My first knitting machine was the KnitKing 4500 (won on ebay in Feb. 2010) which cost me a total of $46 dollars ($40 of it was the shipping cost).
It is a “standard gauge” machine, meaning that it can knit yarns from laceweight up through sportweight, and maybe a fine DK. Mine is a “single bed” machine, meaning that it does not have a ribber or a row of needles that hangs vertically, so it cannot do ribbing except by manually reversing alternate columns of stitches after the ribbing section is knit.
The machine is about 4 ft long x 5″ tall x 6.5″ deep, it’s got a metal frame with a couple of plastic end caps and plastic guides in the needlebed. It had a few minor cosmetic issues that glue fixed, a crunched plastic end cap, and a few missing needles (which I have rearranged to be on the outside). But I was exceptionally pleased with my ebay gamble of buying my first knitting machine. It’s wonderfully functional, and less than half the price of the cheapest new plastic knitting machine.
I believe it was built sometime in the 1950’s and from the lint and grime that I had to clean out of the needle bed, I can tell that somebody used it before me, although there’s no way of knowing how much it got used.
Knitmaster was a British company that sold their products under the name KnitKing in the US and Canada. I have also heard that it was marketed under the name Knittax in Europe.
The KnitKing/Knitmaster products appeared to have been marketed towards young housewives looking to create their own fashions and garments for themselves and their families.
The KnitKing 4500 had a somewhat special way of creating an even tension to form new stitches. Between every needle it has “stitch sinkers” which hold down the yarn between the newly knitted stitches. This is very different from, for example, the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine’s weighted bar method of maintaining tension. Although I don’t have any experience with other modern knitting machines, I understand that “stitch sinkers” went by the wayside, and yet, are useful for conveniently cranking out short-rows (in socks, for example) without using pennies or claw-weights to compensate for the tension differential.
For anyone interested in more information about the KnitKing/Knitmaster 4500, I highly recommend checking out SusyRanner’s highly informative blog and videos of knitting machines, including her Knitmaster 4500. On her website, she also has the manual and a series of newsletters that were originally produced for the KnitKing/Knitmaster 4500.