Sock Knitting Machines or more correctly Cylinder Knitting Machines were mechanically very simple (far more so than sewing machines), but they could be difficult to use and consequently most machines that are found are either very heavily worn or almost like new.
These machines were capable of producing a wide range of goods and not just socks. The Companies that supplied the machines would often buy the items produced on the machine provided they were of sufficient quality. The heyday for the Cylinder Knitting Machine seems to have been the First World War when millions of socks had to be produced.
For photographic purposes all machines are shown clamped to the AKM Co. table.
The Framework Knitters' Museum Chapel Street, Ruddington, Nottinghamshire NG11 6HE has a number of machines which are used for hands on demonstrations and it is well worth a visit.
Our first sock knitting machine, believed to be an early Griswold. It has a small cylinder 4" in diameter with 68 needles. It is worn but is in full working condition although the row counter and its shaft are missing.
The machine is clamped to a table which has A.K.M.Co. (Automatic Knitting Machine Company Ltd.) on the cross brace. The table has had a hard life - it is missing a small drawer and the original top has been covered in ply which has had various holes drilled in it.
In the last photo under the yarn cross there is the impression of where a second sock knitter was attached.
The machine came complete with column, yarn cross, ribber, weights, needles and spanner.
We have since aquired the buckle and brass spider shown in the photo.
The Golden Fleece manufactured by the South British Manufacturing Co. Ltd which appears to have operated in the 1920's and which had premises at 91,93,95 and 97 Clerkenwell Road, London which included a Tuition Parlour.
Like many companies that sold these machines the company offered to buy completed work made to their specific instructions.
This machine is in good condition and came complete with a range of accessories including a second cylinder which appears never to have been used as well as the original instruction book and pattern book.
"The AutoKnitter", an early sock making machine probably dating to the 1890's and made by the Automatic Knitting Machine Company, London. It has brass fittings including the row counter. The geared ring which drives the shell is exposed and the drive wheel (or crank) has no guard. It has a small cylinder with 80 needles.
It is heavily worn and unfortunately the column and yarn cross are missing, we have however had an adaptor made so we can use the column and yarn cross from another machine.
A later model of "The AutoKnitter" this time probably dating to the 1910's or 1920's but again made by the Automatic Knitting Machine Company, London. Its design is much improved and it has a large cylinder with 96 needles. It is in excellent condition and is fully operational.
Harrison made by Harrison Patent Knitting Machine Co. Ltd of Manchester. The machine is in excellent condition and is fully operational.
I previously mentioned the Automatic Knitting Machine Co. table had an impression where another sock knitter had been mounted well the Harrison matches exactly even down to the holes for the bolts.
The Harrison Patent Knitting Machine Co. started producing flat bed knitting machines around 1881 and the company had offices at 128 Portland Street, Manchester. The company was registered as a Limited company in 1894.
Shortly after World War 2 it became the Harrison Knitting & Textile Machinery Co. Ltd. The last reference I have to the company is from 1949.