Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I made a (terrible!) heel!

No, I haven't fallen of the CSM band-wagon, quite au contraire, I have been messing, and playing, and tuning, and reading, (and breathing and sleeping) CSM related thoughts and otherwise in my spare time. This little machine has me firmly in its clutches, and will not let go!

The first tube I showed in my earlier post was borne from sheer beginner's luck. A few days later, as I sat down to thread the machine and try and knit another tube, I must have re-threaded and started to cast on at least 20 times. I was using the set-up basket, and although it is fussy, by the 20th time, I was a pro at threading it. One (or twice...) I threaded up the basket but forgot to thread it through the yarn carrier. One (or twice...) I threaded up the basket, but my tail was too short. Basically, every thing that could go wrong, did go wrong. But that's part of the process, and learn I did.

I was also using left-overs from my stash that I wound on the wooden bobbin. Partly out of desperation, I decided they were cramping my style. My frugal nature didn't want me to use "good" wool for this exercise, but I finally sacrificed a 100 g ball of Schoeller + Stahl Fortissima Socka. This change in wool bore fruition, and I managed to knit a tube with 1) horrible tension, 2) much swearing (Eric just shook his head and said: give it up for tonight, will you?) and 3) many dropped stitches, however, I forged ahead, and behold, the Franken-tube emerged:

Yesterday morning, during a lull in our renovation work, I sat down with Donna Peters' Sock Knitting Machine 101 book, and managed (albeit in a horrible fashion), to turn a heel. If you have ever hand-knit an hour-glass heel (à la Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook) , you will catch on readily to the concept, but if you knit conventional heels with a flap, your first attempt might leave you scratching your head.

If you think this side of the heel looks like a dog's breakfast...well...I'm not going to show you the other side then, because it is a mish-mash of dropped stitches, but they didn't stop me...I...must...keep...cranking!

If you are wondering WHY there is a knot in my tube, well, it's because the Howarnator was playing with the weights, and also, I admit the tube is grotesquely long. It was a practical measure.

From my second attempt at knitting a tube, to my first attempt at turning a heel, several things became glaringly obvious:

1) I really need to buy a ball winder.
2) I feel bad about pseudo-ruining an entire skein of Schoeller + Stahl, but the sacrifice to the CSM Gods was necessary. I guess this yarn will become my waste yarn for years to come. At least I like the colour.
3) I must purchase (or make...HELLO?...there is a drill press in my living room!) a set of heel forks with weights, because using the heel hook that originally came with the machine does not cut it.
4) I should knit a sock bonnet to facilitate setting up the machine.

Those are my CSM musings for now. I have a steep learning curve ahead, but I also think I am heading in the right direction!


Soxophone Player said...

A set up bonnet is job #1 - those wire baskets are horrid! Or, just use the tube you made, or an old sock, and grab a stitch onto every other needle - that's enough to get going.

The heel hook should work well - its a matter of finding the sweet spot where to put the hooks. For me, its under the first row on the inside of the yellow hash marks on the 54 cylinder, and on the second row on the inside of the yellow hash marks on the 72. In both cases, I startthe hooks ~3/8" down from the edge of the cylinder. When I finish the decrease, I re-set the hooks to the same location and then do the increase.

I usually add a little tension to the heel fork/weight by holding my hand on the weight, or my thumb in the crotch of the fork, and in either case applying a little pressure at about 45 degrees inward, (rather than straight down).

Muddy Acres said...

Hi Doug: Thanks for that fine advice. I got so good at using that wire basket, you have no clue! But I will tackle knitting the set-up bonnet as soon as I can. I am going to check your blog as to where you put your yellow and red hash marks - I remember your words that "everything starts and ends at the red hash mark". My Auto Knitter cylinder is stamped with 1 bar at 9 PM, 2 bars at 3 PM, 3 bars at 5 PM and 4 bars at 7 PM. As I learn new things (generally through trial and error) I remember your words so I will re-read your blog entries regarding these issues (again!). Thanks for taking the time to write, it is appreciated!

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