Sock Production... How Do We Make Our Socks?
The production of a sock from the first design idea to the perfect pair...
This article takes you into the world of socks - from the development of a pattern for a sock to the various production methods, packaging and shipping. Experience the life cycle of a pair of socks with us before it meets your foot for the first time!
Step 1: From idea to development - from pattern to sock
First, our design department conducts market research and puts trends through their paces. This is where ideas for our socks see the light of day for the first time - in the form of so-called design drawings. If a design drawing meets the taste of the department's internal decision-makers, a technical drawing is developed based on this drawing. In technical language, this is called a cartridge or "mock up".
The next step is dedicated to the development of the sock design because now the right colour is found thanks to colour tests. With the prototype, it can happen that a sock is produced in five to ten colourings. In addition, workers constantly carry out tests on the goods during production. These tests concern the material, damping and dyeing properties of the stockings. The sales and production managers then decide what fits best in which colour into the new collection.
Only then do sales staff create price calculations and consider the next steps for the brand and assortment.
Step 2: Yarn preparation - the first step towards lace socks
With industrially manufactured stockings, workers first prepare the yarn for the machine. If they do not do this, it is easy for the yarn to tear or slip while it is being used by the machine. This leads to long production times in production and unpredictable errors in finishing. The yarn must, by and large, meet a few quality criteria. These range from cleanliness and constant thickness to knot-free yarn.
The suppleness of the yarn also plays a major role. It is also important to avoid the yarn tightening more when it is unwound. Then the winding plays an important role. The so-called (mostly conical) cross-wound bobbins are used by workers in the winding department for setting and loading. These two steps are important. For example, the spool itself: Workers adjust it so that the yarn is constantly pulled off. In addition, there is always a reserve to be added so that there is enough material to knot the next bobbin. From there, the yarn runs through an adjustable slot. If something is overlooked during the first quality control, the constriction now removes the protruding fibers.
If knitting machines are used industrially, it is important that production is constantly in operation. It is therefore important to avoid material defects right from the start. After the yarn has been cleaned, it is sealed with paraffin. This makes it supple and is the only way it slips through the machine.
Step 3: Knitting with the knitting machine
Before the devices produce the articles, one of the employees determines the pattern setting for the program of the device. The machine settings are programmed by specially trained workers. Then there is a supervisor, a kind of control organ, who checks whether yarn has been clamped correct size and quality. The next step is to knit the stockings. So-called knitters usually look after the knitting machines. These are the last control instance before production.
A knitter ensures that the machines run smoothly and that the quality of the products remains consistently high. Quality inspectors test this by regularly taking samples. A previously defined rest and elongation measure must not be exceeded. If everyone is satisfied with the quality of the socks, the separator processes the goods further. Her work is probably the most important of all her activities because of the separator. They separate the stockings from each other. Unlike single-cylinder machines, a double-cylinder machine does not separate socks during knitting. That's why this happens after the fact. When the stockings come out of the machine, they are connected to the so-called separating thread.
The job of a separator is to pull the separating thread out of the socks. With one hand she receives individual stocking blanks that are only open at one point: the toe. Just imagine for a moment that the separator doesn't exist. Would anyone wearing socks have to run in pairs? But enough of the speculation - the stockings continue. In the next step, workers turn the socks over and combine them into elements with 50 stockings each. The packages are provided with a routing slip containing all important information for further production.
One last time, before the socks reach the finishing department, the goods are put through their paces. Each individual piece is pulled manually over a plastic leg to avoid mistakes. Finally, the sock is turned back to the right and the cycle continues.
Step 4: The hand chain tucks the last hole in the stocking blank.
Thanks to this step you will have a whole sock. Connoisseurs distinguish between different quality levels depending on the process. The following are the quality characteristics of such a transverse seam in stocking blanks when produced on a double-cylinder machine: The seam of the stocking blank is flat and looks good. It consists of a straight line. There must be only one along the row. Each individual stitch must have been captured, otherwise holes could form. The seam is also stretchable without tearing.
Hand knitting simply explained
You may have heard of hand chaining under the term "real chaining" before. This type of sock seam processing is the most cost-intensive there is. Because it relies above all on quality. With no other processing the seam is so clean and thin. This maximizes the durability of the seam and the wearing comfort. In real warping, all the stitches of the last open seam (the so-called toe seam) are threaded and sewn together. Half of the work is done by specially trained workers.
Mechanical linking simply explained
This type of mechanical warping (also called blind warping) is based on a basic trick: the machine double folds the goods and then warps the opposing parts. The linking machine has a 22-point pitch that resembles single-cylinder knitting machines. The result hardly differs from that of real warping.
Step 5: Shaping the socks
Soon the stocking blanks have passed through the end of the manufacturing process. But before they are ready, they get their fit. That's why they put workers on moulds, spray them with hot steam and soften them. This process allows them to be shaped in a way that they adapt their structure to the shape underneath. This allows individual shapes of the socks. It is different with socks with a "certain something". You have certainly seen stockings with funny applications such as artificial noses, eyes or ears before or even anti slip gripping. Such socks are made/added by workers manually.
Step 6: Consider who binds themselves forever
After the subsequent drying by a hot air process, the conveyor belt guides the stockings to the next department, where the workers mate and lay them out. They also undergo a final quality check.
Step 7: Now the socks are packed in cartons/slip packaging.
Before shipping, shipping staff apply labels to the stockings and attach them to each other. The goods can either be bundled individually or in up to 10 pairs. It is then packed thanks to machines or manually, loaded with the customer's address, tracking number and an article number and transported to the warehouse.
From there, the socks are dispatched and ready for you to rock.
Thanks for reading!
- the Sock Shop team