Today I messed with *A*'s circular sock knitting machine. She's been thinking hard about some kind of cottage industry to start in our impending move to North Dakota and thought she would like to try knitting some different items with pure wool. I picked this up for her for Christmas.
I'd never heard of them before until she showed me some on the Internet. It seems that these were pretty common in households and co-ops early last century . This one is a Legare 47 and it's amazing to me after reading the manual (and trying my hand at it) that women would sit cranking socks out on these things for their families and for income. I started trying to figure it out right after we got it and was totally befuzzled. After playing with it and realizing that there actually is no magic involved, I'm starting to crank out things that are looking remotely sock-like. This is the progression of my attempts so far from left to right.
This is the view looking down the maw of the beast. Once you figure out what's happening inside, it's not that bad. There is some definite art involved with the weights you add to the bottom to keep even pressure.
You may be asking yourself why am I messing with this thing instead of *A*. When we got it, it was in its original crate with wrappings soaked in what I think was something like cosmoline. It took a while to clean and oil, especially the 100 or so individual hooks. It also has a few different adjustments that can be very finicky and *A* can be a little short on patience with things like this. Mostly, I just couldn't resist bringing an old machine like this back to life! We found two other folks in the area that are working these things as well and *A* is arranging a date with them to have a "crank in". There's no substitute for working next to someone who knows the ins and outs of lost skills.