There are two main types of knitting machines that can used for tabletop knitting. These machines are made possible through "latchhook needles." A flat bed machine, comes in two 'gauges', standard and chunky. The gauge of the machine refers to the spacing between the needles in the bed of the machine, which allows for different size yarns to run through the machine. These machines can be programmed electronically, or via punchcard. Punchcard machines are possible to find at second hand shops or in giveaway piles but need tender love and care to work properly. The second type of knitting machine is a 'V-bed' machine. V-bed knitting machines allow for more complex stitch structures and for double knits, and seamless knitting. These are more difficult to happen upon but are most common in industrial knitting. The two beds, arranged in a V, are able to pass yarns back and forth across the layers. Another common kind of machine for knitting is a circular knitting machine, where needles are arranged along the edge of a circle to create a continuous tubular knit for objects like hats and socks. Circular knitting machines are readily available in varying levels of quality.
DIY Machines & Inspirations:
- Kniterate: DIY V-Bed Machine https://www.kniterate.com/
- Merel Karhof Wind Powered Circular Knitting Machine: https://www.merelkarhof.nl/work/wind-knitting-factory
- Damien Ludi & Colin Peillex Rocking Chair Powered Knitting Machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6m92HRZm2Y
Industrial knitting machines produce the garments that we purchase in stores today. They are programmed via computer and can knit incredibly complex structures, and seamless garments. One machine can do many things and accommodate different yarns, rather than having different machines for different structures and yarns. There are also industrial circular knitting machines that can knit tubes of fabric, spacer textiles, and multilayer knit fabrics. Most industrial knitting machines are produced two one of two brands: Shima Seiki or Stoll. These machines are becoming more popular within university research labs and maker spaces.
Machine Knit Structure Inspirations:
- Zaha Hadid Architects: Knit Formwork https://www.zaha-hadid.com/design/knitcandela/
- Pauline VanDongen: Vigour http://www.paulinevandongen.nl/project/vigour/ https://www.dezeen.com/2015/02/15/vigour-pauline-van-dongen-martijn-ten-bhomer-textiel-cardigan-senses-movement/