How can I do Sock Machine Selvedges?

compound cyl socksBy Amelia © May 27, 2010

A question from a reader of this blog ...

My question is: I have recently purchased a Legare 47 and need to know if it is only possible to make a selvedge "cast-on" at top of sock in 1 x 1 rib, or can it be done with 3 x 1 or others? For me it has only worked using the 72 cylinder and doing 1 x 1 rib. Won't work with 54 cylinder. Any ideas?

Thanks for asking ... it's nice to do a sock machine post, as I was recently knitting on mine and even playing with selvedges. I'm going to assume you have a 72-slot cylinder, a 54-slot cylinder, and a 36-slot ribber. This gives you a few options...

First one ... if you want to do a 3/1 top edge, you could put a needle in every cylinder slot, without the ribber on yet, and use an e-wrap to make a selvedge. You wrap every needle from where you would start to knit with an "e" of the yarn you plan to knit with (pull along tail through so you can get all the way around with it), counterclockwise around the cylinder, in the same order the needles will knit. Then, knit one row. This makes a selvedge that won't unravel. At this point you can put the ribber in and transfer stitches from cylinder needles (removing them!!) and onto ribber needles as you like.

I admit, this selvedge is fiddly -- the number of times I have dropped a stitch in that first ribber row, I hesitate to count. I've been very pleased in the reliability of my NZAK to not drop ribber stitches, so I can use this selvedge when I want to. It has the virtue of working no matter what ribbing I want -- 3/1, 2/1, 1/1, or mock rib.

Second one ... a mock rib hemmed selvedge. For this, you leave out every n-th needle. For a 3/1 mock rib, it's every 4th needle. And, you just start knitting with your real yarn once you have your waste yarn knitting cleanly. Once you have 10-40 rows (how many defines the depth of your hemmed top), you pick up the first knit row's stitches and put them around the needles with the current row, so the first row is knit into the next round of knitting.

Third one ... there's a great selvedge you can do with a 36-slot ribber and 54-slot cylinder. If you use only every other slot in the ribber, you can set up for a 2/1 ribbing. Once this knits cleanly with the waste yarn, attach your sock yarn and continue like so:
  1. Knit one row with the sock yarn.
  2. Lift the first cylinder needle of each pair all the way around (well, as around as you can ... just be sure to continue with this step as you start the next one...).
  3. Knit two complete rows with that first-of-each-pair needle not knitting. Yes, this puts a bar of yarn in front of it each time.
  4. Now lower the out-of-work needles, carefully, so their latches are open and above the bars, and knit the next round.
Whew! This is actually a fairly easy selvedge, and my favorite for 52-cylinder socks and mittens.

You mentioned the 1/1 ribbing; you could, if you want a 3/1 sock on the 72, use 1/1 ribbing just for 3-4 rows and then convert over to 3/1 ribbing for the rest of the leg.

There have been other selvedges I've played with -- e-wrap on cylinder needles, then starting ribbing needles by picking up the bar from the row below (not easy!); and a variety of sewn selvedges after taking the sock off the machine -- but I'm going to guess you're looking for a cranked selvedge, not a hand-done selvedge. So go ahead, experiment -- try out a variety of selvedges, knit short tubes, and see if they hold or let stitches run.

I've been happiest with 1/1, 2/1, and mock rib hemmed-top socks, all of them pretty deep -- I'll do 25 rows of ribbing, and 40 rows before hanging the hem of a mock rib. I used to only do 5-10 rows, but it doesn't make a deep enough ribbing to hold the sock up well. 3/1 topped socks haven't stayed up that well for me, so I don't tend to use it at the top edge of a sock.

The socks up at the top have a 1/1 top, 3/1 leg and foot; they are tiny ... knit on my NZAK's compound cylinder :-).


Related posts:
Sock machines: hem or ribbed top?
Sock machines: How do you put a selvedge on a 3/1 sock?
Sock Machines: Can you use a 36-slot ribber with a 54-slot cylinder?


© May 27, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at

1 comment:

N. Maria said...

Great instructions!! I understood it all!!!! :)
Thank you, Amelia.....