Yes and No. Actually, the knitting part is not so difficult since you are just moving the carriage compared to hand knitting where you are making the stitches. However, the difficulty comes in getting your machine to work properly every time it is used.
As a beginner you must expect to make many mistakes. Some will be of your own making, as you forget to turn a knob or move a lever. Others will due to something going wrong with the yarn or the machine. Experience is needed to sort these problems out but you can get help on the Internet. Join the FaceBook Machine Knitters Beginners Circle or one of the Ravelry.com’s knitting groups and ask questions if you get stuck. Hopefully this WickedWoollies beginners guide to machine knitting will also help you.
YouTube contains many free videos on machine knitting. I have found that whilst the videos are of varying quality and clarity, they have proved to be valuable to my learning. Just seeing people using different type of knitting machines and accessories was invaluable to my understanding of machine knitting.
As you begin to learn, you will have to get used to picking up dropped stitches (more difficult to do on a knitting machine than hand knitting). Uunravelling rows becomes easier as you practice. However, it is often better to take the knitting off the machine, unravel the yarn and rewind back onto the cone and start again. Although I might want to cry, I do this and then start again the next day.
If you have a new or reconditioned knitting machine there should be few machine problems. Most errors will be operator errors. Forgetting to do something, using the wrong yarn, not having enough weights etc. Always follow the user manual and double check all instructions. This is the only way to knit all the way to the last row without problems. If you do have an issue, you can ask for help on the Internet. Remember to state which machine you have and what kind of yarn you are using and make sure you have changed the sponge bar (see post called what is a knitting machine) as this is the first thing you will be asked.
So if you encounter a problem, then go through a check-list e.g.
Have a forgotten something, have I followed the instructions correctly, is the carriage set up correctly, are the weights OK, is the punchcard on, is the punchcard suitable, have I set up the software correctly, is the wool suitable, are the needles OK, when did I last renew the sponge-bar, when did I last service the machine, All these things can cause errors.
When you start to knit, you must have the operating manual available so that you can follow the instructions for your machine for every technique that you are doing. You can find free downloads of most manuals on the Internet. Make notes on paper or yellow stickies and attach them to the pages if necessary. Do not read the instructions once and think that is all you need. Knitting machines have many settings that need to be changed and checked all through the knitting process. So, keep checking the manual and the pattern instructions that you are following. I have found that it is best for me to rewrite any pattern that I want to follow. I write out the pattern in a table form, with easy step-by-step instructions. I include a column for carriage position and row number. This has saved me hours of distress. I have found that old printed patterns were not always clear because printed patterns needed to save space.
As you learn to knit you should practice the basic techniques like cast on, knit, cast off, increase, decrease, transfer stitches (all of these will be included in the guide). Initially you should create lots of samples that will help you to learn about different techniques, tensions and patterns. I suggest that you then move on to making mini-garments to try out these techniques. Creating a mini garment will help you develop extra experiences like pressing and making up. The smaller garments will show up where you need to improve but will not need you to spend money on a lot of yarn. This website will give more details on techniques and patterns.
Socially, machine knitting is more of a challenge than hand knitting. Hand knitters turn up to a meeting with some needles and wool. Machine knitters have to bring a machine, a knitting table and a host of tools and accessories! However, there are still some groups that do meet up, so do a search on the Internet. Fortunately, there are now groups of machine knitters on http://www.ravelry.com and FaceBook. Join up, do a search and then join the groups that appeal to you.
For those on a budget, you do not need a ribber or other accessories to start with, just the machine, manual, tools and some yarn. It will take a few weeks to get used to the machine and practice the techniques, but it will be worthwhile when you produce your first garment.