Posted by: Steve | September 6, 2008

First Crank in 25 Years?

While hand knit projects end, my attention turned to my “new” Harmony auto-knitter last night.  With care, the test sock was removed from the cylinder needles, and the ribber removed… I couldn’t wait.

All appeared to work as I slowly cranked the machine.  But was it really working?  Using the “setup device” I threaded the machine with cheap acrylic sport weight yarn.  A few more slow turns of the crank…. but wait.  The cylinder needle latches were sticking in the horizontal position — and hanging up on the yarn carrier. Here’s the first few passes:

Not wanting to inflict damage, the yarn was cut from the machine and the operation studied in close detail.  This led to further cleaning, but the engineer in me got the best… soon a screwdriver “appeared” and the machine was disassembled.  Old oil(?) was wiped from the moving parts: bed plate, cam cylinder, and crank.  New oil applied and the machine was reassembled.  While it cranked smoother, I reasoned the oil I used was too light.  So, back apart it came.  Wiped.  And a heavier weight oil applied.  Once reassembled, I was satisfied with the results.

There are two rusty parts with this package:  the weight holder shaft or hook, and the basket-like “setup device”.  Twenty-five years in a chicken coop – while in the original packing – wasn’t the best preservative.  Although, remarkably, the main core of the machine is rust free!  I’m going to look into a product Evapo-Rust to see if is an appropriate solution to clean up these parts.  I think my local Auto Zone stocks this product.

Thinking also that several of the cylinder needle latches are sticky, but seeing no visible rust, I think soaking the needles in a penetrating oil bath this weekend should do the trick.  Hopefully, we can thread the machine up and do some real knitting on Sunday!




  1. What a lucky find! Such great condition. I’m terribly jealous. I hope to find one someday like that. I currently have 5 machines. 1 legare 47, 1 Creelman & 3 Gearharts. I can’t stop wanting them. I know it’s a sickness. I have just purchased my latest Gearhart from ebay. Awaiting it’s arrival. It’s always a gamble, but I’m a willing player. Good luck & happy Crankin.
    North Olmsted, OH

  2. Thanks Vicki! The HAK and its owner 😉 will attend its inaugural crank-in on 9/20 in Knox, IN.

    With luck, I’ll post some pics from the event.

  3. Hi Steve and maybe Vicki!
    I am trying to learn about these machines . I don’t own one yet. Any advice??


  4. Wonderful, I am attending also – – it’s my first Crank-in too. Driving from Cleveland, Ohio area with two other ladies. I did attend the 2008 Sock Knitters Conference this past summer. Great fun. Looking forward to meeting you & your great find.


  5. Jackie,
    There are a number of good Internet resources. I’ve started to post links here as I study them. Start by Googling “circular sock machine”.

    Most of the available machines are antiques – or nearly so. The New Zealand Auto Knitter (NZAK) is in production. Others (like mine) were made in the 1980’s. From there they go back into the late 1800’s.

    In brief, they create a tube with knit or a combination of knit/purl stitches by turning the crank. Machine features allow you to knit a heel and toe. I understand with practise, a pair of socks can be produced in about an hour. I’m still learning…

    Bon tricot,

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