K is for Knitting Machine

Pope County Museum A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Periodically, I will highlight an item or items from our Museum collection.

Gearhart’s 1908 Family Knitting Machine.

The machine clamps on to table top. There is a metal crank on the right hand side with wooden handle. When the crank is turned, the mechanism rotates around a cylinder to move hooks up and down and place the yarn in each needle, knitting a tube. The yarn feeds from above and is held taut by an adjustable weight underneath the machine.
The 1908 Gearhart Family Knitter is one of Gearhart’s earliest knitting machines.  Improvements included a wider range of cylinder outfits, the creation of a curved handle and a newly designed yarn carrier.  Cylinder counts of 52, 54 and 56 enabled the production of infant hosiery and sport socks.  In contrast to the long, straight crank handle of previous models, Gearhart’s 1908 Family Knitter demonstrated a compact handle. Machines like this allowed knitters to create socks very quickly – compared to knitting with needles.

Circular knitting machines are still available, but now are most often seen as plastic children’s toys.

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