Monday, December 28, 2009

Knitting Intervention

Judi, who responded to me at
came to the rescue - or should I say "intervention"! My first post was set up to sell the machine, but Judi offered the encouragement and advice I needed to postpone such drastic action and get me through these first rough days!

She wrote: "I will tell you that when I first started it took a long time to 'learn' my machine & get comfortable with it - so the main thing I suggest in the beginning??? practice, practice & practice more!!!! It will seem like you're wasting a lot of time, but honestly, it is so crucial to learning that machine & what settings it prefers etc."

Here's the result after talking with Judi!

Oops  - did something go wrong? Guess I'll practise some more, Judi! :-)

October 2010 Update
I put the machine aside for many months and finally went at it again this fall. There is something compelling about this machine - and I decided that if I could learn how to pick up dropped stitches, I would attempt to make a real stocking. Sure enough, showed a method using a spare machine knitting needle that works for me, so now I had no excuse. And for some reason knitting on the cylinder was working exceptionally well. I must have stumbled across the right combination of yarn weight, tension, and needles that worked right, and 2.5 hours later, VOILA - my first sock!  

So this is my $100 sock - the price of my machine, not counting materials and labor! And my doubting husband was so pleased to see my success that he encouraged me to get back at it and make a second one, so now it's $100 for the pair! Who would pay $100 for a pair of socks? Well, maybe not $100, but wool/nylon socks are going for $30 on the internet (yes, my husband's ears really perked up when I told him that!) But besides being a novelty, what does a handmade sock give you? These pink ones are made out of inexpensive soft acrylic baby yarn, but they are so much warmer than cotton - what a "warm fuzzy feeling" they give my feet! I can only imagine what a good quality wool sock would feel like!

December 2010 Update
Yes! Wool Socks are Wonderful!

Miscellaneous Technical DetailsAmos (a neighboring cranker in his 80's) checked over my machine, adjusted the tension, gave me this handy heel tool, the yarn, and lots of encouragement to keep trying!

From Judi, "I keep a 3X5 notebook (which I always give away at crank-ins) along with a pencil (so you can erase & start over!!! ha ha ha) write down everything - settings, yarn used (and I even will cut a slip of the yarn & tape it to the page) and date everything. I have a notebook for everything I have done since I started in Aug 06 (and some before I actually got a 'wearable' sock)"

"Patience is a wonderful virtue to have in this hobby because you may end up doing something over & over & OVER but if you start with cheap inexpensive acrylic yarn, you can rip, rip and rip it out again & not mess up your good sock yarn. Most others willl say this advice is not good, but you can be your own judge of that - ripping good sock yarn over & over seems to me would weaken it; I used acrylic and still use it for scrap."

I did follow Judi's advice and started writing things down and it definitely enhances one's observation skills.

For my first practising sessions, I used the method from 1924 Gearhart manual where you manually "wrap" the needles by casting the yarn over the back of the needle for 2nd half of the heel. Later I found an easier method for No Wrap Heel. And since my ribber does not match my cylinder, I use the mocked hemmed top sock method. Next I want to try the no sew toe.

Judi told about the old "wind up your yarn on a TP tube" trick! I originally put the skein in the Lipton Tea contain, threading it through a small hole in the lid. Both methods worked alright for me.

Thicker needle for the 52 slot cylinder.

Thinner needles for the 72 slot cylinder. Top one came with the machine. Bottom one came from Amos. He gave me a tip on how to clean up rusty needles - shake them in a jar with water and sand for a long time. It worked!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1924 Gearhart Circular Sock Knitting Machine

I acquired this Circular Sock Knitting Machine (CSM) at a local garage sale from the granddaughter of the original owner. I cleaned it up and learned the basics of operating this machine, and decided that I enjoyed needle knitting better. I understand that even experienced knitters have to deal with dropped stitches upon occasion!

If anyone can convince me that I could knit without those dropped stitches I might reconsider! (see next post for the resulting answer to my plea!)

Since I am not an experienced knitter I cannot verify the exact condition of this machine. The cylinder turns very smoothly, but it's driving me crazy with dropped stitches - I switch the needles into different positions and then it works for awhile, then will start dropping stitches in another place! (ok - maybe it's operator error, but the machine really does seem "cranky" at times!) I cleaned the needles by shaking them in a jar with sand and water, a tip from a neighboring cranker.

72 slot cylinder, uses 18 g needles maybe?
3 - 2 lb, 2 - 1 lb Weights
stem weight
set-up basket
crank and handle
yarn guide
heel hook
hold down
30 slot ribber
Photocopy of 1924 guide
original wood packing case (1/2 of it!)

Displayed with needles in every other slot.

52 slot cylinder pieces and old needles - I set the cylinder back into the machine and it turns just fine.
Uses 10g needles.

It turns (72 cylinder)!

More information about Circular Sock Knitting Machines can be found here