Five principle knitting machines are currently on the market. The Brother, the Toyota and the Studio are made in Japan. They are single-bed machines that allow you to knit only, unless you have the optional ribber. The ribber is another bed or frame which sits at right angles to the first bed. The finished knitting goes between the two, allowing you to knit one row and purl the other.

The Brother Can do lace stitches as well as eyelet. Until recently the Toyota and the Stuido could only do the eyelet stitch, but the manufacturers have come out this year with a carriage that can do lace.

The Superba and the Passap are double-bed machines.They have specialized carriages that allow you to do garter stitches. (The garter is the basis for many patterns in which knit and purl are on the same row.)

Knitting machines start at about $450.

Here are some of the places to buy knitting machines and knitting machine paraphernalia:

The Brother Distributor has four shops in the area: 6834 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park, Md., 270-1155; 12157 Nebel St., Rockville, Md., 881-3740; 3317 Connecticut Ave., NW, 686-9500; and 6 Bureau Dr., Gaithersburg, Md., 977-1100.

Other dealers include:

The Knitting Machine Shop, 10417-R Armory Ave., Kensington, Md., 942-0003; carries the Brother and some used machines in other brands.

LaMoore & LeMoore, 7605 Dunston St., Springfield, Va., 256-7696; carries the Brother, Studio, Toyota, Knit King, Singer and Juki.

Fibers, 4558 Beech Rd., Marlow Heights, Md., 423-7080. Carries Possap.

Roclith Creations, 15510 Riding Stable Rd., Laurel, Md., 490-4213; carries Toyota.