No, this article is not about SOCKS4 or SOCKS5 or Proxies. It’s about real socks, the ones that go onto your feet. Meet [Bob Rutherford], 88 years old, who lives in Saskatoon, Canada. He and his gang ([Glynn Sully], 92 years old , [George Slater] 85 year old, and young [Barney Sullivan] 65 years old) have made 10,000 socks for shelters in the community and across the country. That’s almost 8 miles of socks. Last year alone “operation Socks by Bob” as he likes to call it, produced 2,000 socks.
So how did these 4 fellows manage to pull this off? Turns out that [Bob] has a bit of a maker spirit in him and he actually built a fast, cheap, knitting machine for the purpose of making socks. Using a sewer tubing as a base, the machines can knit at 90 stitches a second.
He made it a while back but it didn’t have much of a use in mind for it. Sadly, seven years ago his wife passed away, leaving him facing a void in his life. Following his son advice “If you want to help yourself, help somebody else”, he decided to start this project.
“There’s a lot of us, as we grow older, we sit at home and look at the wall with nothing to do! Socks by Bob has given me that something to do.” [Bob]
Nowadays the gang has 2 machines working steadily and, once a week, they cut the long tubes of wool into socks. Half the yarn is donated, the other plus shipping costs are raised by [Bob’s] son. The knitting machines look pretty awesome in action. See for yourself in the video below.
Wouldn’t it be great if we can get a guide on how [Bob] built his machine? For now, there is an open hardware circular knitting machine. It was a Hackaday Prize Entry in 2015, called Circular Knitic.
[Thanks Tania] [images Julianne Hazlewood/CBC News]
25 thoughts on “Socks By Bob”
It’s cool to see someone from my city getting recognition for things like this!
your the poor person who lives there…lol
And you’re the poor person who can’t spell.
Actually, he’s the poor person who can’t grammar…
i think this is awesome!! and yeah somehow it would be nice if there was more info’s on the machine but maybe also a nice homepage where ppl can donate wool or money to keep them going :)
I would love to see more information on that machine as well. If it was easy to build, I would love to be doing something similar for the local shelters. You go Bob!
Youtube suggested a video on a Gearhart Sock Knitting Machine demonstration after watching Bob’s machine in action. Knowing almost nothing other than that, it looks like the mechanisms may be similar. Interestingly the Gearhart machine seems to be able to do heels and toes with lots of extra changes to it’s setup, so there may be a way to completely automate the system to churn out full socks. It’s at least a place to start researching!
I watched that suggested video as well before googling “knitting machine needles” to see if a machine could be created – it looks relatively straight forward but it would require a cam and ring arrangement to move the needles up and down as required.
(I thought the wikipedia page had a nice graphic on the steps of the process https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knitting_machine )
The HaD IO project mentioned at the bottom of the article appears to use the same basic process but uses printed parts rather than the more sturdy version in the video.
Good on them – old fashioned Saskatchewan values put in action.
Holy means of production batman! This is great! This is the FUTURE. Single enterprise makers making ONE THING for ONE PURPOSE. All connected in a giant web of independent manufacture and healthy small enterprise.
No.. It is the past of production.
The future is rapidly approaching, and it involves robotics so expensive everyone rents their cars and domestic robots. People who’s income depends on their ability to drive a vehicle will no longer have jobs, and no matter what side is in – left or right – global treaties like TPP WILL be passed and local workers will have ever less to do with producing things they consume.
There is about to be an explosion in exploitation of low cost labor. Just watch.
Freaking awesome :)
Also at the rate I lose socks it might be cost effective for me to build a pair of these :P
Until you start losing sock machines
If there was a Like button, I would have clicked it.
I did see an ON and OFF button, but didn’t spot a LIKE button.
Sock it to ’em, Bob
They could sell a fraction of it for profit to sustain the effort at length. I would buy good wool socks as it better than synthetic fiber.
Looks like an origional machine with some modern tech added on. Here’s one that I help maintain at work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccepDc_4gV4
Bob and his gang rock! Keep up the good work, guys.
This is good.
While their effort is admirable, it seems to me that there are already very efficient sock making machines out there (likely in China) that could make socks faster and cheaper. But maybe that is not the point.
There are very efficient sock making machines out there in non-china as well. None of them are making socks for homeless people in Saskatchewan, so they’re irrelevant.
The Chinese machines are getting so efficient now, that they provide starter holes in the toes, to save you those many days of wear to get them going.
Brings back fond memories when I lived in Portage La Prairie Manitoba when I was ~12 in the 1973 time frame and my 70+ next door neighbour would knit socks on a hand version of this machine for the Hudsons Bay in his basement. Mr Johnson a great mentor and conversationalist.
a 3d printed circular knitting machine, must slower, less industrial than Gearhart version has been covered here before
Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)