Once upon a time, we had a forlorn stocking machine, unloved and unable to move and make anything. It had worked hard all its life used by the Dye department not to make socks or stockings but to create samples of the weave to check the yarn dye.
It became a mission to find out more and if possible bring it back to life. A google search began and it became clear that the history of stocking machines in England was very much based around the Nottingham area. In fact, there is a museum dedicated to these clever machines https://frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk/ who knew? We got in contact and sure enough, they were a wealth of information and help.
We have a Higham stocking machine but ours looked rather different from the images in the advertising. We were missing vital parts that make socks and stockings but that made sense to a textile mill that wasn’t using it to make a finished product. It transpired that this lovely museum was holding a stocking machine conference and we were invited to come and see how they could help. So our poorly stocking machine was driven down the M1 to meet the stocking machine community. What we discovered is there are many different machines and when they are working they are so hypnotic to watch.
Here are a few examples from our trip
It turns out they have personalities all of their own and the future of this clever invention turns out to be 3D printing. As parts become scarce or unavailable the stocking machine community has the answer they are making their own.
The below image is of a stocking machine made by 3D printing.
We learned lots and a whole other language and skills about the stocking machine and those that work them. Our stocking machine is still on a journey of discovery. It has been taken apart, cleaned, and oiled.
It now looks like this
We have made it come alive again and hopefully, in the near future, we can create samples again. We have discovered that it is a unique machine perhaps the only one of its kind left in England. It was specially manufactured to create samples, not socks specifically for the textile industry of the north. The journey continues the next challenge is the needles but hopefully, soon we can make samples again.
Special thanks must go to the staff and volunteers of the Framework Knitters Museum.
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