Monday, January 06, 2003

Hand Knitting vs Machine Knitting

I have to admit it...I'm a closet, repressed machine knitter.

I've always been facinated by the fact that a human with very little talent can loop string to create fabric. Now creating a pretty fabric or a nice garment takes a bit more talent, but you get the idea. After a few years of using all types of knitting needles, crochet hooks, tatting bobbins and darning needles to accomplish this, I was equally facinated to learn that there are machines that do this as well. So, of course I had to go out and get me one.

But I didn't just want any machine, I had to have an antique sock knitting machine. After seeing them on eBay, I did minimal research and ended up paying a fortune for a Gearhart sock knitting machine from the early 1900's with two cyllinders (80 and 100 needles). Here are a couple of pictures in case you're not familiar with how they look:

You'll see there's a sock hanging down the middle as if I had just knitted it. Well, I cheated, that sock was made over a year ago, and I only had waste yarn on the machine, but I wanted you to get the idea of where the sock would come from. This machine is kind of like a sophisticated Knitting Knobby that you may have played with as a kid to make i-cord. This one just has a lot more needles and loops them automatically. It also has a ribber attachment (not shown).

I've learned how to make a pretty competent sock with 1X1 or 2X1 ribbing and a short-row heel. When the machine was in prime condition, it took me about 40 minutes to make a sock, although I could have gotten that down to about 20 minutes with practice. Switching from ribbing to stockinette, and turning the heel and turning the toe are both a little labor-intensive, but still all of the sock is made on the machine.

I love this old machine (as well as the two flat-bed machines I own), but I honestly have very little time to play with them. As such, I'm repressed. But at least I'm no longer in the closet about it.


Anonymous said...

Hey Joe? Your post made me wonder. Can you tell if a knitted sweater was done by hand or machinet? I always thought that a 'perfect' piece was machine it possible to knit something by hand and have others believe its done by machine?

Curious in California :-)