I have also thought of buying a more expensive machine. Since I am 68, it seems to be a foolish thought.
The first stitch is always a problem. You have to hold the yarn for that one. Then there can be no tension for the rest of the row.
The knitting isn't resting on your legs, is it? Those weights have to be able to hang.
Are you only using 50 needles or less? I found that easier to learn on.
I am happy to help you in any way I can.
Oh, do you have it clamped tightly to the table? If it is too tight it will buckle slightly and not work properly.
Are you using the Simply Soft yarn that came with it? And keyplate 3?