Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First go at the Circular Sock Machine

I recently got a Creelman Brothers circular sock machine off of Ebay. It came missing a few parts, so I've spent the last while working on that. I got a replacement yarn carrier, and the new set of needles came in today. I also had an idea of how to fudge around the missing weight buckle. So now that I had all the pieces in hand, today was the day to get started. First thing to do was take the machine apart, clean it with an old toothbrush, oil it, and put it back together. Then I dug into my stash of yarn, took a deep breath, and tried it out.

First off, to knit on the sock machine you need to already have stitches on the needles. Not having any prior knitting to use, this was a challenge. The original machines came with a doohicky that you were supposed to use to attach yarn to for set up, but mine is, well, rather mangled. 100ish years are not necessarily nice on wires. So I decided to try a tip I had read of, and used the plastic mesh that came around the last batch of oranges that we bought at the grocery store. I hung the mesh on the hooks, and then threaded up some yarn and started knitting. It took a bit...but it worked!!

You can see there were some spots that the needles didn't catch the yarn. I learned I needed even tension, and a medium and steady cranking speed to help avoid the dropped stitches.

Once I had gotten the hang of knitting a tube, I taught myself to change colors. That took several tries, but I eventually got it.

After that, I was brave enough to try to make a set up bonnet, so I wouldn't have to use the orange mesh again. I used the excellent directions at http://www.countryrain.com/Bonnet.htm . Learning to move the stitches from one needle to the next took several tries, but I like the effect of regular openings in the fabric.

After this picture, I 'hung the hem', which is explained in detail at the Country Rain web site that I mentioned above. Basically, it takes the bottom of the white yarn there and folds it up to hook it on the needles, so the top of the finished product will be where those holes are. Then I cranked out about 10 inches of tubing. That part went fast!! After I took the piece off the machine, I snipped the blue starter yarn off. Voila! A set up bonnet to use! And it only took three or four tries. I am so tickled!!

And here is a shot of the machine while I was playing with it. You can see the work around I used to deal with the missing weight buckle. I am using a strong clamp, and clipping it to the work. I hang the weights on the knitted material right above it. I'd still like to come up with a buckle, but this is working for now.

Not bad for a first day's learning. There are videos on You Tube that have been very helpful, as well as some written directions around the internet. Next up is learning to use the set up bonnet, more practice making tubes and changing colors, and perfecting the hung hem. Then I get to start learning how to make heels and toes.


  1. Wow, 100 years, seriously? I didn't know they had machines like that then.

  2. Isn't it cool? This machine was made sometime between 1893, when the Creelman Brothers started making this model, and 1923, when the firm changed its name to Creelman Limited. More history on the machines is here:

  3. So cool! I've been wanting one of these FOREVER. I wouldn't get anything else done for a while if I did get one and we would have about 8,000 pairs of funky striped socks, if I could ever figure out how to use it.
    Daily Paint Journal

  4. I've been eying these machines for years, before I broke down and spent the money. I'm really lucky that this one was in as good a shape as it was, because there was no way I was going to be able to afford the brand new ones, or the professionally refurbished machines.

    How chiche would it be to give my kids socks for Christmas, do you suppose?