Actually, I didn't REALLY start hand knitting until about 2 years ago. I've been machine knitting for about 12 years, though, and at last count have 5 machines (and am eyeing a 6th!). They have their pros and cons. There are things I prefer to machine knit and things I prefer to hand knit (like ribbings). Hand knitting is a much more relaxing way to knit whereas machine knitting is a bit more physical. You don't need to spend a lot of money to get into machine knitting. A lot of people start off with a simple machine like the Bond (also known as the ISM and USM). It does not do any automatic patterning but you can produce very elaborate patterns if you're willing to do some hand manipulation of stitches. You can usually find these at Michaels and, with a coupon, get one for around $70US. Not your thing? Take it back within 30 days and get a refund. Or you can go for a super duper deluxe computerized model if you're willing to drop a couple thousand dollars. There are great groups on the web for any machine you may have that, like KH, have very knowledgable members to help you out if you get stuck. Even though both hand and machine produce similar fabric, they're really totally different crafts requiring totally different skills with their own learning curves, IMHO.