up with a machine that will last and be working from the start.  I’ve only just upgraded to brand new this year after being gifted a machine 10 years ago!

  2. Which make?

    The main choice is between Brother and Knitmaster/Silver Reed.  I use Silver Reed as this is the machine I started with and every one I have had since has been the same make.  I know how they work and like it.  The brand is still manufacturing machines now and so there is no problem getting hold of spare parts.  But lots of people prefer Brother and they are easy to come by as well - although they are no longer manufactured so over time parts will begin to dry up.

  3. What gauge?  

    There are 3 main choice - standard, fine gauge or chunky.  Standard will cover you for most basic things and if you are going to start with one - it’s probably the best.  Chunky is easier to learn - the needles are bigger and stitches are easier to see and control.  But what you can make on a chunky is a bit limited and you will probably end up just making hats, scarves and cushions and not any full garments. Fine gauge produces gorgeous fine knitwear but is a challenge for the beginner as the needles are smaller and harder to work with. Having said that, I started with a fine gauge and that has meant my next machine just felt a whole lot easier!

  4. What parts/attachments?  

    A machine on it’s own will give you the ability to do most things apart from true ribs.  You can do “mock” ribs on a normal machine but they aren’t quite as effective/professional.  If you buy a ribber at the same time as your machine you will be able to do pretty much anything.  Any other extras such as lace carriages etc. can always be purchased later if you think you are going to want to do that technique a lot on your machine.


A machine like the one below would be a good starting point

http://machine-knitting.co.uk/knitting-machines/Knitmaster-Knitting-Machines/silver-reed-sk280-punchcard-knitting-machine-refurbished

On my machine knitting Intro workshops you get to try all 3 gauges of machine so it is an ideal way to get a better idea of what suits you before you go ahead and take the plunge. To find out about the next dates that are running take a look here.