This section has a review of general knitting machine attachments for all knitting machines and tools that either usually come with the machine or can be purchased as a separate item. There are also after market accessories that you can purchase which are explained in the "After Market Accessories" page.
One after market item to mention up front is the Garter Bar and the Garter Stop Bar. They are in invaluable tool once you get used to them and help with anything from increasing, decreasing, to ribber stitch techniques and decorative stitches. There are tutorials by Dianna Sullivan: You can buy her tutorials on this page: http://knitnatters.com/dianaknits/
You can buy these new and used. I personally like the older type which you can buy used for most knitting machines, the 4.5mm, 6.5mm and 9mm gauges. They are not cheap for the 9mm and 6.5mm and are hard to come by, they cost anywhere from $150 - $250 used, the 4.5mm is about $50 used and $100 new. I like these the best because they are well made, sturdy and come as a set with the garter stop bar. You can buy new ones for these knitting machines and for other gauges from KrisKrafter. He has decided to manufacture his own and they are nice, come in different sizes but you need to buy the garter stop bar separately. They are not cheap. I have a few of the smaller ones for use with cuffs and other shorter items. They also work well when turning your knitting to create ridges, it is easier for me to use these over the traditional garter bars.
***NOTE: ALL "Brother Knitting Machines and Attachments" are used, you are very, very lucky to find a new one. The Lace Carriage is INCLUDED when you purchase ANY Brother (KnitKing) Main Bed Knitting Machine except for their 2 budget models. Information is under the Brother Knitting Machines section.
ALL "Studio/Singer Machines and Attachments" are used.
ALL "Silver Reed Machines and Attachments" can be used or new (currently manufactured in limited models) and also can be called Studio, Singer, White by SUPERBA and KnitMaster. Only the label "Silver Reed" can be considered new but can also be used as they have been made since 1991, unless you luck out and find an older machine that has not been used even under a different name.
This is probably the most important attachment for me, but an expensive one, and it can wait, but is nice to purchase at the same time. This is a second knitting bed that attaches to the main bed in order to allow you to make rib stitches and make colored or picture knitting without floats (also called double jacquard). It has its own carriage, weights, sponge bar and other items that come with it. It can also be called a Jacquard Bed but this term is used in the Silver Reed/Studio line and can be yet another separate item or carriage. When the ribber is in use, this is called a double bed or double bed knitting since you are using 2 beds simultaneously when making your fabric or garment.
Stitches on the main bed knit and stitches on the ribber bed purl at the same time. You can do full needle rib, 2x2, 3x3, 5x2, or any combination of rib stitching that you need. Please remember that fabric knitted with both beds is very elastic.
There is also what is called a racking handle on the far left side which allows you to move the ribber bed to the left or right to create zigzags or other types of patterns such as English rib or fisherman's rib, which are thicker, more textured fabrics OR use both beds for circular knitting OR use both beds for what is called U-knitting in order to make a really wide item, such as a Queen Size Afghan.
The ribber will also come with several specialized tools, such as cast-on plates, large and small weights, wire-loop and claw type weight hangers, two-eyed transfer needles, needle pushers, work hooks, end stitch presser plates, and fine knitting bar and it's own manual.
YARN COLOR CHANGERS
There are two types of yarn color changers that you can use to automatically or manually change yarns when knitting on a knitting machine. A Single Bed Color Changer and a Double Bed Color Changer. The Single Bed Color Changer is specifically for the main bed only. It can be electronic or manual. It allows you to keep in a neat and orderly fashion 4 to 6 different types of yarn at the ready when creating a colored pattern. In other words you do not have to re-thread the machine every time you want to switch out yarn colors or types, which is a real time saver. It usually sits at the end of the left side of the main bed and is attached (can be removed). It is either electronic or a push button manual system. However, usually the single bed color changer can't be used on a double-bed machine, and visa versa, except for the Brother KRC900/KnitKing RCC Double and Single Bed Yarn Color Changer and the Silver Reed color changer.
In addition there is also a KRC1000E Automatic 6 Color Yarn Changer, an after market item specifically for Brother Machines ONLY, that works with its own power supply and can change out 6 yarns automatically for the Brother 970 Knitting Machine, as per your computerized stitch design and 2 yarns automatically on all other Brother Machines that it fits. There also is a manual version the 1000M, which automatically swaps out 2 yarns. This item can also be used on the Bulky Bed.
The Double Bed Color Changer is specifically for use with the main bed AND ribber together, but some double bed color changers can also be used on the main bed as stated above. Please check the user manual to find this out. With manual changers there is a push button system for exchanging yarn manually, with the automatics the knitting machines will advise you when to switch and you then take your carriage to the far left until you hear a click and it will automatically change out the correct yarn color for you. With the manual and electronic changers, the computerized knitting machines will alert and tell you which yarn to change out either with a sound and with punch card machines a mark on a punch card alerts you.
A little more on the YC6 Silver Reed/Studio Yarn Changer:
• Suitable for most standard and fine gauge Silver/Reed knitting machines. YC6 can be used on the fine guage SK270 and SK830 with the two 3.6mm plastic gears (changed out).
• This yarn changer can be used on both single and double bed machines by changing the head angle, and allows you to automatically select any two yarns out of four with the push of a button.
• When the carriage moves all the way to the left end of the needle bed, the trip lever on the carriage arm activates the yarn changer and automatically exchanges one color for another.
• The YC6 can automatically alternate any two colors row after row and you have the option of activating a third or fourth color at anytime by simply pressing a button.
• The YC6 includes a single bed carriage arm for knitting stripes and multicolor tuck and slip patterns.
• It also enables you to knit Fair Isle patterns where one color (background) remains constant while the others change out.
• For double bed use, simply lift the trip lever on the ribber arm and enjoy a variety of colorful rib stitches and jacquards.
• The yarn mast has separate guides for the four yarns and increased tension capabilities.
Yarn Color Changers are a HUGE time saver when doing any type of multi yarn stitch pattern knitting where you need to change out yarns for your knitted item, and in my opinion well worth the money but, keep in mind the electronic yarn changers are expensive and can run a few hundred dollars. I have seen some electronic color yarn changers priced at around $1,000, (for the KRC 1000e after market Brother Yarn Changer, new) but this is much too much in my opinion and you need to keep looking for a used one and believe it or not I have bought the KRC1000e for $300, which is where I think the price should be for a new one. Just keep looking around, you will find the one you want for a few hundred or a little more and let's face it all it does is save time and swap out yarn not knit the item for you.
There are actually 3 types of linkers; manual, electric and the accessory specific for your machine. Brother, HAGUE, Artisan and Studio are manual and electric. The manual linker specific to brand is used to cast off, or bind off or attach garment pieces on the knitting machine bed. The brand specific linker doesn't do anything the knitter can't do easily by hand and there are several different methods of binding off by hand, in addition to scrapping off with waste yarn, but I think the finished item looks much more professional when a linker of some sort is used or done with a sewing machine specific for knits. Someone had donated a "ERIKA LINKER MANUAL", which is here for you to down load.
This is a German manufacturer and you can currently purchase new ones. They have an electric model and a hand crank. It basically works like a sewing machine, but you actually hang your items to be linked together on a circular needle bed. The finish is a professional finish. Price range for the these are around $800 for the hand crank and the electrical one has a foot pedal and it cost around $1,000 - $1,200 new, used are less expensive.
There are now two different Artisan Linking Machines available. These are large capacity professional quality linkers available in 6 cut and 8 cut. There is a special presser that helps you to feed the fabric into the linker and, once it is linked, the fabric is automatically stripped from the drum. The dual yarn feed allows you to run spandex and decorative yarns into the seam simultaneously with the sewing yarn. It is fully motorized and complete with it's own stand.
Same as above but only used. It is an electrical machine with a foot pedal and this cost around $250 - $400 used, depending on wear and tear. Some ask $500 but that is what they cost new. Also, the needles are $15 each so be careful as they break easily. When purchasing this item, buy it ONLY if it still has it's original box AND the plastic needle gate peg guard as the box has a styrofoam mold made specifically to fit the linker. DO NOT BUY IT if it does NOT come with the mold, or pay extra to have it professionally packed, otherwise it will break in transit. If it is packed professionally, they are responsible for any damage in transit. I also would not pay over $300 for it.
Hand operated linker, looks like the HAGUE, around $400 - $800, if you can find one. If you do make sure you can get parts for it like gate pegs and needles. I think Newtons Knits in the Los Angeles area has parts for them, but I would not recommend them for anything else as they are really flaky and very high in their prices of used items.
This item is harder to find over the others above and is different as they look and work like a regular sewing machine, but they are not a sewing machine. There is a long, toothed board that you lie the knitted garment items on and then link them together. As far as I know there is only a manual option. Cost should be around $200 and parts are almost impossible to find for it, so I do not recommend one unless you know where to purchase additional needles or other items in case of breakage. I actually bought one and do like it but for me either the round linker or this one does the same thing, the difference is that with this item you need to rehang your pieces if they are longer than the needle bed to complete the linking.
TIDBIT: I also have a sewing machine that I use, but it is a professional sewing machine and one that takes knitted fabric with a special needle, it costs around $500. I had a HAGUE but sold it as I did not use it much, now I regret it, I now have a Bellinky and do like it for small items, parts are hard to come by and with larger items I have to rehang.
LINKER specific to Brand:
This is the option most widely purchased as it is under $75. It does the same thing as the linkers above except that you do it on your knitting machine main bed. This item can also cast off the main bed only with a nice neat edge, so even if you do purchase a linker like the aforementioned, you would probably also purchase this as it makes binding off a dream. BUT, it can be temperamental and it is easily broken with a heavy hand. The upside is that the linker gives a firm, latch tool type of bind-off, which can be difficult to master by hand.
KNIT RADAR ~ KNIT LEADER:
This help with patterning as it feeds a pattern into itself and tells you when to increase, decrease, short row and helps with garment patterns. They usually sit on top of your main bed to the left. It can be fed with paper specifically made for it or with what is called a Mylar sheet.
The sheets come in full size, ½ and ¼ pattern sizes, usually gridded, depending on make and model. So, you draw your pattern, a hat, a top or pants or whatever on the paper and then feed it through the leader/radar and as you knit, the attachment moves the pattern through itself row by row when you are knitting. Hence, you know when to increase or decrease. I also have marked out my pattern, as in a color pattern, on it and it works great in helping me with my different yarn colors in a stitch pattern.
Another great thing about this item, is I can go to the Sewing Store, buy a sewing pattern and then size it to the Mylar/paper sheet and knit pretty much anything that I can sew. Very handy tool to have.
Generally Brother has "Knit Leaders" and Silver Reed have "Knit Radars".
There are basically 3 types of knitting carriages in addition to the main bed and ribber carriage with the exception of Brother Knitting Machines having a 4th.
Lace Carriages: Both Brother and Silver Reed Machines have lace carriages. This carriage allows you to create beautiful lace fabric such as lace shawls or lace trims for your items. The Brother Main Bed Machines come with a Lace Carriage but with Silver Reed you need to buy a separate carriage EXCEPT for the SK560 model, which should also include a LC560 Lace Carriage and is the only model in the Silver Reed/Studio line that does.
With the Brother model Lace Carriage you can actually complete a lace pattern and a different pattern on the same row(s) for design options. This is because the lace carriage is a separate carriage that is used in conjunction with the main bed carriage to complete the lace stitch. One pass of the lace carriage starts the lace stitch and the second pass is completing the stitch using the main bed carriage. Because of this a color pattern can sit next to a lace pattern.
With Silver Reed, Studio/Singer Knitting Machines the lace carriage completes the stitch and you do not swap out between 2 carriages unless you are doing a specific "fine" lace pattern. But if you incorporate a lace pattern and a colored pattern in the same item knitted, it must sit on different rows, regardless.
Intarsia Carriage: Depending on the gauge of the machine, some have separate Intarsia Carriages that you can purchase that help with Intarsia design knitting, as in an actual carriage like the main bed carriage. Otherwise there is an Intarsia carriage that is purchased to aid with Intarsia patterning that is plastic and smaller. It places all working needles into upper working position with each pass, so the yarns can be hand-manipulated easily and color work can be done without floats.
Transfer Carriage: This is a separate carriage that you can purchase in order to transfer your knitted stitches from the ribber to the main bed when necessary or visa versa. Below is a picture of the Brother Ribber Transfer Carriage and Studio has one also but I have not used the Studio one. The Brother transfer carriage works great.
G-Carriage, Garter Carriage: (FOR BROTHER MACHINES ONLY): This is an electronic carriage specifically for Brother Machines only. You plug it in, place it on your main bed and it can knit and purl at the same time and/or do different stitch patterns. It can automatically return from one side of the bed to the other. With electronic machines, you can program it to do a specific stitch pattern by entering a stitch pattern code into the computer. The garter carriage can be used to cast on and off automatically.
It moves at a much slower pace than you can and the G-carriage has a tendency to jam and/or may drop stitches with some types of yarn, but if you have the patience it can be a very nice outcome. It is also limited to one color yarn at a time. You need to make sure that you get the correct model that works with your knitting machine, it can work on punch card and computerized machines as it is a stand alone carriage with it's own separate power supply. Make sure that everything is there when you do buy one in case modifications are needed. I personally found it loud and slow, but at times a very nice outcome.
KNITTING MACHINE STANDS & TABLES
One of the most valuable item you can buy is a knitting machine stand or table. There are tables, and as it sounds it is a table, and then there are stands, also known as horses. The tables can be made of wood or wood and metal and the stands are metal. The metal stands can be stationary or tilting and you ALWAYS want to buy a tilting stand as it makes using the Ribber much easier. There are some knitting machines, such as the ARTISAN that come with their own special stand, but for the most part this is an after market item purchased separately from the machine.
Knitting Machine Stands can run as high as $200 or more but that is really overpriced. You can buy a new one from Custom Knits and Manufacturing for $155 and from DaisyKnits for $125. Used you can find them for anywhere from around $70 to $100, but I would not spend more than $70 since new they are around $125 - $155. In addition to the stands you can purchase a table. These run from about $125 - $160 or a little more, but they do not tilt. Below are some examples:
You can also have special made tables which are to die for. They are made by Steve and Katherine Rugg at Knitting Machine Tables by WoodWerks.
The standard tables are offered in a Mini or Max, tilt or fixed, track with tool caddies, box, tray and with or without locking wheels. The table bases are made from solid maple and the table tops from imported Russian birch, both hard and durable materials. The tables are finished with two coats of acrylic polyurethane which is durable and should not yellow. You should consider this item as an investment. Below are pictures of some of the beautifully crafted tables. Please visit their website for pricing and more information.
MOTOR DRIVE UNITS
Brother calls this a Motor Drive (KE100), under the KnitKing name it is called a PDU, or Power Drive Unit, Silver Reed also has one and Simet makes a PowerKnit 90 Motor Drive Unit that fits both machines. Basically this unit sits above the knitting machine and is attached with bolts to your knitting machine table and then you attach an arm from the unit to your knitting machine carriage. You can program that number of rows you wish to knit and the power drive moves the knitting carriage back and forth for you, rather than you doing it by hand. You will still need to stop and shape the garments though. Some are equipped with a foot pedal so that you can run it and/or use it as an automatic.
This item is very heavy, long and very expensive to ship due to it's size and weight. I would recommend thinking long and hard before purchasing one, I have found that most people do not use it at all or rarely after they purchase it. It is an item that is used more for production knitting rather than home use, or if you have arthritis and have limited mobility with your hands it would be an option for you. It is an expensive item running around $400 - $800 used and I believe around $1,000 new, but check with a Knitting Machine Dealer on new pricing.
-Can operate on a continuous or row by row setting with the unit or foot peddle.
-Has a built in row counter up to 9,999 rows.
-Settings for left to right length of rows.
-2 power switches, one for the motor and the other for the carraige arm.
-Built in safety breaks for knits and/or broken yarn.
-High and low speed settings.
-Left and right ready travel lights.
ELECTRIC YARN WINDERS
If you are like me and like to buy the same kind of yarn that hand knitters use and want to use it with your knitting machine, you have to rewind them into center pull skeins or on cones in order to feed the yarn properly into the knitting machine. This item is a real time saver. While they are very expensive for me they are worth the money you spend on them when you are trying to rewind 20 or 30 hanks of yarn at a time, or more. They have their own power supply. There are two major brands in the market, HAGUE yarn winders and Silver Needles Cone Yarn Winders. There is a third manufacturer that sells a yarn winder for about $90, Boye Yarn Winders, but it is not a nice as the HAGUE and Silver Needles electric yarn winders.
The yarns are simply threaded through the tension mast supplied and then onto the bobbin. Easily wind hanks of yarn into center-pull skeins, create flat bottom balls that stack neatly, rewind messy partial skeins into tidy center-pull skeins/balls.
HAGUE makes a standard 125 gram, a large 250 gram and an extra large 500 gram yarn winder, and a 125 gram yarn twister. The yarn winders make rewinding yarn to use with your knitting machine a sinch, but they are expensive. You need to think about this as an investment as these items start at a couple of hundred dollars. This is by far my favorite electric yarn winder. I have owned both and prefer the HAGUE yarn winders over any other that I have tried in the market and when the timing belt goes out you can easily replace it yourself.
HAGUE also makes an Electric Yarn Twister that allows you to twist two or more strands of yarn together to make your own novelty yarn. When knitting, there is a difference in the color pattern when you twist the yarn as you are winding it, has a more professional look and is a more secure yarn to knit with. When you mix yarn to make your own and the yarn sits side by side, when knitted it has an uneven color unless you twist it at the same time. Kris Krafter sells a hand crank model if you are looking for something less expensive and it does the trick.
Cost new ranges from around $250 - $500, used $125 - $300.
DARUMA and KRISKRAFTER HAND CRANK YARN TWISTERS:
You can also buy a hand crank here is the USA made by KrisKrafter for about $70, but I think that is really expensive for what it is. Also, he is a little paranoid and thinks everyone wants to steal his ideas, which is a little lame. But if you want to try one out you can buy an electric one from Hague, which is what I would recommend, a manual from Kris Krafter or a used DARUMA Yarn Twister is not as time saving, and DARUMA was originally the one who came up with the idea and in fact Kris Krafter has "copied" as their twister. I think a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black????? LOL
This electric cone winder is one of the best yarn winders money can buy. It allows you to reuse your empty cardboard/paper/plastic cones and is the only one Made in the USA, and you can also buy plastic/cardboard cones for it. It automatically shuts-off for knots, tangles, running out of yarn, or other catches so you do not burn out the motor. It can wind up to 16 oz of yarn.
The model number SN100 and SN200 ONLY uses plastic cones that are made for it and the SN200 holds more yarn than the SN100. Cost new is around $300 but you can buy these used also for about $150 - $200. I personally found this brand a little finicky, would shut off for no reason and/or not be able to wind all the yarn at one time. AllBrands carries this yarn winder.
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General Knitting Machine Accessories