Louise kindly featured machine knitting in this episode and I listed some links for resources I mention during our chat here. Note that the information is very much focussed on the UK as I’m based in Scotland.
A popular model to start machine knitting with is the Silver Reed LK150. It’s a very simple plastic bed machine and anybody seriously interested in progressing will probably pretty quickly want to get another, metal-bed, machine but the LK150 is sturdy, simple to understand and a great way to get to practice the basics without frustration. You’ll be able to knock-up up a stockinette sweater in a weekend pretty quickly. I still have one which I would be reluctant to part with because it has a 6.5mm gauge, perfect from DK and thicker yarns. It’s fund and simple.
This machine is still made new, widely available (also check Argos & Hobbycraft for best prices) and best of all, it has a good resale value. If you buy it, keep the box and all the bits and you should be able to sell it on for around 2/3rds of the going rate if you want to upgrade.
One if the motivations for me to start machine knitting was to be able to actually use all the wonderful yarn I’ve accumulated over the years.
Be aware that yarn must be coned or wound into a cake with a yarn winder in order to work with the machine. Tension issues are one of the most common problems when starting out and having yarn that runs freely off a cone or cake is really important.
If you don’t have a large stash of yarn and are looking for some cones yarns then I can recommend these suppliers:
Jamieson’s of Shetland
Jamieson’s and JC Rennie will require a phone call or email to order cones - the last time I ordered there was no option for online-orders.
Knitting Machines come in varying gauges and are suitable for a limited range of yarns - this is important to consider when you buy one. The “gauge” describes the distance between the needles. Differen gauges also mean a difference in the size of the needle-bed, typically ranging from 250 (fine) - 100 (bulky).
Fine-gauge (3.6 mm)
The most common and widely available, suitable for 4-ply yarns
Mid-gauge (6 - 6.5 mm)
For DK to Aran weight. The LK 150 described above is a mid-gauge machine.
Bulky —gauge (9 mm)
As the name and gauge suggests - For all things thick and bulky
Unlike hand-knitting classes, machine-knitting classes are not that easily to find everywhere, but if you dig a little, especially through a guild, you should hopefully find somebody to teach you locally.
I’ve taken classes with both and can highly recommend them:
Knitworks London - owned and run by the super charming Tim. Highly recommended
Heriot Watt University Summer School offers week-long courses, held once a year in July on their Galashiels campus.
Recommended by friends:
Sian O’Doherty - Narberth, Pembrokeshire
Metropolitan Machine Knitting - Manchester
The Knitting Factory - Brighton
Check out the UK Guild of Machine Knitters for alternatives in your local area. Research in this area often requires a phone call or sending an email as many clubs are not very active online.
This group has thousands of members, is super friendly and helped me solve a couple of issues. You will find advice and references on all machines.
Susan Guagliumi is an institution in the knitting machine world and has written a number of very good books on machine knitting and also has a few excellent classes on Craftsy. She uses the Silver Reed LK 150 for all her classes.
Got a standard gauge machine and need some help making your first sweater? Renee Callahan’s Craftsy class is great!