Gearhart Three

Hand Knitting vs Machine Knitting

I have to admit it…I’m a closet, repressed machine knitter.

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that a human with very little talent can loop string to create fabric. Now creating a pretty fabric or a nice garment takes a bit more talent, but you get the idea. After a few years of using all types of knitting needles, crochet hooks, tatting bobbins and darning needles to accomplish this, I was equally fascinated to learn that there are machines that do this as well. So, of course I had to go out and get me one.

But I didn’t just want any machine, I had to have an antique sock knitting machine. After seeing them on eBay, I did minimal research and ended up paying a fortune for a Gearhart sock knitting machine from the early 1900’s with two cylinders (80 and 100 needles). Here are a couple of pictures in case you’re not familiar with how they look:

Gearhart Three

You’ll see there’s a sock hanging down the middle as if I had just knitted it. Well, I cheated, that sock was made over a year ago, and I only had waste yarn on the machine, but I wanted you to get the idea of where the sock would come from. This machine is kind of like a sophisticated Knitting Knobby that you may have played with as a kid to make i-cord. This one just has a lot more needles and loops them automatically. It also has a ribber attachment (not shown).

I’ve learned how to make a pretty competent sock with 1X1 or 2X1 ribbing and a short-row heel. When the machine was in prime condition, it took me about 40 minutes to make a sock, although I could have gotten that down to about 20 minutes with practice. Switching from ribbing to stockinette, and turning the heel and turning the toe are both a little labor-intensive, but still all of the sock is made on the machine.

I love this old machine (as well as the two flat-bed machines I own), but I honestly have very little time to play with them. As such, I’m repressed. But at least I’m no longer in the closet about it.

0 comments on “Hand Knitting vs Machine Knitting

  1. Hey Joe? Your post made me wonder. Can you tell if a knitted sweater was done by hand or machinet? I always thought that a 'perfect' piece was machine made…is it possible to knit something by hand and have others believe its done by machine?

    Curious in California πŸ™‚

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