A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Where Is My Sock Machine?

I have been waiting on baited breath (now is that an old saying, or WHAT?) for the arrival of my circular sock knitting machine.... I might have mentioned awhile back that I was on the prowl for one of these, but I will give an update now for anyone who has never seen or heard of such a thing.

Back at the end of March while we were traveling through the North Coast (of Cally), we visited a crafts coop in Ferndale, me looking for yarn and my husband humoring me. The clerk there showed us an antique machine that looked like a highly mechanical version of the peg knitter, only with over 50 thin metal latch hook devices. When the handle was turned, it cranked the cylinder holding these stitches, making the next row on a tube. She showed us multiple pairs of socks that the shop owner had made using this really cool piece of retro technology, and being the antique lovers that we are, we fell for it.

I came back home and did extensive research on the 'Net, trying to learn about these devices. I discovered a great Yahoo list, with some of the kindest, most generous souls I have met virtually ... there was never a question too dumb for them. The machines are commonly referred to as CSMs, short for circular sock machine.

I also located some excellent websites, including a virtual museum, Angora Valley Farm, Country Rain, and Jacquie Grant, a restorer with a second virtual museum site, some of the dedicated restorers out there.

I know that some of you dedicated sock knitters will scoff, and I want you to keep working on those nice carry-around, photograph-everywhere socks, but I was so intrigued by the connection to home knitting enterprises of the past that I decided I wanted one of these for myself. I will be happy carrying around little scarfs or baby hats, and making socks with the CSM under a shade tree this summer.

Luckily, I stumbled upon Roxana Baechle, who doesn't have a website, but has been using and restoring CSMs for over a decade. I had to wait a bit, but she finally had one ready to sell to me, in its original (i.e. unretouched paint), but tuned and ready to go condition. While I was waiting, I purchased a pair of Roxana's socks for my DH and two of her collection on instructional videos. He was as excited to watch about cleaning and restoring these as I was. He loves old machinery, and they are a finely detailed example of such.

Roxana was finally ready to ship a Legare 47 to me, that she had just finished using to make a secret project for the Circular Sock Machine Society of America conference coming up at the end of June. I promise I will post a picture of her creative endeavor then, but since the contest is titled "What Else Can You Make With a CSM?" I don't want to give her secret away; I think she will win!

I have been waiting for my boxes with the machine and six pounds of wool to arrive.... unfortunately, the box of wool got here Tuesday, but the machine hasn't made it yet. I am crossing my fingers that it isn't "lost" in the postal ether and will arrive tomorrow. I know I can't get to working with this yet, as our family is coming for a reunion over Memorial Day weekend, but I JUST WANT TO LOOK!


Blogger margene said...

We saw the CSM at a local Fiber Festival and my DH was very interested. Maybe that's something I can get him to do...restore and then knit while he sits in front of the tube. Hope it comes soon, I'd love to see it!

8:36 AM  
Blogger FaeryCrafty said...

That is too cool. Can't wait to hear more about it :)

12:54 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Can't wait to see pickies of the CSM. It sounds interesting.

I have posted a few local photos of Launceston on my blog. There are also photos of some local characters as well.

Sadly the photos were taken by DH and not by myself.


2:54 PM  
Blogger marguerite louise said...

Oh, my goodness - a sock knitting machine! And here I thought you ladies (and here and there a gentleman knitter) were the human machines behind all those beautiful creations!
My knitting swansong was a 15 foot long Dr.Who scarf for my grandson, who was fifteen years old at the time and a great fan of the Dr's. Haven't cast on one stitch since then. I admire all of your creations.

8:34 PM  

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