The fabric produced using a knitting machine is of a mo […]
The fabric produced using a knitting machine is of a more even texture than hand-knitted fabric, which is particularly noticeable on large areas of plain stockinette stitch, and can be an advantage. Some stitch patterns (e.g., tuck stitches) are much easier to produce with a knitting machine. Others (e.g. garter stitch) can also be produced with machine knitting but can take a little longer but are still much faster than hand knitting. On a single-bed domestic knitting machines, garter stitch must be either worked by hand using an accessory called a 'garter bar'. For example, Brother machines can take an electronic accessory called a 'Garter Carriage'. These carriages have a single, internally mounted needle which faces those on the main bed, and when a stitch is selected via the patterning mechanism this needle lifts the selected stitch off its needle and makes the stitch through the back, thus creating a purl stitch on the face of the fabric.
More complex stitch transfers, such as cable stitches, require hand-manipulation to cross the groups of stitches over each other. Industrial machines that offer selective, automatic stitch transfer between front and back beds along with racking of the beds can create cable stitch automatically.
The standard gauge 200-needle machine can knit the finest yarns up to a good sport-weight (4ply UK), while the heavier yarns knit better on a mid-gauge or bulky knitting machine.
Machine knitting saves a considerable amount of time but does require learning to operate the machines correctly. Most if not all hand knitting patterns can be worked up on a machine, either identically or in a similar design, but some are simpler to by hand, whilst others are easier on a machine. Hand knitting patterns are designed to "flip" the fabric on every row so that the knitter consistently uses the dominant hand. However, machine knitting is consistently knit with the fabric facing the same way. Flat bed machines knit back and forth and circular machines knit continuously in the round.