Posted in Knitting
June 1, 2006

Product review: Addi Express knitting machine

I’d almost given up. Almost. Futile attempts to score a 1970s Barbie knitting machine on eBay — rumor had it the older machines were better made than the current crop of plastic versions — had me annoyed. And I was craving some Ana Voog-style tubes to play with, but didn’t have the time to knit them by hand.

Then I saw the Addi Express knitting machine at January TNNA (made by Skacel, the same people who bring you the fabulous Addi Turbo needles). I had to test it out.

Although I had a brief demo in their booth, I hadn’t set one up from scratch, so I was pleased to find a detailed instructional booklet in the box. However, my bilingualism definitely came in handy, as the German instructions are better than the English! You shouldn’t have any problems, though, the directions don’t reach Japanese-VCR-manual instructions by a long shot, and the quality of the product makes it all worthwhile.

(Partner in wool crime) Heather and I cranked out an entire skein of Lion Fisherman’s Wool — a full 465 yards — then dyed the tube in a progression of colors. We unraveled it, and pow! variegated yarn. Not the least labor-intensive method in the world, but something we’d been wanting to try.

Although the cranking gets tedious if you do it too long, and it helps to have someone to chase after the yarn ball, the Addi Express is my new favorite tool, second only to my i-cord maker (oh! I love my i-cord maker, you have no idea how much), but much easier to use.

If you’re making sleeves for very small sweaters, this’ll cut hours off your knitting time. I don’t think you could do adult-sized tubular sleeves without dropping some stitches to add width, though. That’s something I still need to test. You can also go back and forth to make swatches (shop owners in particular will love how fast a sample swatch comes out). Afghan people? Have at it! Tubular scarves like the one in AlterKnits? You could make one in less than an hour.

Highly recommended for adults and children alike — give the Addi Express a try!

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  • CrochetmeMom

    Hi, Shannon:
    Thanks so much for checking out my new blog! I’m looking forward to meeting you!

    Reply to CrochetmeMom
  • Sheepish Annie

    How funny that you mention the “Barbie Knitting Machine!” My brother and I were recently reminiscing about the one I had as a child. It was miles of knitted tubes and hours of fun all rolled into one. May need to get the Addi…

    Reply to Sheepish Annie
  • Mellow

    Hi Shannon
    Thanks for your review of Addi Express.
    Knowing little about knitting, I am curious about the size of tubes possible with this machine…
    For example, how would you go about making tubes for children’s socks as opposed to adult socks? Is there a mechanical adjustment or is the “threading” set up differently…?
    Given its retail price, and that it appears to have lots of plastic in its construction, do you feel that it is indeed well constructed?

    Reply to Mellow
  • Barb in NC

    I love the idea of a reliable tube knitter. I have a collecton of tube knitters from the Mattel’s, Barbies, Sew Easy and even a real sock knitting machine

    The pics suggest a better yarn carrier with some sort of yarn mast(?) as the yarn appears to be feeding from the top. Is this so?

    Can you take the needles out of work or have a way to put them on hold (not knitting) to do some short rowing as in socks heels/toes???

    I can’t find one to demo anywhere and since I live in SE, am not in area that has fiber fairs. LYS shun knitting devices so seeing one of these is difficult for me. Given the price tag, I was so glad to see your review…thnaks


    Reply to Barb in NC
  • Vickie Taylor

    Hi, Shannon. I know absolutely NOTHING about knitting, or knitting machines for that matter and need help. The Addi machine looks interesting, but for the price, so does the one at http://www.marymaxim.com which is about $100 cheaper. Would I be better off buying a cheaper model to learn on and then buying the real thing when I actually learn how to use one? Thanks.

    Reply to Vickie Taylor
  • Linda in VA

    Shannon have you tried knitting a flat panel yet? How do you avoid the dropped stitches at the end?

    Reply to Linda in VA
  • Post authorShannon

    I haven’t yet, Linda… I could give it a try when I have a sec!

    Reply to Shannon
  • Rebecca

    Hi! I just got the Addi Express and am trying to get started with it – I don’t know German and I didn’t get a hands on demo like you did so I am really struggling – I bought it online so I don’t have a LYS to handhold – any advice? If I called you would you be willing to talk me through it? The website I bought from hasn’t had experience using it yet – arrgh

    Reply to Rebecca
  • JoHanna

    Can you turn a heel with this little machine? The older metal machines could turn short row heels. Or are you limited to flat and tubes?

    Reply to JoHanna
  • Margaret

    To avoid having to chase after the ball of yarn, put it in a bowl.

    Reply to Margaret
  • Phyllis

    Hi Shannon,

    I am enquiring about the I-cord maker that you say you Love so much. Can you share what type you are using. I make felted handbags and I have a lot of I-cord to knit. Is this a sturdy hand turn machine?
    Also where did you purchase your I-cord machine?
    Thank You

    Reply to Phyllis
  • Lisa

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this, but I just got the Addi King Size machine. LOVE the IDEA of the machine but I can’t seem to make it more than four inches into a circular piece without dropping stitches. THEN, I screw up the whole thing trying to fix them. HELP? Suggestions?

    Reply to Lisa
  • Sara

    The addi-Express machine does not work well at all. I have read the instructions multiple times and even watched a video I found online and no matter what I do (including trying different yarn weights) the machine drops stitches. When I try to fix it, it gets worse and you can’t fix it. the only thing you can do is start over. I am really not happy with this purchase. I am a good hand knitter but was hoping to get some scarves done in time for the holiday’s.

    Reply to Sara
  • Post authorShannon

    The trick I’ve found, Sara, is that you just can’t worry about the first few inches of stitches, it takes a while for the machine to get its groove on, so to say. Then when you’re done, you tear out the first few rows til you’re at nice even stitches, and finish it off by hand.

    Reply to Shannon
  • Susan

    Is it possible to knit an adult sock on this machine? The antique sock machines are sooooo expensive and I have a huge stash.
    Best wishes

    Reply to Susan
  • Pam

    After using it for one evening and making two tubes fairly quickly, I found that the trick to using this machine (I have the express size) is watching the first row very carefully and pulling the front needle stitches back over the needle, as they do come off on the first round. After that, no problem whatsoever. The first row is difficult, however, and I was a little frustrated at first.

  • Patty

    Can an Addi express make adult socks?

    Reply to Patty
  • Julie

    Hi Shannon –
    Thanks for the review. Would this be a good machine to make doll hats on (specifically for the American Girl Dolls?)

    Reply to Julie
  • Kk

    I’m considering the Addi Express KING Knitting Machine. Can anyone tell me if it makes adult hats similar to the Knifty Knitter looms? How do you change colors for stripes, etc? Can you make them with 2 yarns for thicker, multi-color hats?

  • Noora Al-Abdulla

    I have the small & the king size Addi Knitting Machine the problem is during the delivery the handle of the king size was broken & I don’t know what to do it, as of now I can’t use the king size but the small ona is doing well. Is it possible to order the handle & show me how to replace it. Thank you.

    Reply to Noora Al-Abdulla
  • Carolyn

    @Kk: Most knitting machines use 1 strand of yarn whereas the Knifty Knitter looms can take 2 strands. I use the green loom and two strands of worsted to turn out a perfect hat w/finished hem in about 2 hrs. Pattern: 21 rows of knitting, turn 1st row to the inside and hook it back onto the pegs so that each peg has a stitch (careful to put the stitches back exactly straight on the pegs where they originally came from or you will have a spiral), continue to knit over this row and on for 21 more rows (add in different colors, heck you can even do Intarsia – designs knitted in as you go) and you have a hat when you do the gathering style bind off. The hem or “ribbing” is already made, all you have to do is secure the top. The hat will be sturdy and will stretch over most heads. Much better than the flimsy ones the machines make. However, making a scarf or any larger goods on a Knifty Knitter loom takes FOREVER.
    I just bought an nsi innovations machine – big mistake, it won’t allow you to change colors or add in a new skein because it wants to drop stitches every time you try to work the knot through. No matter what you do as you feed the knot into the machine by hand (it will NOT go through the thread guide) the machine will act up and either drop or skip stitches and leave long lengths of yarn unused while it takes the remaining stitch it DIDN’T drop and puckers the fabric as it works this stitch in later. . . .grrr.
    Yes, I know you can “pick-up” the dropped stitches with a crochet hook but that is ONLY if you catch the problem in time. Once it’s gone too far or caught up another stitch in the mess, all you can do is rip it ALL out and start over. I’ve already had that experience by having only 22 rows (about 1 minute to go) on the machine and noticing that it had skipped about 5 rows on 2 needles. Took the work off of the machine and ripped out down to the problem, fixed it and RE-HUNG the work back ON the machine and tried to get it to knit again. No go, the machine wasn’t going to take the stitches, even when I tried working the first few, manually, over the needles. The whole scarf, added in colors and all is now wound back up in a big ball.
    The machine is still in one piece but I doubt that it will be used for anything unless I can get huge skeins that have no knots from the factory (no guarantee there) and simply do solid color items – no adding in any alternate colors.
    This problem Shannon is saying that the Addi has with the first row is enough to swear me off of any more knitting machines. I expect a finished row at BOTH ends, or one I can easily finish by hand. I don’t want to have to UNRAVEL it and THEN hope I don’t drop stitches before I secure it ! Not only is that an added hassle it wastes yarn.
    I’ve used the portable straight bed machines and they do work but only with smaller size yarns. After you get going, the needles begin to get stuck in the yarn feeder or they “stick” open and the yarn falls off of them. Sorry, I just think a “machine” should be help not a hindrance; so far I’m not impressed. . . . .

    Reply to Carolyn
  • Post authorShannon

    Noora, I’m not the manufacturer, I’d suggest contacting them! Skacel distributes the machines in the US still, to my knowledge, and they have a website.

    Reply to Shannon
  • Lisa L.

    I have a innovations and it cranks like a dream. To change colors you take the yarnout of the feeder slot and simply put new color thru it and crank a couple of rows then knot the two stands. There is a video on you tube that shows you how. There is also a you tube video on dropped stitches . With alittle pratice you can repair them with ease. The instructions that come with the machine are wrong.

    Reply to Lisa L.
  • Lisa L.

    Im looking for used or broken innovations knitting machines if any one has one i can give contact info.

    Reply to Lisa L.
  • Dori

    I just bought my first addi express! Can’t wait to make baby hats. Anyone know if you can do a ribbed brim, instead of just letting it roll? Thanks

    Reply to Dori
  • Dori

    I just bought my first addi express! Can’t wait to make baby hats. Anyone know if you can do a ribbed brim, instead of just letting it roll? Thanks

    Reply to Dori
  • yvonne

    I am interesested in buying knitting machine to knit mainly socks for adults. Any suggestions to whgich machine is best suited for my needs and as to which machine has the fewest problems?????

    Reply to yvonne
  • M A

    I made the mistake of giving a handmade door snake (long tube, 3-6 in dia, lightly stuffed to put by the front door to cut down on drafts) to one of my cousins for Christmas and now EVERYone wants one, or two, or in the case of my mom “some smaller ones for the windowsils.” I saw one of the cheap toys in the store and was hoping against hope that I could cut down project time from a week of evenings to one or two each. But that thing will only work with very small yarns and knits so loosly that you would think it was supposed to be lace, esp with all the dropped stiches…
    How tight is the product from Addi? I saw you mention afgans so in theory it wouldn’t be so loose that it couldn’t work for warmth, but is it tight enough to stuff the end product without all the stuffing showing through white?

  • Lynn

    I’m curious as to what i-cord maker you use (and love!). Can you let us know? Thanks! 🙂

    Reply to Lynn

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