Hi Bill --
Your student does not necessarily need to use that particular
knitting machine model. She could use any number of other standard
gauge knitting machines. Probably the least expensive solution
would be to find a good used Japanese standard gauge metal bed
machine made by either Brother or Singer/Studio/Silver Reed (that
last is the same line, just three different names for it over the
years). And in fact I've seen wire knitting that was done on the
Passap brand double bed machine, which was made in Switzerland.
(I've personally knit wire on my Singer 360, but haven't tried on my
Passap yet.) However, if your student has the wherewithal, then
purchasing a new Silver Reed model SK280 punch card machine would
The problem with buying a used machine as your first machine is that
you might be buying one that doesn't work properly for any number of
reasons and so you will be struggling with the functionality of the
machine as well as your own learning curve. Best would be to buy a
machine (new or used) from a local knitting machine dealer who says
that they offer beginner's classes where you bring in your machine
and learn to use it. (Using yarn, rather than wire, at first.)
Second best would be to buy from a non-local dealer who guarantees
to sell you a product that is in excellent working order, complete
as new with all tools and manuals. Then you would buy one or more
of the good training videos out there, recommended by that dealer,
and learn to use it that way.
Another thing to consider is the fact that an older machine may or
may not have spare parts available anymore (especially things called
"sponge bars " or "needle retainer bars", not to mention the needles
for the machine that look like little latch hooks on long stems).
Brother and Passap knitting machines are no longer being
manufactured, period, and so spare parts for those brands of
machines are getting harder and harder to find. Silver Reed
machines are still being made, and so spare parts are still
available for many (but certainly not all) older models of Singer,
Studio, and Silver Reed machines.
If money is an issue, then IMHO if your student could find a good
used Singer or Studio model 360 she would be in good shape -- it is
not called "The Workhorse" for nothing, and parts are still readily
Where is your student located? Perhaps I can help put her in touch
with a local machine knitter or group which could help her get set
up and going.