Delving into Cotton on the CSM…

posted Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

On a whim (and inspired by a thread on Ravelry) I decided to try some 8/2 cotton weaving yarn I had purchased some time ago that has just been sitting around.. and to my surprise, run with a strand of very fine lycra/nylon yarn, it makes very nice socks!   I knit these on my Legare 400 with a fairly tight tension on my 72 cylinder.  I think this yarn (or even some 10/2) would produce a nicer fabric on an 84 slot cylinder, but I don’t have one.


They’re a little loose right off the machine, as shown above, but once washed the cotton fulls nicely and the lycra activates, drawing in the knitting a considerable amount.  I estimate they shrank about 15% when I washed and dried them.  I didn’t actually expect them to shrink so much, so the foot is almost too short on these.


Then I tried some 8/2 Cotlin (50/50 Cotton and Linen) also with very nice results.  This stuff shrank more than the 100% cotton, so even though I added extra rows to the feet, the finished size is about the same (though I did knit the leg shorter on these).  I didn’t take a picture before washing, but these socks looked looser and more gauze-like right off the machine, but they too washed up very nicely.  You can see how stretchy they are comparing the unblocked sock to the one on the blocker (my second blocker went MIA sometime yesterday.. I still have no idea where it is – thanks, kids)


Since I have a LOT of 8/2 yarn in my stash from my abandoned attempts at learning to weave, I forsee a lot of these socks in my future – the knitted fabric is slightly thicker than I’d prefer compared to storebought socks (for me anyways.. they’re thinner than the socks my DH wears and thinner than wool socks), but the toes on these are seamless, which more than makes up for being heavier, since my #1 gripe about almost any sock is the seam over the toe – it’s uncomfortable, and too bulky even on the thinnest socks since to save money/time the toes on commercial socks are usually serged rather than linked or grafted.

A bit behind on the updates again…

posted Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

But I’ve at least been busy!

In the past month I knit myself a sweater (Rogue from The Girl from Auntie)

Rogue Finished

I was a bit overwhelmed looking at the pattern, since it is 19 pages, but it’s all very clearly written out and detailed – which is wonderful when you’re knitting complex cables (especially for the first time – I’ve done cables before but nothing like these).  The charts look confusing at first, but if you follow along it all just makes sense when it needs to.  I thoroughly enjoyed knitting every bit of the sweater (well, except for maybe the last half of the second sleeve – I was ready to be finished by then!) and I can’t wait to get started on Eris, another pattern she has written.  I actually bought the Eris pattern back in June, and was promptly discouraged as I flipped through all 40 pages of the pattern… but now I realize that it’s not really that the pattern is that difficult, it’s just that Jenna is so great at making each step exceptionally clear.

I finished what may be the last pair of longies I ever knit for my kids.. since we’re not cloth diapering anymore and they’re pretty much only for the “cute” factor, I think I will be saving the rest of my “longies” stash for sweaters, hats, and other cool weather woolens.  The yarn is my own, dyed in the Red Mountain colorway – I absolutely love how they colorway knit up, and I have more than enough yarn left for a hat to match… or maybe just for a hat for me 🙂

Red Mountain Longies

I made my daughter a simple dress to wear on Christmas (and have plans to make many more with my fabric stash), it’s really simple, sort of an adaptation of my twirly skirt with a pheasant top bodice (similar to this tutorial but I cut my peices only about 7″ long to match the 6″ teirs of the skirt)


I’ve been working a lot on my sock machine too, I made about a dozen pairs of socks in December alone for gifts and as some custom orders, which for the most part went fairly well.  I didn’t photograph all of them since I was usually in a rush to get them sent off.  I have even set up the 1923 Gearhart I added to my collection in August up and have it knitting finally (I needed needles for it), and I even tracked down a 50 slot dial to match my 100 slot cylinder (which is not shown, that’s the 40 slot in the image with the 100 slot cylinder in the machine).  It’s in remarkable condition considering it was an ebay bargain, and while it has a few quirks, mechanically it’s in very good shape as well.  It makes the weirest sound while knitting though – a solid clicking due to the way the uplift cams are spring loaded, which is mildly amusing.

1923 Gearhart

So far I’m still working out some kinks with the ribber timing and I’d like to find a solution to keeping count of my rows more easily, but I hope to soon be able to make some really fine gauge socks on it.

My two year blogaversary is coming up soon – I might just give away a pair of custom socks and possibly some yarn, so watch for that in the next week or two 🙂

Maker Faire!

posted Monday, October 20th, 2008

I totally had a blast. Lost of people stopped by to see us, and Shelly and I were super busy the entire weekend! I managed to crank out one pair of socks Saturday morning in about 45 minutes, which I then took off the machine but left attached to each other, so Shelly and I could show what a pair looks like fresh off the machine. That worked REALLY well for demonstration purposes – quite a few people commented that I must not know what a foot looks like, since it was hard to make out just how what came off the machine became socks, but it was great to be able to show them all the parts of a sock, and how it all comes together when you separate them and close the toes. Most people were surprised that there was very little difference structurally between the socks we make on our antique machines, and the new ones you can go pick up at any store.

Shelly and I both have a lot of ideas on how to make things go a little smoother next year (or for any CSM demo, really).

sock knitter

Originally uploaded by yi
Yeah, that’s me – I was putting tags on socks!

Things I’ve learned about ribbing on a CSM

posted Thursday, July 24th, 2008

  • If it doesn’t work, take it apart, clean everything (again) and keep trying
  • If the stitches don’t clear the latches (easily, on their own), and you’re using plenty of weight, your ribber dial is TOO HIGH.  It’s not a tension issue or a needle issue, it’s simply because the dial isn’t adjusted properly.  It seems counter intuitive to lower it, but it has to be lower for the needles to work correctly
  • Stitch tension adjustment is very touchy – a small adjustment makes a BIG difference!  It’s not like the v-cam tension at all
  • Ribber timing is tricky – just when you think you have it, you have to tweak it again.  Make TINY adjustments.  A quarter turn of that screw can make a big difference.  An entire turn might be WAY WAY WAY too much!
  • If you yarn carrier is not where it needs to be, that can cause all kinds of problems
    • You might break/bend latches (and possibly destroy needles entirely)
    • Latches won’t open
    • Your timing will seem off, when it really isn’t, the needle just can’t grab the yarn

When you get it all right, it sings 🙂  You can crank out an entire ribbed sock with no trouble at all… amazing!

Ribbed Sock

I must just have some sort of insane good luck

posted Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

About a month or so ago I got the notion that I wanted to buy and restore an antique CSM to go along with my NZAK. I settled on a Legare 400 as the machine that I wanted, and I watched eBay for a while (which is likely the most risky place to shop for one, but hey, that’s part of the fun, right?) and finally found one I liked… and two weeks ago, bought it. I’ve been anxiously waiting since then for it to arrive (note: it was shipped right away, USPS has been doing who knows what with it for the past 13 days since it left Canada).

It arrived today!

Since everything looked like, well, really REALLY good, I decided that instead of taking it apart right away, I’d throw some needles in, and see what it could do.

Lets go..

Wow. That can’t be… it’s casting on perfectly.


Not only that, iIt isn’t dropping a SINGLE stitch. I’m almost disappointed – I wanted a challenge, right? I wanted a machine that needed a bit of work (and not just some minor cleaning). This isn’t challenging if it knits perfectly!


I swapped out the yarn carrier for a slotted one from Roxanne (which I’m not sure about quite yet – I need to get a washer or something to use as a spacer, if I leave it as is, it will hit the tension dial when knitting heels and toes), and just kept cranking away. I’d be tempted to say that this machine knits better than my NZAK… it’s very smooth.

Perfect :)

The only problem with it? A tiny chip off the 72 cylinder… which happened during shipping (it was packed very well though, so I’m not sure how it happened, other than USPS having it for 13 days, doing who knows what to the box it was in).

I have freakish good luck

So there it is.. my new to me, beautiful Legare 400. All I have to do is clean it, but it appears to be complete, it knits like a dream, and I’m quite pleased with my “gamble” on eBay. I’ve yet to try the ribber, but it seems to be fine as well.


Amazing 😀