Way back in the 90’s, 1890 to be exact, a Dundas Circular Sock Machine left its place of manufacture in Ontario and arrived at its first home. This cleverly devised machine would remove the time burden of hand-knitting to keep the family’s feet warm. Made of cast iron and steel, this intricately designed bundle of gears and needles seemed miraculous at the time.
One hundred years later, this same machine found its way to Kim Whitley's doorstep in Alberta, albeit disassembled and in a very tattered and dusty cardboard box. Having an affinity for gadgets and tinkering, Kim was ecstatic at the possibilities that this new acquisition presented her. Over the next few years, various cylinders, needles, and other geared parts would be taken out of the box and laid on the floor. This was proving to be a difficult puzzle to solve. There were so many parts, and it just didn't seem to want to go together. After many attempts, all the pieces were put back into the tattered box and tucked away in the basement for several more years.
Then in a serendipitous encounter in 2015, Kim met someone who had experience with antique circular sock machines. It turned out that, over time, pieces of several other circular sock machines of lesser antiquity had been placed into that same tattered box. And the best news was that the Dundas Circular Sock Machine was in perfect working order. And now that Kim had a teacher, she jumped in with both feet. Well stockinged feet, I might add!
Since then, Kim has gained a substantial amount of knowledge and experience with sock machines. She’s even designed a few unique garments and accessories with it. Afterall, sock machines are not limited to making just socks. She’s also acquired another machine, a 1924 Gearhart. Although there are some differences in the operation of the two machines, Kim has mastered them both.
Kim will be giving demonstrations of both sock machines at the Smiling Sheep Fine Yarns booth at the Biggar Fibre Fair. Stop by their booth and watch her crank out a sock. And be sure to ask her why the Dundas was nicknamed “The Knee Knocker!”