Bickford Knitting Machine

P1050472a Every now and then, C and I leave our hill and do an afternoon road trip.  It was on one of these afternoons about 6 or so years ago, that we stopped by an antique (junk) barn to poke around.  On the way down the hill to the barn we passed a pile of garbage.   Really, it was the junk pile of metal throwaways, stuff that didn't pass the muster for the sales area inside the barn.  If you are seriously poking around, and you are a junk lover to boot, what could be more enticing than a pile of wet, rusty, metal stuff that someone else was sure was junk.  We poked at it a bit, nudging stuff with our feet, pulling assorted objects away that looked interesting.  I don't remember what part we saw first, but there it was, a circular knitting machine, a sock knitter.  A prize!  It was too dirty to see what kind it was.  There didn't appear to be any markings on it at all.  We went inside and poked around a bit more.  After awhile we found the owner and asked about the pile of stuff outside.  He said it was garbage and we could have anything we found there.   I went out and got the machine and asked if he knew anything about it.  "Nope.  If you know what it is and you want it, it's yours."  And that, my friends, is the beginning of my story.


It says Sep 10 1867.  Yep!  Cleaning it up enough to read that little button was the start of my interest in Bickford's machines.  This one is an original.  It really does date to 1867-68. 



Not all the parts were there, that day.  We searched through the pile as best we could.   There is a needle missing and some that are broken.  It is a curiousity that hands onto a shelf near my desk. 


Mr. Bickford was a Vermonter.  He was born just over the hill in an adjacent town. His decendents still live here.  The envelope below was from the second location he had on Broadway in NYC.  The first location burned, I've read the newspaper accounts.  It was reported on August 24th, 1885 in The New York Times.  Amazing what you can find on the internet. 

Env. detail

Got anything to add?  I'd love to hear about it.

Sargasso Sea



..with its circles of warm water, that portion of the cold, quiet, immovable ocean called the Sargasso Sea, a perfect lake in the open Atlantic:  it takes no less than three years for the great current to pass round it. Such was the region the Nautilus was now visiting, a perfect meadow, a close carpet of seaweed, .. so thick and so compact that the stem of a vessel could hardly tear its way through it. And Captain Nemo, not wishing to entangle his screw in this herbaceous mass, kept some yards beneath the surface of the waves.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

- by Jules Verne


In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where two powerful currents come together like partners joining hands to dance and whirl round and around, there is a place shrouded in mystery. It is a sea within a sea. This place of calm, clear water and floating seaweed islands has been said to becalm ships forever and to harbor mermaids. It is the Sargasso  Sea.



My friend Cindy, of Cindyknits, used the Sargasso Sea colorway and the image of seaweed floats adrift in the ocean currents, as her inspiration for a new sock pattern. Ball and Skein will be offering this as the Sargasso Sea Sock Kit, available April 1st. Included are the pattern, with written and charted instructions, a skein of our machine washable sock yarn in the Sargasso Sea colorway, and a little seashell stitch marker. 



The Diamond Fantasy Shawl is done!  The weather was so beautiful, that I took the time to do outdoors things.  So many things to fit into two days, like putting the rugs out on the deck to air, doing load after load of laundry and actually hanging (a very small portion, not much) of it outdoors.  Saturday, there was a monthly spin in with friends I've missed.  I walked.  I played with my spindle... it was a good weekend!



by the fire

After one of the most hectic seasons I can remember, Christmas day found us at home.  I can only think of a few years in my adult life that I have not made my way to visit family.  It is a long trek, 10 1/2 hrs if we make good time, in good weather, on dry roads.  Hard to predict this time of year.  Flying, it has its own set of problems.  So we stayed home, and lit the fire and ate, and walked, taking in the better part of two cold sunny days.   


I started working on my Ember socks.  I swatched and ripped back pattern after pattern.   I wanted a not too complicated texture.  One that wouldn't compete or be knocked too far into the background by the darkly variegated yarn.  I was thinking about the name of the yarn colorway, Ember, finally settling on a pattern stitch that I'd used years ago in Sandy Turner's  Blueberry Waffle Socks.  This great free sock pattern was originally written for dk yarn and size 5 needles.  I think it works great with the #2's and sock yarn.  The reduction in the pattern size combined with the striped fabric, creates a bit of a vibration, not unlike the flickering light and color of the hot embers warming my feet.

This skein of "Ember" is a second. What a strange thing to call something that is perfect, just unlike the others, even more unique.  It has a bit more of the grey and a less vibrant red, than the rest of the run.  When I find a skein unlike the rest, I will put it aside,  frequently using them for my own projects.


One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,

Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone
Sesame Street

make hay..

"Make hay while the sun shines"
Everyone has heard that old adage.  Around here, especially this time of year, it should be altered a bit to include, "while the full moon shines, and your head lights work". Days run into the night time hours.  It is cutting time.  Itinerant farm machinery arrived the other day.  Most of the neighboring fields are done this way.  Farmers have their cutting done, rather than invest in and keep up their own super expensive equipment.  The machines roll in, the machines roll out.  This year, just in time.

I woke to this view.  It is getting thicker by the minute.



I've got my knitting with me at the shop.  Between dye baths and skeining, I've got the second Monkey.  A stitch at a time.  (I'm full of them today)

The moisture shows off the girls handiwork.




No one gets much sleep this time of year.

Monkey socks = fun knitting


I had no idea that knitting the Monkey socks would be so much fun.  They're the perfect counterpoint to the MS3.  I don't know which to pick up first.  When I need a bit of simple, I pick up Monkey, and when I want to concentrate, MS3 is right there.  Monkey gets shoved into my backpack to be pulled out whenever, MS3 stays at home. 


I am changing a few things, like the heel flap.  I like the density of the slip st. version.  Those little stripes, what a lot of pleasure they give me.  Easily entertained. 


Lace, more lace, and lace wt. yarn

Everything on the needles is lace.  I'm pretty stuck on it. There is the MS3 (clue 2 is finished, it has been a lot of fun so far), The Spring Things Shawl (this was my easy knit until I realized I'd dropped a stitch and it ran backwards a few rows, time to tink), and I think I can include the Monkey Socks (couldn't you?).  Wings of the Swan is waiting in a bag next to my chair, partly finished.  And for once, all of the things I am knitting are using my own hand dyed yarn.  Two of the projects are beaded.  None of these are social, let's talk and knit projects.  I've been using spindling for that.  Everything is very portable.  Perfect summer projects. 

And... I've been dyeing.  This time it is Alpaca & Silk Lace Wt. I used this for my Shetland Shawl last autumn and now for The Spring Things Shawl.  So soft.  Lovely bloom.

Here is what's been cooking.

Atlantic_as_2 atlantic

Moutain_ice_2 mountain ice

Woodland_shade woodland shade

Silver_vase silver vase

Watermelon watermelon

Purple_finch purple finch

Lt_berry_2 light berry

Buttercup seems to be missing.  I'll get it posted with the next batch.  If this cooler weather is here to stay, I'll continue with some of the Merino & Silk 2 ply that Indigo Moon spun for me before they closed their shop this spring.

This gorgeous weather has me sitting outdoors with my laptop, posting.  Today, I love technology.. tomorrow, who knows.

more socks

There is more than MS3 going on around here. 

P1030828_3 The second Embossed Leaves sock is done.  Check that off the list.  I had a great time with this pattern.  Not much remains of the original.  I added the picot edge top, used an Eye of the Partridge heel flap and discontinued the pattern for the foot.  A smoother sock fits and feels better in many of my winter shoes.  With temps and humidity into the 90's, putting a wool sock onto my feet wasn't something I wanted to do for long.  I need some sock stretchers. 

Pattern: inspired by Embossed Leaves, IK
Yarn: Ball and Skein Sock Yarn
         hand dyed in Mountain Spring
Needles: Knit Picks #1 & #2 circs. ( I love these needles)


With my morning coffee, I went through my sock yarn and picked out Dream


Next up: Monkey!


Dandelion season is over.


So too are my Dandelion Toe Up Socks.  After knitting a new gusset, heel and heel flap, a pattern I really liked by the way, I've decided that the sock is still too tight around my instep.  The sock would not be comfortable.  It pulls across the top and distorts the stitches.  The new pattern I decided on, (toe up with a heel flap) that Wendy posted, is a much better choice for my high instep.  If I tried it again I probably would have a pretty good fit.  But after all the changes, I am not sure that the heel will stay in place.  I've got my numbers in a top down sock worked out for a good fit.  When I get around to it, I'll wind the yarn back into a skein, wash out the knitted kinks and try again.  Top down.





Mountain Spring socks

Sock_detail_2 The weekend was a washout, not bad, not good.  I sort of like a rainy day.  It means a project day to me.  Sunday morning, as I looked out the window at the spring rain, I remembered that I had saved a skein of sock yarn in my Mountain Spring colorway for myself.  The colors fit the view.  I needed a pattern, preferrably one with a 4 or 8 stitch repeat.  I cast on and completed the picot top without knowing where it would go from there.  I tried a number of different stitch patterns, starting with a slip stitch.  I knit, I frogged, three times.  I tried an old stitch I'd used years ago called "little tent".  Nothing worked.  The rain continued.  I wanted a leaf pattern, spring... something.  Then I thought of a pattern I'd seen in IK, the Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt.  It was just what I was looking for.  It was so much fun I got the leg completed while I watched TV in the evening. 

Pardon the scanned picture, a dud for sure.  It's a dark, grey afternoon, and I am in a hurry.   The dye pot is heating.


"orange'a glad.."

Remember that old "knock, knock" joke.. the one that ends with "orange'a glad I didn't say banana"?


I tried a number of new things (for me) on this pair of socks.  First, and most obvious is the picot top.  I love it.  I jumped over to Claudia's and read her tutorial before I started.  It didn't take long.  If you were to add up the time it takes to rib a top vs. using the stockinette for the picot, there wouldn't be much difference.  It's something different, stronger and yet has a pretty sort of look to it.

The second thing I tried is a bit harder to see.  I carried the slip stitch heel pattern down under the heel.  I hope the little bit more density that it gives will add to the life of the sock.  You can't feel the difference, no bump, so far so good. 

This was the first time I used the Knit Picks needles.  I have to say that I really liked them.  The points were great for picking up the k2tog stitches.  I used the #2 as a magic loop for the top and leg.  Then I put the heel stitches on the #1 and continued to use it for the sole and toe, while keeping the top of the foot on the #2, thus using the two circ. method.  When I reached the last couple inches of toe, I switched back to the magic loop using only the #1.

P1030500    P1030498  

P1030505     P1030504

P1030503    P1030501

The pattern stitch started out as my memory of the Mata Hari sock I saw over at Grumperina's.    Apparently I am not the only one that used it as an 8 stitch, 4 row repeat.  Others seem to have read it as a 10 stitch, 8 stitches in between the yo, k2tog.  I like it, simple with just a little bit of interest.