Knitting machines can perform a wide range of stitch te […]
Knitting machines can perform a wide range of stitch techniques and functions. However, not every brand or model will have all of the features, so it's important to know what you want before you select one.
Like all hobbies and crafts, machine knitting has surges of popularity, but when demand wanes the companies no longer find it profitable to produce machines. With the current popularity of hand knitting, machine knitting will soon follow once again.
Probably the biggest dilemma you'll face when choosing a knitting machine is not what brand to buy, but what gauge. Gauge refers to the size of the needles and how closely they are spaced on the needle bed, which has a direct relationship to the size of the yarn they can knit. No machine can knit every yarn, although each is designed to handle a range of yarns within the spectrum from super-fine to bulky.
Machine specifications will state the number of needles and give the needle pitch in mm; however, this is NOT the same as the hand knitting needle size. It's best to go by the description of the machine gauge, of which there are three: standard, bulky, and fine.
Standard gauge machines are the most common. They knit a wide variety of yarns, everything from lace weight to sport weight. This makes for beautiful knitted clothing and sweaters, but not the typical heavy ski sweater.
Bulky gauge machines are designed to handle worsted weight yarns to create sweaters that look like hand knits, but can also be used with sport weight or bulky yarns. This is your heavy ski sweater.
Fine gauge machines handle the finest of yarns, from mere threads to lace weight yarns. They're used to produce very fine knit fabrics that are typically seen only in manufactured clothing.