My personal history with this machine was the following. Since I am an avid knitter and an avid yarn collector, I wanted to knit faster so I asked my daughter to get me a circular knitting machine. She got me both Addi big and small and I enjoyed it tremendously. Addi’s have certain limitations in terms of the yarn it can use – it hates slippery yarns!!! It also hates chenille yarns.
After I knitted a ton of headbands, scarves, bags, dog coats, head warmers, four sweaters, and several blankets, I wanted to continue experimenting with more techniques and yarns and my husband bought me Home Knitter KX350 on eBay.
It arrived in a pretty bit-up box but the insides (except for some dead flies and bugs) were excellent.
All accessories are inside a Styrofoam holder, which is an extremely convenient way to store and transport them.
The bed itself sits on the bottom of the cardboard box and the two Styrofoam packages are on each side of the plastic carriage.
Everything felt good about this machine. I liked how it felt to touch, and how the carriage moved (it was light and easy – which became especially important when I hurt my shoulder but did not want to give up knitting).
All the plastic parts – the two yarn clamps on each side, the tension rod, the row counter, and the tension mast holder – were inserted easily into the main machine. With the clamps being also attached to the main bed – you can move the whole setup up easily if, for example, you need to change tables.
I even liked how heavy-duty the cast-on combs are. Typical cast-on combs on metal flatbed Brother have very thin “teeth” that bend very easily and get tangled on almost any hanging yarn. The cast-on combs that come with KX350 are so heavy-duty that you don’t even need additional weights.
However, while wiping some dust off the machine, I discovered a lot of weird cruds when I flipped the machine over. I diligently removed the crud together with a strange long piece of fabric and was very proud of myself for how clean my new possession looked.
This crud and a long piece of narrow fabric turned out to be a completely gone-bad sponge bar…. Well, not realizing how important the sponge bar is, I started experimenting with knitting and made a lot of good progress. Yes, I got a lot of dropped stitches and spilled lots of curse words, but eventually figured out how to adjust the tension in certain parts and finished a scarf, a vest with cables (by hand-manipulation stitches) and a had with a mock-ribbing.
When the initial excitement subsided, I decided to expand my knowledge and started watching other videos on the knitting machine, and then somebody mentioned the sponge bar and how it helps with dropped stitches and even tension…. A revelation!!! I immediately realized that whatever the curd was, it needed to be put back but in better shape. One week later I was inserting a sponge bar – my first one ever!!! I thought all knitting machines had a sponge bar insertion process like this one….I almost gave up machine knitting when I read that the sponge bar needs to be replaced frequently.
It has a lot of pros compared to sponge bars of other flatbed machines and a couple of cons as well.
Needles for this machine are big and sturdy and from what I read are not interchangeable with other machines. But they can be easily found online.
(+) Very easy to assemble and disassemble. If you are like me, always struggling with placing the sinker plate, the tension rod and cast-on bars inside the lid of metal flatbed knitting machines, you will like this setup – no more struggle. Guaranteed!!
(+) The sponge can be replaced without the need of glue.
(+) Needles are easily replaced without removing the sponge which is a HUGE advantage. They can be even changed in the middle of your project!
Pros of the machine itself:
(+) Most of the parts and replacement parts are readily available online. If you can’t find some, they can be 3D printed on a home printer – just ask around, there are a lot of machine-knitters, who are also 3D-printing enthusiasts.
(+) The plastic components of this machine make it very light and easy to handle – pack, unpack, move, and even assemble and disassemble. The way the brackets are hiding under the bed and unfold underneath it when you need them is very neat. I wish all machines had this way. The lightweight of this machine is excellent for people with some space limitations (take it out when using and then put it under the bed without too much straight when not in use).
(+) can be bought easily and use weather stripping. Size is important but not as for the metal flatbeds with metal sponge bars. You can even use pieces of two different sponges. The whole sponge sites pretty tightly inside that narrow passage – there is no way it will slide on its own.
(+) after you manage to insert it, needle insertion and reinsertion can be done without removing the sponge bar – which is a HUGE advantage compared to metal flatbed knitting machines. I even managed to replace a needle in the middle of one of my knitting projects.
(+) No hot glue or any other glue is required to insert it into the machine. This eliminates a lot of problems – as glue might stick to the insides of the machine, etc.
(+) no sinker plate – all mechanisms are inside the carriage. One less part to worry about getting lost! I see so many knitting machines being sold without sinker plates. In the case of KX350 you don’t have to worry about the sinker plate getting lost. Well, if you lose the whole carriage that’s another story.
(+) easily knits relatively thick yarns. I used a wool/acrylic blend on this machine (100g/230 m, 3.5 oz/255 yards) without any problems.
Cons of the sponge of KX350:
(-) Well, it is not a BAR but simply a long narrow sponge, like a weather stripping (for windows and doors). Inserting it without the solid support of a metal bar (like other Japanese machines have) is challenging. I did it without removing the holding plates (the way the Answer Lady shows in her video) and managed to accomplish quite a lot. That’s the only con so far.
Cons of the machine itself:
(-) It is not a metal bed machine – it is plastic (which later brings us to con number two below). So, technically parts are not as durable as parts for metallic flatbed machines. However, I kind of think of it as almost an advantage: plastic can be glued on but getting rid of the rusted parts on a metal knitting machine is a big pain.
(-) Because of its being plastic, when it works (when you move the carriage back and forth) the sound gets pretty strange. My husband calls it “an old typewriter noise”. It is different from the noise the metal flatbed machine makes but very similar to the noise other flatbed machines do (Like HK100, Addi, etc.). You can check my youtube video (https://youtu.be/OPesDA95b5M) to make sure you are ok with that noise. However, keep in mind that all machines make some sort of noise when being operated.
(-) Sponge bar replacement is somewhat challenging.
Overall, I feel that this is an ideal machine for beginners and as a first transition machine from plastic circular machines (like Addi and Snetro), like it was for me. It is also easy to store and transport as it is lightweight and all the parts are easy to install. I especially love the retractable table clamps. It is also ideal to knit “regular” yarn sold in hobby stores. I hope you will consider fostering or even adopting this wonderful setup!