Top down pullover on circular knitting machine - is it possible?


I am wondering if it is possible to knit top down pullover/turtleneck on knitting machine? For example CO 60 stitches for neck and then increases for the sleeve area to ca 200 stitches, securing the sleeves and just continue down to waist. I guess one would have to somehow exchange the sizes of the drums?

I have seen tutorials on how to do it in panels, but I like the “in one piece” approach better, just dont know if it is feasible to use the power of the knitting machines for this.

Thank you for any answers and ideas.

Welcome to KH!
There are patterns on Ravelry (free to join) for top down sweaters on a knitting machine. You can do an Advanced Search (just under the Search box) and check machine knitting as well as your preferred yarn weight and the size sweater (baby, adult, etc.).
Maybe @Beth_Leatherman or @FluffyYarn can help with machine knitting?

I’m sorry, I don’t know. A quick Google search brought up a few ideas.

I don’t know what you mean by changing the size of the drums.

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I do a bit of basic machine knitting on a flat bed and circular machine but I don’t think you’d get a drum with enough needles for a sweater.
You can work a top down in the round sweater on a standard machine with a ribber ( i.e double bed) or on a flat bed if you introduce a seam at the shoulder.
Also it all depends on what yarn weight you want to use as each machine is limited to a specific range by the spacing of the needles.

If I want to speed up a sweater, I’ll do the yoke by hand then finish the body and sleeves on the machine and seam the sides and sleeves. That saves a lot of time although swatching is critical to match gauge!!!


Hello. I have quite a bit of experience on knitting machines. A top down sweater in circular knitting can be done provided

  1. You have a double bed machine. Standard gauge European machines have 180 needles per bed, at a 5mm pitch) Standard gauge Japanese machines have 200 (at a 4.5 mm pitch.)
  2. You have enough needles, front & back to accommodate the widest place in the pattern (usually right before you divide it for sleeves and such.). A small baby sweater would be easier than anything large.
  3. And this is probably the biggest limiting factor. You must have the ability to move multiple stitches at a time for shaping. The shaping is in 4 places inside the circumference of the garment. Sleeve stitches must be moved out & (usually 2 at a time) shaping stitches added at 4 spots as you go.

There are devices sold for this. Also if it is not too frequent in the pattern, people take the stitches off the machine needles onto a small gauge circular hand knitting needles and replace them. It is pretty tedious and kind of defeats the big advantage to knitting machines (speed).

However, if you wanted to do top down on individual pieces, that could be quite speedy. You could simply bring up needles for shaping on both the body pieces and the sleeves (cast on in a few places - no big deal) at the ends not having to transfer any stitches. This would be an ordinary shaping, not full fashion. But carefully joining could make it quite attractive.

I have a 60 stitch transfer tool that I have used (maybe twice) for complicated lace patterns. It is very tedious and almost guaranteed to be error prone. I have to be seriously IN LOVE with the pattern in order to fiddle with it.

So while yes it is technically possible, 99 out of 100 experienced machine knitters would simply knit the pieces separately. Much easier.


Thank you for all the replies, its been most helpful.

There is another thing bothering me in the back of my head, I dont really know the terminology of circular knitting machines so I am sorry for the lack of knowledge on my part. I am in natural sciences/engineering and knitting is just a hobby I have picked up when my kids were born.

What I gather is that circular knitting machines have static part with the needles where the stiches sit and then rotating piece that is lifting up the needles and passing the thread through the loops to form new stitches. Thus the pieces you can knit are always limited by the number of needles/stitches you have on your machine.

What I am wondering is whether someone though about having just e.g. 3 needles, where entering, knitting and exiting of stitch would happen (like in ribosomes :slight_smile: while the stitches would be held on magic loops. Thus you could essentially knit whatever you would like and the knitting part would be picking up the stitches from the loop.

I am not sure if this is possible to do, or prototype, it is just sitting in the back of my head, that this would be super useful and cool…


I can’t help but I love the reference to ribosomes, probably a first on the forum!
Perhaps @FluffyYarn can advise.

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I have to admit I can’t really visualise this idea but it sounds cool. I do love new, or even just unrelated concepts and ideas being applied to already popular crafts in ways that push the envelope and open up new possibilities.

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“Magic” would indeed be in play! :wink:What you are describing is like the three linked rings passing through each other to become unlinked.

But, I am still puzzles how sewing machines tangle the thread to make perfect stitches without the thread breaking or magically passing through the other thread without any gaps in either thread. :exploding_head:

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Whoa! You lost me about ribosomes. I had to look up what they even were.

We seem to be talking about different types of machines.

Here is a picture of what I’m talking about.
The “circular” part is when the yarn knits one way on 1 bed & the other way on the other, forming a circular tube.

Might you be speaking of one of these machines?

Or perhaps a sock knitting machine?
th (1)

I can only help with the full sized knitting machine, as in the first picture. (And a Bond). I’ve never used one of those circular machines. Sorry.


Comparing the above to ribosomes…

The codon is like a flexible circular needle to hold the stitches and the stitches are similar to the mRNA.

There must be a gap between the circular needles so the previous row stitch can pass onto the first hook and the middle hook can make a new sts loop through the old sts and the third hook can move the new sts to the right side needle point.

Now that I found the ribosomes image I can see a possible solution, but also some trouble spots.

  1. The cord length on circulars are fixed even with interchangeable needles.
  2. How do you move the stitches from left to right?
  3. How do the needles move to make the new stitch, inc, dec, slip, psso, etc.
  4. Cast on?
  5. Cast off?

@Jahabla, you do have an interesting vision there.


Yeah I agree it is a wishful thinking so far without any concrete concept in hand, I was just wondering what the state of knitting machines currently is and if something like this has been already developed. For me the static nature of circular knitting machines in the sense of how many needles you can use and the inherent limits that are imposed is just umm sad…:slight_smile:

I did more research now and found several industrial 3D knitting machines that are able to knit sweaters in one go, using two beds of needles that are able to move the stitches around, I guess that is the current state of the art of the knitting technology, but that is not for home knitters - expensive and hard to operate/handle.

I have also found this awesome presentation about the knitting machines principles and what they can do, check it out.

Still it is sitting at the back of my head and I cant let the idea go, thank you all for the ideas so far.


How about knitting crossover with computer open-source development?

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