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Auto knitter creates socks with the turn of a crank |
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Auto knitter creates socks with the turn of a crank

Mary Pickels

Textile artisan Cody Edgar, 28, of Lowhill, Washington County, draws an audience of fascinated crafters when he demonstrates his auto knitting machine.

Edgar uses the auto knitter to make some of the products he sells through his business, Lanificae Textiles.

Lanificae, he says, is a Latin word meaning something sturdy or well-woven cloth.

“This is a machine that was used specifically to knit hosiery,” he explains.

Households in the early 1900s would have made a hefty investment of about $75 to purchase the machine, Edgar says. Hosiery knitting was a cottage industry of sorts, allowing women to work from home.

They purchased the material and submitted their work to a manufacturer for possible payment, Edgar says. “So you had to be quick and good at hosiery,” he says.

Edgar recently showed off his auto knitter to a group of volunteers making hearts for a project as part of the upcoming Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival, March 15-17.

Turning the crank, the machine’s needles catching yarn and stitching, he works on one pair of socks.

Beneath his jeans’ hems, his feet model another pair he’s made, in shades of the rainbow.

He plans to participate in the March 15 “block party” during the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival at the Double Tree by Hilton in Green Tree.

Edgar does demonstrations with looms and knitting machines, often at art shows and exhibitions. Largely self-taught, his mother is a textile artist as well, he adds.

Fast enough

He says he found a reference from the 1920s about a woman holding a record for using the auto knitter to make a pair of socks in four minutes and 23 seconds.

“I don’t know anybody that (could do that) today. My speed is a little closer to an hour,” he says.

He also enjoys competing in events, including the Annual Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival at the Greene County Fairgrounds and “sheep to shawl” competitions, with shearer, spinners and a weaver working alongside each other to create a shawl.

“People are interested in learning and doing it for themselves. There are a lot of hand spinners out there,” he says.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Textile artist Cody Edgar works on a pair of socks, among the line of scarves, shawls and table runners he produces through his business, Lanificae Textiles.
Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
An advertisement for the century-old auto knitter, a machine textile artist Cody Edgar often demonstrates at art shows.
Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
A colorful sock, similar to those Brownsville area textile artist Cody Edgar makes on his auto knitter.
Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Washington County textile artist Cody Edgar demonstrates his auto knitter, formely used by 1900s-era women as a cottage industry.
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