A few years ago I was blessed with seeing a demonstration of a fabulously restored circular sock machine (CSM) at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. It was amazing, and I quickly snapped a picture of one they were offering for sale (complete with the out-of-my-league price tag) to send to the husband. The price is absolutely worth it, mind you, just out of my league. We have since found one company in the US manufacturing new ones in small quantities, the rest are antiques and in short supply.
Have I mentioned before how wonderful Husband is? If not, now you know. He is amazing. It also happens that one of his talents is for finding and acquiring gadgets. Like this one:
This is the second of two CSM’s that Husband acquired in his search for the perfect holiday gift for me. The first one turned out to be missing too many parts to be serviceable. This one had previously been rescued from an antique store (it seems the store owner didn’t know what it was), and lovingly used by the rescuer for many years until she became too old to take care of it herself. The instruction booklet it came with is dated 1914. It had been stored for a while before Husband bought it, so he and my dad conspired to fix it up in Dad’s shop and then surprise me with it after they got it working again.
I was shocked, surprised, and delighted. And I was never so glad that I had finally finished the striped socks from doom for him as right then. Even though they had taken two years. Any other gift for him would have seemed silly.
He had thoughtfully set the machine up for me and loaded it with yarn. I sat down to try it out right away. He also thoughtfully provided a host of YouTube videos to walk me through how to make a heel and toe. Because, quite frankly, you need the videos. Those people are clever, and the instruction manual is rather thin.
Now I know several people who have named their cars, various machines, and even their spinning wheels. I never really got on board with this until the CSM came into my life. She would go along just fine for rounds and rounds, and then…just when you thought you were getting the hang of things…wham! She would drop several stitches in a row. And since the knitting only works if there is tension on the fabric – there are weights either hung from the fabric or placed inside the tube – those dropped stitches were suddenly four to six rounds back from the current/working round. I’ve been fixing knitting mistakes for years, but the tension combined with the stitch size means that it’s nearly impossible to pick those dropped stitches back up again. You end up with a nice big hole and have to rip everything back out to start over again. Assuming that you didn’t want the hole there for lovely artistic effect.
What I’ve learned is this: If you don’t have your weights on right, or there’s not enough weight, or the weight is hung in the wrong place, or you’re not paying attention to the yarn supply, or you haven’t oiled it properly, or you aren’t holding your tongue just right, or you are breathing too heavy…she’ll drop a stitch in an instant.
Persnickety! [per-snik-i-tee] – adjective; 1. overparticular; fussy. 2. snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob. 3. requiring painstaking care.
I finally completed my first sock after about eight hours of starting, cursing, ripping back, starting again, cursing, ripping back, starting yet again, cursing, and finally getting to the end. Whew! The second sock only took me an hour. I apparently learned a thing or two. However, it will be a while yet before I can complete a sock in eight minutes like the pros on the Internet (no kidding!). I see lots and lots of play time in my future.
Still, it’s much faster than hand knitting and I can use my favorite no-sew knitting tricks for the toe and heels. The stitch count is perfect for knitting a sock that fits my narrow feet well. We’ll see how well it will do on a sock for Husband’s size 13 feet. If she can do that, she might just get a new name.