​UPDATED 11/2016

A Place for Knitting Machine Enthusiasts

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Hand v. Machine Knitting ~ Cheating???

I found this article on the internet written by someone anonymously and have added a few of my own opinions, but for the most part found the article quite amusing and very true.  So, here it is....








Some people may say that Machine Knitting is cheating or giggle when you tell them that you not only hand knit but also use a knitting machine thinking that it is easy.  Let me tell you there are no easy shortcuts when you machine knit.  I started out hand knitting and then got into machine knitting thinking there would be shortcuts as I am a very impatient person, but to my surprise it is just as hard as anything you can knit by hand.

First there is the learning curve when learning how to machine knit and it is quite the curve especially when you cannot find anyone to give you lessons so you learn by video, as did I.  And while yes, you can knit a row faster than by hand knitting, that is all that you can do faster.

With hand knitting, you can knit in the round or flat. With few exceptions, knitting machines are used to knit flat pattern pieces, which are then assembled as in hand knitting. The difference is that with hand knitting, the knitting takes longer than the finishing, but with machine knitting, the knitting AND the finishing take about the same time but only if knitting in plain stitch.  When you get into textured or colored designs the knitting takes longer and is more difficult.

Although the knitting machine can perform several stitch techniques automatically, the knitter must perform all shaping (as in hand knitting) by increasing or decreasing the number of needles in use at the appropriate time while keeping in mind the stitch pattern and that the stitch pattern should align properly from piece to piece when assembled.

The advantage of machine knitting is, obviously, that you can produce stitches very quickly by the row but only AFTER you have set up the machine for the stitch type. The disadvantage with machine knitting is that you lose flexibility with regard to the types of stitches you can make and other things, on a row such as cabling is much easier by hand, in my opinion.  Also, lace works to me is much more beautiful when done by hand and is very difficult to do by machine, especially the "V" type shawls.

When you knit by hand, you can place knit or purl stitches right next to each other and with machine knitting you cannot.  You can crossover wherever you like and without much extra effort, to produce ribbing, garter stitch, or textured stitches such as moss, cables or seed easier by hand knitting, on the machine this is all hand tooled and then you knit across the bed and sometimes the machine simply can't  change up stitch patterns automatically without extra attachments or even do the stitch you want. Whereas you can easily adjust your stitches in the middle of a row  with hand knitting, with a machine you will need to drop all the stitches and re-knit them.












Another drawback to machine knitting is that you are restricted to the type of yarn that will work on a machine.  Really thick or ornate yarn does not work  well in a knitting machine.  Also, some yarn looks better hand knitted over machine knitting, such as fuzzy or twisted yarn.  The tension used by the knitting machine pulls out and flattens that type of yarn.  Also, if you use all different types of gauges of yarn, thick through thin, then you need to buy the correct machines for each type of yarn thickness, which is a huge expense.  Thin yarn will only work in certain machines well and thick yarn will only work on a completely different "gauge" knitting machine and you cannot take the item being knitted from one machine to another.  With hand knitting you can have different thickness of yarn on different rows easily by just changing out your sticks and yarn.

While most say that if you make a mistake you can just rip back a few rows to correct a mistake with machine knitting, I find that I have to start all over again versus ripping out a few rows, which to me is easier when hand knitting, and I also seem to catch mistakes much earlier on when hand knitting.

Another is the cost of a knitting machine, which can run into the thousands versus a couple of hundred for your best knitting needles.  If you decide you do not like to knit loosing a couple of hundred is a lot easier to swallow rather than a couple of thousand dollars.  And then when you get the knitting machine bug you absolutely have to have all the extras for your knitting machine which is even more money.  While wanting extras has more to do with will power somehow you just "need" it ALL!

You also need enormous free space to accommodate a knitting machine. Using a machine to knit also requires 100% of your attention. Unlike with hand knitting, you cannot watch TV or supervise your kids while on a machine.

As far as I am concerned, machine knitting is not cheating! We don't begrudge seamstresses their sewing machines, or weavers their looms. A knitting machine is just another tool.

Also, "cheating" suggests that you are not doing the work, it implies that there is no skill involved and that you haven't put in any thought or effort into your projects.  I can tell you this is not true at all.  With hand knitting you must choose your pattern, your yarn and your needles. It's necessary to plan your work, keep track of row counts, number of stitches and type of stitches.  With machine knitting you must also choose your pattern, your yarn and your needles (your machine). It's also necessary to plan your work, keep track of row counts, number of stitches, etc.

Using a machine also requires skill. Not only do you need to understand the process of knitting, you also need to know your machine and its capabilities.  There is a whole new set of skills that must be developed to become proficient with a knitting machine.  You cannot just set up the machine, yarn, software, then go away and have all the pieces knit when you return.  It takes months to learn how to knit on a knitting machine and years to become proficient with machine knitting, the same as with hand knitting.  In fact, hand knitting came much more easily to me, it has been years and I am still learning about machine knitting, their stitches and how to design on a knitting machine.

So, if you still think that machine knitting is cheating I would suggest that you put down your sticks, pick up a machine and give it a try.  I think you will be surprised at how difficult it is, that is if you can even figure out how to set up the machine.