The Advantages of an Electric Knitting Machine
When looking for a knitting machine, especially if you an experienced an accomplished hand knitter, you wonder about all of the choices out there. Even though a machine only has one size needle, you don't need to replace each set of hand knitting needles with an entire knitting machine. There are three basic knitting sizes. Standard knitting does the fine, lacy knitting using fine yarns to sport weight.
Mid-gauge knitting machines do a heavier job with worsted weights and a size larger and smaller. The heavy yarns require a bulky knitting machine. While hand-knitting needles can take on any type of stitch, limited only by the ability of the user, knitting machines can only handle a certain number of stitch types, limited by the ability of the brand to program them in. Then there's the choice of manual, punch card or electric knitting machine. If you've been knitting by hand for years, why not choose the manual? That's the wrong question for making this choice.
What is a Punch Card?
You're probably going to be moving the carriage back and forth by hand no matter what choice you make. That's not the issue. When you knit by hand, you can decide to knit or purl, increase or decrease or perform any special stitch as you come to it. On the machine, each row has to be set up for the type of stitch or combination of stitches, colors changes and any other adjustments before the row is made. The manual machine has to be set manually. That makes sense, right?
Some changes are easy to make, if tedious. If you might like to create complex patterns in your projects, you will want a machine that is not manual. A punch card machine not only keeps track of where you are in a pattern, it will set the needles to pick up a second color or make a combination of stitch changes for you. You just set up the punch card and the colors before beginning the project and move the carriage back and forth.
Now that's an innovation. The electric knitting machine is similar to the punch card machine except that there's no punch card. The pattern instructions are in a computer. This is nice, too. New patterns can be downloaded easily and the "punch cards" never get worn, lost or damaged in an electric knitting machine.
Any knitter that does or plans to do pattern work on the machine should select a punch card or electric knitting machine. While the learning curve may be steep and the thought of an electric knitting machine with a computer can be daunting, it's nothing compared to having to reset a bed of needles manually, row after row. Once you get that carriage going in a nice rhythm, you don't like to stop for a tedious, annoying job.