Two passionate creatives are bringing sock making back to Clunes.
Janine Wilson and Leanne Wills are making brightly coloured socks that are hand cranked on a 114-year-old sock machine.
They are creating a connection to a time past when sock making was the biggest industry in Clunes.
Knitwear factory Interknit, which now operates in Ballarat, employed a large proportion of Clunes’ population when it produced socks in town from 1939 to 1985.
Janine and Leanne, known as The Odd Sockery, say many who buy their products or see sock making in action at markets are intrigued to hear their story.
“A friend of mine was sorting out her partner’s shed of all their parents stuff and they posted a photo of this sock machine. I had never seen one before. Janine recognised it and jockingly said let’s bring sock making back to Clunes. That was in February and it just snowballed from there,” Leanne says.
“Within 12 to 24 hours we had worked out a whole business plan about bringing sock making back to Clunes and then we found out that particular machine wasn’t available. We got on eBay and found another machine 15 minutes before the auction was going to close. It was in America, we didn’t know much about the machine, or if it had all its parts but we took the risk and made the bid with two minutes to go.”
The old machine dates to 1904 and had been a part of the museum display in the United States. Since it arrived in April, Leanne and Janine have learnt to put it together, make socks and generate interest in their business.
The pair has been invited to attend a number of markets since they started cranking, notably the Lost Trades Fair to be held in Kyneton next year.
Both are optimistic the knowledge and techniques of hand cranked sock making will not be lost.
“As we go around to the markets we are hearing other people’s stories about their grandma and machines that are at home in the shed or being used as pot plant stands,” Leanne says.
“We have come in contact with a few people who do have machines they are using. Some are buying new machines that are retro engineered, made on the same old designs.”
“When this machine was made it was pre-World War I. There was no electricity, there were no cars, there was no flight. It has lived through two World Wars and it has made lots of socks for soldiers,” Janine says.
“We are excited to carry on this history.”
Each pair of socks takes about an hour and a half to make, including the hand cranking and dyeing process.
The pair plan to sell in artisan-style shops and continue to engage customers at markets.
READ MORE IN THE MADE OF BALLARAT SERIES:
- Saltbush Kitchen leads a Ballarat bush tucker revival
- Crafts revival: Japanese SAORI weaving captures a new type of creator
- The art of lost trades: creators pass on passion for historic crafts
- Kilderkin Distillery puts Ballarat on gin map
- Mick Nunn shares his journey to Salt Kitchen Charcuterie
- Ceramic artist Ruby Pilven features in new Ballarat tourism campaign
- Hunting for black gold, Ballarat truffier prepares for next season
- This couple’s obsession with backyard beekeeping is catching
- Le Peche Gourmand continues pastry traditions dying in France
- Owen Latta wins top Australian wine award