Awhile ago, the center weight of my grandfather’s clock slipped off the chain, and the chain slipped off its sprocket wheel.

The “how” isn’t important. I’m grateful no one was hurt — and there’s no permanent damage to the clock.

If you’ve ever wound a grandfather’s clock, you know there are three chains with weights. The ones on the ends are for the chimes and striking mechanism. The center one runs the clock. And of course it’s the most difficult to reposition! Hard to impossible to reach with your fingers, and very limited room inside the cabinet to manipulate any tool.

This woodcut gives you an idea of how challenging this task can be:

Woodcut of cross section of English longcase (...

Image via Wikipedia of woodcut of side view of grandfather clock mechanism

You need to be working in a space less than 6 inches wide, over a side sprocket wheel, and between horizontal posts to get  to the center .

I looked online for instructions to reposition the chain. While it’s a fairly simple procedure to replace one of the side chains through the cabinet side doors, the center chain is more challenging. The online suggestions involved taking the clock mechanism out of the case, replacing the chain, then replacing the mechanism in the cabinet.

Yeah, right! :roll:

I’m not sure I could reach the screws or bolts to remove the mechanism even if I wanted to. Certainly there must be another way. I couldn’t find one, so took a last long look at the chain off its wheel, and decided to do something else. Of course I ended up knitting. ;)

Knitting truly does sooth the soul. Plus, as I was working it occurred to me that the knitting stitches are not unlike the links in a chain.

Then, I had an aha moment!

Grabbing my pair of number 3 straight needles, I realized I could reach the chain! With manipulations involving a combination of knitting and eating with chopsticks, I balanced the chain between the needles. After some practice, it fell right into place. I could wind the clock, and it started running. PHEW! :lol:

I think the clockmaker, a child of The Great Depression who knew about making do with what you have on hand, would approve. Some knitting gurus know how to improvise:

“A #6 aluminum needle has been known to furnish an excellent emergency shear pin for an outboard motor.” – Elizabeth Zimmermann

How about you? Share your unusual uses for knitting needles or crafting tools in the comments. You never know, you might just help someone else find a solution to a tricky problem.

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