If you’ve been crocheting for a while or if you’re just developing an interest in yarn crafts, you may have wondered if crochet machines exist. We have sewing machines and looms to create other types of fabric projects, so it’s natural to wonder if there’s a machine to automate the crochet process.
Do crochet machines exist? Machines exist to create some stitches similar to crochet, but they do not create the same fabrics as the DIY crochet fabric you and I create. There are a few large industrial machines that claim to crochet, however, these are used in large scale textile factories and are not fit for the home user.
What is a crochet machine?
Many people search for commercial and hobby crochet machines in hopes that they can speed up the process of crocheting their favorite projects like sweaters and afghans. They’re searching for a machine that can input yarn and automatically turn that yarn into a crocheted fabric. Unfortunately, there are no widely available machines that can create these types of projects.
Instead, what’s available right now are large, factory-scale machines created for the textile industry. These machines have special needles and are more similar to a sewing machine than they are crochet. The fabric these machines create is also different in that it’s not a single, double, or half-double crochet stitch like you would make with a crochet hook. It’s instead made to look like crochet fabric and to have the qualities of crochet fabric (sturdy, proper drape, etc.)
Why don’t crochet machines exist?
If you consider the process of crochet, the critical component to creating each chain or stitch is knowing where to insert the hook into the previous stitch to draw it through. In some respects, there’s an infinite number of combinations of crochet stitches because each stitch has a different way of drawing into the fabric and creating the next loop (front to back, vs. back to front; both strands vs crocheting only in the front or back strand; crocheting around the post, etc.) At this time, it’s not possible for a machine to do what our brains do, and that manually determines where and how to place the hook back into the fabric to create the next stitch.
It’s possible that we’ll someday have the technology and computing power to create crochet fabrics. The development of 3D printing technology may also allow us to ‘print’ fabrics in the style of crochet. However, for now, we’ll have to settle for alternatives like knitting and embroidery machines.
Using Knitting and Embroidery Machines for Crochet
While home crochet machines don’t yet exist, there are some options for using knitting or embroidery machines for some projects to create crochet-like stitches. Embroidery sewing machines use embroidery techniques to create projects that look similar to crochet fabrics, although they’re not exactly the same hook-and-loop fabrics as you create by hand. Knitting machines can also be used to create crochet-like fabrics.
What is a knitting machine?
Knitting machines are much more popular with home and hobby users. Commercial knitting machines create a plethora of different knitted fabrics that we see in all the store-bought garments we purchase. Home knitting machines are similar in that they create knit and crochet-like fabrics for a wide variety of projects.
Knitting machines work by automating all or part of the knitting process. They can produce a variety of different knitted fabrics, mostly dependent upon the size of the yarn used. Specialty machines like automatic patterning machines can also create custom patterns like Fair Isle, ribbing, or cabled fabrics.
What types of crochet-like projects can you make with a knitting or embroidery machine?
The most common type of stitches made on knitting or embroidery machines are lace or stitches with large mesh-like holes. These are actually knit (using knit stitches on the knitting machine) and not crochet. You can also use a knitting machine to create a rib-like texture to create a similar effect as double crochet. This can be helpful for edges and borders to machine knit projects.
Embroidery machines can be used to create other types of crochet-like stitches. By setting your embroidery machine correctly, you can add crochet effects like shell-stitch borders to your projects. You can also use embroidery machines to create patterns that resemble things like granny squares and Tunisian lace projects. These stitches are called free-standing lace embroidery. They are great for delicate projects like ornaments, doilies, and appliqué.
Again, what’s important to note is that neither knitting or embroidery machines will produce a true crocheted fabric. Both machines create items that look similar to crochet but are not technically made using crochet techniques.
How do I know if my knitting or embroidery machine can make crochet stitches?
Not all knitting and embroidery machines can create crochet-like stitches. You’ll want to carefully read the manual for your individual machine, or consult the manufacturer’s website. Some machines will have special stitch software to help you determine and design the stitch effects that most closely match crochet stitches.
Are machine projects faster than hand crochet?
Not necessarily. Although the projects talked about above use a machine to replicate crochet-like fabrics, oftentimes they are just as time-intensive as traditional crochet with a hook. These specialty projects that create lace and delicate embroidery stitches to replicate crochet can require just as much skill and attention as hand crochet.
If you’re not skilled in using a specialized embroidery machine, you may need more training and more practice to get the hang of it than if you just used a traditional hook to create the project by hand. It’s up to you to know your own skill level before you invest the time and money into automating your crochet process.
One Final Note About Crochet Machines
While it may be some time before we have the option to automate crochet in the same way we can with knitting stitches, it may not be a bad thing to have to crochet by hand. The fact that the craft can only be done with a unique, personal touch is one of the things to cherish most about the craft. Share that fact with the people you make crochet projects with and for. Unlike other DIY projects where you can just go to the store and buy a mass-made one anyway, crochet is different. There’s no other way to create crochet than by hand.
Can you make amigurumi projects using a knitting machine?
In recent years amigurumi—or the popular craft of making small, stuffed animals and characters—has brought new life to crochet. A simple online search will find options for thousands of crochet patterns for amigurumi characters, and some machines to automate the process of making amigurumi. These machines use a crank mechanism to turn yarn into fabric. What’s key to note is that these machines actually create knit stitches, not crochet. The resulting fabric will be more delicate than hand-crocheted amigurumi, but in the end, can be used to create some amigurumi projects.
For those experienced in the techniques of crocheting amigurumi, you’re not likely to find much benefit for these knitting machines. You’ll be limited to a smaller scope of projects. You’ll also have far fewer options to change colors and yarns in the design process.
What is the fastest crochet stitch?
If you searched for crochet machines, chances are you were looking for ways to make your crochet faster and more efficient. Completing projects is the best part of any yarn craft, so learning ways to help you finish projects faster is important. One way to speed up your crochet is to use the fastest crochet stitch.
The fastest crochet stitch is generally thought to be the one you’ve practiced the most. After several minutes of repeating the same stitch, your brain commits movements to “motor memory,” allowing you to crochet faster. The easier the crochet stitch, the easier it will be to commit to motor memory.
Then consider the height of the stitch. Some crochet stitches are taller than others. Taller stitches will add more length to your finished project faster than a shorter, or textured stitch might (popcorn, bobbles, etc.)
Among experienced crocheters, the fastest stitches thought to be the double crochet stitch and the half double crochet stitch. When crocheted using all different types of yarn, these two stitches are both tall and easy to crochet.
What crochet projects are the fastest to make?
Similar to using the fastest crochet stitch for a project, selecting a pattern with easy stitches and fewer steps will make the project faster to create. So will selecting yarns that “work up” quickly into a finished project.
While the type of stitch is most important, choosing a project that uses thicker yarn will generally be faster than projects with delicate yarns or crochet threads. Beginners may want to start with bulky or super-weight yarns. At a minimum, read the label and choose at least the thickness of “worsted weight” yarn to learn.