Most Common Knitting Machine Problems

When enquiring about knitting machines you will often hear of two main types (although there’s many more.) These are circular knitting machines and flatbed knitting machines. Circular knitting machines are usually designed for home use and usually as toys for kids to play with, although some adults actually use this type of knitting machine to earn a living and make unique designs as well. Flatbed knitting machines are more rigid and strong, usually made up of a metal frame and most of the time very expensive because of its many intricate parts and metal build. Circular knitting machines are usually made of plastic. Knitting machines make various types of clothing using thread, which is made of wool and quite thick (as opposed to say thread you’d use on a sewing machine.) Knitting machines solve the problems concerned with hand knitting like saving time (they are twenty times faster), but they do bring forth problems of their own.

Table of Contents

Circular Knitting Machine Problems

Tension Control

Because circular knitting machines are usually always toys for kids, they do not have the complex types of mechanisms that industrial (usually flatbed) knitting machines for instance will readily have. Tension control is very important on a machine that threads because it controls the stitch size and tension (force applied) of your yarn or wool. Tension either makes the yarn on the knitting machine strong or loose, it can drastically impact the quality of your knit.

To Do

  • Fortunately you can still toggle this issue, but you would need to use your bare hands to do it.
  • You would have to experiment with many balls of yarn or wool until you find one that works best with your circular sewing machine.

Limited Functionality

You would have to expect that there is a point to which something cannot go past or exceed. For circular knitting machines this is a very serious problem because the amount or number of stitches the knitting machine will and can knit is based on how wide or large its circumference is. This is related to now many needles the knitting machine will hold around it since it is circular.

To Do

  • The larger the circumference, the more the stitches the circular knitting machine will accommodate. So this is worth careful consideration.
  • The wider or larger the circumference, the larger your projects will be as well. This is also worth considering.
  • You cannot change the size of the circular knitting machine, neither can you adjust any parts. All you can do is to thread the knitting machine with a ball of yarn and crank the lever and the knitting machine will knit.

Bad Digital Counters

The corners on circular knitting machines are digital, but that’s not to say they’re accurate or advanced. They are at best unreliable and most of the time they give false readings. This is due to the fact that they’re part of a cheap plastic toy and so do not require all those fancy accurate sensors some machines have.

To Do

  • This is a reality for most circular knitting machines, so it would help to keep count independently of the digital counter.

Flatbed Knitting Machines

Yarn Jams The Knitting Machine

Flatbed knitting machines are the more premium, more adult type of knitting machine. Instead of having a circular or round shape for the needle’s housing, they have a straight long one, this allows for more room for the knitting needles. The problem here is that sometimes when the wool or yarn is too bulky or too thick and of low quality, it will cause the knitting needles to jam up together.

To Do

  • Therefore it is important to pick up yarn that is of a top quality. That is strong enough to handle the tension of flatbed knitting machines (which is adjustable as compared to circular sewing machines.)
  • It is also important to oil the flatbed knitting machine regularly so that the needles move as smoothly as possible.

Carriage Can Be Hard To Move

This problem is also related to the one above whereby the yarn or wool can jam the knitting machine. However with this problem, the mechanism (Carriage) used to move the needles of the knitting machine such that they produce knitted stitches will be the one at fault, most commonly due to a lack of lubrication or because some of the needles will have been bent or even worse damaged.

To Do

  • It is advised to oil the knitting machine on the sides of the path of the carriage (beneath it.) Such that it moves easily.
  • If a needle is bent or damaged it immediately needs replacing otherwise it will cause more damage along the sequence of the other needles. Always refer to your knitting machine’s user manual on how to do this correctly.

Can Be Hard To Set Up

There are a lot of dials and buttons on a flatbed knitting machine that may be hard to understand for some users, and even a little harder for professional knitters to remember because there’s so many numbers you need to remember in order to set them on the knitting machine and knit acceptable products.

To Do

  • These knitting machines come with instruction manuals with very useful information on how to set these knitting machines up. Because this is a real problem with flatbed knitting machines.
  • You can also find numerous other resources online with resources that better suit the knitting project you would like to embark on.


Knitting machines have helped shorten the time it takes to produce a beautiful knit, and although most people still prefer a good hand knit. It’s safe to say knitting machines have changed the lives of people for the better. You can witness your knitting projects come to life in a matter of minutes (provided your specifications are correct.) And to me that is progress. However depending on the type of project you would like to knit, the knitting machine has limitations whether it is circular or flatbed. With the former being the most limited.