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Old 03-13-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
KnittedRose
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Anyone familiar with sock knitting machines
I recently came across info on sock knitting machines. They look pretty nifty, although maybe a bit tricky to master. Harmony still made one in the 1980's. Back in the late 1800's many families made their own socks, especially large families.. After supper, each child would take a turn cranking the sock machine. During WW2 there was quite a cottage industry making socks for soldiers. The machines were pretty sturdy. The machines are harder to come by now, and a mechanically sound one is pricey. Has anyone used one? If so what is your opinion on them. Supposedly you can make a pair of socks in a little over an hour on on a sock machine. It all sounds intriguing.
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:23 PM   #2
imrachel
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There was a thread on here a while ago about these, along with links to demonstration on youtube. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uvL_KUq7Pg ) The machines look incredibly complicated to operate and painstaking and I would think 1 hour would be (no pun intended) a humongous stretch.

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Old 03-13-2009, 11:25 PM   #3
KnittedRose
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I'm pretty inept at mechanical things, it may be less frustrating to just stick to knitting socks by hand, although I must admit these machines and their history fascinate me. There is a company in NZ that makes brand new ones, but they are very pricey. (reconditioned ones are too.) I found someone who lives about 2 hours away that is willing to give me a demo. Dh and I were looking for an adventure to break up the March doldrums, so tomorrow we are going to check one out. I'll let you know I think after a face to face encounter with one.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:07 AM   #4
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The youtube videos are so interesting ... I think it would take a while to get the hang of it.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
Lisa R.
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Is there sound on that video? Or is it just my computer? I can't quite grasp what she's doing.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:05 AM   #6
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1. Nothing wrong with your computer-- there is no audio on that video. But there are some other videos on sock machines on that site that do have sound.
2. Nothing wrong with your ability to grasp it-- as I said, it looks very complicated and painstaking .

But there are groups of people dedicated to these machines, websites about them, on-line groups which buy, sell, repair and rebuild them, and even a company which makes them brand new. It all looks fascinating if you've got the $ (just the machine is usually upwards of $1000, and then there are all sort of parts and pins to get) and as knittedrose said, mechanical minded. They were invented at a time when if you didn't live in a developed urban area, purchased socks were hard to come by and/or much more money than handmade ones (those were the days, huh?-- before we were buying hand dyed hanks for $30 ). Even though at the time, people wore clothes many more times before washing them, each person had at least a few pairs of socks, and that's a lot of knitting. Especially considering what the average housewife was doing all day without a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, etc. (' Course there were also no phones to answer or e-mail to keep checking, either.) So they made tremendous sense, back then.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:46 PM   #7
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The demo was fascinating. I expected to be overwhelmed by the "mechanics" of it all, but i wasn't. Don't get me wrong, the mechanical part of it is important, but if the machine is restored and in good shape, they are remarkably sturdy and work well. There is definitely a learning curve. Lots of stuff to pay attention to in the beginning, it's best to learn one thing well, and then move onto the next step. The one I saw was at a studio only an hour from my house. I couldn't believe how quickly it knits. The gal who was giving the demo was talking to me, so she ended up dropping a stitch or 2. It was resolved by using a long handled crochet hook type tool to reach down and pull the yarn back over the top of the needle. Each needle closes with a little latch, like a latch hook needle does. (it is called a latch hook needle.) The lady who has the studio restores machines, gives lessons, goes to seminars to teach, and has made instructional CD's. Each machine purchased from her comes with 6 lessons and 11 CD's. Have you guessed by now? Yes, I put a deposit down on a restored Lagare. It will be coming home to my house in Sept. I will start my lessons then. I've already assured my sock needles to "not despair," their days are not numbered. The sock machine is far to cumbersome to stick in my purse as I'm heading out the door. If the SM doesn't work out, I can always sell it and not lose a cent. (They are in high demand and getting harder to come by.) That's all on that story for now. I'll probably have more stories down the road. I must say that I never thought that falling in love with knitted socks would bring me to this.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:37 AM   #8
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What a wonderful report! Thanks for sharing! And congratulations on the machine! It sounds like it's something you'll really enjoy. And as you said, if you don't like it, you will likely not lose anything because of the demand. How many purchases can you say that about?!

It's interesting that you found the mechanics NOT overwhelming. It would be better if they had sound on that video on youtube, because without any verbal esplanation, I think perhaps some people are turned off to the idea, who wouldn't otherwise be.
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Old 03-15-2009, 05:36 PM   #9
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Rachel, I agree, I had a hard time following the you tube video even after the CSM demo. There is a nice narrated one at Maker Faire. Do a google search for "Antique sock machine at Maker Faire" and it will take you there, a gal named Shelly Hatton does a nice informative demo. It's not real close up on somethings the machine does, but it is interesting. I think I am going to get the instructional DVD's earlier than the machine so I can familiarize myself a bit with the machine, terms, etc. That way when I go to my lessons I'll get the most out of them. it will be hard to wait until Sept to bring it home! Meanwhile I have many projects to finish up and I'll probably start another pair of socks soon. I have part of a sweater sleeve to rip out for a sweater DH is making. I'm not sure what he did, but it needs to be ripped and the poor guy needs to get back on the right track. I'm not complaining...the sweater is for me
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:49 AM   #10
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Did you try the round knitting looms? there are patterns for socks there and are easy to use. other than that this is the first to hear about sock knitting machines. I'll keep an eye out for you.
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