The Sewing Place

Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?


Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« on: March 11, 2019, 10:00:20 AM »
I know very little about knitting machines, but I've been doing a lot of handknitting lately and started to think maybe I could learn to use a knitting machine?
However, my limited knowledge indicates they are quite large and need a lot of worktop space.
I wondered if technology has moved along to the extent a smaller compact machine might be available?
I thought @Bodgeitandscarper might have some ideas?


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 10:04:16 AM »
From watching my mother in law on hers I 'd say they were long rather than large.  No getting away from the length as they need to be wide enough to do a front of a jumper.

There are little round ones for socks - but they are few and expensive.
Lurking in Lancashire, improving my sewing when life gives me time.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 10:15:38 AM »
Thanks for the reply.
Having just googled and seen the prices, I need to put this project to one side until I win the lottery :S


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 10:34:34 AM »
There was a small one produced at one time, but it was little more than a toy and of very little use for actually producing garments. The Bond was a smallish machine but not very much shorter than standard machines and I think most people who had them soon moved on. Francesca is absolutely right - hand knitting and knitting machines both produce knitted garments but the process involved is completely different. You can't make the machine do just what you do as a hand knitter, you need to let it do what it's good at. Once you have learned to operate the machine however, you won't look back. If you have limited space the best option is to use a specific knitting machine table which, even with the machine on it, is light enough to move out of the way if required. If you keep it under the bed, you will never use it!

If you aren't sure whether or not you will "take" to it, I would recommend an older Knitmaster or Brother machine (the two makes that had most widespread sales) to see how you get on. Ask to see the machine working before you buy it.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2019, 11:39:52 AM »
I found, when I had a knitting machine, that it was best for me if it was set up permanently.  If I had had to get it out and set it up to make something I don't think it would have got used more than a couple of times.  As it was I used it a great deal until I moved and no longer had a space where I could leave it out.
Life's too short for ironing.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2019, 13:15:03 PM »
Sorry, only just seen I was tagged in this thread.

I think the others have answered your question, @annieeg .  The only knitting machines available as new these days are Silver Reed.   There are quite a few old Brother etc on ebay, but it can be difficult to know what condition they are in, and if they have all the bits.

They are a bit of a learning curve, but not that difficult really, just don't think "handknitting" whilst using one!


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2019, 13:32:05 PM »
Also a knitting machine is really nothing like handknitting - there is a steep steep learning curve for setting one up.
This!  When I first became interested in them, I thought knitting machines were similar to sewing machines in that one machine could be used to knit pretty much any type of garment or item.  As it turns out, the machines are made for specfic wool thicknesses.  For thin wool (generally sock weight and thinner), one uses a standard gauge 4.5mm machine.  For thicker, but not bulky weight wool, a mid gauge (6-7mm), and for the bulky (but not extreme bulky types), a 9mm.  There are a range of other gauges, but those are the most common.

Next, the machines have the purl side facing you at all times.  It takes a bit of brain training to realize how stitches will look on the knit side as you work.  Also, it requires a ribber (an addition of a second needle bed) to make knit/purl ribbing with one pass of the carriage.  Without it, there are options that are close approximations or require more time and effort.  These are just a few differences from hand knitting to give you a general idea.  It's worth putting in some time to learn more before deciding on the one to buy.

I love my knitting machines (plural, to accomodate different types of yarn).  Once you do get past the learning curve, they are fast and fun.  There are still some types of knitting that are simpler to do by hand, but stockinette flies on the machine. 


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2019, 14:18:21 PM »
I have a 20+ yo Bond Sweater Machine. Before I learned to knit by hand, I had a lot of fun playing with it, and made some sweaters for my kids (who will still young enough to think that something Mom-made was cool.) Now I only bring it out to make baby afghans as gifts.

Pro: It's FAST. I can get a whole afghan done in a couple hours, plus a few hours to knit or crochet an edging by hand.

Cons: Dropped stitches are a royal pain, and it drops them frequently.
         Ribbing or cabling is a royal pain.
         Limited to only a small range of yarns- within a size range, and fluffy or unusual yarns don't work.

I'm glad I have the machine. I've had some fun with it. But I'm also glad it was a hand-me-down from a down-sizing relative and I didn't spend the money on it. I'd much rather knit by hand.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2019, 17:53:59 PM »
I have an old Brother. The KH880 which is fairly ubiquitous. It's a nice machine but I can't get the hang of it nor have it out enough of the time so it's gone in the loft and in the future when I have a house of my own I will have it set up better.
It's not a good idea to store sewing machines in the loft for years on end. That place is subject to extreme temperatures and humidity.

I am currently cleaning/restoring a 1908 model 28k that was rescued from someone's loft. It smelled of mould, joints in the woodwork have gaps and the bobbin winding rubber has melted. Fortunately, being covered and oiled, there wasn't too much rust.

I know we think of the loft as extra storage space, but be careful what you put there. I suggest you rescue your knitting machine before it is too late.
Singer 538, there are many like it, but this one is mine.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2019, 20:17:36 PM »
The Silver Reed LK150 is a very light weight machine, which is easy to carry and set up, however it is still 4' wide when set up. They have to be that wide to house enough needle to produce fabric wide enough to make a garment.

Renegade Sewist

Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2019, 02:59:53 AM »
Perhaps for some small things you might like playing around with one of the knitting looms. Those are small and portable and a bit of fun.

I'm a terrible knitter. Didn't try until a few years ago, took lessons even, and it's horrible. I've got Carpal Tunnel, both wrists so knitting is just not fun, as I can only do a few rows even on a neck scarf.

I coveted a knitting machine, read decent things about the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine and OH kindly got one for my birthday a few years ago. Proudly the Man said he used a 60% off coupon.  :) I've taught him well.

I've tried. If and when I ever get it to work I'll let you know. I get a jam on the needle beds, a combo of not being able to leave it up and uneven antique tables and a dolt operating the machine. It's a two part plastic bed so grr to get aligned right. There are some nice looking garments made on them. I like stockinette and simple so it's right for me in that respect.

The Bond is no longer made, stopped right after this was bought.

Being able to leave one set up would really be good.

Big Wheel

Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2020, 16:29:30 PM »
The LK150 comes in segments and I have seen (probably on one of the Ravelry groups) where someone bought a second machine to lengthen her existing one and made up the left over sections to use for scarf making. The full machine length is 43" less one section 36" less 2 29" and even 16" width is possible but not sure what knitting width would be, machine knitting is much tighter than hand.


Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2020, 17:16:15 PM »
@Renegade Sewist  I had trouble with mine jamming on every pass, too, until I figured out that my hand pressure on the carriage affects how it engages with the hooks. It's been a while since I've used it, but I think I had to put the weight of my hands onto my fingertips, not the palm or heel.

For leaving it set up, measure how big the table top would need to be, cut and sand a good-quality board to fit, and attach pre-made legs.

Renegade Sewist

Re: Is there such a thing as a "small" knitting machine?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2020, 19:29:27 PM »
Thanks for the tips @WendyW . Unfortunately we've a small overfilled house and cats.  :meow: Can't leave a thing alone with thread or yarn.

Two of them are so diabolical I recently left my top dresser drawer open not quite an inch and came back to find a pile of undies on the floor. They looked quite proud of themselves too.

I've gotten a finished shelf board, all white and smooth, and last summer mentioned to a friend I couldn't find the type of clamps I wanted to use it on my desk. Wouldn't you know, she had a bag next to the door to take to Goodwill with four of them in it.

California is getting orders this evening of no gathering, down from the previous limit of 10 people. Some counties are basically on lockdown like France and Italy. We're probably a week away from that. Looks like I may have time to delve into this after all. I bought yarn for two sweaters, two throws and several smaller projects when I got the machine so I'm all set there.  ;)