3D printed Circular Sock Knitting Machine

I love socks! I began knitting my own socks a few years ago. They were quite complicated to master but once I got it, I got it. At first I tried knitting them on four double-pointed needles, but I didn’t get on with them – too many gaps between the needles. Then I moved on to a small circular needle which gave me much better results.

A selection of my hand-knitted socks

Sock yarn is mostly 4ply (which is quite a thin yarn), so knitting 4ply socks by hand is a very slow process (they can take me about a week to knit one sock).

I first saw a circular sock knitting machine being used on TV (I didn’t even know they existed!) and thought “wow that’s quick”. I had a search for vintage sock machines but when I saw the price I thought “no way”. After more searching I found someone who had used a 3D printer to print a sock machine and thought “ooh!” We have a 3D printer and my husband was up for giving it a try.

The 3D printer files had thankfully been uploaded to Printables.com, so we downloaded them and started printing…

CSM drum being 3D printed

Many prints failed…which is a common occurrence…but after several months we eventually printed all the parts…over 40 in total!

Over 40 x 3D printed parts

Next step – “how on earth does this all fit together??”

CSM construction begins

Thankfully the printer came with instructions. I did find them a little tricky to understand, but I go there…eventually.

My 3D printed Circular Sock Machine

Woop! Woop! Testing was a very exciting stage. Slowly turning the handle I needed to check everything was working properly: make sure the handle cranked; the drum collar rotated around the drum; the stitch counter incremented with each turn; and the cams moved the needles up and down as the handle cranked. Yes!

Ok, now I needed to work out how to knit…and cast on!! Everyone online talked about a cast-on bonnet. I’d never heard of this. But once I made one it made casting on a breeze.

After a few test pieces (that involved lots of yarn dropping off needles, and me learning how to pick up stitches) I was finally ready to make my first sock…

My first CSM sock in progress

After a very steep learning curve, and numerous headaches, I have managed to crank out a recognisable sock!

My first CSM sock

There is still plenty to learn, but for my first attempt I’m very excited by the results. Just need to make a matching sock now!

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