There is a question that comes up in crafting circles from time to time: Is there such a thing as a crochet machine?
The answer is that although crochet machines exist, no machine can truly replicate crochet as you and I know it.
Crochet is three-dimensional, the stitches have many layers, and there is a lot of dexterity required in the crochet process. So far, no machine can imitate that.
What Are Crochet Machines?
Crochet machines do exist. The most well-known example is the crochet machines that are crafted by COMEZ, a manufacturer that also produces other types of needlework machines such as weaving needle looms.
These machines are produced on a large scale for the textile industry. I first learned about these machines when Textile World announced that the founder of the company had passed away at the age of 86.
The crochet machines created by COMEZ are also known as “warp knitting machines.” They have multiple needles that each correspond to a specific thread and they work together to create a crochet-like fabric that is said to be highly “drape-able.”
However, as anyone who crochets knows, there are no needles in crochet work (except for the ones used to weave in ends!) and therefore this really isn’t anything like a true handmade crochet creation.
To date, there are no machines that can replicate the type of crochet that we do by hand. This makes crochet unique.
Why Can’t Machines Crochet?
Crochet is created by a single hook and yard strand. The hook is reinserted into the piece to make each new stitch.
You can choose to make your next stitch in the front loop, the back loop, or even the post. You can skip stitches or put multiple stitches in the same loop. All of these variations, plus many different stitches, allow crochet creators to create beautiful pieces.
A machine hasn’t yet been created with the dexterity to insert the hook into the loops of the crochet fabric and manipulate the yarn to create a stitch.
Since knitting can be more easily imitated by a machine, manufacturers tend to use knit fabrics instead. Advances in technology may make a crochet machine possible someday, but we aren’t sure whether or not clothing manufacturers would find it profitable enough to try.
Can Crochet Items Be Mass-Produced for Stores?
There are knitting machines that can knit items on a large scale to be sold in stores. The same is not true of crochet.
If you see real crocheted fabric or crochet clothing in a store then you should know that this handmade item wasn’t made by a machine- it was made by someone somewhere in the world.
Some crochet pieces sold in stores aren’t crocheted- they’re made of a machine-produced lace that looks like crochet at first glance.
Some crafters may not prefer this, but others may feel comfortable knowing that no one was exploited to make the garment possible.
Can Crochet Granny Squares Be Made With a Machine?
Target was recently slammed by social media for a cute crochet sweater made of granny squares, a type of crocheted square often pieced together for blankets or other projects.
Granny squares can’t be made by a machine. The low cost of this sweater led many people to conclude that the people who made it were paid an unethically low wage, far below minimum wage.
Consider the price of crochet items when you see them for sale. Before you buy, we ask that you really give some thought to whether or not this is real crochet, and if so, whether or not the crafter was paid fairly.
How Do Knitting Machines Work?
A flatbed knitting machine has a row of many needles that resemble latch hooks. Yarn is placed over the base of the needle, and as a carriage box or cam box is moved across the bed of needles, they move in and out to create each stitch.
Circular knitting machines, like the popular Addi Express, operate in a similar fashion. Yarn is wound around many hooked needles, which move up and down when the machine is cranked. This creates the stitches.
Do You Need To Know How To Knit To Use a Knitting Machine?
While it isn’t strictly required, knitting knowledge will be helpful when using a knitting machine.
You will still have to do all of the finishing and any increasing and decreasing that is required for your project- the machine won’t do that for you. If you don’t knit, you’ll need to learn and understand these elements of knitting to be able to use your machine effectively.
There are many types of knitting machine, and even if you’re an experienced hand-knitter, you’ll have to get used to how your machine operates.
Which Is Better- Knitting With a Machine, or By Hand?
Machine knitting and hand knitting both have advantages.
Machine knitting is fast and efficient. It can also be beneficial for people whose hands are prone to pain or fatigue.
However, the methodical process of hand-knitting can be meditative and calming for many people. Hand-knitting also allows for more flexibility: use any stitch, change whenever you’d like, and make the garment as wide as you want.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing either approach or a mix of both.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Crochet With a Sewing Machine?
No, you can’t truly crochet with a sewing machine or any other machine. However, a sewing machine with an overcast stitch can produce faux-crochet textures. We’ve attached a tutorial below in case you’d like to give it a try.
Is It Faster To Use a Machine Than Hand Crochet?
Machine projects are faster than hand crochet, but you can’t truly replicate crochet with a machine. You can use a so-called crochet machine to produce items more quickly, but it will be faux-crochet.
What Crochet Projects Are Fastest To Make?
If you’re looking for a crochet machine, perhaps the reason is that you want to complete a crochet project more quickly.
Here are some free crochet patterns for quick projects you can work up with a large crochet hook.
What Is the Fastest Crochet Stitch?
Due to its height and relative simplicity, the double crochet stitch is typically regarded as the fastest crochet stitch.
The treble crochet stitch, which requires more steps but is taller, can also work up quite fast.
15 thoughts on “Do Crochet Machines Exist? Why Crochet Is Strictly Handmade”
Very interesting, thank you.
Kathryn, you are so informed on the world of crochet; do you have any information on the crocheted items that are mass produced and sold so cheaply? I have known that there is no machine that can make crocheted lace, so someone somewhere is making it. I have heard rumors that it was made by political prisoners who were not physically able to do harder manual work, and also that that it was made by poor women in third world countries who are paid a pitance for hours (or days) of work.
I would love to know the truth about where these items come from.
@Ann – this is a really important topic and it’s really complex … basically there are some folks who do pay a fair wage (fair for the country, offering some level of independence to the workers) to people doing crochet work in third world countries. There are probably also a lot of companies that don’t offer a fair wage and really exploit workers in other places. It’s a topic that I’m really interested in researching more completely but to date I don’t have a lot of information on who the good and bad companies are.
I live in Bulgaria, which is not in the Third World, but in Europe… And sill women, who sew or crochet get dimes for their work. The salary, which such a person gets is around 150-160 Euro or about 200 US dollars. Some women are not paid on hourly basis, but depending on the number of hats/scarfs/sweaters/etc. they make for a month. For example, for crocheting a swimming suit of two parts, you could get 8 euro or 10 dollars, which is actually considered almost a fair price.
Also the terms crochet and knitting are often interchanged in other countries outside the US. And what we use as the “chain stitch” is not universal to crochet alone. There is something new on the market that attempts to replicate a granny square look by a method of weaving and wrapping. From a distance, it really does look like crochet, but up close, you see it’s actually like embroidery without the fabric behind it.
To Ann’s question, children and the elderly are a large group of producers and these items come from a variety of foreign businesses from around the world. No one country is solely responsible nor one company. In some places, these “companies” are not we think of in the western world too. Some cultures will argue it is their tradition for children to help families earn a living. However, an issue there is the cartilage damage done to children via repetitive motion injuries to developing bodies. Crochet is present on every continent in the world. By law in the US, all clothing items must be labeled with their country of manufacture, so it is definitely possible to follow-up more specifically on an item that way.
@AberrantCrochet – Thanks so much for the additional info that you’ve added to enhance this post!
This is very interesting! I’ve always wondered about this. And it’s nice to know that what we do cannot be replicated by machines :-)
@Natasja – So amazing, isn’t it?
It is definitely nice to know that what we make cannot be reproduced! Also, I am a leftie, I have been told by many in the crochet world that my stitches are unique because the way I learned and by way of being left handed I make a tighter stitch than most right handed people. I have wondered if this is something anyone else has noticed?I do know that when I joined a granny square group I had to make an effort to create a looser stitch because my size ratio was different than theirs for the same amount of stitches… Has anyone else noticed this? Thanks and awesome site! I’m new and going to peruse. ;)
One of my favorite posts, and actually the post that brought me to this blog in the first place a few months ago!
@BelleMondeHandmade I am so glad to hear this. I’m so fascinated by the fact that there still exists no machine that can do crochet even though patents were being worked on for ideas for them dating back to at least 1930. I love that it’s a handmade art.
I am so glad to hear this. I’ve recently been diagnosed with neuropathy and it’s in my hands. And, I am still trying to crochet. I just want anyone I know who I give a gift of crochet work to that it took a lot of work and love. And, that it’s not easy for me to do anymore.
Developed by one Joseph Merrow in the 1860s, the most important invention to come out of the quest for machine-made crochet was, in fact, the overlocker (or serger) sewing machine. The Merrow company remains a well-known manufacturer of industrial sewing machines today.
I recently started my own crotchet designs n I have been wondering if there’s a machine that could do that work from comments here I see there isn’t so how can one meet up people’s orders if u have to use your hands the whole time?
That’s a great question. That’s why handmade crochet garments are usually a little expensive – the time that goes into them – which unfortunately a lot of people don’t want to pay for.