Speedster FireCranker

Speedster FireCranker

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Speeding in Spring with the Speedster

Second Edition
Spring has Sprung so I celebrated by ordering a new Speedster 

This new machine is called the Speedster because the Erlbacher machine shop turned the old Gearhart into a sleek modern sock maker with a full size crank.   The original 1920s Gearhart inspired the start of the Speedster but its modern configuration is the product of many Cranker recommendations and hours of modern machining experience.
The Speedster is truly speedy when compared to the reduced ratio crank.  The full size or 1/1 ratio reduces the number of cranks needed by 1/3rd.  For every 100 rows there are 33 fewer cranks. This may not sound like much but when you use light weight yarns on a 72, 80, or 84 slot cylinder the Speedster is a real arm and time saver.  Especially when cranking out leg warmers, knee high socks and scarfs.  

Why I bought a new Speedster

Above all, it is a
 Red   c-o-n-v-e-r-t-a-b-l-e!  

At my age it is the only red convertible my budget and Hank would let me buy!   

What makes it a convertible?

The new Speedster comes with a full size crank but the reduced crank will also fit and they will paint it red to match!   

In honor of its fire engine red color I named my new red Speedster "FireCranker"  Hank and I find this Speedster to be well machined.  Every part fits snug and is nicely tuned and finished.  Cranking was smooth and easy from the start.  Knowing our antique machines makes me appreciate the Speedster all the more.  It is a joy to sit down to a machine that is ready to crank a sock when I am.

I have just 4 months to get comfortable with FireCranker so we are ready for the CSKMS Socks in the Rockies conference;  coming right here to Colorado on July 30 to August 1st.   

Come and join us for Socks in the Rockies where I  will be teaching and available to answer 
your most pressing sock cranking questions.  
 For more information check us out at 

For more information about the Red Speedster 
Contact Grayson or Jamie at 
573-334-4040 or 

  Attention Readers:  The Blog Gods and I lost the remainder of the original text.  The photos vanished as well but I have copies of those so the remainder of this article uses all the original  photos as well as a few more to show all the settings I used to make Firecranker's first par of SweetSocks. Readers have requested more pictures and more information on what the picture is showing.   For measuring I have used a machinists ruler that divides an inch into 32/64.  The measurements are in inches.  I have reduced some measures to the nearest 8th of one inch.  

For better views enlarge as needed.  Making the text larger can 
cause the pictures to disappear.

The yarn in these socks was hand dyed  4/14 Fingering wght.
washable Marino wool blend 
made in the US  by Jaggerspun.  

Height of Yarn Guide = 7/8"

Ribber Dial Height = 1/4" 

Ribber Dial Settings
This is a 64 slot ribber; mine worked well with fingering weight yarns
  and the stitch size settings [ red tipped pointer] to the center position.

Stitch gauge : 
V- cam setting

V-Cam distance to top 
of cylinder = 1 7/32 which is close to 1 and 1/4"
This setting was used for the SweetSocks shown in the photo. 
The yarn used in both socks was a washable wool /nylon blend of 
Fingering weight sock yarn .

Rows per inch of Knitting =12rpi

Picture shows: Full Pitch setting for 64 slot dial opposite 64 slot cylinder. 
Where rib needle is in line with cylinder needle.

1/2 pitch would be where rib needle is in line with cylinder fin
 [the part between cylinder needles]. To set a 1/2 pitch move ribber stop's red dot
barely to the right side of the ribber dials red dot.  [at the end of the word Gearhart].

When used with the 64 slot ribber,  setting the dial to 1/2 pitch allows
every needle of ribber and cylinder to be used simultaniously to make 
larger diameter scarfs, hats and leggings. 

Timing Screw Setting for Ribber needles 

I filled in the center of the philips screw head with red to 
make the screw's center position easy to gauge in relation to the machinist ruler.
In this photo the reflection on the ruler also helps to see the offset of the screw.
The ribber arm is 24/32 wide with center at 12.  
The screw is offset to about 16 to the right.

Thank You for being a Colorado Cranker Blog reader

Thursday, October 31, 2013

In This October Halloween Issue of the "Cranker" the subjects are about Making a"WingSpan shoulder shawl"  on  
a circular sock machine and 
"Standing Up for Cranking!"

First I offer my readers the suggestion that standing, rather than sitting is a very good position for cranking.

 Standing is not only a way to spend less time sitting, it can be far more comfortable for those who have back and leg issues. The two tools I use to get my machines at a good height for standing to crank include height adjustable stands and kitchen work carts.  The least costly adjustable stand I use starts with a $35 Home Depot tool stand. Hank turns this stand into a cranker table by replacing the plastic top with a nicely finished wood top. The advantage to this stand is that it is portable and adjustable to the height that best meets your needs

 I found a great Work-Cart  
 It is a Catskill-Craftsman Kitchen Cube.  With the locking casters it is 35" tall. I chose this particular model because of all the great storage space and its small foot print.  There really is lots of places to store weights, needles, and tools for several machines.  This one cart is now my main storage for all the small parts and tools I use with my different machines.  Apart from the storage it has 24 sq. inches of work surface. That is even enough to hold my coffee cup! You can find this cart for about $170 at ; http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Catskill-Craftsman-Kitchen-Cube/7182869/product.html  

Cranking Angel Wings

Above is a Wing Span collar laid flat on a table so you can see the off-set triangles.  This collar was made with one ball of 100gm, 4 Seasons Hot Socks, self striping sock yarn. It was made on a Green Harmony Auto Knitter with a 96 needle cylinder, using only 90 Big-Hook needles.  A  good steamer will get the triangles nicely blocked and laying flat. 

You might call this a shoulder-shawl, scarf or a medieval collar but the concept is built on 8 triangles.  Each triangle is 90 stitches and shaped by short rowing 3 stitches every two rows until all 90 stitches are up and out of work.  Then the next triangle is started 16 stitches past the beginning of the first, but also extending ahead 16 stitches; making each triangle set 16 stitches ahead of the one before it. When made on a CSM the short row was done going left to right in a 2up+1 method. I left no edge with open stitches; all edges are cast on or bound off.     

The inspiration to try making this type of knitting on a circular sock machine came after our fall journey of 1200 miles towing our old vintage Airstream.
As we made our fall pilgrimage this year to our ancestral home , I used the hours of driving to hand knit my first "WingSpan".  By the start of our return journey there were less than 1/2 the number of wings needed so somewhere in the middle of the Flint Hills of Kansas, I began fantasizing about a way to make these connected short-rowed wings faster. The results were so exciting that my daughter Dee,[seen below wearing my first CSM made WingSpan in glorious fall colors]  thinks I really have to share this with you.

I do think this pattern holds great promise when it is made on a CSM because it is so much faster.  When you consider all the possible color combinations, not to mention different types of lace or tuck stitches that could be added, this method of using connected, short-rowed triangles holds great possibilities for the cranker looking for new challenges.  

If you think you would like to try cranking out your own WingSpan scarf I encourage you to get the original Revelry pattern and read through the directions for hand-knitting the scarf.  The CSM method I settled on is essentially the same pattern.  

Look for the "WingSpan" hand knit pattern at " Maylin " on Ravelry where you can purchase the pattern for a very reasonable $6.  

The pattern includes some very well designed diagrams for visualizing how the scarf is built by knitting a series of connected, off set,  triangles.  Once you are able to visualize how the scarf is hand made it is much easier to understand how the same basic pattern can be done using your sock machine. 

The only real difference between mine and the hand knit version is the stocking-knit stitch.  This stitch is not possible on a CSM so by necessity the CSM made version is a simple knit fabric.  

My first effort was an abbreviated version shown in the photo with little Oreo. To test this pattern I used KnitPicks Chroma fingering in "Prism". Though this bright progressive rainbow of color produced a truly eye catching swatch I would not recommend using Chroma to develop your Wing Span method because this yarn has a soft single spun twist.  As such it does not do well with the rough handling that often occurs when developing hand knit patterns for a sock machine.   

This first WingSpan prototype took me about five hours just to figure out the logistics of how best to use a CSM to make these connected triangles.   After many missteps I worked out an initial method that I could repeat but it took another several hours to see fewer errors and develop  a sustainable rhythm. It is cranking in rhythm that makes this craft so special.

Soon my thoughts drifted away to the beauty of the fall foliage outside my window. It was the colors of fall tress that most inspired me to select the green, teal, rust and brown hues of my first full size  WingSpan scarf. 

A few more specifics for the curious !

To achieve the largest stitch possible, the stitch size adjustment was turned down as far as it would go then turned back-up, 1/4 to 1/2 turn to be sure the cranking would go smoothly.  This produced a stitch that was very close to what a 3.5 to 4 mm hand knitting needle would make. 

It is this larger than normal stitch size that lead me to use the Harmony for this project. 

The Green Harmony Auto Knitter tends to make the largest stitch of any of the different machines I use.  This can be infuriating if you want your fingering sock yarn to have a tight knit fabric but great for making 7" wide tubes for wide leggings and hats or flat work kitting that can be up to 15" inches wide. 

Cranking out Flat knit fabric for garments is not why most of us bought our Sock Machines....... 

But from the start,  our knitting machines were not just for making socks.  Check out a full featured CSM pattern book from the early 1900's like this old Gearhart Pattern book of over 60 knit projects.  These were filled with flat work garments that would make up  a baby Layette as well as children's warm under and outer ware like coats, sweaters, hats,scarfs and insulated leggings and ear-muffs.  

Keeping warm was a matter of life and limb up to the early 1920's because there was no way to travel that was heated and most means of travel exposed everyone including babies, children and the aged to rain, wind and bitter cold.  Home made wool knits were the most reliable means to keep warm.  For the skilled cranker
a knitting machine was a tremendous time saver.

Ready and Wating for Yarn

 Now my mind is racing with ideas 
for yarns that could make for some 
real eye-catching scarfs!

My next project before Turkey day is to make more Videos

What CSM video do you want ?