The one thing I love is knitting socks, be it on the sock machine or the various flat bed knitting machines, they are quick to knit, great subjects to teach folk how to short row, and at the end of the lesson, they have something to take away.
The Golden Fleece sock machine
This is an old well-used machine however it does work and has two cylinders with accompanying ribber plates - a 60 and an 80 needle. I have the original instruction manual. Thanks to the Youtube’s videos on the subject, sock knitting machines have come into vogue again – although this has lead to price increase for the machines,- on the bright side, needles are now being manufactured for the more common machine and mine is in, there though the needles are not cheap at around 50 dollars for 100 and the ribber ones even more expensive. The needles on my machine are constantly damaged by the wool carrier that catches the latches, so spare and good quality needles are crucial to the operation of this machine.
The machine knits fine socks and of course circular rib is possible and that’s where they differ from the flat bed machine, which can do circular stocking stitch and its derivatives but not circular rib. I am the first to confess I find the whole process a bit fiddly but perseverance does pay - to my mind the main type of sock this machine excels in is the ribbed sock and you start off with say 40 rows of one by one rib - moving on to around 100 rows (for long socks) of 3 by one rib, then changing the front set of needles for stocking stitch in preparation for the turning of the heel, you then do around 20 rows and then turn the heel - I won’t go into this as there are plenty of good videos outlining the method. After turning the heel you then knit around 40 - 60 rows for the foot and this leads you the final stage and that is turning the toe. This takes me a couple of hours for each sock and believe me when I say I have a bucket full of socks that have never reached the toe stage and its frustrating. I truly believe the new machines will rattle these socks off but older machines are not so finely honed with the result, lots of hassle. Now the finishing touch is the grafting of the toes and for this you need the Kitchener stitch and again this takes me a while.
Singer/Superba or Passap double bed socks
Compare this with the Passap or Singer sock- it takes me around 30 minutes per sock and you will see what I mean. The flat bed socks do need sewing up at the rib but that said you still land up with a nice sock - for the long sock I favour the 2 in one industrial rib leg, again with around 20 rows plain to get to the heel, and finishing the rest of the sock in stockinet using the decreasing method for the toe - so no Kitchener stitch for me. One of the problems of these socks is the yarn - any old yarn will not last long and it preferably has to have some nylon content and testament to this lies in my sock drawers which are filled with worn heel and toe 4 ply acrylic socks that look oh so gorgeous when finished but have no wear attributed to them. One of my favourite patterns is in the Passap-Duo 80 manual for ankle socks and I have just found another fine pattern in the Singer instruction manual so happy days...