Knitting is one of those crafting skills that go in and out of fashion. Not only are there trends on what we make and the demographics in knitting circles, but there are new approaches to how we make them. Traditional knitting is a fantastic skill, as is arm knitting, but this can all be too overwhelming for complete novices. That is where a knitting machine could help.
In this guide, you will find some short reviews on some of the best knitting machines around right now. Before that, there is a short guide on the features to look out for when choosing your first knitting machine. First, however, we need to better understand what these machines are for and who can benefit from them. Is this a good option for your own needs, or perhaps something your kids could benefit from?
Who can benefit from using one of the best knitting machines?
If you are an experienced knitter that is proficient with your needles, you might wonder what the point of this machine is. Why would you want to load the yarn into a machine rather than use the needles? Well, I encourage you to think back to when you were young and the idea of knitting seemed really daunting. You have muscle memory and instincts for knitting now but that took time.
A machine like this could prove to be a great entry point for kids that are curious about knitting their own hats and scarves, but completely intimidated by the idea of using knitting needles. A machine gives them a better appreciation of how the yarn comes together to create a finished item, they can get a feel for yarn, and the satisfaction of creating something themselves. After some time working with this machine, they may gain the confidence to try working with needles. Therefore, while it might seem like a step backward for us, it can be a great gift for kids and grandkids to bring knitting to a new generation.
Additionally, there are those adults that would love to be able to create knitted items but aren’t physically able. Conditions like arthritis or upper limb deformities can make it very difficult for some adults to hold a pair of knitting needles and use them with the dexterity necessary for neat and complete rows. A sturdy machine with a hand crank could make it a lot easier for these users to take control of knitting projects and create something they can be proud of.
Can you still get a rewarding experience with a knitting machine?
Remember that the machine just covers the manual labor involved in creating knitted hats and scarves. Everything else is down to the personal preferences and creativity of the user. Kids and adults alike, whatever their abilities and experience levels, can have fun picking out yarn based on its type and color. If you would like a little more guidance there, you can check out my guide on different types of yarn and their related buying guides.
From there, the patterns and styles are up to you, you can decide how to combine the colors to create different effects – either making items for yourself or bespoke gifts for other people. Also, depending on your confidence levels and abilities, you can adapt the finished items with appliques, pom poms, and other features that you can craft yourself. Using a machine doesn’t have to be limiting.
What to consider when looking for the best knitting machines.
Is it more of a toy than a reliable knitting machine?
This is a common issue with these products. There is the sense that because this is a machine for children to learn on, that it doesn’t have to be that sturdy or of the highest quality when it comes to a smooth motion and clean result. I understand that companies want to make a light device that kids can use with use, and that cheap plastic cuts down on costs. But some are more reliable than others. You can get some grown-up versions, but the children’s ones are far more common.
On a related note about this being a child’s toy, I can’t help but notice a theme with the color scheme of most of these products. They are almost always pink and white – either barbie pink or a dustier pink. I did find a black grown-up one that I have added below as a contrast. I can’t help but think that companies are missing out by primarily targetting little girls like this. But, I digress.
What can I make with this machine?
The functionality of the machine comes down to the number of needles, the circumference of the machine, and the ability to change the settings. Most of these machines, even the basic models for young kids, have a switch where you can change the mode from a flatter braid to a round. This will determine what you can make, such as scarves or hats.
The circumference and number of needles will also indicate the size of the finished items. A lot of models for kids are smaller, portable solutions with 22 needles. Then there are the larger models for adult sizes that typically have 40 or 48 needles in them. Keep this in mind when deciding on the right option for specific projects.
Does it come with any helpful additional features?
The bare bones of these products are the row of needles around the circumference of the machine, the hand crank, the threading tool for the yarn, and that tension control. A lot of cheap and basic kids models won’t offer a lot more so that things don’t get too complicated. However, others do go a little further to help newcomers.
~ A simple aid that makes a difference is the use of suction cups on the feet. Unstable legs on a light plastic device could see it shooting off across the table when kids wind the crank.
~ You may also find some models with a row counter that automatically ticks over.
~Another thing to look out for is whether or not you get any yarn in the box with the machine. This is a nice touch from companies that want kids to have everything they need to start a project straight out of the box. The colors could be random, but that’s fine for a first project.
8 of the best knitting machines for you or your child.
Below, I have compiled short reviews of some of the best knitting machines for kids – as well as one clearly for adults – that can offer a great introduction to this craft. There are some standard features repeated in a lot of these models. But, a few have some nice bonuses that add to the appeal.
1) Sentro 48 Needles Knitting Machine
I want to start this guide with a few models from the same brand. Sentro is a name that you will see all over online listings because they have a range of options and models. Also, you will find that a lot of products have pretty much the same sort of design with the dusty pink and white body and the name printed on the side. This first one is a pretty good choice if you want a machine capable of handling hats, scarves, and all kinds of other items. That is between there are 8 needles for a much wider circumference.
You can set up the yarn at the right tension rating, switch between the flat and round knitting modes and crank the handle. You do have to go nice and slow, but patience can pay off. I like that this one comes with a series of tools, needles, and four balls of wool of random colors. There is also a little row counter that ticks along quite nicely.
2) MIAOKE 48 Needles King Size Smart Weaving Loom
I’m not sure what name to attribute to this model because I have seen the exact same thing with the name Jamit, Miaoke, and Sentro on it. I’m going to say it is the same Sentro machine was a different name printed on it. Either way, it is a great choice for those that want a more grown-up solution without paying too much. There is more on offer here than in the cheapest kids’ models, but it isn’t as cute and flimsy and some others.
There are 48 needles, which makes this ideal for dealing with larger hat sizes, and you also get the helpful row counter, thread tension adjuster, switch to change modes, and the crank handle on the side. It also looks as though it comes with five balls of wool rather than four, but there is no confirmation of this.
3) PureZoneA 22 Needles Smart Knitting Loom Machine
Not all kids will be comfortable using one of the larger machines, especially if they only want to make small items for themselves. There are 22 needles on the circumference of the machine and the ongoing item of clothing feeds down through the hole in the side. This is a nice way to see the work in progress and see the relation between the action and the result. Again, you can change the tension and work slowly to get around the machine without dropping a stitch.
Be aware that there are a couple of versions of this based on online photos. There is the dusty pink one that copies the Sentro style and the one that calls itself the Rabbit Knitting machine. That is because one of the odder selling points here is that there are also two ears at the front of the machine to make this look like a rabbit. Either way, the functions are the same and you should get some free wool.
4) Jamit Smart Weaver Knitting Round Loom
That small model above isn’t the only one on the market to offer this more compact approach to knitting machines. I also like the fact that this is another one that sits on the table on a big round base. The lack of flimsy legs should make this more stable and better for first-time users. There is a similar approach to the tension control at the front to create the sort of weave that you need. There is also a large ergonomic crank handle at the side.
Again, there is the rabbit look, but this is open to interpretation and has no impact on the practical side of the system. There appear to be no additional features here of note either. It is one of the more simplistic devices but one that kids should be able to use with ease.
5) Vogvigo Weaving Machine
Four balls of wool in random colors, you can switch between flat sheet braid and circular braiding with 48 needles comes with crochet needles and knitting needles, suction cups on the feet, manual crank operation, thread the wool, adjust the tension and wind the handle, easy for kids to use, – issues with the reliability of the counter and could be smoother. But, kids can make a hat in minutes.
6) InLoveArts Knitting Machine
This is another very similar machine in that you have the larger loom for knitting in the round with a hand crank, tension adjuster, and the switch on the side to change the mode. One thing I will point out here is that this is labeled P and T, which could be confusing at first for those that aren’t familiar with the terminology of the Plain weave and the T ring weave.
There are 40 needles this time, which should make too big a difference on the finished piece. For the most part, the process and results are very similar to those seen with the Vogvigo option. It isn’t the smoothest or most reliable and feels like a kids’ toy. But, this is what you should come to expect with these. Some suction cups would be nice too to give this a bit more stability. But, it is still a fun, user-friendly option for kids that are curious about knitting.
7) Jaocdoen 22 Needles Knitting Machine
This next option is very cute and user-friendly if you want something for a small child. This smaller model has just 22 needles so you aren’t going to get the same results as the larger devices with 22 needles. But, you can get some cute items with relative ease. Then there is the handle over the top. While this could impede some adults a little when dealing with any issues around the needles, it does make the device a lot more portable than some other options. You still get the option to switch styles and a good ergonomic handle.
To be honest, this one might be my favorite out of the whole lot in this guide purely because it is so different. There is a bit more thought here on how kids can make the most of the experience and use it more independently. This includes the nice contrast green color on the thread tension adjuster. The switch, the handle, and the legs. You also still get the row counter and some free yarn.
8) Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine
Finally, I want to talk about that “grown-up” option that I mentioned before. This Addi machine takes a similar set of features and approaches as the children’s models and combines them in a more substantial machine. The body is metal rather than plastic to make it more stable on a work surface. The threading tool for the yarn and the crank are a nice gold color for some added style. You also get the bonus feature of the row counter on the side. There are 46 needles on this king-size model and you do get some replacements in the box.
This is a more reliable option for any adults that want to try this method because they don’t want to, or simply can’t use knitting needles. The price tag is considerably higher than the kids’ toys, but that is to be expected.
Finding the best knitting machine for your needs.
I think it is important to reiterate the point that a lot of these machines are practically the same at heart. Some are potentially exactly the same as each other, just with a new name slapped on the front. This is why it is important to look at the specifications in more detail and to see where you can get a good deal. Compare your options within your budget to see where you get the best value for money.
A lot of these kids’ models are great gifts where you can spark an interest in knitting and crafting fun items by hand. Some are practical and user-friendly with real potential. But, don’t forget that there are larger versions and even some metal ones for adults that want to have a go too. Whichever model you choose, I hope that you will find it more than suitable for your needs.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my toddler however, that is typically a challenge with her limited attention span, messiness, and desire to always have clean hands. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and fond memory for the both of us.