Machine Knitting

Machine Knitting Manufacture

Machine knitting was invented to replace Hand knitting and make knitted garments easier to produce for the mass market. The knitting machine was invented by William Lee in 1589. Machine knitting creates weft knitting which means the wales in the fabric run horizontally. Because the same side of the fabric is being worked on, only the stockinette stitch is required rather than the pattern of one row stockinette stitch and one row purl stitch, as is required in hand knitting.

The introduction of machine knitting meant that the ability to sew hosiery was possible. As the Knitting machine was developed, new techniques were also invented. The introduction of the punch card meant that new and interesting patterns could be made, much more easily than knitting by hand. Different coloured yarns could be used and with the invention of the rib machine and the circular knitting machine, more advances in clothing continued.

Before the Outbreak of WWI, women worked the Knitting machines in the knitting factories. For a brief period, Hand Knitting came back in to fashion. This was mainly because people on the home front liked to feel that they were helping by recycling their old garments into new socks and gloves and balaclavas, but also because the wool and nylon trades had ceased and all the materials were going into the war effort.

Once both the World Wars finished and the production lines reached some sort of normality, Machine knitting once again became the predominant way of manufacturing knitted garments. Hand knitting became a hobby again and anything mass produced was knitted on a knitting machine.

Properties of Machine Knitting

  • Able to produce finer, more delicate fabrics
  • Quicker to produce
  • Less mistakes made
  • Variety of patterns and weights can be achieved
  • Different yarns can be used
  • Warm to wear
  • Comfortable
  • Fit well
  • Lightweight
  • Easier to make into garment shapes

End Uses of Machine Knitting

  • Underwear
  • Hosiery
  • Jumpers
  • Knitwear
  • T-shirts
  • Blankets

Can you help us improve this page? Send us your contribution on, we will update this page and give you proper attribution!

Avatar photo

Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *