Last month we visited Norway and took an in depth peek behind the scenes of one of Norway's oldest knit wear factories. Operational from 1859-1989, this factory specialised in circular knitted underwear, made in an incredible, open and bright mill in a village called Salhus, about 30 minutes outside on Bergen, with stunning views of the fjords out across the water.
It was truly amazing to see the evolution and industrialisation of the equipment used at Norsk Trikotasjemuseum, for example this automatic “Komet Knitter” machine originally made in Leicester; the home of UK hosiery manufacturing and also wear I studied at University! The Komet uses a simple drive system from the electric motor through a number of settings to control the needle pattern and the rotary drum, the one pictured is knitting a continuous tube of socks. One setting produces a long tube knit then it switches setting to produce two heels the second one leads into the neck of the following sock. This will then be snipped and the second heel is stitched closed to produce the toe of the completed sock. The machine photographed is believed to be from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s
Countless large circular knitting machines hang from the high ceiling of the mill and they knit larger items of underwear such as tank tops and vests.
While the factory no longer produces underwear in any serious volume, it was an enormous surprise and a privilege to have the machines turned on for us to see them first hand in operation.
Jump forwards a generation from the Komet Machine and the machines made another huge leap in terms of technology. This hosiery knitting machine made by Nagata Seiki in Japan is a long way from the introduction of a knitting machine in 1589 by William Lee. It uses a tape cassette with a program written on it to control the movements of the needles and the rotary cylinder in order to produce the required knit for the required garments. A early predecessor to the modern day computer numerically controlled machines.
As vintage lingerie fanatics, it was incredible to see and smell the inner workings of this hidden gem of a hosiery and underwear factory. To find out more and maybe even plan a trip of your own, visit http://www.muho.no/en