I recently wrote a post about my visit to the Touchable stockings factory in the UK. I learned a lot more about how this style of stocking is made and still find it utterly fascinating. Nylon stockings are so soft and delicate that it wouldn’t be too much of a far fetched idea to think that they were knitted by fairies! If it’s so easy to snag a pair by putting them on the wrong way, then how on earth do they make it through production and into the packaging without being covered in snags?! The reality of their production is actually quite surprising…
Here is a reminder of stocking terminology:
The production of a stocking starts with the welt. Thicker nylon thread (yarn) is used in the welt to make it stronger, the tissue (stocking material) is then folded back on itself and knitted together.
The machine is then programmed to knit the shadow welt, which is the section between the welt and the leg of the stocking. The shadow welt can be plain or fancy, depending on the settings.
The machines then continues to knit the leg of the stocking, which gets narrower the further it gets down the calf of the leg. The stockings are pulled taut and wrapped around the bar (as seen in the photo below) to secure them and allow the rest of the stocking to be knitted.
Once the machines get to the heel and foot of the stocking, things start to get really interesting! The same yarn as the welt is used to knit the reinforcements in the foot and heel of the stocking, this will of course make it more robust.
Watch the next two videos to see how the foot is knitted:
The shape and measurements of the foot and heel reinforcements have to be set up manually and vary depending on the style, such as cuban, broadway etc.
Once the stocking has run its course on these huge machines, they are collected by the engineer and the next batch starts. I was told that the smaller stockings take about an hour and fifteen minutes to knit, from start to finish.
However, that is not the end of the journey for the fully-fashioned stocking! They then go to the seaming machine where the famous seam is sewn on, creating the tube shape and keeping them together. Contrast seams are done by using a different colour thread that will resist dye, such as black. I couldn’t believer how fast this lady was seaming them!
As you will have noticed, all the stockings are knitted in white yarn. Once they have been seamed, they are then dyed, even the stockings that end up white are dyed white to ensure colour consistency. Stockings now come in many different colours, even crazy colours such as bright red or green!
All stockings go through quality control, which involves checking that the length of each stocking is correct and that there are no snags anywhere on the stocking. If there are any, they are sold at a discounted rate and labelled as ‘imperfects’. Once they have passed all the rigorous quality tests, they are neatly folded by another lady and packaged up. All that, without putting a single snag in them! Phew!
So next time you put on your fully-fashioned stockings, think of the adventure they have gone through before sliding them onto your legs!
Thanks again to the team at Touchable.