Sock Knitting Overview
Sock knitting machines are highly specialized circular knitting machines specific to the products made on them. These machines can use any type of yarn or fiber to produce hosiery and socks made to shape, size, and performance criteria.
The principles of circular knitting are the same whether the yarn supply, or creel, is at the side or top. Fed from above the knitting elements, yarns move from the creel through guides to stop-motion controls above the machine, then back down through tension controls and yarn-feeding devices to the knitting elements. High-quality products can be produced only when stop-motion and yarn-feeding functions are set properly. The intricate action of knitting—where needles form loops—occurs in the middle of the machine, between the take-up and the yarn-feeding mechanism. In circular weft knitting, needles knit one after the other in sequence, and loops are formed horizontally by needles knitting around the cylinder, forming a tube.
On a single-cylinder machine, the cylinder, with its vertical needles, can make all the stitches needed for sock manufacturing.
The machine’s components are the cylinder, the needles, the sinkers, and the dial with transfer bits or jacks.
Knitting Needle Cycle
A sock knitting needle must form a new loop, pull this loop through the previous loop formed, lose the old loop, and pull the new loop to the length specified for the product. Variations in this cycle allow fine-tuning of texture, appearance, and performance to meet product specifications.
Sock fabrics can be made on more than one set of needles. Double-knit fabrics are produced from two sets of needles. Some sock machines have two cylinders, one positioned above the other, to produce constructions such as links-links.
Other machines are specialized to add reinforcement, formed pockets, terry surface on the inside of the sock, and other innovations.