Friday, February 6, 2009

A piece of history

That is a circular sock machine on the left, a bobbin winder on the right. (Ursa's nose in the corner, she's a curious one.) This was shipped in 1923. I have the wood box it shipped in.

The csms were sold to women as a way to make extra money. The company (Gearhart, in this case) would sell the machine, provide the yarn, then pay for the socks that were created. "Gearhart Home Earners" they were called.

This is a new toy for me. A woman in my spinning group wanted to get rid of it, because it was just sitting in her basement not being used. She wanted it to go to someone who would actually use it. I was telling the story of the peg loom and the box of chair parts I got because I wanted the wood box they were in. That is what reminded her of it, the wood box. I was in the right place at the right time. No money is exchanging hands, she has a new skein of handspun yarn, and will be coming up for some spinning refresher lessons, and some new roving. This is an incredible deal, csms can sell for hundreds, even over a thousand dollars. I have been interested in them for several years, but the price tag was just too high for me.

This one seems to be in extremely good condition. Everything has been kept well oiled, there is no rust that I can see. I have several packets of needles to go through. There is some brown on them, but I couldn't tell if it was rust or just old oil that needs to be cleaned off in my quick look through the packet. There are two cylinders, a 72 and a 60, for using different yarns and creating different sizes. Both are true, (oftentimes the cylinder can be out of round) and move through the machine easily. It has the ribber for each cylinder as well, and there is some damage here. The metal is cracked. However, a good friend is a machinist, so he might be able to help me out. I understand that a lot of people don't even use the ribber, so that may not even matter. The instruction booklet, supplemental instructions, even color advertising for the socks ("Children's Sport sox of Wool, made for the health and comfort of children. " "All physicians and authorities on hosiery prescribe Wool for health." "Protect the Child's Health, it Pays" $2.00 per pair) are all in very good, legible condition.

I don't know if it actually knits. I have to figure out how to use it first. I think there is a steep learning curve here.

If you've been reading along for any length of time, you know I love old stuff. Functional old stuff even more. Having this machine, I am in seventh heaven. If I can get it working, I'll be beside myself!

On one of the booklets, the Special Subsequent Knitting Instructions for Allwear (TM) Woolen Hosiery, there is an important notice with tips on making their hosiery with the machine. "Learn the names and numbers of all the parts." and the like. My favorite one: "Make up your mind it is easy to operate with care." That might become my new mantra "Make up your mind it is easy." I'll have to write that on a few sticky notes and put them around the house. The power of positive thinking from 1922.


Cyndi B. said...

Can you believe it? There's a circular sock machine society!

Cindy said...

I was going to say. Look online. There are all sorts of knitting bloggers that use csms. What a fabulous deal! I can't wait to hear all about it.

Mama Pea said...

What a TREASURE! It looks like a beautiful piece. And I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of having it than you. Somehow I know you won't have any trouble getting it to work. Watch out world, Annie and her circular sock machine are on the loose and we will have socks everywhere!

Have fun. I can't wait to see the results!

Anonymous said...

YAY for you! I have also looked longingly at these old machines, but too high a price tag for now. I'll just have to knit socks the old-old fashioned way. :-)
Have fun!
Maybe you can get your Mom involved, taking turns turning the old handle around and around.

Happy sock knitting! I know you can figure that thing out, you've got the right attitude!

~Amanda (gr8aunt)

cornbread hell said...

cool looking machine. it looks kinda like an anti meat grinder.
insert yarn, out comes sock.

Linda Sue said...

What a great aquisition! That is going to be so much fun! I LOVE that it is in such perfect nick AND with the box! WOW! I would love to play with that, you lucky girl.

rilera said...

I like that! "Make up your mind it is easy". Maybe I'll adopt that as my mantra as well.

I can't wait to see the socks you make using this machine. What a cool find for you!

Annie said...

Oh, the pressure. You all seem to have confidence I can figure this out, I hope I can! I'm excited to have it to try, anyway.

Lona said...

Woot! Join the club. My dh learned from a video made by Karen in the Woods (check etsy). We have also seen some good videos on YouTube, and that is free...

There is a circular sock machine society of america (Cyndi found it) and they are generally very helpful people. I'll bet there are a couple of cranky knitters in your area.

Have fun! I would say keep it out of the way of your Mom, though, once you start knitting. It can be very easy to drop stitches, and that's a major hassle to correct.

Hooray! So happy for you...

anncrafts said...

I've had my Gearhart for about a year now and am lucky to live near someone that knows a lot about them. There is a steep learning curve but once you get it, it's so much fun! I make all my own socks now and have even made a pair for pay! Have fun.