Posted by: Steve | September 26, 2008

Knox Indiana Crank-In

What do you get when you gather a gaggle of circular sock machine (CSM) enthusiasts for a day of fun, food, and sharing?

A “crank in” of course!

A first for the northern community of Knox, IN, pm September 20, 2008, Judi and Larry rounded up about 15 CSM aficionados from across the mid-west.  Drawn by the promise of good food, help, and the love of sock machines, a “small crowd” gathered in the Community Center for a day of sharing.

It was my first crank – in.  I was not disappointed!

Packing in my new Harmony Auto Knitter, I looked for an immersion day focused on getting to know my machine and a bit of CSM history.  While I setup, around the room other machines emerged from their carefully packed transportation.  There was old and new machines… and even one that was mostly home made!

I get busy and was greated warmly by Judi who sat down to explore my Harmony, and help me understand its operation:

Judi explained and adjusted the ribber.  She graciously supplied me a bonnet for starting a sock.  After more oil that I thought necessary, my Harmony was knitting beautifully!  Before long, I had cranked through a few hundred yards of scrap yarn.

Mark stopped by and helped me locate several needles that “clunked”.  After looking over the machine, he thought it just needed to be broken in.  After all, it was new.  It had sat in the original Harmony box for 25 years as it was shipped from the factory.  The original tube was unraveled, re-wound, and setup for re-knitting.

Somewhere in here there was a break for lunch… (I came to knit… not eat!)  However, the food was good!

After lunch, Kim helped me through the motions of knitting a heel.  The process was practised throughout the afternoon.  The results?  Kinda funny…


I think there are 7 heels in this piece.  Some better than others!

Mark explaining something important… I didn’t take enough notes:
A look at Mark’s custom CSM. There’s a bunch of hand machined parts here which resulted in the smoothest and quietest CSM I’ve every seen!


Here’s the “ultimate” CSM workstation:


And Judi helping out on another machine:

Lessons learned or reinforced:

  • Fiber people are great folks!
  • the CSM is finicky, however my Harmony is in excellent shape with much promise!
  • I can knit heels… (now to put it all together for a sock)
  • Fiber people are generous!
  • Verizon hasn’t yet visited Knox (you know, “can you hear me now?” – well, not really…)

Bon tricot,


Posted by: Steve | September 8, 2008

Evapo-Rust Restoration Success!!

Seeking a non-destructive way to clean the rust off of the CSM “setup device” I stumbled upon Evapo-Rust (previously mentioned).  Here’s what the piece looked like before starting:

And, after 3 hours soak in the Evapo-Rust solution:

Really nice… The tines of the “springy” fingers cleaned up nicely and without apparent damage!  (You can see one of the sock weights soaking in the background.  Results were similar after a few hours.)


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!


Posted by: Steve | August 27, 2008

More on Michigan Favorite Fiber Shops…

Another weekend trip north this past weekend only sadly signaled “summer’s over”.  Reinforced by local schools starts and only one question comes to mind..

Where has the summer gone?

A stop through Howell, MI and a visit with Beth at The Spinning Loft  is always a joy.  Beth is passionate about spinning, and her shop shows it.  I enjoy her warm welcome.  On both trips through this summer, I found her shop literally littered with wheels.  If one is seeking a place to try-before-you-buy, her shop is at the top of my mid-west list for a focused spinning specialty shop.  I had the opportunity to sit down at a Lendrum, Majacraft, Mach-1, and had a chance to try a Ettrick Windwheel brought in by a customer.  While a unique design, I’m still not sure what it offered over more conventional wheels.  I left with a beautiful, Edward Tabachek drop spindle, selected to replace a heavy unbalanced monstrosity I’ve always had trouble using.  You know, the kind that puts the DROP in ‘drop spindle’ and probably more suited for spinning rope?

Beth gave me a couple of helpful tips that have lead to a more successful long-draw drafting technique.  (Did I mention I spin?)  A looser grip on my back hand holding the fiber, and spinning from the fold got me closer to an acceptable “supported long draw” drafting technique.  Thanks again Beth!

The other stop was new for me:  Heritage Weaving and Spinning.  Further off of the route I travel, the side trip was more time consuming than I had planned.  What I found was delightful!  This well stocked shop in Lake Orion, MI, seemed to cater well to the knitter, spinner, and weaver.  I dug into their big library and left with several new additions to mine:

  • “Intarsia:  A Workshop for Hand and Machine Knitting” by S. Stuever & K. Stuever (in preparation for a Kaffe Fassett project this winter)
  • “Latvian Mittens” by L. Upitis
  • “Traditional Aran Knitting” by S. Hollingworth

as well as a few balls of Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy needed to complete another knitting project underway, AND another Lucy Neatby sock pattern “Zig Zag Socks” – selected on the basis of the success of the Fiesta Feet!

So, where has the summer gone?  Friends and family; two college graduations;  three trips into Michigan; exploration of Georgian Bay and Manitoulin Island; knitting projects; a new/old circular sock machine, and more.

Where has your summer gone?

Bon tricot/Good knit,


Posted by: Steve | August 22, 2008

Harmony Auto Knitter Find!

Found at an area auction, tucked away in the corner of a former chicken coop, a “new in box” Harmony Auto Knitter, made in 1983 in Harmony, ME.  The machine is still wrapped in an October 1983 issue of the Wall Street Journal:

The sample sock – as it came from the factory – is still attached!

More about this find to come as I unpack it…

Posted by: Steve | August 22, 2008

Summer rambles and favorite fiber shops…

Our summer travels took us into the upper mid-west and Canada.  Armed with the Knitter’s Shop Finder 2008 list, we explored several along the way when the opportunity arose. 

Here are my summer favorites…

First, my LYS, Ewetopia.  A cosy place, full of yarn, inspiring and creative people, help, encouragement, friendly service, and “Late Night Knits” (1st and 3rd Friday nights each month).  Located in beautiful downtown Troy, OH the passionate folks that work here have been busy with “summer fiber camp” for kids.  The basement classroom has been filled with kids felting, weaving, and knitting for what seemed like the entire month of July!  The “Sox on the Square” club explored Flat Feet in August, and had guest instructor Andrea Wong visit in July.  This was the first opportunity I had to meet Andrea.  I had learned her Portuguese knitting style over a year ago… and it quickly became a favorite.

Another semi-local favorite?  For roving and yarn, Fiberworks has provided me with more sock yarn than I currently know what to do with — some will go onto my CSM (more to come).  My other big project is being knit from Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy found here.  I also like Arlene’s book selection.  And roving.  Did I mention encouragement? 

And Michigan favorites…

The Tawas Bay Co. overlooks Lake Huron and is not too far from a summer haunt.  It’s the only place I’ve encountered enough Rowan yarn — at one place and time — to stash for a Kaffe Fassett project!  Twenty some colors later, and I’ve completed a roundup of the yarn for the Foolish Virgin scarf.  Next winter’s project…

Commercial yarn not your thing?  No local fiber festival?  Beth at The Spinning Loft in Howell, MI enough spinning wheels and fiber available to keep one busy for a lifetime!  This is the place to go to try a variety of wheels prior to making your first purchase.  I’m sure I saw at least a dozen on the floor ready for a test drive.  Beth is passionate about spinning, and well accomplished.  Her patience and gentle direction lead this beginning spinner to a Majacraft wheel a year ago.  Thanks Beth!

At Cynthia’s  in Mackinaw, I found some of the clear clogs.  You know, the kind you need to show off your hand knit socks?  These will work well to show off the Fiesta Feet socks I’ve knit for my wife.  I also found the interesting sideways gloves:  Glad Hand Glove pattern seen elsewhere.

In Gaylord a stop at ImagiKnit drew questions about Portuguese knitting technique  that I frequently use.  After a demonstration, their sale prompted several purchases.  The Fiesta Feet project was underway and the ‘magic loop’ in the way.  Two Addi Turbos worked better, although the 16″ size was too short — 24″ just right!

Speaking of the Fiesta Feet project, inspiration (and a pattern) came from the Yarn Market in Beulah, MI.  A small, but well stocked shop just completed a move to this location!

Last (but far from least) I lingered long at the well stocked pattern and book corner of Nautical Yarn in Ludington, MI.  Here’s where I first saw the sideways glove pattern from iKnitiative (however the pattern was out of stock).

If you travel Michigan, you are never too far from an interesting fiber shop!


Posted by: Steve | August 21, 2008

Award Winning Knitter?

Wow.  This was not expected… “Best of Show:  Knitting”  Miami County Fair, Aug 11, 2008.  Here’s what the local paper had to say

The Lucy Neatby Fiesta Feet were fun to knit!  Challenging enough to keep one interested, yet not so difficult as to be frustrating.  And the award winning results were spectacular!

« Newer Posts