For most Finns, wool socks are very essential for their winter.
Wearing a pair of traditional wool socks and sitting next to the fireplace is a miniature of the ideal Finnish winter lifestyle.
To find out how the traditional wool socks are made,
we paid a visit to Helsingin Villasukkatehdas— meaning Helsinki Wool Sock Factory.
It is the only traditional wool sock factory in Finland that’s using carded wool yarn,
and very possibly the only one in the world.
The Helsingin Villasukkatehdas Showcases a Real 1950s Factory
Our first impression of the factory is from its classic look,
from the workshop to meeting room,
everything just looks like a factory from the 1950s.
The secret behind the high-quality socks
All the socks from Helsingin Villasukkatehdas are knitted by the Bently Komet Knitters,
the machines were designed in the 1920s,
manufactured in the 1950s.
They imitate hand knitting,
so that the comfort and quality are very close to hand-knitted socks.
And the socks have excellent durability,
they can keep the shape and fitting after many years of wash.
Although Komet Knitters have incomparable quality,
the production is much slower than today’s machines,
on average, it takes 5 minutes for the machine to make one sock.
Plus then 40 minutes of manual labour.
So, another mission for the factory is to find more Komet Knitters that are still existing in the world.
“The machines are our family members.”
Helsingin Villasukkatehdas has chased down the factories who bought the machines decades ago,
unfortunately, most of the machines were already torn down or melted,
but they were still lucky to find 2 more machines last year.
However, these machines are really old,
they can hardly find the replacements in case some part of the machine is broken,
and the machinist will make the part by himself.
Therefore, every worker is treating these loyal machines with lots of care.
Now, each machine is named after some worker’s family member.
It’s very funny that you will hear “We need to take the socks out from Onni.”
— the atmosphere in the factory is really relaxed, everyone enjoys what they’re doing.
Hand work to complete the socks
When the socks are ready in the machines,
they will be brought to the table,
and then a skillful worker will separate the socks by hand and sew the edges,
till this step the socks are almost ready.
After that, the socks will be washed and dried,
and at last inspected and packed.
Helsingin Villasukkatehdas’ Vision
It’s definitely challenging for a traditional factory to compete with today’s mass production.
People at Helsingin Villasukkatehdas have the belief that these wool socks not just make people’s feet warm,
but they also bring a warm touch to people’s emotions.
The Helsingin Villasukkatehdas socks were once given to presses at a Hollywood’s conference,
as souvenirs from Finland.
And the factory has a clear vision for the future —
“We will keep working hard with our faithful machines, and we are introducing our high-quality socks to more countries, to show more people the quality goods from Finland.“