1) Is it really as easy as the ads say? I'm a pretty competent crafter (crochet, sew, knit a little, and lots and lots of other crafts) but the terms I see about knitting on a machine don't make sense to me. Will they when I get a machine and watch the video that comes with it?
No, it isn't as easy as they say - it'll take time and patience to learn how to use it. Bond in particular is really bad about making it seem like you'll have a completed sweater 10 minutes after taking the machine out of the box the first time. Very unlikely! Even if you pick things up quickly, there are a lot of things to learn about using the machine properly.However
, if you follow the manual and get help from folks in your area and/or online, you'll be fine and it'll make sense. A decent manual will start from the bottom up and teach you all you need to know, and if it doesn't, there are plenty of folks around who can pitch in.
2) Which machine would you recommend to a newbie for making sweaters?
That depends on what you want the machine to be able to do. That can really be divided up into two considerations: 1) thicknesses of yarn you'll be using, and 2) machine capabilities. Take a look at this article on machines
and it'll explain some of their capabilities.Yarn thickness:
If you want to use mostly worsted weight yarns, you're probably going to want a mid-gauge (6.5-7 mm) or bulky-gauge (8-9 mm) machine. If you want to be able to use thinner yarns, from laceweight to sport, then you'll want a standard-gauge machine (4.5 mm).Machine capabilities:
The Bond machines (Incredible Sweater machine, etc.) can only do stockinette quickly. Everything else, including ribbing, has to be hand-manipulated while on the machine. In that case, knowing how to knit by hand would be an immense help. Other machines, such as the Japanese brands Brother, Silver Reed (aka Studio and Singer), and Toyota can do a lot without hand manipulation of stitches - stuff like ribbing, lace, and Fair Isle. Then there are Passap machines, which are Swiss, and the closest to industrial machines.
I would not recommend a Passap machine to a beginner because it's pretty complex, and to be quite honest, I wouldn't wish a Bond machine on my worst enemy. Granted, I know that there are some people with the patience of angels who can do amazing things with Bond machines (and I'm constantly in awe of them!
), but I know more people who had horrible experiences with Bond machines than any other kind of machine.
Unless you want to lay out a LOT of money for a new machine (we're talking $600+ here), I would suggest looking for a used high-quality machine.
3) Any other advice you can think of?
If possible, visit a local machine-knitting guild or dealer to see machines in action before you buy yours.