About 3 weeks ago I bought an old cranking sock machine. I had my first lesson on it today, and although my head is still swimming
from it all, ( so much to learn..lots of things to watch for) I actually made a pair of socks! My lesson was about 5 hours long, part of that time was spent learning some about the machine, and doing a set up bonnet. (that is what is used when to start out with) It's quite a different experience than hand knitting a sock, of course I am just beginning and have much to learn, but I don't think this will have the same calm rhythm that hand knitting does, perhaps I'll change my mind on that once I learn more and don't have to concentrate on so many things at once. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I first learned to knit as well. (thank goodness for the little "in the front door, out the back.." poem) I'm still learning what kinds of yarn my sock machine "likes," apparently there are some types that are easier for a beginner to use than others. Like I said...I still have lots to learn. I will say it was pretty cool to have a whole pair of socks done in such a short period of time. Once I get more proficient, there is a pair of socks that can be knitted in 20 minutes, 10 minutes per sock! I still need to Kitchner the toes on the ones I made , but I'll do that tomorrow. My assignment is to crank out 20 more pairs of socks, then call and schedule my next lesson. (of course I can call, or email if I have questions or am too confused to make a pair on my own. I can go for another lesson if I need one before then, but it is an hour away, so i'll try and get help the other way first. I have written instructions and DVD's, so those should help.) I can take as long as I want to do the 20 pairs of socks. Shoot, I haven't even hand knit 20 pairs of socks yet...this could be interesting.
The cranking sock machines are a round cylinder that sits on a round base, (it fastens to the table with clamps.) the base has gears on it that mesh with gears on the cranking handle on the side. Inside the cylinder is a cam shaped like a hill and a valley. The cylinder has latch hook type needles on it that are lifted up and down as they pass over the cam. causing the latches to close on the yarn and knit each stitch. (that's a pretty simplified explanation, hope it's clear. ) Since the old type CSM's are no longer made they are getting more and more expensive. A good restored one costs about $1000.00 or more, depending on the machine, but it will hold and increase it's value as long as it's in good working order. I bought 2, a bargain one from ebay and a restored one. My lessons are on the restored one, Dh and I will tinker with the other one once I get the hang of the working one.
It's a bit risky to buy one on ebay, but it didn't cost us much, if it is a dud, we can part it out and recover our $$. (The refurbished one came with 6 lessons) Quite a bit costlier than standard sock knitting, but I will probably be able to crank out enough socks and sell them to recover my cost of the machine, pay for the yarn I use, and eventually make a few $$. Dh hopes to be able to use the other one. We both knit, love antiques and are intrigued by the history of these well built machines that are still in working order.
Some of them are over 100 years old. Ours are from around the 1930's. We figure if it turns out to not be our cup of tea, we can sell what we bought and not take a loss. But so far I'm liking it pretty good. I was surprised my first pair turned out so well.
I'll keep you posted on this new adventure.