The Virtual Knitting Machine Museum is a collection put together over the last 25 years and includes photographs and information about most of the well known domestic machines plus a few seriously unusual ones. From around the 1950's, machines were bought, tried and then discarded by either storing under the bed or in the attic or if they were lucky sold.
Eventually they appeared in great numbers on local tips and skips. Latterly as machines were no longer being produced by the main manufactures except Silver Reed – there were more and more being sold as either spares or repair or by someone's relative who knew nothing about what he or she was selling and usually they sold incomplete machines with various important parts missing.
F200 Patterning System
The Domestic Knitting Machine
With the advent of electronics, knitting machines, perhaps coupled with Designaknit and other software, began to appeal to a wider market - making it easier to produce individually designed knitwear, We began to appreciate fitting, and shape, this coupled with a great choice of quality yarns and easier patterning methods, helped even the less skilled come up with an individual knit.
In contrast, take a look at the early books produced by Knitmaster, in those days, the patterns were very sophisticated and knitted on the most basic machines. Beautiful coat, suit and dress patterns were printed, and they were all fitted - remember in the 50's and 60's there was not such a wide choice of yarns and even these were very expensive. I take my hat off to these early designers, it must have taken the patience of a saint to knit that stuff on such basic machines.
Singer Patterning System
and what happened next?
After an initial flourish, manufacturers began to produce from about the 1960's onward, better and easier to use domestic machines that were inexpensive. As the domestic machine became more and more sophisticated and demand increased, the yarn also became cheaper. Good news perhaps?
Not quite, in the 1990's knitting machines began to get seriously expensive, with more of what were standard attachments being sold as extras, sadly thus the demise began. Some terrible patterns were published for all to see, that highlighted what the machines could do but lacked shape and finesse, knitting machine magazines disappearing, yarn costs rising and cheap manufactured knitwear all helped to sound the death knell.