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About Knitting Machines
The knitting machine, sometimes called knitting frame,
knitting loom, or hand knitting machine, is used
to produce knit fabrics on a fixed bed
of hooked needles.
Knitting machines can be hand powered or motor
Pattern stitches are selected by hand manipulation of the
needles, or with push-buttons and dials, mechanical punch cards,
or electronic pattern reading devices and computers.
There are domestic and industrial models, with either flat or
circular beds that produce rectangular or tubular fabrics.
Double bed machines have two flat beds facing each other, in order
to produce purl and plain rib fabrics plus a
variety of multi patterns.
Ribbing attachments can be added to single bed
machines to achieve a similar result.
Late 20th Century domestic/studio/home models typically use up to 200
latch hook needles to hold the stitches in a standard or bulky size
A carriage or cam box is passed across the bed of needles causing
the needle movements required to produce each next stitch.
By various selection methods, e.g. punch
cards, particular needles can be caused to travel by alternate
pathways through the cam box. Thus needles will knit or not, and
the unknitted yarn portions will lie under (slip stitch) or over the
needle or be held in the needle hook
Needles can be placed in
holding position to allow short row shaping.
Most of these machines can knit two colour "fair isle" patterns
automatically, and have machine stitch patterning features
such as plating and knitweaving.
Plating refers to knitting with
two strands of yarn that are held in such a way that one is in
front of the other. Plated effects can be
particularly striking in a ribbed fabric.
Knitweaving refers to a technique in
which a separate piece of yarn, often heavier than the knitted fabric,
is carried along and caught between stitches to produce an effect
With knitwoven fabric, the purl side (usually the wrong side) is the
right side of the fabric.
With the addition of a lace carriage, stitches can be
transferred from one needle to the next. The yarn passes
through a tensioning mechanism and down through the knit carriage,
which feeds the yarn to the needles as they knit.
Domestic knitting machines use the weft knitting method,
which produces a fabric similar to
Machine knitting proceeds more quickly than in hand knitting,
where (usually two)
needles are held
in the hand and each stitch is manipulated individually across the row.
Knitting machines work an entire row of loops in a
One of the advantages of knitting fabric using a knitting machine
is that it produces a more even
texture than hand-knitted fabric. This is particularly noticeable
on large areas of plain stocking stitch.
Many people prefer the look of hand knitting and skilled hand knitters can
produce quite even fabric, while machine knitters need little skill
to produce a good fabric, as the automatic yarn tension system helps
Some stitch patterns (e.g., tuck stitches) are much easier to produce
with a knitting machine, while others (e.g. garter stitch) are much
easier to produce with handknitting.
The standard 200 needle-bed knitting machine can knit the finest yarns
up to a good sportweight, while the heavier yarns knit better on
a bulky knitting machine.
Knitting can be performed on other tools which have no moving parts,
for example a knitting nancy and larger tools of that family.
Stitches are formed by lifting loops over a peg or nail, one stitch
at a time, to produce flat or more often
tubular fabric. These non-machine
knitting tools have been called many different names, including
knitting looms or knitting frames, which can lead
to confusion with knitting machines.