Thursday, November 27, 2008

How to make a cup cosy on your CSM

I Frogged It has a great tutorial on how to make these quick gifts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sizing yarn

Typically CSM'ers will use yarn classified as sock yarn to knit socks with but occasionally you will hear on the Yahoo! group about knitting socks with some "strange number" yarn.

The numbers actually mean something. Crazy Fiber Lady posted a comment to this blog to a great site that explains just how those numbers are calculated and what they mean. (Thanks!)

Laura, with Handwerks, posted this great link to visually show you the difference between yarn weights. It's very handy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Needle sizes & When to use large hook needles.

Typically, there are two different types of needles. Cylinder needles and ribber needles.

The cylinder needles are the long shank needles. This is a photo of a 12 gauge cylinder needle typically used in Auto Knitters, PT Legare's, most Creelman Brother's, Master Machines & Verdun's:

Cylinder needles essentially makes knit stitches.

The shorter needles are ribber needles and are used in a ribber dial. Ribber needles purl. Here's a photo of a 12 gauge ribber needle:
Pat Fly with Angora Valley is currently the resource most CSM'ers use.

Pat also sells needles called Large Hook needles. These needles are exactly that, larger hooks.

Why use a Large Hook needle? When you have a machine that can handle thicker yarns (I've heard some LeGare 400's can knit worsted) or if you find that your yarns keep splitting.

I personally have an Auto Knitter and my machine, while it can knit with the large hook needles, it's certainly not happy (i.e., it feels very different when I crank and tends to drop stitches more often).

On the other hand, I've heard from people who one LeGare's who LOVE the large hook needles.

Another CSM'er likes to use large hook cylinder needles and regular sized ribber needles.

So really, it's a matter of what you're machine is happiest with.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bonnie Smola's CD

CSM Instructional CD

From Yellow River Station website:

This CD contains information about Circular Sock Machines. How to clean them, how to set them up, thread them, adjust them for knitting including adjusting tension for yarn and conditions, adjusting timeing, knitting waste yarn, placing the ribber and ribber adjustments are all shown in the first section of the CD.

The second section of the CD shows how to make sock tops of different styles: ribbed, hemmed, rolled, picot, and mock ribber tops are all explained and illustrated. Different types of heels and how to make them are shown. Knitting toes both wide and narrow, fashion or wedge and toe closing using Kitcheners or latching completes this section.

Fancy stitches including open work, polka dots and argyles fill the third section of the CD.

Information about various machines and machine pictures provide a short history of the Circular Sock Machine for the fourth and final section of the CD.

Click here for more info.

Roxana Baechle's Videos

Roxana has made several videos that are true standards within CSM circles. Here's the run down of what she has available. Ordering information is located at the bottom of this post.

Initial set--2 tapes, 2 hours each, $45 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)--

Contents: checking out parts, cleaning, sorting and testing needles, substituting parts, assembling, threading, using the set-up basket, making a knitted set-up/bonnet, re-hung selvedge on 54 slot cylinder, selvedge on other cylinders, sock with plain foot, sock with ribbed arch, kitchener stitch done from needles. Shows Gearhart, LeGare and Auto Knitter threadings. (Can be used with any brand of machine with exception of the ribbed arch sock section which cannot be done as described using a Gearhart due to absence of drive pin to take ribber out of work.)

Tape #3--over 1 1/2 hours, $25 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)--

Contents: mock ribbed sock, kitchener stitch variation when mock ribbing is used, hem-tops, pouches, tote-sampler-stool, embellishments/pockets/elbow patches, changing colors, reversible/double-layered sock; all items can be completed without using the ribber attachment. (Can be used with any brand of machine and any number of slots in the cylinder. Demonstrations on Gearhart, LeGare, Auto Knitter.)

Tape #4--approx 1 1/2 hours, $26 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)

Contents: mittens, gloves, special neck warmer; includes section on open fingers and inserting eyelet lace. All knitting is done on machine; finishing requires sewing one side of each finger and thumb. (Can be used with any brand of machine. Demonstration on 60 slot Auto Knitter.)

Tape #5--approx 1 1/4 hours, $21 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)

Contents: uses large-eye needles; mock rib sock with selvedge top, fast bootie for kids, sewing up toes from scrap yarn. (Can be used with any machine and regular needles using regular yarns. This video features use of four-ply worsted weight acrylic and heavy wool yarns. Demonstration on 60 slot auto knitter.)

Tape #6--approx 2 hours, $26 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)

Contents: knitting diamond patterns in contrasting colors, framing a diamond, putting the contrasting color across diamonds in argyle, finishing hints. (Demonstration on 60 slot auto knitter. Need to adapt pattern slightly for using other cylinders.)

Tape #7--about 1.5 hrs, $21 plus $6 shipping (includes written patterns)

Contents: knitting a sock in ten minutes by using mock ribbing technique and straight-up leg; rehung selvege (no bulky hem-top), exaggerating selvege row, heels/toes using end of row back to work, adding stripes and contrasting heels/toes, replacing needles for foot section. (Demonstration on 60 slot Auto Knitter; can use any working machine; no ribber or special tools needed.) Has a section featuring slotted yarn carrier; wool suggested for this pattern, but experimentation may prove it suitable in synthetics. Hints for speeding up the color changes are helpful in other patterns too.

Tapes will be sent using USPS priority mail packaging and services.

May be ordered via snailmail with check or money order to:
Roxana Baechle
3360 W. Saginaw Rd.
Coleman, MI 48618

Paypal payments are most welcome using address and "non-auction goods."

Sock Knitting Machine 101 Book One

Donna Peters has a new book out that is for brand new CSM owners.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to knit a custom foot

You will need a some information regarding the row gauge and foot size before you start.

Look at the bottom of a sock. You will see three different areas:
  1. Heel
  2. Foot
  3. Toe
A rule of thumb is that the heel and toe measures 2" each. The length can vary according to which cylinder you use, but we're talking general stuff for now.

To figure out how to knit the foot, initially you have to determine the total foot length.

Let's size a Men's 9. The length of a typical size 9 is 10.55 inches long.

So, to determine how long the foot area is, you do the following:

Shoe size length - Heel - Toe = Foot
10.55" - 2" - 2" = 6.55"

Next you have to use the row gauge of the yarn.

Let's say that the ball band says the yarn is 12 rows per inch.

So to determine how many times you crank, it's a simple multiplication:

Foot * Row Gauge = # of cranks for foot.
6.55-inch * 12 rows/inch = 78.6 rows => round up to 79 cranks

When you make your sock, work the heel, then crank 79 times, work the toe.

That's it.

Check your actual gauge after you knit the sock. If it doesn't match the ball band gauge, then can always frog the sock and re-calculate the foot length.

As you get used to your machine and the types of yarns you knit with you will be able to custom make socks in no time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yarn Weight Chart

The Craft Yarn Council of America has a great chart showing the different yarn weight standards. This is important to help you determine if the ball of yarn you have can be knitted on your CSM.

My AK doesn't like anything thicker than a Fine (2)
My row gages have run anywhere between 7 rows per inch to 12 rows per inch. It depends on the thickness of the yarn and the tension you set on your machine.

Row Gauge

Row gauge is and important element that helps you size your socks.

First off, you'll need to know row gauge.

I initially look at the yarn ball band to get an idea of what to expect. Most balls will have the following grid:
See the number that has an "R" behind it located on the right side of the square? It's the row gauge number. The left designates that it's a 4" high square.

So to determine row gauge here, simply divide 22 by 4 = 5.5 rows per inch.

But the above square is for a worsted weight yarn. A CSM typically uses yarns that are thinner. It just depends on the machine you have. I have heard of some Legare 400 machines being able to knit worsted weight yarn. My AK really doesn't like anything larger than a Sport weight.

I'll do another post talking about yarn weights.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Question about yarn mast height

I got an email from Michelle and she asks:
. . .the latest post . . . mentioned that the yarn mast was too high. I watched again to see where the yarn mast was, and I never saw the mast. Mine is all the way up on both machines. How did you all know that it was too high, and where is it supposed to be???
I misspoke in that previous post (and have since corrected it). I had typed yarn mast when I meant yarn carrier. To be clear, the Yarn Stand is Item K on the AK machine sketch. I adjusted the Yarn Carrier (Item E).

I just played with the location of the yarn carrier until the machine seemed to be cranking better. A good reference as to proper yarn carrier height is to watch Jacquie's video.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Add yourself to the sock machine map

Where to put the markings on your cylinder

Country Rain has a great chart showing how many needles should be marked for the half way mark and the number of slots for the heel/toe.

Shoe Size to Sock Size Chart

Catherine Goodwin put together a chart showing how long each foot is in inches which helps when making custom sized socks.

History of the CSM

Dr. Richard Candee has written the definitive history of the hand-cranked sock machine.

Get your copy of the CD-Rom from Angora Valley

Jenny Deter CSM Patterns

Jenny Deters (above with some fair-isle socks she knitted on her CSM) has written a couple of pattern books that are available for purchase.

Jenny's first book: Unique Fancy Sock Patterns contains 12 patterns. No ribber used unless you want a ribbed cuff instead of a hung hem. Designs in the socks are made by transferring stitches, so you will need a tool with a good hook. All patterns have written directions & graphs for the 54, 60 & 72 needle cylinders, plus all patterns are rated according to difficulty.
Cost $17.00 which includes sh/h
Jenny's second book: Socks & More contains 16 patterns all in color. This book has a wide variety of patterns of garments, several different socks including simplified sole mates, fingerless gloves, beadwork, felted slippers, etc. I think you'll find some very interesting & unique patterns. Cost $33.95 which includes sh/h.

Add $1.30 for paypal

My paypal address is:

3. Individual patterns:

Celtic Knot Scarf Pattern knit flat fabric with directions for 2 lengths of tails. This is truly a nice looking scarf with I-cording woven to make the knot.
Cost $7.00 which includes sh/h

Double & Single Eyelet Rib Socks for the 54, 60, 72 & 80 needle cylinders. The 54 would require the 27 ribber. Socks can be made with repatterning yarn or solid colors.
Cost $7.00 which includes sh/h

Set-up bonnets for the 60 & 72 needle cylinders with loops at both ends in different colors. These bonnets should last for years as they are made from cotton. I am still using my original bonnet.
Cost $7.00 which includes sh/h

Knowing that many of you don't like paying all the shipping costs & for those who for some reason just can't get my second book "Socks & More", I can email the felted slipper pattern to you. The only thing it will lack is a drawing of attaching the two layers together, but it is described in the text. I will send the photo as an attachment. Cost $5.00 for the emailed pattern

If combining items, sh/h costs will be lower.

How to Inspect your machine upon arrival

If you bought an antique sock machine, Country Rain has a great tutorial on what to expect when your shipment arrives.

NZAK Manual play list

I like the You Tube play list format to view the contents of each chapter for the NZAK Manual.

Go here to see it.

How to make your own set up bonnet

Country Rain shows how to make your own set up bonnet.

Once you have a bonnet made, you can go here to see how to use it.

How to clean your CSM

Yellow Station has a great PDF showing how to clean your CSM.

Follow-up to open ribber timing question:

The feedback I'm getting from various CSM'ers to my video open question is:

  1. My yarn carrier is too high. As far as ribber timing goes, as long as the yarn catches in the hook while the ribber needles is moving backwards, it's timed right.
  2. My stool is too wobbly.
  3. I am turning the crank too fast - slow down to ensure I don't drop stitches.
  4. I need to loosen the tension on my ribber needles. Ideally you want the ribber and the cylinder needles to form the same size stitches. In this video, it looks like the ribber tension is tighter than the cylinder tension.

Thanks to those who took the time to watch and comment. Hopefully this will help others out, too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NZAK Manual chapters 17-18 - Toe & Cast off

Shows how to make the toe (chapter 17) and cast off your work (chapter 18 - 3:46)

NZAK Manual chapter 16 - Heel

How to knit a heel

NZAK Manual chapter 15 - Start top of leg

Starting the leg of the sock.

NZAK Manual chapters 13-14 - Adjustments

Chapter 13 shows how to adjust your yarn carrier

Chapter 14 shows how to adjust the tension on the ribber (1:18 in) Also shows how to set up the machine with ribber needles and scrap yarn.

NZAK Manual chapters 11-12 - Casting on & Setting up the Ribber

Start here to learn to knit a sock

NZAK Manual chapter 10

NZAK Manual chapters 8-9

NZAK Manual chapters 4-7

NZAK Manual chapters 1-3

Jacquie was very generous in allowing the NZAK instructional DVD to be uploaded to You Tube. Thanks, Jacquie!

Open Question about CSM ribber timing

I have been having trouble with my ribber needles shearing off at the latches. This is an open video question for the more experienced CSM'ers out there about timing. Everyone assumes that I understand what proper timing is. I do know how to adjust my timing, but I don't know if I have proper timing on my ribber currently. Help!

How to start work on a CSM with a set up bonnet

Video shows how to use a set up bonnet to start work on the CSM. Note: I was setting up to start doing ribbing, that's why I had every other needle removed. If you are doing a hung hem sock, you will need to put a loop on every other needle.

Note: At the end of the video I mention that is how to use a set up basket - I misspoke. It's how to use a set up bonnet

Adjusting the cylinder tension on a CSM

A quick explanation of how to adjust your tension dial and what it does to change your knitting tension. This was done on my AK.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kitchener Stitch

Great video on how to close your toes. This shows how to do it from the stockinette side of the sock.

How to use your bobbin winder

This is a helpful video that shows you how to properly use your bobbin winder that comes with antique sock machines and shows you how to adapt it for modern cardboard cones.

How to knit an I-chord

purlgurl wrote up a great visual tutorial on how to knit an I-chord on your machine.


Looking for a manual? Machines listed in alphabetical order.


Auto Knitter - 18th Edition (redirect to Angora Valley)


1927 Clearfield Manual (redirect to Plum Cottage)

Creelman Brothers Manual (redirect to Angora Valley)

Cymbal Home Knitter (redirect to Angora Valley)


1908 Gearheart Manual (redirect to Angora Valley)
1914 B Gearheart Manual and Supplemental (redirect to Plum Cottage)


Harrison Sun Ribber (redirect to Angora Valley)
Home Profit Master Machine (redirect to Angora Valley)


Imperia (redirect to Angora Valley)


Legare 47 Manual (redirect to Angora Valley)


Steber Manual (redirect to Plum Cottage)


Verdun - semi-automatic (redirect to Angora Valley)

Victoria (redirect to Angora Valley)

Known CSM Restorers

Here's a list of known CSM Restorers:
  1. Angora Valley
  2. Country Rain
  3. The Legacy Farm (These guys also refurbish)
  4. Old Tyme Stockings
  5. Plum Cottage Crafts

Buying a CSM

Finding the right machine for you really depends upon what your expectations are. The learning curve is somewhat high with regards to making socks on your machine. I have heard of some people being able to knit a sock right out of the box, but that is rare.

So, do you want to be able to get knitting quickly and don't want to deal with tinkering with your machine to make it work? Is tinkering something you enjoy? You should ask yourself those questions prior to buying a machine.

There are a couple of ways to buy a CSM.
  1. Buy a brand new one
    1.  NZAK from Jacquie Grant in New Zealand.
    2. Erlbacher Gearhearts
  2. Buy one from a restorer.
  3. Buy one from someone who is getting rid of theirs
  4. Buy one from eBay.
Buying from Jacquie Grant will get you up and running as quickly as possible. Her machines are newly manufactured and are made with aluminum - which make the machines relatively lighter than their antique counterparts. The cost of the machines really depends on the strength of the US dollar to the NZ dollar. Generally, I've seen them sold anywhere between $1,300 to $2,100 loaded (stand, two cylinders, two dials, etc. . .)

Peewee's Erlbacher Gearhearts will also get you up and running quickly. He has duplicated Gearhearts which is a 1.5:1 turn ratio. He recently manufactures a 1:1 turn ratio. His base prices run from $1,265 for a basic package and $1,765 for a delux (more cylinders and ribbers with helpful doo dads)

You can also buy one from a reputable restorer. This is also a quick way to get up and running and you have the peace of mind that there's nothing wrong with your machine, it's just you! :) I'll post a separate post for known restorers so I can keep the list recent. The only problem with buying from a restorer is that they're product is limited to the machines they can find. Sometimes they'll be flush with machines, other times they'll be in the process of restoring one. The cost for a restored machine runs approximately from $1,200 to $1,800.

Current CSM owners may also be selling their machines for various reasons. They have too many, they aren't using it anymore, etc. Whatever the reason, this can be a really good deal. You know they work. The only problem is trying to find someone who is selling one. The yahoo group sockmachineswapshop is probably going to be your best resource for this type of machine. Ravelry also has a csm sales and swaps forum.

Finally, eBay. Country Rain has the best rundown of what to look for when buying a machine from an eBay auction. For non-tinkerers, make sure you see knitting on the machine and various examples of what has been knitted on the machine. For the tinkerers out there, you can probably find one and fix it as you go. I did this and it took me a long time before I actually knitted anything on my machine. I also got very frustrated with it, too. You just don't know the shape of the machine you are going to get when you buy from eBay, but there are some good restorers who sell there, too.

Hopefully this sums up this question. If you see any errors or have more info to impart, please feel free to contact me!


I'm finding that there's a lot to learn about using circular sock machines. I'm also very much a visual learner.

This blog is my attempt to keep track of how to use my antique circular sock machine. I hope this can help someone else out.