It is early morning and quiet and strange in the knitting department. The machines have had some nocturnal rest before starting up again. The light is turned on, as is the coffee percolator in the canteen.

 

The threads have to be fastened

After a drop of oil, one by one of the knitting-machines are started. The slades work slowly from side to side, stitch by stitch, row by row. After about half an hour a whole back, front or sleeve slides down from under the machine, and a new garment from Oleana is on its way.

The first shift in the knitting department starts at 6 a.m. At seven, many others starts arriving. Those responsible for assembling the different knitted pieces into a garment, and those cutting and sewing skirts, belts or coats from imported woven cloth which we have purchased. Some are responsible for inspection, some for packing, some for the invoices, some for cleaning, and yet others tend the shop. The threads have to be fastened – thousands of them. Many millions have been fastened over the years. Buttons and buttonholes, pressing, and labels to be sewn on. Everyone is hard at work.

Hand work and machines hum

It feels good walking into the room. It is bright, warm and full of good morning smiles. We all come from different lives, different realities. Some have slept well; others not. Some have had an argument with their spouse, others have made love. Children have been dropped off, old parents checked. Some have felt lonely at the breakfast table, yet all have managed to get to the factory. We are here together as a work force.

We see many fine products taking shape, we laugh at jokes, comfort those who need comfort, complain about a painful arm or delight in good sales or good weather. Think and plan, imagine, discuss.

Hand work and machines hum. People come in, delivering or fetching. Those visiting the factory outlet walk through the whole factory, and have the pleasure of seeing the garments being produced. Laughter. Sharp comments, but rarely anything truly viscious. Some take the opportunity of shutting out the world, earphones on their hands, listening to a talking book, or something on the radio. Maryanne, who leads the production, is always on the go. She is the prime example of “management by walking around”, as it is described in the business jargon.

The day passes, the second shift arrives to take over. Gradually the rest of the gang finish. They are already planning dinner. Then the last to come leave, and only the knitters on the evening shift remain. It is almost eleven o’clock before the knitting machines find rest, and the lights again are switched of.