A STOCKING FRAME was a mechanical knitting machine used in the
textiles industry. It was invented by William Lee of Calverton near
Six stages in the knitting machine cycle
Lee's machine consisted of a stout wooden frame. It did straight knitting, not tubular knitting. It had a separate needle for each loop - these were low carbon steel bearded needles where the tips were reflexed and could be depressed onto a hollow, closing the loop. The needles were supported on a needle bar that passed back and forth, to and from the operator. The beards were simultaneously depressed by a presser bar. The first machine had eight needles per inch and was suitable for worsted. The next version had 16 needles per inch and was suitable for silk.
The mechanical movements:
* The needle bar goes forward; the open needles clear the web. * The weft thread is laid on the needles; the jack sinkers descend and form loops. * The weft thread is pushed down by the divider bar. * The jack sinkers come forward pulling the thread into the beard of the open needles. * The presser bar drops, the needle loops close and the old row of stitches is drawn off the needle. * The jack sinkers come down in front of the knitting and pull it up so the process can begin again.
The machine imitated the movements of hand knitters. Lee demonstrated
the operation of the device to
Queen Elizabeth I , hoping to obtain a
patent , but she refused, fearing the effects on hand-knitting
industries. The original frame had eight needles to the inch, which
produced only coarse fabric. Lee later improved the mechanism with 20
needles to the inch. By 1598 he was able to knit stockings from silk ,
as well as wool, but was again refused a patent by James I . Lee moved
to France, under the patronage of
The commercial failure of Lee's design might have led to a dead-end for the knitting machine, but John Ashton, one of Lee's assistants, made a crucial improvement by adding the mechanism known as a "divider". This is used after the jack sinkers have pulled down a large loop over all the needles, and the sinker bar has separated out the loop, the dividers are rested on the loop to give the bearded needles guidance as they are pulled forward.
A thriving business built up with the exiled
who had settled in the village of
Spitalfields just outside the city
of London. In 1663, the
Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters was
issued a royal charter. By about 1785, however, demand was rising for
cheaper stockings made of cotton . The frame was adapted but became
too expensive for individuals to buy; thus, wealthy men bought the
machines and hired them out to the knitters, providing the materials
and buying the finished product. With increasing competition, they
ignored the standards set by the Chartered Company. Frames were
Leicester by Nicholas Alsop in around 1680, who
encountered resistance and at first worked secretly in a cellar in
Northgate Street, taking his own sons and the children of near
relatives as apprentices. In 1728, the
The breakthrough with cotton stockings came in 1758 when Jedediah
Strutt introduced an attachment for the frame which produced what
became known as the "
INFLUENCE ON THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
It was then that
Richard Arkwright arrived with his new experimental
spinning machinery. He initially built a works operated by horsepower
but it was evident that six to eight would be needed at a time,
changed every half-hour. He moved to
For mechanical power to be applied to a stocking frame, it had to be adapted for rotary motion. In 1769, Samuel Wise, a clockmaker, took out a patent for changing the hand frame into a rotary. In Nottingham's case, steam coal was easily available from the Nottinghamshire coalfield.
By 1812, there were estimated to be over 25,000 frames in use, most of them in the three counties, and the frame had come back to Calverton.
DERBY RIB MACHINE
Lacey knits can be achieved by slipping a stitch, picking up a stitch or knitting two together. On a frame, a tickler wire could realise individual loops and create a run that would be picked up by hand. The frame was modified by adding a tickler bar and a tuck presser, to allow held and tuck stitches. Here the weft was held in the beard and carried up to the next course where two threads were passed together. Messrs Morris and Betts took a patent (807) in 1764 on a stitch transfer devise where threads from one needle were passed to another. With tuck stitches, this a created 'eyelet holes'. Partial stitch transfer produced a marker stitch.
In 1764, a profound change was made to the stocking frame that enabled it to produce weft-knitted nets. Hammond, the attributed inventor, used ticklers to stitch-transfer from one needle to the third one along crossing over two intermediate needles creating a cross stitch. He also used a tickler to move two stitches two to the right, and then two to the left in a double cross stitch, Valenciennes lace . To do this the tickler bar was detached from the frame and attached to 'dogs', that is, jointed arms. This allowed forward motion to scoop, and sideways motion to shog. New inventions were patented: Frost's tickler net of 1769, the two plain net of 1777 and the square net of 1781, and their patents were fiercely defended. Harvey changed the shape of the tickler wires to avoid one in his pin machine. This became popular in Lyon and Paris where 2000 frames were in use in 1800.
In 1803 cotton was used with silk, as Houldsworths were producing 300 count cotton.
A legend later developed that Lee had invented the first machine in
order to get revenge on a lover who had preferred to concentrate on
her knitting rather than attend to him. A painting illustrating this
story was once displayed in the Stocking Framer\'s Guild hall in
London. In 1846 the Victorian artist
* ^ Earnshaw 1986 , pp. 12,13. * ^ Freer, Wendy (23 June 2010). "Framework Knitting". Leicestershire Industrial History Society. Retrieved 6 December 2016. * ^ A B "Rev. William Lee, inventor of the Stocking Frame". www.victorianweb.org. Retrieved 6 December 2016. * ^ John Gough Nichols