Category Archives: CSM socks

October & November

2014 is nearly over, it was a very busy fall, and unfortunately, blog posts fell by the wayside.  It is time for a two-part update, starting with October & November.

October was a busy month with Spinzilla, Oct. 6-12.  This was the first time I participated and wouldn’t you know, it was the same week as the fall art tour!  Still, I managed to get some spinning done.

Beginning my spinning for Spinzilla.
Beginning my spinning for Spinzilla.

While preparing for art tour visitors, I managed to spin 965 yards, two full bobbins plied together, and the remainder as a smaller singles skein, for a total of 0.548 mile.  I ended most days with some late night quiet spinning or plying.

Photo and yardage submitted Oct. 15th.
Photo and yardage submitted Oct. 15th.

In the middle of Spinzilla week came the Northwoods Art Tour – Fall, Oct. 10-12, with approximately 125 visitors over 3 days.  Most stayed quite awhile, visiting, asking questions, ordering, and being fascinated by this unique studio and home.

Looms and spinning wheel ready for demonstrations.
Looms and spinning wheel ready for demonstrations.
Sock machine also ready for demo as was woven shibori on loom at right.
Sock machine also ready for demo and woven shibori being set up on loom at right..

By the end of the art tour I had a lot of sock orders, and more came in via phone calls and emails,  In the end around 50 pairs!

Sock colors pulled for an order of 8 pairs.
Sock colors pulled for an order of 8 pairs.

I began work on the socks and things went fairly well, but then the sock machine developed a problem and I had no idea what it was or how to fix it.  I was throwing away more half-to-nearly completed socks than I was  keeping to fill orders.  Disaster!

Taking he CSM apart, needles and spring out for cleaning.
Taking he CSM apart, needles and spring out for cleaning.
Needles being cleaned and latches oiled at the little hinges.
Needles being cleaned and latches oiled at the little hinges.

The needles and spring were removed, cylinder slots cleaned out, and reassembled, and the problem persisted.  Then we took it all apart, removed the crank and cylinder, cleaned it thoroughly, greased and oiled parts and reassembled again, and still the problem persisted.  Then Char said if you have another 72 slot cylinder, let’s put that in and see what happens.  So again, remove needles and spring, substitute a different cylinder and reassemble.

Let me tell you, changing to a cylinder that had not been used in perhaps 30 years or so, it was STIFF CRANKING!!! After a couple days, it was better, and SUCCESS!!!  I was making socks again.  I was also a month behind, so now cranked by day, closed toes and washed by night, and managed to get all but two pairs to my customers before Christmas.  And she was fine with waiting for those two pair.  I still have seven pairs to make this week.

Red Embers, socks made on a 1908 Gearthart sock machine.
Red Embers, socks made on a 1908 Gearthart sock machine.
Detail of Red Embers socks.
Detail of Red Embers socks.

December continues in the next post!




Holiday Sock Season

It has been a busy two weeks here, settling in with each other, everyone helping to get the work done, often timed to the weather forecast.  As I write this it is 4:43 AM, it is -24 F. (actual temp) on the lakeside porch, and I’ve been listening to logs, boards and the woodrange “pop” from the bitter cold.

I’ve been busy working on Christmas orders for wool socks with what seemed like a very temperamental sock machine.  Getting a pair of socks made was a challenge, getting five pairs done for an order was beginning to seem impossible.  The sock machine kept dropping one of the three strands of yarn, always in the same area, always in the solid area (bottom of the foot where every slot has a needle).  I changed out needles, I oiled the CSM and still, it would lose one of the three strands of yarn.  I was beginning to make noises about selling them!

Giving my 1908 Gearhart Circular Sock Knitting Machine a "dental."
Giving my 1908 Gearhart Circular Sock Knitting Machine a “dental.”

Then I remembered another time this happened, and the only thing to do was remove all the needles, the spring, get out the pointy tool (it reminds me of a dentist’s pick), and give the machine a “dental.”  Oily fiber dust was removed, everything reassembled, and it has been working like a charm.  

I’ve finished one order for five pairs of socks, and have three other smaller orders to do today, I hope, so I can get them in the mail and delivered.

Wool sock nearly completed.
Wool sock nearly completed.

Below are close-ups of two more socks.  In  person the colors are brighter.

Detail of CSM wool sock, wonderful colors.
Detail of CSM wool sock, wonderful colors.
Detail of CSM wool sock, colors are a bit softer.
Detail of CSM wool sock, colors are a bit softer.

We did manage to do a little rearranging of looms in my studio, moving the Standard back to the lakeside window, and turning the drawloom 90 degrees.  Two Harrisville jack looms were moved to the basement for now.  The Toika Laila is still in the studio along with two spinning wheels and other equipment.  The sock machine was moved to the upstairs living room where it is warmer.

Photos of my little dye area haven’t been taken as yet, it’s too cold in the garage with these subzero temps, even with the garage getting a bit of heat from the furnace.

I am really looking forward to getting back to my looms, woven shibori, and indigo dyeing, but I don’t expect that will happen until after visiting my father over Christmas.

It has been an interesting couple weeks.  Char is often working in her new woodworking studio, and Sarah has begun making jewelry, bringing her original sketches to life.

The sounds of creative work fill the days.  We are busy making plans and have so much to look forward to in 2014!

Sock Season!

1908 Gearhart Circular Sock Knitting Machine.

If it’s autumn, is must be sock-cranking season!

I walked into our area guild meeting Monday evening, and the first words from Laurel were, “Will you be making socks again?”  She orders several pairs each year to give as Christmas gifts to family members.  Yes, I am making socks again.

Yesterday these two pairs were cranked, toes closed, washed/rinsed/spun, and hung to dry overnight on a wood rack.  This morning they were steamed and then placed on the rack again to finish drying.  This evening they are in a bag, tomorrow I will meet up with the woman who placed the order.  The gentleman they are for already has a couple pairs and was very interested in having more.  I hope he likes the color combinations!

Red/Blue/Hunter yarns.

Red, blue, and hunter green work up into a cozy, wintry pair of socks, popular with my customers.

Detail of heel/foot area.

Detail of mock-rib on leg.

In reality, the colors are brighter than in these photos.  It was a very gray afternoon here, and though I took the photos out on the lakeside porch, we were losing light.  Right after I went back inside I heard thunder, and a few minutes later it was pouring rain.

Bordeaux/Grape/Teal yarns.

I had been told I could choose whatever colors I wanted, so the first pair (above) have a cheerful holiday feel to them.  For the second pair I went a bit darker, and used a color combination I hadn’t tried before, Bordeaux, Grape, and Teal.  I was prepared to cut it off if I didn’t like it.  Happily, I was quite pleased with how the colors worked together.

Detail of heel/foot area.

Detail of mock-rib on leg.

Leaves are starting to turn color in the WI Northwoods, temperatures are dropping, we’ve already had a couple nights with frost warnings.  Crows “caw” all day long, chickadees and blue jays are heard, squirrels are busy collecting acorns, changes are happening daily.  I’m looking forward to a fall and winter full of weaving, sock-making, spinning, and other fiber activities.

In December and January I had gotten several requests for custom order socks, which I accepted even though I knew how badly I wanted to set out on my new direction in weaving (woven shibori).  I had to set the weaving aside for a bit and work on socks, a bit of a challenge as the sock machine likes the winter cold even less than I do, and was occasionally temperamental. 

The photos below of socks that were delivered on Saturday.  (Little or no sun when I photographed them.)  I still have one order to go and one week to complete them as they will be delivered one week from tonight.

Men’s socks (balsam, evergreen, chocolate brown).

Closeup of socks above.

Men’s socks (bordeaux, celestial blue, true navy).

Closeup of socks above.

Women’s socks (balsam, celestial blue, scarlet).

Closeup of socks above.

Women’s socks (balsam, green, scarlet).

Closeup of socks above.

For now, I am not accepting custom orders for weaving or socks.  I have deadlines weaving (and dyeing), and a home I need to work on, so am having to set some things aside. 

And now, I’m going down to the studio to weave another woven shibori sample, then crank a pair or two of socks.  Check back for progress on both!

January "Blues"

I seem to be sensing the beginning of a theme here,… I’ve got the blues!  My mind is filled with new weaving, indigo dyeing (beginning soon), sashiko, Japanese Boro fabrics, even cranking “I’ve Got the Blues” socks.  This blog was given a new “Blue” look, too, and more changes and additions are in store.

This year, in addition to the woven shibori and indigo, I’ll be focusing on my interest in Scandinavian weaving.  Louise is waiting for me to call with news of a warp or two ready to be beamed.  And, I need to get back to re-sleying the reed on the drawloom, then we’ll see what happens.  Before that, I have a newsletter to get out for the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group.  I did have an article in the International Damask Weavers Newsletter about my week this past Sept. at VavStuga, and their Basic Drawloom class. 

Beginnings of woven shibori.

Woven shibori had been on my Must Do list for a long time, since I happened upon “Woven Shibori” by Catherine Ellis.  So a warp was made and beamed.  I decided to use what I had on hand, not too fine to start, so stayed with 22/2 half-bleached cottolin, about 8″ wide in the reed, and sett at 24 epi.  I am using seine twine for the gathering threads as I know it is strong.  I plan to remove the first sample and try the seine twine to see if it works for gathering, and expect I’ll also discover if the sett is too close.  If the seine twine doesn’t work, I will change to fish line or other. 

The loom is still threaded for twill, and I will weave 3-4 or so samples, varying them, then plan to re-tie and re-thread for huck, more samples, then re-tie and re-threada again for Monk’s Belt, all weave structures in Scandinavian weaving.  Meanwhile, I am reading to find more weave structures that will work with this technique.

While weaving these samples, I need to clean up my garage, clear a “work bench” and set up an area for indigo dyeing.  Yes, it’s winter here, but my garage gets a bit of heat and stays around 46 to 50 degrees, unless we’re in sub-zero temps as we are now.  

Once an area is set up, I can get my first indigo dyepots going and start dyeing the woven samples and see what results I get.  I have the indigo dye, and supplies, including those for for safety.  I am hoping I’ll start dyeing samples later in February.  Something prepare for and look forward to during another long northwoods winter.

Page from Japanese sashiko book.

 It must be the indigo dye, but it bought to mind a book I saw years ago at a quilt shop (and did not buy, but now wish I had), about Japanese Sashiko, and the indigo woven fabrics.  So in addition to my handwoven samples, I have 14 yards of PFD cotton fabric to experiment with.  Books on shibori have been waiting patiently on my shelves, and I am looking forward to where all of this will take me!

Japanese silk obi.

A few weeks ago, a 2 DVD set arrived, “Creative Cloth” with Anita Luvera Mayer (Interweave Press).  I have watched it a few times now, and as always, find Anita Mayer, and her work, inspiring!  It must have been under her influence that I obtained this Japanese silk obi, which I plan to incorporate in a future jacket for myself.  Ideas are simmering!

“Got the Blues” socks.

I thought Christmas and January would be quiet times for me, with plenty of weaving.  Wrong!  The phone rang a few times, emails came, people wanted socks!  Then a tooth infection struck before Christmas and I was done doing anything for almost two weeks.  Just me, my antibiotic, and glasses of water and juice.  So now in January I am trying to catch up so I can get back to my looms!  More socks to do and I’ve given myself a deadline of four days from now. 

“Maddy,” the new addition to my feline family.

Earlier in January, I had been missing pets whose lives had ended a little over a year ago, and started haunting critter shelter lists.  After three or four visits, Maddy and I met and she came home with me.  She is adjusting well to living with three male cats (all quite gentle).  Maddy is a real sweetheart!

Wood supply in my garage.

There is a big, black, woodburning range in my kitchen, about 14 years old, Amish made, the kind with the warming oven on top.  I get close to half my heat in winter from wood, which of course, requires a LOT of wood in the woodshed, and hauling it into the house all winter long.  Every few days, this rack is filled, along with one half that size that is inside my house.  I keep an eye on the weather and on warmer days, fill the back of my Honda CR-V with wood, 3 to 4 times, to fill these racks.  My inside rack is empty after three nights of around -18 F., and I’m now carrying in wood from the garage.  Guess what I’ll be doing for a couple hours on Sunday?

Jan Zindel, at Shuttle Works Studio, January 21, 2013.

A couple months ago, a small northwoods publication, “Baby Boomers and Beyond” contacted me about an article for an upcoming issue, and sent a writer for an interview and photos. The article was sent to me for any changes or corrections, and then I received word there were problems with the photos and could I supply a couple. What to do but ask a friend to come over and take a few. Artist/weaver/friend Louise Engelbrecht (yes, the same Louise I traveled to the tapestry exhibit with), arrived Monday AM, a VERY COLD, well below zero morning, and snapped a few pics. The one above was not sent to the magazine. It took a little time for Louise and I to get our timing together, as you can see, I would move and/or talk, while she snapped! Great fun, though, and I finally have photos of myself at a loom.

It’s nearly midnight, 0 F. outside, and snowing, and I’m looking forward to bit warmer temps Sunday and Monday, and a lot more time in the studio!  There is a lot to look forward to!

Catching Up, Part 3 (CSM Socks)

Ready to crank socks with plenty of good light.

I had been procrastinating, but with Art in the Yard approaching, it was time to get to work and get some socks made.  I worked many afternoons in good light from the west window until sun made it too bright.  On cloudy days or night, I have the two hallogen spotlights pointing right down inside the cylinder so I can clearly see what is happening with the yarn and needles.

These are a few of the socks I made for Art in the Yard (June 23rd).

Sock half done, completed heel showing in bottom half of cylinder.

Ginger, Mango, and Papaya make a fun sock!

Each socks takes 25 minutes, start to finish, on the sock machine, when all goes well.

Detail of the Ginger, Mango, Papaya color combination when knit together.

Four pairs of socks waiting to have toes closed by hand, which takes me about 25 minutes per socks due to knitting with 3 fine strands of 2 ply yarns, and old eyes!

Detail of closing toes with Kitchner Stitch.

“Got the Blue” in progress.  Yes, I name each pair of socks!

Toes need closing, then they are washed, rinsed, water spun out in washing machine (socks are in a lingerie bag), then hung to dry on a wood drying rack, near the woodstove in winter, in front of a box fan on humid summer days, or outside when it is nice.  Then comes a final bit of steam, let them dry again, and ready for new owners.

“Spring Greens” in progress, ordered by an area jewelry artist.

“Spring Greens” completed.

Luna Moth on the neighbor’s shed, this summer, and inspiration for a new color combination for socks.

Milo, ready to help make socks.

Now it’s early August, and time to make socks again for our guild sale during CranberryFest, Saturday, October 6th, at the UCC church in Eagle River, WI.  Never a dull moment!

Sock Season in the Studio

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would like to take part again in “Art In The Yard” with the Art Gypsies, and would I please demo on the sock machine.  On Saturday, June 18th, the Art Gypsies will be celebrating the Summer Solstice outdoors at Fir Tree Cottage, in Land O’ Lakes, WI. 

People really enjoy watching a sock machine in action, and will stand for 25-30 minutes to watch a sock being made, often asking questions the entire time.  Although most people have never seen an antique sock machine before, occasionally an older person will recall one from their childhood, and tell me a story about it, always fascinating to hear.    

I’ll also have socks available for purchase, and this is something I accept custom orders for, particularly if they are for someone who’s feet are not my typical S-M-L-XL, or they want particular colors.  These demos always make for a fun day.    

I’ll have socks available again (and sock machine demos) at both the September 24th “Art In The Yard,” when the Art Gypsies celebrate the Autumn Equinox, and again Saturday, October 1st when the Lake Country Weavers & Fiber Artists will have their annual sale at the UCC Church in Eagle River, WI, during CranberryFest weekend.  I will also have weaving for sale at both of these events.

This particular color combination is one of my favorites.  I name each pair of socks, sometimes coming up with a name and choosing colors to fit the idea, other times starting with colors, making the socks, then choosing a name.  This particular pair was called “Signs of Autumn,” for the color of the fall sky and brilliant colored leaves.

Detail of “Signs of Autumn.”

If you’ve watched this blog for very long, you’ll recognize this rug.  I needed photos for an application I was considering sending in, so took the rug out onto the lakeside porch for a quick photo.  Both the hummingbirds and I are enjoying the flowers in this hanging pot, so I thought it would be a nice addition to the photo.

Up until a few days ago, I was enjoying these blossoms on my dwarf apple tree.  Once the heat arrived, the flowers disappeared.  I am hopeful there will be a few apples again this autumn, if the deer leave the tree alone.  Last fall, while staining the house, I had to remove part of the fence around a small garden area so we could try to get the lift around to the front corner of the house.  I was undecided about the fence, it was quite unattractive, though it did keep the deer out.  Having injured my knee before I was finished with the staining, I left the fence half up, half down, over the winter.  This spring, under cover of night, deer mowed down the tiger lilies and chives that were coming up.  I’m going to remove the rest of the fence and either replace it with something better, or wish the tree luck!

It was a long winter, and with an empty nest, was feeling more than a little lonely after living with husband and children for 32 years.  I am aware I have much to be thankful for, and when spring days and sunshine arrived I was feeling much better.  This banner spoke to me one day, and it now hangs near my home, and I see it everytime I go in or out.  Enjoy Life!  And that is what I am doing!

A Winter Break

Winter wreaths always give a “Welcome Home,” both on the entry door (above) and garage doors (below).

Lately, I’ve been taking a winter break from my weaving studio. After having cranked socks right up to a couple days before Christmas, a daughter and friend visiting, kids on school break and their friends here occasionally, I needed some time off. No, I didn’t go anywhere, just quiet winter days spent at home.

Then normal life came back, it was time to deal with school financial aid meeting at the high school, FAFSA forms, taxes, food pantry board meeting, community dinner meetings and the dinner two nights ago. Let’s not forget, I’m supposed to be getting ready for a move, working my way through 40 years of stuff, only keeping what I want in my next home/studio.

I did get a pair of socks made for a gentleman who emailed me, and I’ve heard he is very pleased with them. Others who ordered socks for Christmas have also been happy with them, which is good for the cranker to hear!

At this point, I am more than ready to get back to my work in the studio, and have a long list of projects to do. Getting more done in the studio means more blog entries. I’m back working on the rug warp and looking forward to having them down on my floors. I’m quite sure the dog and the cats will appreciate that, too, as there are pine plank floors throughout the house which can be cool in winter.

Artistree needs/wants all new work by May, plus there are two, possibly three art shows I’m definitely planning to do. Warps are being planned. Cones of 8/2 and 20/2 cotton are waiting on the shelves; cottolin and cones of cotton/linen blend are always on hand. There are dozens of tubes of rug warp waiting to be woven into rugs, bags, and table runners.

The woodburner is warming the studio, music is on, the Ott light is in place, it’s time to weave!

A New Year of Fibers!

Isn’t it wonderful when you find people to talk fibers with? I’ve been corres-ponding with Michael, a WI weaver/knitter, with a recent interest in sock machines. I told him of the Midwest Crankers as well as a group that meets in Madison, he went to one of their crank-in Saturdays and decided he would like to save up for a sock machine. Michael asked if I would make a pair of socks, and before I could get them made, he had ordered a NZAK, and is now waiting for it to arrive.

Meanwhile I sent along two pairs of custom-made socks, the first in beige/gray/hunter green,…

…the second in three shades of gray. I’m told they fit! It’s all been a fun way to begin a New Year of fibers at Shuttle Works Studio.

There are more socks needing to be made, weaving to be done, and warps to be made. I’m working on another sock order, I would like to have a rug done for Monday’s weaving guild meeting, and the gallery needs all new socks (only 4 pairs left) and weaving. Plus, I have a number of “single” socks here, where I got carried away with cranking and cranked more rows than were needed for the size I was making. Now, just need to count rows/determine size, and make mates for them. Same yarn, same tension, so they should turn out the same size. I also have my drum carder and wool back and would love to do a little felting, too. Did I mention I’m knitting a scarf? Now, to see how much I can get done in the next few days!

Wool Socks & First Snow

I’m busy working on socks orders, seven orders to do yet for a total of seventeen pairs of socks, plus Artistree Gallery, and the on-line shop. Whew!

Jewel tones had been requested for one order, shown here. I noticed these three colors sitting together on a loom bench and thought “why not?” They worked up very well though at the time I wondered what possessed me. Take chances!

I’d put “The View” on one morning and what struck me was the stage set, blue, green, and white or silver. SOCKS popped into my head, so I sat down and made them up. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places!

During the fall art tour, a friend was here and requested socks. Being busy with several people I suggested she go to the shelves and pull out three colors. She did, and I made them up. Not being entirely certain she would like them. I made up a second pair, substituting a lighter gray for the dark gray she had chosen. This is the lighter pair. She really liked both and had a hard time deciding. In the end she took the darker pair for winter wear. I didn’t get a photo so will need to make them up again.

I need to work on sock names again as I’ve been coming up with more new color combinations. When you have over a hundred names on your list, you tend to start running out of ideas!

I woke up to our first snow this morning, it was snowing and blowing! I went out later and snapped a couple photos including snow on the pumpkins. By afternoon the sun was out, the snow had melted, but it is still quite windy tonight. We usually don’t have snow until near the end of October, so I’m hopeful we’ll still have a week or two of our normal fall weather before it gets cold and stays cold. Because of the wind, though, I did start a fire in the woodburner this AM, our first this fall, and oh, how that wood heat warms you through.