Friday, May 20, 2005

Sock knitting machine!

Long day, but good. I just walked in the door 10 minutes ago, having driven straight from work to an auction an hour away. At first, when I got there, mom thought I'd be disappointed because all the yarn was rug yarn, and they sold it early outside in the rain, but all in all, I did well. For $85, I got:

-a box of icord makers (I think there are 6 of them)
-2 tabletop looms, 1 simple, 1 compound (I think. I really know nothing about weaving. Guess it's time to learn.)
-a box of odd purse handles and weird plastic craft items
-a jar of cool old white buttons
-a five foot tall yarn winder of some sort. I'm not sure exactly what it's for, but I'm sure I can use it to measure yardage of recycled yarn at the very least

and....wait for it....drum roll.....

-a 1920s hand crank circular sock knitting machine.

Yep, I got it. That's why I drove an hour. And I got it for $75. All the parts are there, including the original wooden shipping box, and the instruction booklet which contains a whole stack of correspondence between the original owner and the manufacturer, for whom she was consignment knitting socks/hose between 1925 and 1928. This is way cool.

I'm going to try to set it up sometime this weekend. It has a fair bit of rust, so it needs some work, but there's a woman in Ohio who restores these, and I met her last year at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, so I have her info somewhere. One of the carriages (I think the ribber) is virtually untouched though, so I should be able to test it out soon.

My one disappointment is that I didn't bid up the treadle spinning wheel higher. The woman who bought it got it for about $35.00. I don't have great aspirations of spinning yet, but I know some people who do, and that would have been a fantastic beginner wheel.

I have a busy weekend ahead of me, but I'm going to try to set this up and take some photos of it to post. If you've never seen one of these in action, you'll be amazed at the ease of knitting a sock with this little contraption. Here's a photo of one just like mine, all restored.


Anonymous laughingrat said...

That's a fabulous haul!

Poking around on the 'net will help you find out about those looms, or there's some great books on weaving at CML. Once you can identify some of the parts, it should be easy to tell what's going on.

I'm very intrigued by the fact that people in the US were still knitting socks on consignment in the 20s. I would imagine that within but a few years it was all being done in factories.

That's a shockingly low price for a nice wheel. If you do want to spin and don't have a wheel, you could always try a drop spindle. They're inexpensive and easy to learn on. Lots of places have kits with a nice spindle and some fiber, or you could even make your own.

6:44 AM  
Blogger wittyknits said...

I was a bit surprised by that too, but from the looks of it, there were quite a few people doing it. The correspondence in the box indicated that when you bought the machine, they would send you yarn on spec, then you could purchase the yarn and send the socks back to the company (which was in PA). There's a letter dated 1927 that indicates there was an overabundance of socks, and to please stop sending them. Then there's another letter that basically says "we can't pay anyone because we're losing money and we have court protection." Then there's a third that tells the original owner of this machine that she's been selected as one of the few knitters to being producing summerweight hose. I'm finding this fascinating--I may scan in all the correspondence and post it because I've never read anything about this before.

On spinning, I am holding out on that as long as possible, as knitting is already an expensive hobby. :-) And as for the looms, I'll definitely be checking out some books and figuring out what's going on with these--just not until I finish the gifts I'm knitting unfortunately.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am so interested in learning and purchasing sock knitting machine. Any help in that area? What do I watch for, what do you wish you would have done, what are you glad you did, etc...?
Thanks in advance,
Diane Livingston

12:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home