Thursday, June 02, 2005

Unveiling a Relic: My Circular Sock Knitting Machine

Finally, I'm getting around to showing you all my circular sock knitting machine. I'll warn you now, this is a photo intensive post -- and it's dirty. Grimy, and dusty, and most of all, rusty. But the machine is restorable, which is the important thing.

I took these photos before I went at all these parts with a can of compressed air and a soft toothbrush for several hours. I can assure you though, that really the only difference now is that everything fits in the box better. I need the help of a professional. And I've contacted one, though the details are yet to be worked out.

First we see a photo of the beautiful box, with the name "Original Home Knitter" painted on the side.

Next, we see some photos of the various and sundry items located inside the box:

Do you feel as if you're looking at the internal workings of a medieval torture chamber yet? Well, then, wait until you see the machine itself:

Fun, huh? Here's a closeup of the needles (along with some of the dust I actually was able to remove.)

Now, if you're wondering just how all this stuff comes together and makes a sock, well, I could go into an explanation with my rudimentary knowledge, but I think we're all better off if I just send you off to the Country Rain site's What is a Sock Machine? page. There's a great pictorial step-by-step here that should make some of this make sense. The photos are of a slightly different machine than mine, but the principles still apply.

Here's the photo of what my machine should look like in action, from the manual:

Hopefully, I'll be able to get mine in working order by this fall--that's my goal.

My machine is a Gearhart, and I believe, from the dates on the correspondence that was in the box, that it was manufactured around 1925. It was owned by a woman in New Riegel, Ohio who was making socks to sell back to the Gearhart company on commission. There's a lot of good info about the company, it's lack of ability to pay knitters at one point, and switching from winter weight to summer weight hose in all that correspondence. I've taken photos of all of that, but it's a bit hard to read at such small sizes, so I may scan these in later when I have a chance, in the interest of posterity. In the meantime, you can go look at the rest of my copious photos or read the Circular Sock Machine Society of America's information.

(A note on my photos--there are some other things in that folder of pictures that may strike you as odd. Yes, indeed, buying box lots at auctions can be a spotty business, and you can find some unexpected treasures in them. I'm actually still cataloging what I got in some of those box lots, so more oddness may appear. That's the joy of box lots!)


Blogger kweaver said...

What a find! I hope the restoration works out.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Shoot. I was going to say "What a find!" but kweaver beat me to it. But it really is. Someone needs to open a knitter's museum.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanna come help you clean it up (and test-drive it, of course). I'll bring my wire brushes & toothbrushes. And maybe some naval jelly. :)

10:07 AM  
Blogger General Ginger said...

Wow! That is one extraordinary medieval torture chamber. Thanks for sharing those photos.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Aakash Gupta said...

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Circular knitting Machine

5:09 AM  

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