The ribber is one of the most difficult parts of the circular sock machine to learn.  I’ve fiddled with it a few times, each time learning a little bit more about how it works.  Finally, I saw this post at Sarah’s blog, and it just clicked for me.  I had fixed the timing so the needles would catch the yarn in the proper sequence, but they weren’t pulling the yarn through the previous loop to make the stitch.  Following her advice, I lowered the ribber dial a few times, until the yarn cleared the latches and made stitches.  It ended up almost touching the cylinder!

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

Here you can see the needles in action.

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

Now my one remaining problem is that the butt end of the needle seems too short, and it gets stuck on the tappet plate as it goes around. I have to push the needle butts out a little bit to clear the part where it gets stuck. I don’t know if getting longer needles will solve this, or if I have to adjust the tappet plate somehow. So far, that part looks pretty immobile to me. But next week I will be going over to see Beth (who has no blog, that is her Ravelry link), who is nearby and was kind enough to offer her help.

So here is the final result.  I somehow managed to drop some stitches when I transferred them back to stockinette stitches and took the ribber off.  I’ll have to figure out how not to do that next time.  The little bow-ties are where the stitches didn’t clear the latch and stayed on the needle to be knit on the next round.  You can see there are fewer of them toward the top of the cylinder, after I had lowered the ribber more and more.

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

It’s so satisfying to make progress like this!

I’d also like to introduce you all to my new little friend, who has been visiting me at my office window for the past couple of weeks.

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Isn’t he adorable?  I have a pretty tree outside my window, and this little fellow hangs out there and sings when the weather is nice. Occasionally, he hops over to my window and taps on the glass. Of course, he didn’t do it when I had my camera with me… I don’t know much about birds, so I just Google’d “yellow bird with black wings” and found out that he is an American Goldfinch.  Yesterday I actually saw a similar bird with less vibrant plumage, possibly a female.  If they mate and have little baby birdies outside my window I will be thrilled!

Finally, I got back to my sock machine to finish the second mock rib sock.

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Despite my efforts to write down what I did, and to count rows carefully, the second sock turned out longer than the first.  Oops!  They fit but are a tad loose, especially at the cuff.  I think I’ll increase tension a bit for the next pair I do with the Lorna’s Laces yarn.

I’ve also been spinning on my wheel this week!  Here’s some Spunky Eclectic merino/tencel fiber in Sangria.  Look at that sheen!

Spunky Eclectic Merino/Tencel in Sangria

It hardly needed any predrafting, and wanted to be spun fine.  It took some experimentation to find the right amount of twist for it to be strong yet still soft.

Spinning fine

Here’s the first 2 ounces of singles on the bobbin.  I’ll do another 2 ounces to make a 2-ply laceweight.  Mmmm!

Singles

Obviously, I still need to work on filling the bobbin evenly. But it is pretty, no?

In 2001, my husband-to-be Chris and I went on a vacation trip to Japan, Bali, and Thailand.  Part of it was planned around Gion Matsuri, a festival that takes place in Kyoto every July.  It was truly magical, and Chris recorded some of the unique sounds we experienced.  He writes an audio drama review column at www.radiodramarevival.com, and for this week he posted some photos and some of the recordings he made.   This is a “hoko,” a 2-story float containing a band of musicians, pulled by teams of 40-50 men without a steering mechanism!

Hoko

If you’re interested in reading more about the festival, and would like to hear the recordings, you can find them here.

As for my circular sock machine, I managed to make the first sock that fits me properly today!  I fiddled around with the 54-slot cylinder, but couldn’t get a nice tight fabric with the yarn I was using, so I went back to the 72-slot cylinder and did a mock rib, with 3 needles in, 1 needle out.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock, I think the colorway is Tahoe. These pictures don’t do the colors justice – they are much richer in real life.

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I did 20 rows in mock rib, hung the hem, then 50 rows for the leg, put in the missing needles for the heel, then 5 more rows, then the heel, then 40 rows for the foot, put in the missing needles for the toe, 2 more rows, then the toe.  With no dropped stitches!  Whew!  Here is the heel.

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And it fits around my ankle!  The cuff is still somewhat loose.  I think I’ll probably need to figure out how to do a true rib to get a nice, snug cuff.  Now I’ll make the second sock!  Good thing I wrote down what I did so I can replicate it.

I decided to stop worrying about the sizing and just make a darn pair of socks, partly for practice and partly to get a feel for using real sock yarn on the machine. I got my replacement 54-slot cylinder which looks good and should be usable, but it’s still soaking in Marvel Mystery Oil for cleaning. So this is on the 72-slot cylinder. I used some Opal from my stash.  Here are the two socks and the setup bonnet, separated by waste yarn.

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And here is the pair, after Kitchenering the toes.

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Unfortunately, too many things distracted me from counting rows, so I tried to wing it by putting my foot up to it and saying, “looks good enough…” So the first sock (on the right) looks big enough for an elf. The second one fits me but is loose, especially around the ankle.

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Here is the heel. It went pretty smoothly, except that one time I forgot to make sure the latch was open, so the stitch was dropped.  After cursing and taking off the weights, I managed to pick it back up.

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Even though it’s not a wearable pair of socks, I learned a lot about adjusting tension while using real sock yarn to get a nice fabric and to minimize dropped stitches.  I asked Tim to model the socks for me, but he took them off his feet and put them on his hands.

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Then he put the setup bonnet on his leg.

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My silly boy!

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Ooooh, two posts in one day!!

As promised, here is the setup bonnet in action. Basically, I took the loops of yarn between the picots and hooked them over every other needle.

Setup bonnet in place

From that point, I put on some scrap yarn, then the actual yarn for the sock. If you put the sock yarn directly on the setup bonnet, you can’t get it apart without cutting one or the other.

I made a basic hung hem, then cranked a tube.  You may notice I have a new yarn carrier, the slotted version from Roxana Baechle, who also made the instructional DVD’s that I have.  It’s much nicer than the yarn carrier with the little hole you have to thread the yarn through, especially when I’ve made a mistake and had to frog – with the slotted carrier I don’t have to cut the yarn when I make a mistake. 

Set up for the heel

After knitting a length of tube, I set up for the heel by raising half of the needles to take them out of knitting. Then I knit back and forth, raising 2 needles at the beginning of the first 2 rows to minimize the holes, then 1 needle at the beginning of every row after that. It’s basically the equivalent of a short-row heel on a handknit sock. Then at the midpoint of the heel, I push 1 needle back in to knit at the beginning of every row, until it’s back to half of the needles again. It’s important to keep tension on the lengtening heel, or the machine will drop stitches. For this purpose I bought fork weights, which are just bent forks with weights attached to them. This is how I attach them.

Heel fork weights

After getting all of the heel stitches back into knit, I push the other half of the needles back in and continue to crank tube for the foot. Then I knit another “heel” for the toe to be closed by Kitchener stitch. Here’s how the heel turned out.

A heel!

Nice, huh? It’s still too loose for my foot, even with fine acrylic baby yarn and pretty tight tension on the 72-slot cylinder. I will try the mock rib, and I am still awaiting my replacement 54-slot cylinder. Can’t wait to play some more!

I’ve been making good progress on the Legare 400 circular sock machine.  First I made a set-up bonnet, which is basically a knitted tube with a picot hem, and is used to cast on to the machine.  I’ll post pictures of it “in action” later.

Setup bonnet

It’s made from Patons Kroy, nice and sturdy. I used a similar technique to make this baby hat, but I tightened the tension towards the top and then threaded the yarn through all the loops at the top to make this baby hat. I added a pompom, but didn’t get a picture of that before I gave it away.  It was the first time I tried to make a pompom by hand, and was really not that spectacular, so don’t be sad that you can’t see it.

Baby hat with picot edge

The yarn is Filtes King Color Baby, and I used less than a skein.  I wasn’t sure if the baby will be a boy or a girl, so I figured that a yarn with blue and pink in it would be appropriate.  It’s more blue than pink, so I chose the picot hem to be a bit more “feminine.”  So it’s kind of an androgynous hat!

I also played around with the tension. Here are the extremes of gauge I can get on the machine, using 2/24 acrylic yarn:

Loosest and tightest

And here is the first heel I turned! I kept dropping stitches, but managed to pick them back up.

My first heel

Finally, here’s my first practice sock! It’s sport weight baby acrylic yarn, which I have been told is not the easiest yarn to use on the CSM.  It was somewhat difficult to crank, but it is complete, even with Kitchener’ed toe!

My first practice sock!

I used the 72-slot cylinder, so with sport weight yarn it came out much too big for my feet.  Next I’ll try it with my 2/24 acrylic, to see if I can get the right size.  I will also try mock rib, meaning that I’ll take out some of the needles rather than having them truly ribbed with purl stitches, since I haven’t figured out the ribber yet.  The 54-slot cylinder I got with the machine has such a rough surface that it’s unusable, and even after soaking in oil and cleaning it, I can’t even put needles into all of the slots.  Fortunately, my eBay seller is going to replace it for me, so I’ll be able to experiment with that one too.

Hopefully soon I’ll be confident enough to use actual sock yarn!

Following all the advice I got on Ravelry, I went at my Legare circular sock machine from eBay with some Marvel Mystery Oil and a toothbrush, and started cleaning it up.  There was a lot of black oily guck in it.  I wonder when the machine was last used – that stuff could be decades old!  After much effort and some visible improvement, the oil was still coming off kind of black, but I got impatient to see if the machine would work.  So I put it together and added the cylinder spring and needles, which I bought new.  The whole thing is heavy and needs a stable surface to be clamped to, so I got a Black & Decker mini-workbench which I assembled (thank goodness for my visuo-spatial skills – the instructions were not easy to follow).  Then I started cranking! Casting on requires a set-up basket or bonnet to get the knitting started. A simpler method is to use a mesh bath scrubbie, which is what I did.  On my first try I got a tangled mess.. 

First try, a tangled mess

The yarn carrier seems to be able to adjust only up and down, and was either too high for the needles to catch the yarn, or hitting the needles. I think I probably bent some of my needles fiddling around with it. Then I put a piece of paper towel between the yarn carrier post and the place where it attaches, so the carrier head is a little further from the needles, and it’s just right!  Now it’s close enough to feed the yarn into the needles, but not so close that it’s banging into them.

Hey, it works!

So I’ve got a tube!! Many dropped stitches, but a tube nonetheless.

Second try

There is a set of very informative DVD’s that I’m getting for my birthday from my sister Pat – once I get them I’ll go over everything more carefully, but at least I know the machine is not a dud. Yaaaaay!!

The craziness continues…