Getting an antique circular sock knitting machine into working order takes a LOT of work and experimentation and practice.
The most difficult part of working with a finicky old antique is that there are SO many possible factors that could be affecting how it works. Not the least of those is the technique of the user.
With all the knitting to get ready for my craft shows, I’ve put sock-cranking on a back burner. Now I find I have to re-acquaint myself all over again with this nuanced beauty of a relic.
Back in May, I disassembled my machine and transported it up to the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat to give a demonstration of how it works. It also came in extremely handy to help someone make yards of i-cord for a project they were trying to finish in time for Show & Tell night. But I digress.
Disassembling the machine required that it be reassembled when I got home. I did so promptly. But I found it wasn’t in optimal working order after I did. The antique stand for the machine is very unforgiving and I don’t think I’ll ever disassemble that again. Having a machine that’s not level and stable on its stand can cause a lot of havoc. There needs to be a constant and level weight on the knitted tube for the machine to work properly.
When I first got it back together, I couldn’t even make a simple tube (again!). I adjusted the stitch length. The stand screw got tightened. I adjusted the height of the yarn feeder. The cylinder was liberally oiled. I adjusted the closeness of the yarn feeder to the cylinder. I was finally able to make a simple tube, and I made the infinity scarf I posted earlier.
Then a CSM expert noted that many people prefer a much looser, lacier, slightly longer infinity scarf, and suggested that I make the tube with a 3×1 rib and drop the rib stitches after it was finished.
So I tried adding the ribber into the whole mix and the machine kind of blew up again.
So I will be working on getting the ribber to work (again!) and eventually I will start cranking out socks…hopefully. Or perhaps I’ll just purchase a new Erlbacher Gearhart Circular sock knitting machine and avoid some of the finickiness!
While I did get a bit more work done on the latest garter stole from the last blog entry, it’s not enough to show a progress photo. But I did realize that I could make a much more loose and drapey infinity scarf on the sock machine.
If I was going to drop every fourth stitch, I realized they didn’t have to be ribbed at all. So I just did a plain tube (again) and dropped every fourth stitch. It took while to drop 20 stitches all the way down about 350 rows of knitting. It was still much faster than knitting 350 rows by hand.
And the scarf came out really well. The looser fabric is much softer and didn’t require that I turn it to the reverse-stockinette side of the tube. I’ll have to see if I have any other yarn that would make more of these garments. I think they could sell next year at craft shows.