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The first thing many hand-knitters jokingly say about machine knitting is something to the tune of “Hey, isn’t that cheating?!” And after finishing a hat in half an hour and a full-length six-skein scarf in an evening, I can see what they mean. But like weaving, loom knitting, or spinning, machine knitting is a fiber art all its own.

Cheating, it is not. Once you see what a knitting machine is capable of, you may want to give it a try. I’ve been flying through my stash and no worsted weight yarn is safe.

Long Live the King

A couple of months ago, I acquired an Addi Express King Knitting Machine from a friend who wasn’t using it anymore.

It’s a circular machine that knits 46-stitch tubes, but it can knit flat panels as well. This particular best-selling machine is made in Germany and became hard to find during the pandemic due to several viral YouTube videos and lots of crafty people with extra time on their hands, so I jumped at the chance to own one.

My first thought was … will this be one of those gadgets that ends up sitting in a closet somewhere? To prevent that from happening, I started a project right away. And that’s when I became hooked. (Literally. This machine has lots of hooks.)

I quickly discovered that machine knitting is like hand-knitting’s louder, faster, extrovert cousin. Fast, fun, and a little bit rattly. Learning to knit on a machine is a journey and like anything else, you need to take it step by step.

Cast-on and Crank Out a Hat

The first big difference between hand-knitting and machine knitting is the cast on. There’s a fun weaving action to start things off, a back and forth motion that is pretty easy to get the hang of. I have owned two different vintage flatbed machines in the past and found this circular machine was much more user-friendly to set up.

After you cast on, you thread the yarn through the yarn guide and off you go, cranking away!

The first project hand-knitters typically make is a scarf, and the first project new circular machine knitters make is a hat.

A quick study of info on the internet reveals a pretty basic hat recipe that works on most machines: 120 to 140 rounds using worsted weight yarn will make a perfect cuffed beanie with double thickness. This is created by making a tube on your machine that’s twice as long as you’ll need. The length is difficult to eyeball because the stitches are stretched out until you take your project off the machine, so using the row counter on your machine is critical.

You cast on, you crank … and if you’re lucky your yarn will work perfectly and smoothly and out comes a tube that you can fold into itself to make a hat!

I think it really helps to have a hand-knitting background before trying to use a knitting machine; understanding how stitches look and work is definitely helpful here. If you know how to do a three-needle bind-off and pick up live stitches, you already know how to transform machine-knitted pieces into a finished project.

Sounds simple enough, huh? Almost too good to be true? This is where any machine knitter will laugh, maybe with a few tears in their eyes because there’s definitely a bit of a learning curve. Machine knitting does require technique and skill, the same as knitting by hand does. It’s fiddly.

It can be aggravating. You need to hand-crank; nothing is automatic. Your yarn may not like your machine, and vice-versa. It may be too thick, too thin, or it may not have a tight enough twist. It may skip or stick, causing dropped stitches and anxiety. Rescuing a tucked stitch can be stressful if not traumatizing, and changing colors and keeping proper tension can be tricky.

But remember when you first learned to knit by hand? Anything worthwhile takes a bit of practice and patience. And it’s all worth it.

Destination: Scarf

After making a basic hat … which became many hats … I made Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Destination Scarf using six skeins of Lopi, which was a bit of a challenge because Lopi is a sticky, fuzzy yarn. But I was determined, and with the right tension it cranked out beautifully.

Then I made a hybrid half hand-knit, half machine-knit cowl and hat set using Clinton Hill Cashmere, which was a fun experiment. (Cashmere … in a knitting machine? Living on the edge.)

And my most recent project was something I’ve wanted to make since my very first hand-knitting days—an iconic handknit pattern by Jared Flood, the Noro Striped Scarf (Ravelry link).

All these years later, I discovered a bag of Kureyon in my stash, meant for this exact scarf and decided it was time to make one. I adapted the handknit pattern for the knitting machine and out came beautiful stripes made by switching skeins of Noro every two rows, which was thrilling and also a bit frightening.

It’s a whole new world.

As with any hand-knitting project I’ve taken on over the years, I have learned something new with each machine project I’ve made.

There are lots of pros to machine knitting. It can be a lifesaver for people with hand or wrist pain. It’s a fantastic time-saver if you knit lots of hats or scarves for charity. Machine knitting is great for swatches, panels or squares for patchwork. If you set a stopwatch as you machine-knit your first project, you will be in awe of what you have accomplished. I have had tons of fun cranking out hats for friends, family and for charity.

Of course, there are some minor drawbacks, too. You can’t knit a 100-stitch cowl on a machine with only 46 hooks, so there are some circumference limitations.

But with patience and practice, you can make a sweater on this Addi machine. A sweater!

I’ve gone down several knitting machine rabbit holes, joined all the groups and hope to find a sock cranking machine someday.

I will always and forever knit by hand. You can’t replace the love I have in my heart for that quiet, repetitive, meditative process. But I have really enjoyed adding machine knitting to my skillset. Learning a new thing is never a bad thing. (Half-hour hats and six-skein scarves in an evening aren’t a bad thing, either.)

Check out Jen’s YouTube videos at Jen Geigley Knits to follow along with her knitting machine adventures.

MDK receives a commission on items purchased through links in this article.

About The Author

Jen Geigley is many things: knitter, author, knitwear pattern designer, graphic designer, and knitting instructor. There is a modern sensibility and a ton of love in everything she makes.

You can see Jen’s work in many publications, and most exquisitely in the six pattern collections she created herself, from start to finish: WeekendEveryday, Visions, Visions Kids, Luna, and Chroma. Originally trained in the arts, Jen creates her own patterns, illustrations, schematics, and graphic design for these collections. She also designs for Quail Studio and for Rowan Yarns.

Jen’s designs for MDK Atlas yarn are stunning examples of her sense for graphic design and color combinations. You can find them here.


  • I am SO HAPPY to know I can now openly express my love for my Addi Express King machine! Thanks, Jen! I still hand knit a lot (Addi doesn’t work too well in the car!) but I do enjoy the option. The Noro scarf is gorgeous and I just might have to give it a try.

    • Loud and proud! Definitely give the Noro stripes a try … Freia would be fun too!

      • Need the Noro colorways and I know you said 6 skein but what is the lenight for 6
        Wool? Or what is the name of i?

      • I want to your machine

        • Can you make a dress with it or jumper

  • Ohh, VERY nice hats!

    • Just found this. Got a machine for my birthday. Starting to play and I love it. Will be catching more of your videos.

      • Knitting on a flat bed machine gives you so many more creative capabilities. The circular machine seems like a toy!

        • The flat beds takes up 3-4x the space, are 3- numerous x more expensive, has a greater learning curve..I can go on.
          The Addi is the best circular knitting machine out there unless you buy industrial sock machines.
          You can make sweaters & blankets also on the flat panel setting on the Addi.
          There’s also 2 sizes of Addi’s: the King Size and the smaller one; which I love to use the smaller one for making dye tube blanks & preemie hats. I’ve also made stuffed animals using both sizes.

          There are toy versions, which do not work well, but an Addi is not a toy machine.

    • They are so fast and fun!

  • I hope you’ll be creating your own patterns, too!

    • Oooh, that is definitely possible. 😉

  • Cashmere on a knitting machine!?! Brave woman;) My former LYS owner got her hands on an old sock knitting machine and it could be a fiddely machine. But when it worked well, it cranked out tubes amazingly!

  • I think the only way I would ever be tempted to knit socks would be via a machine.

    Question: do you still get that tactile feel cranking rather than holding yarn and needles in hand?

    • I hold the yarn for tension but other than that, not much tactile feel. Different for sure!

      • I have a similar machine. Have done a few hats but have had a few dropped stitches. Can u help x

        • I have the less expensive version, and it seems the dropped stitches happen when the yarn fails to slip under the overhanging “bump”. I’d say it’s a tension issue, but I watch while I crank so I can be sure the yarn slips to where it belongs. Good luck!

        • It’s usually the lower quality machines test drop stitches. I rarely drop stitches on my Addi machines.

  • Wow! I have never seen a machine in action before. Very interesting!

    • I have an antique flatbed knitting machine that belonged to my late father in law. Reading Pa. Know of anyone who might be interested?

      • Do you still have it? I know it’s been awhile.

      • Flatbed machines are very popular! I have several and two sock machines . Visit UTube

      • Do you still have it
        413 213 6634

      • I wish you were a bit closer to me, I’d be all over that! Two hours drive is a bit much for me. Would you be willing to ship?

    • It’s meditative in a different way … 😉

  • Having done crochet most of my life I took the plunge and taught myself how to knit several years ago. 2 years ago I bought my first floor model knitting machine – a Brother KH940 (electronic), earlier this year I got a Brother KX350 (manual). I do a lot of fusion knitting with them, I let them handle the stockinette workload and I hand knit the more ‘interesting’ parts while I learn how to operate the machines better. They have SO many options! I’m never going back now!

    • A circular knitting machine is a someday-dream of mine! So is a loom, though. In a future where I have so much more time and space 🙂

    • That is so exciting! I have a vintage flatbed machine in my basement that needs parts/maintenance. I need to get it out and work on it!

    • What about a blanket? You could steek the tubes (or knit flat) and sew up a log cabin blanket!

  • I have a circular knitting machine and have knitted lots of hats on it BUT it is a steep learning curve! It is very easy to drop stitches and VERY VERY hard to pick them up! It is very picky about the yarn gauge and somewhere between DK and worsted is about right LOL! The cranking sound is unpleasant and there is no satisfaction like knitting on needles IMHO. i am amazed that Jen has managed to join yarns – I have tried and couldn’t make it work – the stitches kept dropping – and repeatedly trying made me frustrated to tears! I want to sell mine.

    • Is your machine the Addi? How many needle count is it? I’m looking to purchase one. Thanks a knitter in a small Idaho town. Becky R.

    • I feel you!!! It can be very frustrating (and picking up stitches is super difficult … not like hand-knitting whatsoever.) Trust me, I had tons and tons of fails. 😉

    • @Rachel where are you located? I might be interested in a used machine. DM me on Instagram @samoknits. Thanks!

  • CSMs (circular sock knitting machines) are their own thing too! I would wave you off (I own two myself and have been to conferences and “crank-ins”), but I think it may already be too late for you . . . lol.

    • I would looooove to crank socks … there’s a crank-in in my city each year and I’ve always been so envious. Must save $$s!

    • I would love one of those!! They’re expensive but so cool!

  • This article was so interesting! I had a flat bed knitting machine back in the late 90s and hated it. But I have been knitting for 52 years and have a lot of stash I’d like to use up. Is it possible to use thinner yarns on this machine?

    • I have a circular knitting machine and I think thinner yarns work better than say trying a chunky (size 5) yarn. But remember that the piece itself will be thinner and narrower. But they’re also doubled so it’s a nice lighter garment

    • Yes

  • Oh I so wanted this to work the way it did for you! But upon checking out the reviews online there were so many complaints about dropped stitches and parts not working as well as instructions only in German I decided it wasn’t worth the disappointment and the $35 fee to return it.

    • Do you what to ship and ship to the buyer
      How much would you what
      4132136634 Massachusetts

  • Could you knit a sleeve? I have been wondering about a circular knitting machine as a way to zoom past sleeve island. Is that a realistic dream?

    • Yes. You would need to watch the counter and do the decreases by hand. Probably easier to do a provisional cast on and finish the cuff by hand.

  • I will have to give this scarf a try as I had to have some Noro in my stash. My current favorite thing to make on my Addi is mitten for charity. I adapted an online pattern for the small Addi to work on the king size. There is a bit of mattress stitch but it goes pretty quickly and makes a nice mitten.

  • Loved your article Jen. I discovered my Addi knitting by chance last year during Covid. I have been an avid hand knitter all my life, but arthritic hands make it too painful now. I am over the moon with what I can make. Lots of hats for all ages friends and relatives and charity. Have just started making soft toys, ideal for cats, teddy bears, owls etc. So much fun. I do agree with you and other comments re frustration with dropped stitches, practice makes perfect and paying attention when casting on and off very important.

    • Monica they have “gloves” for our arthritic hands
      Haven’t bought them yet it out may help

  • Great video, you did a fantastic job, very informative and slow enough for beginners. Plus I appreciate those helpful hints that most people don’t tell you about…. thanks again!!

  • I used to have a Brother hand knitting machine, before the electronic ones came out, and had immense fun. I used it till I used it up. Now I hand knit with circular needles. Magic loop is great for socks. The one thing that I was faster by hand than machine is lace knitting. Your items in your photos are lovely. Keep on enjoying

  • Really nice to see an artistic use of an Addi using decent yarn. So many seem to use acrylics. Lovely stuff. Thanks

    • I just bought a second small addi but I am having problems with the stirches catching at the back of the needle…never had this happen before. Any clue what to do to fix this?

  • Hi, I am looking for a knitting machine. I am making hats and scarfs for the needy in my area, any help would be appreciated

  • I’ve been crocheting hats and scarves for the local cancer center but can’t keep up with the need. I’ve been looking at the machines but question can the size of hat be adjusted? Chemo patients usually need a smaller size. And if I make it for someone with hair can I make it large enough to fit a man?

  • Can you do a you tube video on the black and white cashmere set thanks

  • I will send you design can you be my teacher of knitting

  • Great, need a knitting machine

  • Where to buy this machine?

  • Where can I buy one of these knitting machines.

  • The add I express professional is supposed to do socks. I’ve just bought it, so I hope the description is correct

  • Pliz I need to know more and do the same in Kenya pliz advice

  • I have a brothers kx350 and a king knitting
    for sale

  • I would like to know more about the circular knitting machine to produce 160 gram comb cotton for t shirts please, if possible..

  • Try a real knitting machine next time. A Brother or Passap. Not this toy.

    • The Addi is NOT a toy. The much less expensive Sentros are somehow classified as toys (I disagree with that designation), but the Addi is about $400 and much more durable and well-made. Sentro 48 runs around $60. I currently have 2 Sentros but will be upgrading to the Addi. Perhaps eventually I will get a flat knitting machine, but circular machines are great.

  • Not a comment, more of a question. What’s the big difference between a knitting machine and round loom other than price?

  • You can also make a brim on your knitted hat on the king size addi machine, you knit about 40 rows then you pick up the end and put one stitch on the knitting machine and as you go around you will have a brim on the hat , instead of making the hat double in length!!

  • It is actually a great and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • I purchased an Addi Kingsize a about 2 weeks ago, and at first it working perfectly (besides the pickiness with the yarn). However, very quickly the gears started to grind and skip, and then it started dropping and skipping stitches.

    To say I’m disappointed is an understatement! For such an expensive machine, you’d think the build quality would be better.

    I am currently battling with the store I brought it from to return it, and they are being difficult about it, and blaming me for not using the right yarn or tension.

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