How a spool of yarn becomes a warm, comfortable, wearable sock.

Although you do not have a knitting machine or a seaming machine at home to make a sock with, you may find it interesting to know how a spool of yarn becomes a warm, comfortable, wearable sock.

The life of a sock begins with a spool, or spools of yarn, (see figure 1.1). The sock may be made of a single type of yarn or a blend of two or more different types of yarn. Socks made with blends benefit from the advantages of each type of yarn such as, Duraspun gives socks resilience and durability. Acrylic blends help socks keep their shape well and helps prevent shrinkage.

Figure 1.1

First, the Creeler places the spools on hangers then feeds the yarn into circular knitting machines. The knitting machine needles are mounted on a singular cylinder (for flat knits), or a double cylinder (for ribs). As the cylinder turns, the needles interlock loops of yarn, beginning at the top and working toward the toe. A person called a Knitter keeps watch on the machine and makes sure that the socks do not have any defects such as runs or holes, (see figure 1.2, 1.3). When the socks come off the knitting machine, the toe is open; otherwise, it looks like a complete sock.

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.3

Second, the sock is sent to the seaming department where the Seamer places the sock in a machine that resembles a large sowing machine and closes the toe of the sock, (figure 1.4). While sowing the toe the Seamer also checks for any knitting defects in the sock.

Figure 1.4

Third, the sock is sent to the bleach house where it is bleached and washed in large washing machines, (figure 1.5).

Figure 1.5

Fourth, after bleaching the sock is sent to the dye house where it is dyed the appropriate color depending on the style of sock. After dyeing, the sock is checked again for quality-by-quality control, (figure 1.6), before being sent to boarding to be shaped.

Figure 1.6

Fifth, in boarding, the socks are stretched dry over flat metal frames shaped like a foot, (figure 1.7). Heat is applied which gives the sock its shape, form, and smooth appearance. The boarder again checks the sock for defects during this process.

Figure 1.7

Sixth, after the socks have their shape and color, they are put into pairs according to color and length, see figure 1.8. During the pairing stage, the Pairers again check for quality and clip any excess strings from the top of the socks. In addition, the socks are graded into classifications such as firsts, irregulars, and seconds. Some socks may be further embellished with appliqués or decorations such as lace before heading to the packaging department.

Figure 1.8

Seventh, in packing, the socks are again checked for quality and placed in the appropriate type of packaging, see figure 1.9, 2.1. Packaging may consist of bags; hang tags, adhesive bands, cardboard inserts, cardboard backing, stickers, or labels.

Figure 1.9

Figure 2.1

Lastly, after packaging, the socks are placed in cardboard boxes ready for shipping to the warehouse or retailers, see figure 2.2 – 2.6.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.4

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.6

This is how the life of a sock begins from a spool of yarn to a finished product on a department store shelf. I have worked two years in a plant just like this one and I always find it interesting just how a sock is made.