Stockingfoot Knits will offer durable washable wool socks in a range of sizes for adults and children. I will knit these socks in fun, hand-dyed yarns on a replica of a WWI sock-knitting machine that's powered by a hand-crank.
Modern sock-knitting machines have been redesigned to be lightweight and durable, but they are not cheap. I’ve been researching these machines for ten years! I found a contemporary machine being sold by a woman who is closing her own sock business.
With commitments for 100 pairs of socks, I can purchase a sock-knitting machine ($1700) and the necessary materials. With commitments for another 20 pairs of socks, I can purchase an adapter (and more yarn) to craft socks in children's sizes. Yarn and accessories will cost $800 for 100 pairs, or $1000 for 120 pairs.
After my first 120 pairs, I’ll sell socks, mittens, and hats via an online shop. I'm connected to a Waldorf school community that LOVES wool garments. I’ll demonstrate sock construction and discuss mechanical ingenuity with school children. I will talk people through the knitting process, sitting at my machine and completing socks at street fairs and crafts fairs.
Some sock machine knitters on Ravelry suggest that one pair of socks can be knit in half an hour. The motivated part-time knitter can make ten pair of socks per week “just for fun.” One business woman told me she sold $7000 worth of socks per year "without trying too hard." The learning curve can be steep with these machines, but I plan to knit 120 pairs of socks by the end of February 2016.
I will be blogging and keeping a photo record of my work. I will shop my story around to high-quality fiber arts magazines where I have previously published stories.
This sock-knitting business is a natural extension of what I do: teaching, writing, and making stuff.
Note: photos on this page are gathered from Google image search of photos for legal reuse. Photos in my video include a closeup of several pair of Brian Avery's hand-cranked socks, below.
The purple and magenta socks are by Ryan C. Payne:
Risks and challenges
My knitting experience up to this point is HAND-knitting experience. I know how socks are constructed. I have spent time with craftspeople and their knitting machines, but I will be learning entirely new problem-solving skills. All sock-machine knitters emphasize the steep learning curve, and I am making my best guess about how quickly I'll catch on to this tricky little machine. I'll need to move up to 10 pairs per week, pretty quickly. I've given myself 20 weeks to complete the incentive gifts: six weeks to learn to use the machine then about 14 weeks to finish the work.
I will need to combat repetitive motion injuries during this push to knit incentive socks. I'll need to walk away from the machine, and go to the gym 2-3 times a week. I'll be paying careful attention to ergonomics, chairs, and work arrangements.
120 = a whole lot of any one project! I will take inspiration from wonderful yarns that knit up with great color variation. I hope to involve at least one teenager in some of my business tasks, depending on interest. It's quite possible to mentor a young business person who could knit in my stead from time to time. I have several potential partners for expanding this business, including a friend who dyes yarns.
I've chosen a machine that will not lose it's value, and I've chosen quality yarns that could be resold in a dire emergency, to recover most of the costs of this business venture. Barring a dire emergency, I will knit socks!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)