Health and Safety around knitting machines

Generally, knitting machines and their accessories do not pose a great risk to health or safety. Sensible measures and precautions can mitigate the risks that do exist. Supervision at varying levels is required for younger or less experienced users.

We recommend that you take time to read the information below. As well as the risk of injury to you and others, you risk damaging your machine if these guidelines are not followed.


The knitting room or area has potential hazards ranging from sharp needles, springing wires, trailing electrical cables and lengths of yarn to heavy weights and scissors. Children and young people should be supervised when they are near or using a knitting machine. Leave tools with the machine to minimise them being used for other

When setting up or dismantling a knitting machine, take care when lifting and moving the heavier components and the portable table, if used. As components are loosened and removed, things can become unbalanced and topple. Regularly check that the machine is securely clamped to the table. The clamps can loosen as you knit, so check before you start. A knitting machine falling to the floor risks both injuring you and damaging the machine.

When knitting, either position the machine in front of a wall or make sure others can’t walk behind it. The yarn and any trailing cables are trip-hazards, and the tension mast and wires can cause injury, especially if the yarn runs out or snaps and the wires spring back. As well as the personal risk, tripping over cables can damage connections.

Using your knitting machine

Knitting machines and their associated accessories can be considered dangerous pieces of equipment if care and appropriate precautions are not taken. There are sharp needles and blunt sinker posts/pegs, which can cause bruising or worse.

As the carriage with its knobs, wheels and cogs slides left or right it can catch clothing, jewellery and hair as well as anything else on or near the knitting machine. Wear clothing that is not too loose fitting and does not have flowing/baggy sleeves, remove jewellery and tie long hair back to minimise the risk of getting caught in the machine.

Heavy weights (some over 500gms/1lb each), combs with sharp spikes and springy/long wires and tools will fall to the floor, landing on feet and anything or anyone underneath the machine. When bending to pick up a dropped item take care not to catch your face or head on the sinker posts/pegs.

Do not leave needles in the upper working or holding positions (beyond the edge of the needlebed) when you do not have knitting on the machine. The needles have to be in the correct positions if you are taking a break, but be aware that there is a greater risk of catching yourself on them. This can result in injury or (at the very least) to a disruption in the pattern.

Do not operate a knitting machine under the influence of alcohol or medication that advises not to use machinery whilst taking it.

Make sure that your chair is at a comfortable height for you. Some people find it more comfortable to get a higher table and then stand to knit. Have tools and accessories placed in easily reached positions so that you do not have to over-stretch or lean over the machine to reach them. Take regular breaks to move and stretch.

Caring for your machine

Cover the machine with either a purpose made cover or a simple cotton sheet when not in use to protect it from dust and dirt.

Never eat, drink or smoke at your machine. Crumbs, liquid and ash will cause damage. It is therefore good practice to move away from the machine for refreshments

Store equipment in a cool dry place. Store a ribber flat, not on end. If necessary, a main bed with its lid on can be stored on end, but it should be kept in an upright position and secured so that it cannot fall. Accessories should be stored in their original boxes, together with any packaging, to prevent damage and loss of pieces.

Special care should be taken when cleaning a knitting machine and associated equipment with surgical spirit and similar. The vapour can cause light-headedness and fainting. It is a flammable liquid so always use away from naked flames and in a well-ventilated room. Store in a dark cupboard, out of reach of children, and read the instructions on the bottle before use. The oil you use on your machine should be similarly stored. Dispose of empty bottles, used liquids and cleaning materials in accordance with manufacturers guidelines.

Electronic machines

Electronic knitting machines and electrical accessories should be fitted with an appropriate plug (earthed) and fuse. Consider using a surge protector. Do not overload sockets. Cables should be checked regularly for wear and be positioned so that they do not pose a hazard to users. Switch off and unplug electrical items when not in use.

Keep magnets away from electronic machines. They can wipe all the patterning information from the machine if they come too close.