Published April 25, 2023
From Seed To Sock: How Knitting Machines Work
Have you ever wondered how custom branded socks are made? In this blog, we will be discussing sock knitting machines, and how a custom sock manufacturer like Sock Club uses them to create high quality custom socks.
Sock knitting machines are specialized machines that are used to knit socks quickly and efficiently. These machines can produce a large number of socks in a short amount of time, which makes them very popular for wholesale custom sock manufacturers.
Different Types of Sock Knitting Machines
There are two main types of sock knitting machines: circular sock knitting machines and flatbed sock knitting machines.
Circular sock knitting machines are the most common type of sock knitting machine. They are designed to knit socks in a circular motion, which creates a seamless sock. This is the type of knitting machine that Sock Club uses to manufacture our custom socks. Circular sock knitting machines are further divided into two categories: ribber machines and cylinder machines.
Ribber machines are used to knit the ribbed cuff of the sock. The ribbed cuff is the part of the sock that sits at the top of the ankle and is usually made up of a pattern of knit and purl stitches. Ribber machines are equipped with a separate set of needles that are used to create the ribbed cuff. The best custom sock companies will tell you that they advise against design in the cuff because of this different type of stitching.
Cylinder machines are used to knit the body of the custom knitted socks. They are equipped with a cylinder that has a set number of needles. As the cylinder rotates, the needles move up and down, knitting the body of the sock.
Flatbed sock knitting machines are designed to knit socks in a flat position. This type of machine is used to knit socks that have a heel flap, which is the part of the sock that covers the heel of the foot. Flatbed sock knitting machines are equipped with a flat surface that has a set number of needles. The needles move back and forth to create the stitches that form the sock.
A member of Sock Club's manufacturing team programming a computer to knit the design that the design team made
Programming Sock Designs Into Sock Knitting Machines
After you design socks online, our team in North Carolina has to translate that into the sock knitting machine’s language.
Designs for custom made socks are programmed into sock knitting machines using a computer software program. The program allows the designer to create a pattern that will be knit into the sock. The pattern is converted into a digital file, which is then loaded onto the machine. The machine reads the digital file and follows the instructions to knit the pattern into the sock.
The designer can choose from a wide range of colors and stitch patterns when they design custom socks. To learn more about how our sock designers create the digital pattern for our sock knitting machines, read our blog about How To Put A Logo On Socks by sock designer, Hanna King.
Six spools of green yarn loaded onto a circular knitting machine in Sock Club's USA manufacturing facilities.
Loading the Yarn Into A Sock Knitting Machine
The first step in the process of actually knitting the custom logo socks is loading the yarn onto the machine. The yarn is loaded onto a yarn feeder, which is mounted on top of the machine. The yarn feeder feeds the yarn into the machine as it knits. The yarn is fed into the machine using a system of hooks and needles that work together to create the stitches that form the sock.
Individual yarn threads being fed into the circular knitting machine to feed the needles that create the sock design.
Weaving The Sock Design Into The Sock
The design of the sock is woven into the sock using a system of needles and hooks. The needles move in a circular motion, while the hooks move in a vertical motion. The yarn is fed into the machine using a system of hooks and needles that work together to create the stitches that form the sock. The machine follows a predetermined pattern, which creates the design of the sock.
Since the stitches are created one horizontal row at a time, sock designs that are more horizontally-oriented work better for a sock that stretches and is comfortable. Vertically-oriented designs can sometimes cause socks to be too tightly knit to be worn well.
In order to ensure your custom sock design provides a great quality product for your project, it’s important to lean on your sock designer for their expertise. After all, excellent customer service is what we’re here for!
Closing The Toe When Manufacturing A Sock
The toe seam in sock manufacturing is created using a process called "closing the toe." This is done after the rest of the sock has been knitted.
The sock is turned inside out, and the stitches at the end of the toe are gathered together using a needle and thread. The thread is then pulled tight, and a knot is tied to secure the stitches in place. This creates the seam at the end of the toe. The excess thread is then trimmed off, and the sock is turned right side out again.
The toe seam can be a discomfort for some people, so some manufacturers have started to use a process called "seamless" sock knitting, which eliminates the need for a toe seam altogether. This takes a special type of sock knitting machine.
A yellow sock cuff being knit on a circular knitting machine.
Knitting The Cuff Of A Sock
Knitting the cuff of a sock on a circular sock knitting machine is done using a process called ribbing. The machine is equipped with a separate set of needles that are used to create the ribbed cuff. The needles alternate between knit and purl stitches, which creates a pattern of raised ridges and recessed valleys.
The ribbing is usually done at the top of the sock, where it sits on the ankle. The ribbed cuff is important because it helps to keep the sock in place and prevent it from slipping down. The length and tightness of the ribbing can be adjusted to create a customized fit for the wearer. Once the ribbing is complete, the machine switches to the cylinder needles to knit the body of the sock.
In conclusion, sock knitting machines are specialized machines that are used to knit socks quickly and efficiently. The yarn is loaded onto the machine using a yarn feeder, and the design of the sock is woven into the sock using a system of needles and hooks.
There are two main types of sock knitting machines: circular sock knitting machines and flatbed sock knitting machines. Circular sock knitting machines are further divided into ribber machines and cylinder machines. Flatbed sock knitting machines are used to knit socks that have a heel flap.
So the next time you put on a pair of socks, you can appreciate the intricate process that went into making them.