Stock up on socks at this fascinating factory.
If you happen to be in Crookwell the Lindner sock factory yarn* is as warming for your feet as it is for your heart. The main street of this little country town seems a funny place to find a sock factory and shop, and, accordingly, there is an odd tale to account for it.
It was the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that drove Wilfred Lindner and his wife Gisela to bind off from Germany with their precious young family and big steel knitting machines in tow. They ended up casting on in Goulburn, a smart move given the notoriously chilly winters in the region, and by 1987 had fired up the machines again.
It was in 1997 that they moved to their skeins to Crookwell, where Wilfred’s son Andrew now mans the machines, possibly making him Australia’s only fourth-generation sock maker.
“I tried working out in the fields for a while, but on the cold rainy days this warm little room is a pretty good place to be,” he says.
The little shop and factory on Goulburn St is one of Crookwell’s major drawcards for people all over the region, with many making the trip to the town especially to stock up on their favourite woolen socks.
The factory at the rear of the shop is open for visitors to go in and see first hand how the socks are made. It is a surprise to see tubes of knitted socks spilling out the bottom of the machines. Andrew explains that these must then be separated and the bottoms sewn together to make a finished sock.
The machines themselves are vintage, the very same ones that Wilfred flew out here in the 80s, and are controlled via analog mechanisms.
“The divets on these wheels control the patterns while the length of the chain dictates the size of the sock. I like the old machines because if there is a power outage when it comes back on the machine will just keep going where it left off.”
The ten or so machines in the little factory make all the socks that are on display in the shop, and the range is huge, with the Lindner’s catering for just about any requirement a foot may have. There are double knitted socks for winter and hiking, argyle socks for formal or business occasions, and cotton socks for summer. Each sock comes in three different sizes, and a multitude of different colours.
“What we are really excited about though is our new socks made from all local wool,” Andrew says, “we had so many customers seeing the sheep in the fields and then coming in asking if that’s where we were getting our wool from. But because all the wool gets sent off to China for processing before coming back to Australia as yarn, it wasn’t that easy to find local wool to make our socks from, we were able to do it with the help of Wool Connect.”
So, is there another generation on hand to continue the tradition of this close-knit family of sock-makers? “Well, I have an eighteen-month old daughter at home, but we will have to wait to see if she is interested.”
*Apologies for the awful puns woven throughout the rows of this tale.
Lindner Sock Factory is located at 6 Goulburn St, Crookwell, NSW. Click here for more information.