March 3, 2011

Local Artisan Delivers Homespun Socks

by Hannah Kiddoo

When it comes to giving a gift, it's hard to go wrong with something practical, comfortable, and unique. Leslie Eggers provides just that with her homemade knit socks. Eggers first began making them by hand as gifts for her children's teachers. While she enjoyed the knitting process, making just one pair took up to a week. In 2009, Eggers invested in an antique knitting machine she located on eBay. Made in 1947, the machine has a rotating outside cylinder, and a static inside cylinder with 72 needles inserted around its circumference. Eggers is aware of only two modern manufacturers of the device- one in New Zealand, and one with plans to start developing the machines in Sainte Genevieve, MO.

As she spins a crank handle, the outer cylinder rotates and the needles catch the yarn, knitting the material together before carrying it down to the bottom of the machine. After the sock is shaped, she sews up the toe and removes the waste yarn before putting them up for sale. Mastering the machine took practice, but Eggers coupled her previous experience and encouragement from family with lessons on YouTube and was soon able to make a pair of socks in just two hours. She first used her finished products as gifts but enjoyed the process so much, that she quickly made close to 100 pairs and began selling them through her business Soap, Socks & Such LLC.

When it comes to choosing her yarn, Eggers balances personal style with availability. "I prefer bright, eye-catching colors, but I knit whatever quality yarn I can obtain," she explained. Finding yarn with the right weight and texture can be difficult and when she does find it, it is often expensive. "I prefer to buy it locally, but I have not been able to find a source for sock yarn," she added. A self proclaimed 'yarn-o-holic', Eggers does most of her shopping online and notes that making a pair she loves is worth sacrificing a larger profit.

Eggers currently sells her socks at the Scotland County Abstract Office along with her homemade soaps, body lotions, lip balms, and dish towels. She also has booths at the annual Beta-Epsilon Iota Christmas Bazaar and the summer farmer's market. She plans on opening up a shop for her products in the future. Socks range from $15-$30 and custom orders are available. Eggers said she would also be interested in giving lessons on the machine. For more information, contact Leslie Eggers at 660-945-3093 or visit www.soapsocksandsuch.com.

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