Beginner machine knitting – swatch it!

Hi there:) I want to start with a thank you to Raphaëlle who blogs over at Deux Sourcieaux, who has nominated me for the blog hop that you’ve probably seen popping up in your blog feed the last while.   Raphaëlle’s blog has a lovely mix of sewing,  some machine knitting and spinning ( one of the few textile pursuits I have never learned!) Her blog is a lovely source of inspiring kids clothes makes.  So I will be posting my answers this coming Monday and passing on the nomination then, so do stop by again if you can !

Any other Machine knitters out there? I am slowly teaching myself to Machine Knit using a Knitmaster standard guage machine and I thought I would share some of the things I’m learning along the way.


Swatches - varying in tension

The most important thing I’ve learned is that swatches are an absolute must!  Unlike handknitting it isn’t possible to judge as you knit.  This is because in machine knitting, the fabric is stretched across the needle bed and changes shape dramatically when it’s removed.

Below are some swatches that I made up after I purchased some new cone yarn from Yeoman Yarns in the UK. I bought some Cashmilon 4ply and Panama 4ply ( I used the Panama to knit my slouchy cardigan).

The contrasting dots of yarn are used to mark the stitch width and the contrasting stripes are marking the row count.


panama swatches


I knit them in a continuous strip to save on casting on and casting off.  I used a different tension for each section.


long swatches


I then cut them apart and overlocked the top and bottom to stop them coming undone.


cashmillon close up

Overlocking visible on the top edge



After washing and blocking them to dry, I was able to measure them.  A handy tip I learned from one of Diana O’Sullivan’s videos was to make little holes in the swatch that correspond to the tension used  ( this one was knit at tension 5 )


tension holes

Number of holes is the tension number used


I now store these swatches together in a binder with all the relevant measurements on them – it will maker it easier to plan future projects.  Especially if i want to avoid any further cardboard -like jumpers 🙂

And to finish here are just two of the links I have found useful for Beginning to Machine Knit:


If anyone has more machine knit resources to share please do add them in comments . 🙂 Chris

6 thoughts on “Beginner machine knitting – swatch it!

  1. I have an old Knitmaster machine that I am just learning to use too – so I’m really pleased to find your blog! I swatched today for my very first MK jumper – in Yeoman Tibet. I might try the Slouchy cardigan too.

  2. Can’t believe I have found another machine knitter, its a very small community. I have a few machines, as you do and have been knitting for 15 years, but just recently set up a little studio. Following with interest.

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