Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Happy Cranker

My CSM ramblings have been mighty sporadic.  2011 will be THE year that I crank out a pair of socks!  The time has come to put these babies to use!

I finally went out and bought a proper stand for my CSM.  Taking a page from The Soxophone Player's blog, I went to our local Canadian Tire and bought myself a grinder stand.  Like pretty much anything tool- or shop-related at Canadian Tire, if you wait 6 weeks, you're bound to get what you want at 50% off.  The price was right, and the grinder stand makes for a nice, sturdy base on which to mount my CSM, without taking up the same footprint as the ubiquitous Black and Decker work-bench.  With our on-going renovations upstairs, the logical place to put my CSM was under the stair, so I needed something compact.

I put away my most recent acquisition, Victoria, and pulled out good ole' Marie, both Legaré 400 models.  Both machines are nearly identical, but Victoria had been driven much harder than Marie, so I wanted to have her cams brazed and reshaped, but simply haven't gotten around to it yet.  I put Marie on the stand, and using Albert's Auto Knitter yarn mast which has a much nicer heel-uptake spring, I am up and running.

I ordered new heel forks, something I procrastinated about, because I had the good intention of making my own.  The fact that we have a drill press smack in the middle of the living room would motivate me to this extent.  In the end, I couldn't be bothered, so I contacted a heel-fork maker in the States and had her send me two pairs.  The old heel forks that came with the machine are in a V-shape, and have nasty little hooks on the end that of course grab the knitted tube ferociously.  At some point during my heel-making frenzy, I bumped my knee on the heel fork's weight, and down came the fork, weight and all.  Unfortunately, I also had my hand under the machine at this precise second, and managed to impale my palm with said heel fork.  Thankfully, I only nicked myself, but this incident served to expedite my ordering of new heel forks.

I also ordered a new yarn carrier that I am hoping will simplify things even more.  The face of both my Legaré yarn carriers are very worn.  Unlike the Auto Knitter, whose yarn carrier can be adjusted up and down, as well as in and out, the Legaré yarn carrier can only go up and down.  On Victoria, the yarn carrier had already been shimmed (there's that word again!) out with a piece of folded-up tin-foil.  On Marie, it was shimmed out with a washer.  The faces of these yarn carriers are deeply gouged from striking the needles and latches, and my hope is that the new yarn carrier will be a bit more needle-friendly.

Thanks to Sarahspin's wonderful YouTube video, I have completed heel after heel after lovely heel.  I might be personally responsible for 1,000 or so views on this video.  Her "one up, two down" narrative has been repeated so often, I'm sure I'm saying it in my sleep.  Another detail that aided my heel progress was...wait for it...marking my cylinders!  Whodathunk such a simple thing could prove to be so beneficial?  I don't know what kept me from pulling out some nail polish and making a few marks earlier, and it seems stupid to state the obvious, but really...what was I waiting for?  Someone, smack me upside of the head, please.

The above kludge-to-end-all-kludges came about since I was having yarn tension issues.  I had wound a wonderful centre-pull ball, as many advise, yet with the older Legaré yarn mast, the heel uptake spring was giving me fits.  When I used my paint roller/broom handle contraption, I had a more consistent feed, which worked better with the Legaré yarn mast.  I also could have cut a perfectly good broom handle, but why waste something like that on a kludge?  When I changed to the Auto Knitter yarn mast, I kept the above contraption in place.  The magnet around which I wound the elastic comes courtesy of Lee Valley, it's a stand-off magnetic tool holder that I stole borrowed from Eric's drill press.  Sometimes you just gotta make-do.  This was one of those times.

When I get the new yarn carrier, I'll go back to my centre pull ball, although I like the ease of feed I get from the paint roller.  I might find a way to incorporate that into the design modifications I have in mind for my stand.  Ideally, I'd like to make a solid wood top, with a semi-circle cut out that would permit the CSM to be recessed a bit.  This would decrease the leverage of the CSM on the stand, because I do find the current stand a bit tippy, if say, a cat decided to play with a tube-in-progress, (something that could realistically happen in this house).  If the stand had 4 legs instead of 3, I'd be more comfortable, and short of bolting it into the floor (that's how it's intended to be used with a grinder), I'll have to make do for now.  I have visions of a wooden top that would incorporate several recessed rare-earth magnets around the edges that could hold all my tools easily at hand, as well as accommodate a more user-friendly lamp.  I have a couple of modifications that I am ruminating, but I'd like to be a bit more proficient in CSM-ese before having a new top custom-made.

It seems like I am stating the obvious here, as no self-respecting office worker should sit on anything but the best of chairs, so should no cranker sit for any extended period of time on, say, a wooden bar stool while cranking. This is exactly how you could find me, hunched over my CSM, for hours on end.  Eric looked at me as I stood up and massaged my aching sciatic nerve, and suggested I might want to borrow his drafting chair.  Brilliant suggestion, my dear!  One does tend to get caught up in the throes of the CSM, and not realize just how unergonomic the experience can be.

So, stay tuned for another episode of "How the Sock Turns", right here at Shim Farm Central.

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