Knitting Machine Guide – Best Knitting Machines in 2021

Use this guide to find the right knitting machine for you. Learn about all the different types of knitting machines from electric to hand crank to machines to make sweaters and hats.

knit fabric with the text "the best knitting machines"

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Table of Contents

What is a Knitting Machine?

In short, as the name implies, a knitting machine is a machine that knits something. Instead of using knitting needles to knit an item, you use either an electric or hand crank knitting machine to do the knitting for you.

There are several types that all serve different purposes. The most common is the circular knitting machine (like the one below). They knit in a circular, are easy to use, and are used to make items such as beanies and socks. Then there are flat knitting machines that can knit flat items such as scarves or blankets and make intricate designs.

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What Can You Make with a Knitting Machine?

If you can knit it, you can make it with a knitting machine. You can make tiny items or large items – the only thing you’re limited by is the size or style of machine. For example, when I got mine (Amazon link), I knew I wanted to make adult-size beanies (like in this tutorial and image below). It would be more challenging to make socks or a child’s hat.

The most common projects to make on a knitting machine are hats, scarves, shawls, socks, headbands, purses, cowls, stuffed animals, socks, cord, and even large items such as sweaters. Basically anything that is either flat or a tube.

knit fabric with the title "how to select a knitting machine"

How to Choose a Knitting Machine

There are several factors to consider when shopping for a knitting machine. Answering each of these will help you decide on the right one for you.

1. What do you want to make with a knitting machine?

Chances are you’re looking for a knitting machine because you have a project in mind. For myself, the answer was beanies and being able to knit blanks to be able to dye yarn.

Perhaps you also want to knit hats or maybe you want to make sweaters? Maybe socks are your thing? Thinking about what you think you’ll make most often can help you narrow down the options. It’s also completely fine if you’re not completely sure what you want to make, but you’re looking for a knitting machine that can “do it all.”

2. Do you want to make big or small items?

Similarly to thinking about what you want to make, consider how big the projects will be. You may know you want to make beanies, but are these going to be for adults or for kids? Do you want to make large blankets or will making a scarf be big enough?

3. Do you want to knit intricate patterns and designs?

The answer to this will easily point you into whether you will need to get a flat machine. If your goal in getting a machine is to create intricate patterns, this is easily achieved on a flat machine. You can of course make the same designs on a circular machine, but it would be similar to the effort needed when hand knitting.

4. Do you want an electric knitting machine or a hand crank knitting machine?

In some cases you may be able to choose between an electric or hand crank knitting machine. If you have a strong preference for one or the other, you should keep that in mind. There’s also a good chance your answers to the other questions may decide this one for you.

5. Lastly, how much are you willing to spend?

Of course budget is something to consider when deciding which to choose as there is a very wide range of prices.

The more expensive machines are going to made of metal and more durable material, but they are also going to be hundreds of dollars, if not over a thousand. The cheaper machines that are under $50 are pretty much 100% plastic and are more prone to breaking. I’m speaking from experience on this one, but it’s nothing a little super glue couldn’t fix.

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Circular Knitting Machines vs Flat Knitting Machines

The main difference between circular knitting machines and flat knitting machines is circular machines can knit in a circle (and a flat panel), but most flat machines can’t knit in a circle. That’s not to say you can’t make circular items with a flat knitting machine – you absolutely can! You’ll just need to sew a seam and the seam will show. Or you’ll need to get a flat machine that can use something called a ribber that will allow you to knit a circle.

You can also make items of different sizes on a flat machine (you get to choose the number of stitches you use). With a circular machine, however, you’re limited by the number of needles on the machine when knitting a tube.

Knitting a Beanie on a Circular Knitting Machine vs a Flat Knitting Machine

These videos are great examples of how to use each type of machine. Both are making the same same project (a knit hat) so you can easily compare how they both work and help you choose which type you may want.

Using a Circular Knitting Machine to Knit a Beanie

Using a Flat Panel Knitting Machine to Knit a Beanie

different colors and patterns of knit fabric with the text "the best knitting machines"

The Best Knitting Machine in Each Category

Here are the best knitting machines in each category. I’ve grouped them by the type of items they make. You can also click on the names of the category to jump to the details and reviews of each one.

Best Circular Knitting Machine – Sentro 48 Needle (Amazon)

Best Flat Knitting Machine – Silver Reed LK150 (Amazon)

Best i-Cord Knitting Machine – Prym Comfort Twist Knitting Mill (Amazon)

Bust Punch Card Knitting Machine – Silver Reed SK280 (eBay)

Best Electric Knitting Machine – Brother Knitting Machine – Electroknit KH910 (eBay)

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circular knitting machine with knit fabric on it with the title "the best circular knitting machines"

Circular Knitting Machines

All of these circular knitting machines allow you to knit either a flat item or knit a tube. The advantage of knitting a tube is your project won’t have a seam and you won’t have to sew to the seam.

The main downside to a circular machine is you’re limited by the number of needles on the machine. You can of course still knit a flat panel and sew them together to make larger projects. But if you’re using a circular machine to not have seam, then you can only ever make a tube with that number of stitches.

I’ve ordered the machines from largest to smallest.

Sentro Knitting Machine - 48 Needle

This is the largest of the Sentro Machines. This machine has a total of 48 needles, which is the largest of even any of the plastic circular machines. I personally have this machine so you can see my guide to use Sentro Knitting Machine and make a reversible beanie.

This is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 48 needles and a row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Large adult hats and beanies, wide scarves, purses and bags, headbands, stuffed animals, and pillows.

PROS

  • Large – This is the largest of the plastic machines so you can knit large adult beanies or wider flat items.
  • Counter – It comes with a row counter, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.
  • Extras – It will also often come with extras, including some starting yarn for practice and knitting and crochet needles.
  • Lightweight – It’s a very light machine so you can easily move it.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.

Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine

The Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine is the largest of the Addi Knitting Machines.

This machine is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 46 needles and a row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Large adult hats and beanies, wide scarves, purses and bags, headbands, stuffed animals, and pillows.

PROS

  • Large – This is the second largest of the plastic machines so you can knit large adult beanies or wider flat items.
  • Counter – It comes with a row counter, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.
  • Table Clamp – It comes with a table clamp so you don’t have to hold it.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines.
  • Price – In general, Addi Knitting Machines are more expensive than other plastic hand crank circular knitting machines.

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Loops and Threads Knitting Machine

This is officially called the Knit Quick Knitting Machine and it’s made by Loops and Threads. I’ve only ever seen this one at Michael’s since Loops and Threads is an exclusive brand to Michaels. Please make sure to use at least a 40% off Michael’s coupon when buying it!

The Loops and Threads Knitting Machine is a standard hand crank knitting machine. It has 40 needles and doesn’t come with a counter. (It’s basically identical to the 40 Needle Sentro Knitting Machine)

Michael's knitting machine - the white Knit Quick Knitting Machine by Loops & Threads

GREAT FOR MAKING

Large kids’ and small adult hats and beanies, wide scarves, purses and bags, headbands, stuffed animals, and pillows.

PROS

  • Affordable – As long as you use a Michael’s coupon, this is one of the most affordable knitting machines at this size.
  • Weight Clips – It comes with its own “weight clips,” which can help knit the first few rows.
  • Lightweight – It’s a very light machine so you can easily move it.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.
  • Easy to Find – Since this is Michael’s exclusive brand, you can always find the Knit Quick Knitting Machine online (and often in store).

CONS

  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.
  • Not as Large – Since this machine has only 40 needles instead of 48, it’s smaller than some of the other circular machines.
  • No Yarn – This machine is sold on its own without yarn
  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.

Sentro Knitting Machine - 40 Needle

This is the mid-sized Sentro Machine. It’s basically identical to the Loops and Threads Knitting Machine in that it has 40 needles and doesn’t have a row counter. The difference is with the add-ons. This one will typically come with yarn and knitting/crochet needles, but won’t come with weight clips.

This is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 40 needles and no row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Large kids’ and small adult hats and beanies, wide scarves, purses and bags, headbands, stuffed animals, and pillows.

PROS

  • Extras – It will also often come with extras, including some starting yarn for practice and knitting and crochet needles.
  • Lightweight – It’s a very light machine so you can easily move it.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.
  • No Weight Clips – Comparing it to the Loops and Threads Knitting Machines from Michael’s, this one doesn’t come with weight clips
  • Not as Large – Since this machine has only 40 needles instead of 48, it’s smaller than some of the other circular machines.
  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.

Addi Express Knitting Machine

This is the smallest circular Addi Knitting Machines (aside from the Addi Egg, but that one isn’t exactly a circular machine.

This is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 22 needles and a row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Small kids’ and baby hats, doll clothes, headbands, narrow scarves, small stuffed animals, baby slippers, socks, mittens, and other small items.

PROS

  • Counter – It comes with a row counter, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.
  • Table Clamp – It comes with a table clamp so you don’t have to hold it.
  • Lightweight – It’s a very light machine so you can easily move it.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • Limited to Small Projects – Since this machine has only 22 needles, you can only make smaller projects.
  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.
  • Price – This is the most expensive circular machine at its size, but it’s the only one with a built in row counter.

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Sentro Knitting Machine - 22 Needle

This is the smallest of the Sentro Machines. With only 22 needles, this little machine is nice and portable and great for making little items.

This is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 22 needles and no row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Small kids’ and baby hats, doll clothes, headbands, narrow scarves, small stuffed animals, baby slippers, socks, mittens, and other small items.

PROS

  • Extras – It will also often come with extras, including some starting yarn for practice and knitting and crochet needles.
  • Portable – It’s a small and light machine so you can easily move it or even take it on the go with you. This machine could definitely be considered portable.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.
  • Limited to Small Projects – Since this machine has only 22 needles, you can only make smaller projects.
  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.

Singer Knitting Machine - 20 Needle

The Singer Knitting Machine was originally sold as knitting machine for kids, but it works just like the others. This machine is the smallest of the circular machines with only 20 needles. Because it’s an older machine, it can be difficult to find new. Your best chance for a new one is to get it on eBay.

This is a standard hand crank knitting machine with 20 needles and no row counter.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Small kids’ and baby hats, doll clothes, headbands, narrow scarves, small stuffed animals, baby slippers, socks, mittens, and other small items.

PROS

  • Extras – The Singer Knitting Machine comes with two small skeins of yarn.
  • Portable – It’s a small and light machine so you can easily move it or even take it on the go with you. This machine could definitely be considered portable.
  • Flat or Tube Knitting – There’s a setting on the machine so you can change to knit a tube or a flat panel.

CONS

  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.
  • Limited to Small Projects – Since this machine has only 20 needles, you can only make smaller projects.
  • Difficult to Find – Since they don’t make new ones, the Singer Knitting Machine can be difficult to find. 
  • Not as Durable – Just as with the other plastic machines, it’s simply not as durable as the metal machines. It can also easily slide around because it’s so light.
yellow knit fabric with the title "the best flat knitting machines"

Flat Knitting Machines

Flat knitting machines are exactly that – flat! You can choose the number of stitches you want to use and knit a flat panel. Those panels can then be sewn together to make a tube, which is how you would make a hat or sweater, for example.

You can also easily make knit patterns and depending on the machine, you’ll do this manually, with the help of devices such as the Needle Beetle (which you can get on Etsy), or with punch cards or mylar sheets that an electronic machine will read automatically.

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Silver Reed LK150 Knitting Machine

The Silver Reed LK150 Knitting Machine is a great mid-range flat machine that you can easily find (though often it won’t be branded as Silver Reed). I found it cheapest on Lion Brand, but you can also find it on Amazon. As the name implies, it has 150 needles.

To make designs, you’ll need to manually adjust the needles, but then you can use a needle beetle (which you can get on Etsy) to easily repeat the pattern.

 

GREAT FOR MAKING

Blankets, scarves, and any flat items as well as i-cord. It can also make any circular item with a seam such as sweaters, dresses, socks, and hats.

PROS

  • Knits Different Sizes – As with all flat machines, it can knit any size item since you choose the number of stitches.
  • Easily Make Designs – It can easily knit intricate designs and patterns (especially with the help of a Needle Beetle, which you can find on Etsy.
  • Durable – Because it uses metal needles and other metal parts, it’s a very durable machine.
  • Knits i-Cord – It can also knit i-cord so you don’t need to get a separate i-cord knitter.
  • Counter – It comes with a row counter, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.

CONS

  • Complex – Compared to the circular machine, the flat machine is more complicated simply because it can do more.
  • No Circular Knitting – This will only knit flat panels so you need to sew the seams. There is no ribber attachment for this machine.

Bond America Fashion Knitter

The Bond America Fashion Knitter is a great beginner flat machine. It’s smaller with only 50 needles, but it’s about 1/10th of the price of other flat machines. The challenge is you will likely only be able to find it used. Your best chance is to search on eBay.

I would recommend this machine if you want to try using a flat knitting machine before investing in a larger one or if you want a smaller gauge knit. Otherwise I would recommend a circular machine instead.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Scarves, pillows, and blankets, hats, and any small circular items with a seam.

PROS

  • Affordable – Compared to other flat machines, this is incredibly affordable.
  • Knits Different Sizes – As with all flat machines, it can knit different sizes since you choose the number of stitches.
  • Make Designs – It can knit intricate designs and patterns, but it’s more manual than with one of the other flat machines.
  • Durable – Because it uses metal needles and other metal parts, it’s more durable than a plastic circular machine.
  • Knits i-Cord – It can also knit i-cord so you don’t need to get a separate i-cord knitter.

CONS

  • No Circular Knitting – This will only knit flat panels so you need to sew the seams. There is no ribber attachment for this machine.
  • Small – Since it only has 50 needles, you’re more limited in what you can make with it.
  • Manual Designs – Since you can’t get a needle beetle for this machine, you will need to move the needles yourself to knit intricate designs.
  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.

Bond Incredible Sweater Knitting Machine

The Bond Incredible Sweater Knitting Machine is a larger version of the Fashion Knitter. It has twice the number needles with 100 needles so you can make larger projects. It can also be challenging to find and you will likely only find it used on Amazon or eBay.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Blankets, scarves, and any flat items as well as i-cord. It can also make any circular item with a seam.

PROS

  • Affordable – Compared to other flat machines, this is incredibly affordable.
  • Knits Different Sizes – As with all flat machines, it can knit different sizes since you choose the number of stitches.
  • Make Designs – It can knit intricate designs and patterns, but it’s more manual than with one of the other flat machines.
  • Durable – Because it uses metal needles and other metal parts, it’s more durable than a plastic circular machine.
  • Knits i-Cord – It can also knit i-cord so you don’t need to get a separate i-cord knitter.

CONS

  • No Circular Knitting – This will only knit flat panels so you need to sew the seams. There is no ribber attachment for this machine.
  • Smaller – Since it only has 100 needles, you’re more limited in what you can make with it. Compared to the Fashion Knitter however, it’s double the size.
  • Manual Designs – Since you can’t get a needle beetle for this machine, you will need to move the needles yourself to knit intricate designs.
  • No Counter – It doesn’t have a row counter so you’ll need to keep track on your own.

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Silver Reed SK280 Knitting Machine

The Silver Reed SK280 is a punch card machine, which means you’ll use punch cards to create patterns and designs. This way you don’t have to manually adjust the needles. It’s a large machine with 200 needles and has all kinds of attachments, including a ribber so you can do circular knitting.

Just as with most of the electronic and punch card machines, they’re no longer made so you’ll want to look on eBay if you can’t find it on Amazon.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Everything. Because it can use a ribber, you can knit a circle even though it’s a flat machine.

PROS

  • Circular Knitting – With a ribber attachment, it can knit a tube so you can make circular items without a seam.
  • Knits Different Sizes – As with all flat machines, it can knit any size item since you choose the number of stitches.
  • Easily Make Designs – It can easily knit intricate designs and patterns using punch cards.
  • Durable – Because it uses mostly metal parts, it’s a very durable machine.
  • Knits i-Cord – It can also knit i-cord so you don’t need to get a separate i-cord knitter.
  • Counter – It has a row counter built in, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.

CONS

  • Expensive – This is going to be one of the most expensive knitting machines out there. Because it’s also out of print any parts are going to be difficult to find and expensive.
  • Limited with Punch Cards – Unlike an electronic machine, a punch card machine is limited by the size of the punch card. You can create your own if you want to adjust the size, but you can still only make a design that is 24 stitches across.

Brother Knitting Machine - Electroknit KH910

The Brother Knitting Machine Electroknit KH910 is an electric knitting machine. It’s a large machine with 200 needles and has all kinds of attachments, including a ribber so you can do circular knitting. It also comes with mylar pattern sheets so that can be programmed in the machine so it automatically knits the pattern for you. You can also adjust the size and width of any pattern.

Brother no longer makes machines so you’ll have to get any of their machines on eBay or Etsy. The KH910 is their first electric machine so any in the 900 series will be great, but the KH910 seems to be the most readily available.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Everything. Because it can use a ribber, you can knit a circle even though it’s a flat machine.

PROS

  • Electronic – Any patterns or designs are all electronic and programmable.
  • Circular Knitting – With a ribber attachment, it can knit a tube so you can make circular items without a seam.
  • Knits Different Sizes – As with all flat machines, it can knit any size item since you choose the number of stitches.
  • Easily Make Designs – It can easily knit intricate designs and patterns (and it’s all programmable so you don’t need to move the needles yourself)
  • Durable – Because it uses mostly metal parts, it’s a very durable machine.
  • Knits i-Cord – It can also knit i-cord so you don’t need to get a separate i-cord knitter.
  • Counter – It has a row counter built in, which makes it very easy to keep track of the number of rows you’ve knit.

CONS

  • Expensive – This is going to be one of the most expensive knitting machines out there. Because it’s also out of print any parts are going to be difficult to find and expensive.
different colors of yarn with the text "the best i-cord knitting machines"

i Cord Knitting Machines

All of these are little machines whose sole purpose is to make i cord. In case you’re unfamiliar with i-cord, it’s simply a singular tube of knitting. Normally when knitting a tube, you have a hole in the middle, but when making i-cord, it’s so small that there isn’t a hole.

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Tulip i-cord Knitting Machine

The i-cord Knitter from Tulip is a mid-priced cord making machine. It has 4 needles and makes a small gauge i-cord.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Cord, straps, and knit lettering.

PROS

  • Small – This is the smallest i-cord making machine.
  • Comes with Weight – It comes with its own weight to help pull the cord down to start it.

CONS

  • Small Handle – The handle is quite small, which can be frustrating to get a decent grip on it.
  • No Table Clamp – It doesn’t come with a table clamp, unlike some of the other i-cord makers.

Prym Comfort Twist Knitting Mill

The Prym Comfort Twist Knitting Mill is a lower priced i-cord knitter. It has 4 needles and makes a small gauge i-cord.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Cord, straps, and knit lettering.

PROS

  • Table Clamp – It comes with a table clamp so you don’t have to hold it.
  • Larger Handle – The handle is larger and easier to grip than the Tulip i-cord knitting machine.
  • Comes with Weight – It comes with its own weight to help pull the cord down to start it.

CONS

  • Larger – This machine is larger than the Tulip i-cord knitter.

Addi Egg Knitting Machine

The Addi Egg Knitting Machine is a larger i-cord knitting machine. It has 6 needles and makes a larger gauge i-cord. Therefore if you’re looking for a machine to make thicker i-cord, this is the one you want to get.

GREAT FOR MAKING

Thicker cord, straps, and knit lettering.

PROS

  • Table Legs – It comes with legs to sit easily on the table
  • Larger Handle – The handle is larger and easier to grip than the Tulip i-cord knitting machine.
  • Comes with Weight – It comes with its own weight to help pull the cord down to start it.

CONS

  • Larger – This machine is larger than the Tulip i-cord knitter.
  • Wider Gauge – Because of the width of the needles, this knits a wider gauge cord.
  • Thicker Knit – Because it has 6 needles instead of 4, it makes a thicker cord.

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