Welcome to the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company archives. My name is Mark Gearhart and I am in the process of sorting through many boxes of archive material which have been largely untouched since they were packed up in 1925.

I am the great-grandson of Joseph E. Gearhart, inventor of the Gearhart Knitting Machine and founder of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company in 1888. I am also the grandson of Emory J. Gearhart, president of the company starting in 1912.

Most of the printed material is quite fragile but still readable and can be quite interesting to those who have an interest in Knitting Machines and the american manufacturing businesses of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. In addition to the paper archives, I also have a set of Gearhart’s own machines which represent the entire span of the company, starting with a small carved wooden machine dating from 1887 to the last of the 5000 inventoried machines sold by the Clearfield Knitting Machine Company in the 1930′s.

As I make my way through this material, I will add articles to this journal and report on both facts and opinions related to the nature of the business, the family, the machines, and the current state of interest regarding the Gearhart Knitting Machine.

I welcome your inputs. In fact, since there are some time periods missing from the archive, WWI for example, I would very much welcome any additional archive information you may be willing to send. Credit certainly will be given in the resulting article.

By the way, please feel free to leave comments on this site! The comments go to me first for moderation. Therefore, there may be a delay before they show up. As you would expect, this is not the place for advertising via comments. Its all about Gearhart Knitting Machines and the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company history.

Sincerely,
Mark Gearhart
The Gearhart Knitting Machine Company
mark@mgearhart.com
April 2009

Addendum:

A couple of readers wanted to know something about me. This site isn’t really about me, but here is a summary. I’m in my 50′s. I got married late in life, and have a very young son and an infant daughter. I’ve lived in the U.S., Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong. Currently, I live in North Carolina and am very happy there.

markphoto_300px

I took my mid-life crisis a while back and had a sailboat built by a tiny company in California. Then I quit my job and went sailing for several years. I’m back to regular life now, and will probably stay put for the foreseeable future. However, I have kept my sailboat just in case. I have 10 goals in life and am working on all of them, but at the rate I’m going right now, I’ll probably never be done. Oh yes, many have asked me to re-start the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company. We’ll see. For now, there’s a lot of research to be done.

My other site is at www.mgearhart.com

50 Responses to “About”

  1. Kelli Land Says:

    Hello Mark, What a treat, and my Birthday is shared with your Great GrandFather. I got a bug for sock knitting machines about 15 years ago from a knitting magazine article. It took me a few more years to get my first broken down machine and Auto Knitter at and auction that i paid far to much for as i was bent on getting it. I now have 4 Gearharts ranging from a 1914B to the 1925 version. They are 100 , 80, 72 and 52 count cylinders. I use the 72 count and look forward to possesion some day of a 60 count cylinder. They are in various stages of total completness for the most part borrowing and using parts from one or another to complete out a model for demoing to those who want to see one work.I have even found means with the help of my father to fix the broken parts that i have.

    It would be such a cool thing to see these machines continue to live their legacy with having parts available for them some day. As with the old locomobile, we as knitters are handy at making due.. carrying the tools to fix and manipulate our machines into happy knitting sounds.

    I dont have much to offer the site for history however look forward to updates on the archives and the effort you have put into the site so far to share with us your families history and the company. If I find the article that i read that got the bug for me to get into this I will certainly send it along,,, however that was 2 moves ago, a kid and a whole life time of paper. But I will look as know I am most excited. OH just a thought I do know that Spin off magazine did a big article on sock knitting machine not more then a year or so ago,, and I am pretty sure the gearhart name was part of the article.will look for that to.

    Have fun with searching the archives, as a family history listener, I envy the fun you will have with the treausres you will find.. good luck and look forward to your future postings.

    Thank you so much
    Kelli Land

  2. Pam Says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of your family heritage with us. I am as intrigued by the history of sock machines as I am by the machines and the wonderful socks they crank out. It was so neat to take a little journey into the past.

  3. Mark Says:

    When I sit down to eat lunch, check email and check what’s happening in the CSM world, one of the things I check is Mark Gearhart’s new wesite about The Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, it’s history and his family’s history.

    Mark has a wealth of information I think many of us are just waiting to see. Actually having paper work from back then about the machines and the company, along with some of the old equipment and machines will be most interesting to see.

    Thank You Mark for taking the time to do this.

    Take care.

    Mark

  4. Dinah Dague Says:

    Dear Mr. Gearhart, we are cousins. Your granddad was my great uncle, who was a very neat individual. I have a lot of fond memories of him. You have some of my research, which you received from my cousin Bonnie. That was just the basics. I have, however, written a book since then, on our branch of the family. All the research in my book has been proven from 3 sources and I spent 5 years researching it, including a some research a friend did for me in Zurick, Switerland. I would like to know more about what you have. I will be happy to share what I have with you. My mom was Mary. She was next to the oldest of Leonards kids, which makes us second cousins. Which one of uncle Emory’s kids was your dad? Would love to talk more and maybe switch and swap if there is anything you need or that I can help with. Let me know please. Cousin Dinah.

  5. sandi a. Says:

    Mark,
    I have a copy of Superior Rugcraft Pattern Portfolio in front of me. It is titled “Hooked Rug Making at Home.” I love the rug designs in the catalog and think they would make beautiful designs for Penny rugs. I decided to google the address and see if the company still existed. I entered the address given in the catalog….Superior Appliance & Pattern Co. at West 4th Avenue, Clearfield, PA and wow! I found your site! Are the rugs a part of the archives you hold or were they a seperate company. I am really interested in recreating some of these designs as penny rugs but want to do it accurately so would like to find out if permission is needed or if copyright has expired/belongs to someone else, etc. I would love to hear from you. Sandi Andersen
    P.S. The catalog was in magazines that my mother had bought at auction. I grew up in the little town of Lehigh, Iowa which was a coal town when it first began. I always wondered if settlers from Pennsylvania had come there and thus, the name Lehigh.

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Sandi,

      My grandfather, Emory Gearhart, invented and patented a semiautomatic turfing device for forming loops in a fabric base, and he then published a series of patterns which could be used to make tapestries (or rugs). For his customer base, he formed user’s group which he called the “Turfographer’s Guild”. I am not sure how successful this particular business became, since he started it right smack in the middle of the Great Depression, and I don’t see any evidence of the business continuing for very long.

      I am amazed to be receiving an inquiry about this! I will contact you offline to follow up.

      Thanks very much.
      Mark Gearhart

  6. Bengt Brown Says:

    Hello Mark.

    I was asked a question the other day, that I could not answer. “How many socks do you think a person dependant on a CSM could crank per day?” Have you any records showing what a person could do back in the old days?

    If there is a note about it in your blog somewhere…..just point me in the right direction.

    Thank you!

    Regards Bengt Brown.

  7. Mark Gearhart Says:

    Hi Bengt,

    Thank you for contacting me. I do remember reading a few letters in the archive related to the volume of socks and the speed at which a sock could be knit. I will look up this information. Actually, that would make a good post.

    There is one posting titled “Wonderful Return on a Moderate Investment” which mentions a quota:

    “… ten dozen pair per year is ridiculously small production. Even 100 dozen is small.”

    I read something about a person making a living on the machine and knitting for 8 hours per day. I will see if I can find these references and make a posting on it.

    Thanks very much. By the way, I’ve been to your site at caprifool.blogspot.com before. I really like your site; well, I should say the pictures. Too bad I don’t speak Swedish.

  8. BeingV Says:

    Hello Mark. I am awaiting the arrival of my first Gearhart machine, a 1914A 60/30 machine (green). I do have 4 other CSMs from various manufacturers all vintage/antiques.

    I am thoroughly enjoying your research and have read all your posts. Thanks so much for sharing your family business history with the world. From what I have gleaned from your site you seem to have a little of your Uncle Leonard’s free-spiritedness in you :)

  9. Sheri Easley Says:

    Hello Mark!

    I just purchased a Gearhart Peoples sock knitting machine that I think is from the 1890′s time frame. I am very excited to start using it. I don’t know of anyone in Utah who has a machine, so I am interested in finding parts for the machine that I bought. I know that I am missing several parts to be able to knit with it. If you could give me any advice on where I could pick up a few parts, I am extremely interested in knitting my first pair of socks…I have almost 100 skeins of sock yarn and I can’t wait to get started!

    Warmest regards, I look forward to reading more!
    Sheri L. Easley

  10. Mark Gearhart Says:

    Knitting a sock from an 1890′s machine would be quite a challenge, compared to the last machines built in 1925. I don’t think you will find many parts for a machine this rare. You’ve probably already guessed that eBay is probably the best place for authentic parts. Other than that, if you need needles, the Torrington needle company was the original supplier of needles. You could probably trace through their acquisition history to get needle replacements.

    By the way, if you are successful with this machine, I would love to see some photos (or a youtube movie) of your knitting process.

  11. Sara Sweeney Says:

    I have my moms Gearhart SM and have been collecting information on setting it up. I am so excited to research this. I found a nice copy of a manual for 1908 machine online. Problem: I don’t know what year mine is…have 72 needles and a ribbing “part”. Can someone please help me and rsvp by email: ljssjsjuno.com Also, are there manual copies available online or to purchase? Thanks

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Sara. Do you have any photos? I have many manuals for different years, and can copy one for you if we can date the machine.

      1. Sara Sweeney Says:

        I am so happy and will be back with pix soon.

  12. Sara Sweeney Says:

    I have pix to send, but do not know how to do that using this site. I can do from my email: ljssjs@juno.com Help

  13. Delores Says:

    Hi,
    I have a Gearhart Knitting Machine Model 1914. I am looking for a copy of the manual for this machine as well as some parts. Can you send me information on how to acquire these items?
    Thank you so much for your help.
    Delores

  14. Tim Young Says:

    Mark,
    I just found your site, today. Several years ago, I found my great grandmother’s machine. It was in the attic of the house that my wife, son & I are restoring. I have the original instruction manual. Also, all of the letters that were sent by the company.

    Apparently, my grt. grandmother knitted socks for the Gearhart Company.

    I would very much like to correspond with you, concerning the restoration of my machine.

    Thank You,
    Tim Young
    145 Old Stover Rd.
    Monroe, TN 38573
    (931)403-0990

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Tim, Thank you for your comment. Please be all means contact me as you restore your machine. I will do what I can to help out.

  15. Susan McBean Says:

    Hi Mark,
    I found your website by chance…as most. I have a Gearhart that I got from a neighbor back in the 1970s while living in Vermont. I moved to Maine in the mid 70s. Made a few leg warmers and socks. Was also a “flat bed” knitter and soon acquired another sock machine being produced I think by the Bartlett Yarns people…called an Auto Knitter. My Gearhart got put in a corner to admire, but never use. How would I find out the year of its manufacture ? It has the Gearhart plate, not the Clearfield. Somewhere I have what was left of the manual…but it was in pretty sad shape back 30 years ago. Thanks for any anticipated help and also to your preservation of the machines ! Susan

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Susan, I have contacted you offline via email. Thanks for your comments.

  16. Sara Sweeney Says:

    Pls refer to my comments on 09/23. I was asked to send pictures, but I don’t know where to send them. Pls advise

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Sara, if you can send them to mrgearha@yahoo.com, I’ll take a look at them.
      Thanks,
      Mark Gearhart

  17. ashley stockton Says:

    hi there mark.
    i found your site through ancestry.com where i have been working almost a year on my family tree. john gearhart 1789-1871 is my 5th great granpa on my granma’s side. pretty far back… i just wanted to say how wonderful it was to find your site and all this information for my family tree. i know i have been working hard on the info i am gathering so i wanted to tell you how greatful i am for all your hard work on this. joseph e. gearhart would be my 1st cousin 5 times removed. i hope my daughter will be as interested in all of this when she grows up as i am and i get to pass along all this information. thank you for all your hard work and time and for sharing everything with us all.
    ashley

  18. Diana Gearhart Says:

    Hi Mark, It has been a very long time since we have seen each other. I am fascinated by all of the information you have researched on Great Grand Daddy Gearhart. Do you remember when we (Bruce, Debbie, me and you) played as children? That was when Daddy was living in Springfield, Va. I live in Springfield now. Write me. I am on facebook as Diana Lynn Gearhart. I’m planning a trip to Clearfield in June. I remember Daddy telling me about your wedding on the boat. How very neat.

  19. Andre L. Beaule Says:

    Hi Mark,
    Back in 1969 I was given a sock making machine that had belonged to my grandmother. My aunts who gave me the knitting machine said that my grandmother had used it to make socks and underwear for her husband and children (12 in all), on their farm in the little town of Marbleton, QC.
    The circular machine and the wooden box it came in had no markings on it and no instruction book. My father and I were able to clean and repair it and with an instruction book for a 1921 Auto Knitter that was given to me by a friend, I was able to knit a few pairs of stockings.
    The machine was quite different from the one pictured in the Auto Knitter book. The 64 needle cylinder revolved and the cam shell was stationary. There was no ribbing attachment. I made the cuffs by dropping stitches and picking them up from inside the cylinder before proceeding to plain knit the remainder of the stocking.
    Eventually I no longer had time to work with the knitting machine and it went back into its old wooden box.
    Fast forward 42 years and I’m thinking of giving the machine to a cousin and her children so that it will stay in the family. I was still wondering why that machine had no identification on it at all.
    So now in this age of the internet I started looking for information. While looking at: http://www.oldtymestockings.com I saw photos that were exactly what my machine looks like (except that I do not have a ribber). The caption under the photos identifies it as a: People’s High Speed Knitting Machine made by Joseph E. Gearhart in Clearfield, PA.
    So do I really have an early Gearhart machine (64 needle slots and a revolving needle cylinder) and were they sold with no markings on them?
    I would appreciate receiving any information you have on this model.
    Thanks,
    Andy

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Andy, the People’s High Speed Knitting Machine would be a very early version of the Gearhart Knitting Machine. The lack of markings does not surprize me. My earliest Gearhart machines do not have marking. If you can pick out your machine from my web site or online, I can send you an instruction manual.

      Regards,
      Mark Gearhart

  20. Kelly Bolen Says:

    I have an original shipping crate from the Gearhart Knitting Machine Co. and it has a picture of a hand crank sock machine and says Gearhart Standard on it. It is all hand nailed wood, with amazing grapics on all sides. can someone tell me anything about it? Thank you Kelly

  21. Brandie wittenberg Says:

    My grandfather has a Gearhart & Son Family Knitting Machine, it is in good shape with all the parts and the original box. He is looking to sell and I am wondering if anyone knows of some one looking to buy one. If you know of anyone interested feel free to email me at bwittenberg2005@yahoo.com. Thank you for your time.

    Brandie

  22. Paula Says:

    I recently came across a knitting machine manual in mint condition from my grandfathers estate while cleaning out his desk! More details to follow!

  23. carlene Says:

    just found a 1914-b gsm. original box, plenty of printed material, all accessories, all appears to be in excellant condition. manuals and correspndance about a recievership dated jan. 4, 1926. would like to sell. looks to have been used very little.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Happy New Year Mark.
    My name is Leonard Gearhart III yes there is a third one. I have been in contact with my Sister Bonnie and my wife has been doing the family history and along with Bonnie and my cousin Dinah. have aquired alot of pictures but my sister told me of pictures you may have and h would respectfully would like to see them.. she said there was a sub on your website that you had posted. could you please help me?? my email is lgearhart@acme.com

    1. Mark Gearhart Says:

      Hi Leonard, I have emailed you separately.

      Mark

  25. Susan Coplin Says:

    Where can I buy one of your machines?


  26. [...]  And the little black & gray one, that was the first socks I successfully turned out using my Gearhart Circular Sock Machine. Can’t say that I really enjoy using the machine and if an opportunity presents I’m [...]

  27. Lila Says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >About The Gearhart Knitting Machine
    Company <Loved it!

  28. Debbie Riley Says:

    Mark, My mom was given a 1890 Gearhart Auto Knitter Machine. The instructions are in ruff shape and missing some pages. I was wondering where I could fine another copy of the instructions.

    Thank You,
    Debbie R


    1. I have instruction manuals from all the production years, from 1888 through 1925. Can you verify that you have an 1890 machine? This would be very rare. If you can send some pictures to my email account, I can verify the model for you and match the instruction manual. mark@mgearhart.com

  29. Betty D. Says:

    I found a letter dated August 5, 1924 in a book that I purchased from a garage sale. This letter, in the original envelope and the 1924, 2cent stamp still attached was being used as a book marker. It was signed by a J. E. Harden of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Co.’s Service Department in Clearfield, Pa. The stationery that it is on has a picture of the company. It was mailed from Pa to a Lady in Eldorado, Ok. I found this very interesting and thought you might like to see it and possibly use it as an archive.

    Betty D


    1. Thanks very much Betty. I have contacted you offline. Thanks!

  30. Nina Bartlett Says:

    Hi Mark,
    This is more of a question then a comment. I just got a gearhart sock knitting machine from my father who got it from my grandmother many years ago. Where can I get an instruction manual to learn the parts and how to use it? I really would love to learn how so that I could make my dad a pair of socks before he passes away. He is 87 and has been given 6 mths to live but I know he would be very happy to know that I had learn to use it and was making socks with it. I would appreciate any help. Thank you
    Sincerely,
    Nina


    1. What year is the machine? I have manuals from 1888 through 1925.

      1. Sara Sweeney Says:

        I have a 1914 or 1928 with a manual. The manual is tough on the start step, but I went online and watched some videos. there is one special one that is super. It is scraggly to start (with scrap yarn) but goes great after all the stitches are on with the new yarn. I am not good enough to add the ribber yet, so made fake ribbing. use 3 needles, pull one out. The MOST important thing is to keep weight and hand pressure on the knit part of the sock, OR E:LSE. The machine will skip/drop a stitch or 2 and you are sunk. Really, really pull like you are stretching it to death.
        sara sweeney


  31. Hello,
    I have acquired a great Gerhart sock knitting machine. It appears to be all there according to the parts list in the manual – we thread it, it goes around great – but something we are doing is wrong, as it is unable to actually make a stitch. Might you be able to help us or know of someone locally—Colorado who might. I thank you for your time and consideration. Debby Gribble

  32. sara sweeney Says:

    I’m Sara. I cannot get mine to start like the book, but if you go online, using gearhart. Read comment just above yours. I wrote that to someone else. MOST impt is to really, really pull work down as you go along.

  33. Frank Says:

    Hello Mark, I recently bought my wife, what I believe is, an 1890ish Gearhart. Can you point me in the direction of a manual so i can start on locating or making any missing parts? The cylinder is 4.5″, and there are 72 needles. Here are a couple of images:

    imgur.com/Fea51Ef
    imgur.com/aoygDSA

    Great site, Frank.


  34. Hello,Mark, I was going through some things I bought at an estate sale and unpacked a “Pressing Board” for “Wool Hose”. One child’s and one adult man. There are instructions “For the Home Trade” and “For Company Knitting” on the child’s board. Under the instructions is the name “Gearhart Knitting Machine Co., Clearfield, Penna. These boards are full size up to the knee and, obviously, shaped like a leg, ankle, and foot. Can you tell me the time period these would have been used and if the company actually used “home trade” people to help with production? I am an antique dealer, but one who also collects antiques (some things, like these, will stay in my home!) and have never come across anything like these before. I would really appreciate any history you can provide. Thanks so much! Susan

  35. Anonymous Says:

    The price for these reproduced machines are outrageous.
    Diane

  36. Jim Lantz Says:

    Hi Mark,

    This is your cousin Jim Lantz in California (my Mom, Mary Donna Mayo was the oldest Gearhart of our parent’s generation). I was just doing an internet search for the Gearhart tapestry needle and came across your site, so wanted to say hi.

  37. Barbara burger Says:

    Hello Mark, My fiance’ is an antique dealer and we just dug one of the knitting machines out of one of his buildings. I was wondering how to tell what year it was made? I am putting it on eBay for sale and would like to add more information to the listing if i could.

  38. heather Says:

    Saw a Gearhart machine today for the first time at a local fiber festival. I could have sat all day to watch and learn if not for my children pulling me in different directions. The history was fascinating to me b/c my great grandmother knit socks by hand for the war effort. I asked my mother why she (my great grandmother) didn’t have one of these machines and she had never heard of them. Figure I will put my husband to good use and have him look for a machine to restore for me for Christmas.
    I have sat up way to late reading your archives !

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