Sock Maker Aims to Revive Reading’s Textile Legacy

By Cathalijne Adams
Photo courtesy Kate Williamson

When Kate Williamson set out to make the perfect sock, she looked to her hometown’s mills.

Kate Williamson, owner of THIS NIGHT, has loved socks since she was a child — a passion that followed her into adulthood, crystallizing as she drove home from college with her father. It was on this drive to Reading, Pennsylvania, once the site of a thriving textile industry, that Williamson first thought of designing and making her own socks.

However, it wasn’t until her father stumbled upon an ad for a sock manufacturer in Reading that her dream became a reality.

Working for several years with a mentor in Reading’s only remaining hosiery mill, Williamson perfected THIS NIGHT’s socks. Over the course of this “sock graduate school,” as Williamson terms it, she experimented with a variety of materials and knitting methods.

“I was able to build my dream sock from scratch,” Williamson said.

She credits the quality of THIS NIGHT’s socks to these years of product development with a local mill.

“I felt so immensely grateful that I was able to work so closely with the people who produced them. I just feel like, gosh, I don’t see how anyone can do that if they had them made overseas,” Williamson said. 

The final products of all this work are THIS NIGHT’s socks, knit with U.S.-grown ringspun cotton, custom dyed in North Carolina, and designed with inspiration from Williamson’s travels in Japan.  

In addition to manufacturing her socks in Reading’s mill, Williamson further supports her hometown by donating 50 cents from the sale of every pair of socks sold through her online store to Reading’s Boys & Girls Club.

Learn more about Williamson’s sock-making journey on the latest episode of The Manufacturing Report below, or on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Love Williamson’s designs? Then, buy her socks of course, but also be sure to check out her writing and illustrations.