In 2001 soon after we moved to Cheshire I bought this vintage sock knitting machine and had a lesson with the sock knitting guru Denys Wright, who I bought the machine from. I just loved the engineering and it joined my two other vintage knitting machines - both normal flatbed type. I didn't really expect to produce anything useful from it.
Full set up
This machine is a Berridge and made late 1800's early 1900's, still trying to track the model down. It was built in Leicester and is a Griswold design, but he went back to America between 1890 and 1892 and Berridge took over!
I wasn't really interested in getting it to knit socks, but played a bit and managed the heel and toe ( both the same thing in a machine knitted sock ) and even the ribbing for the cuff, as samples. But then we moved to another house in Cheshire so I took the needles out and stored it safely. Then I was busy- mainly working!
Then last January, now living back in Norfolk and having more space I got the machine out again, fitted it all together and checked it was working. It has sat covered up in my 'sewing room' since then. Now it is 2017 I have decided I am going to try and knit a pair of socks with it. I have done a little bit on it most days over the last week.
Here is the progress so far.
Trying ( and managing) to get a sock and a heel in the same sample.
I never even tried to get a decent leg length or foot length. It has worked but the grafting of the toe - the last bit in making a sock this way) is not neat enough for me.
Nearly happy with this one, some tension errors, fits my foot beautifully but still unhappy with the grafting
Pleased with this. A different method of grafting that is brilliant. Decided to use a contrast yarn and make it match the simple cuff I am currently doing. Tension is better too.
I am not going to try to add the ribber section ( on back left in top photo) until I can knit a perfect sock without any hiccups at all. If a latch sticks open on a needle there is a ladder and the knitting needs so much weighting that the ladder runs very quickly. The other two keys to success are getting the tension right, there is pointer on the side of the machine that adjusts the height of the needles and getting the weight just right when knitting the heel and toe. Too much weight and the stitches can't knit and too little and the stitches come off the hooks.
The toe is grafted to the top of the foot by hand, and I am now pleased I have a neat method for that.
It is much more complicated than an ordinary knitting machine as you have nowhere to park the carriage easily where it is not sitting on the stitches being a circular set up.
I am pleasantly surprised how it knits fine yarn.
I have some old books to help me. The best advice was :
This ( knitting a sock correctly with shaping at first sitting) should not be anticipated; but anyone can become an expert in working the machine within a short time, from the book only, without personal instructions, provided they will commence at the beginning and learn perfectly ONE THING AT A TIME, following the order herein given' - so true!
You tube is proving very useful in finding extra hints and tips.
I might just get my own knitted walking socks yet but the you tube video labelled the 8 1/2 minute sock is not something I am aiming for! What fun would there be in rushing with a wonderful machine?