With traditional knitters, the term “flat knitting” means to knit a flat garment by turning your work after each row, and using a combination of knit and purl stitches. This technique is used to create most handmade pieces of flat knitting that you see. However, in the industrial knitting world, flat knitting means something entirely different. In industrial terms, flat knitting refers to knitting with a flat knitting machine.
What is a Flat Knitting Machine?
A flat knitting machine is a knitting machine that is made with two needle beds arranged in an upside-down “V” formation. These machines are very flexible and can perform a wide range of knit stitches and techniques, and are very precise with their sizing. The downfall to these machines is that they are much slower than a circular knitting machine.
This machine works with the use of carriage running back and forth over the needles. It selectively uses needles to perform the stitches and adjustments needed for the specifications given. In older machines, these stitch patterns were given using punch cards for the machine to read. In today’s knitting machines, this is usually determined using computer control.
Flat knitting machines are very versatile in their uses and can create most common knits. You can even re-create many patterns intended for hand knitting for use in these machines. These machines perform a great deal of the knitting that you see on clothing and accessories in most retail stores.
What is the Difference Using a Knitting Machine?
The most noticeable difference when using a knitting machine versus hand knit fabrics is the texture of the fabric. Machine knitting creates a much more even stitch pattern in the fabric than standard hand knitting. This is most noticeable when you have a large area of plain stockinet stitch or intricate color work in the garment.
With a knitting machine, it is also much easier and faster to produce garments using sports weight and smaller yarns on tiny needles. This is how many manufacturers make t-shirts and other garments with such tiny knit stitches. The machines can perform a wide range of common stitches used in knitting such as a tuck stitch or garter stitch, and are generally much faster than hand knitting and much more precise in their sizing. Depending on the type of machine, you may even be able to create faire isle patterns, cables, and ribbing.
This is a benefit when mass-producing knit garments and accessories, because they take less time and can be made with much more attention to detail.
Where Can I Get a Flat Knitting Machine?
There are many flat knitting machines and other flat knitting equipment available for sale online in every price range. Depending on what you need, you can purchase a flat knitting machine from $50 to several hundred dollars. Just remember that cheaper is not always better. If you need flat knitting equipment that will survive heavy use for many years, it is better to do your research and find a top-notch new machine that is made for such use. Two of the most popular brands are Stoll and Shima Seiki, however if you are just experimenting and want something small to learn on, a cheaper machine may be the way to go.
You can purchase some knitting machines online at sites such as ebay.com or amazon.com, or by doing a google search for flat knitting machines and purchasing from manufacturers. You can also find a lot of the flat knitting equipment you’ll need to go with the machine on these sites.
Knitting machines can be a big asset to business owners trying to produce larger amounts of product in a smaller amount of time. By spending some time learning your machine you can produce intricate lacework, cables, and other popular designs in a fraction of the time. This can allow you to create the same exact design repeatedly without the worry of variations that can often be found in their hand-knit counterparts. While flat knitting machines are not the right knitting equipment for the knitting hobbyist that just wants to knit the occasional blanket or hat, they are ideal for growing businesses selling knitwear.