Nowadays when a business is using machineries and equipment that are not the latest in the technology industry, it is a disadvantage on their part. This is not true for Northern Watters Knitwear located in the downtown area of Charlottetown. The business is proud that they are still using the same looms that were developed a century ago. The business which makes women’s sweaters and other knitted products was established in 2007. The staffs are still using vintage mechanical looms which they have to manage by hand.
According to Bill Watters, one of the partners in the business, the vintage looms do not come with power plugs therefore they must be operate manually.
The store resembles a regular craft boutique but there is something that makes it unique. When customers come to visit, they will be able to hear the clattering noises that are coming from the back room of the shop. This is where four employees are knitting the sweaters using wool as raw material. The same process was utilized by knitters 100 years ago.
The vintage hand-operated looms are considered to be the heart of the business. These are cared and maintained to make sure that the machines remain operational. The staffs received training on maintenance of the vintage looms.
Watters said that every year they disassemble the looms up to the very small needle. Each of the machines is comprised of over 200 needles. He added that the looms have been in existence for five decades already.
He explained that the looms are not like recent appliances and machines where they easily expire within five years time. The looms are built to last a lifetime as long as they are maintained properly with cleaning and oiling regularly.
When making one of women’s sweaters, the comb of yarn is feed into the machines’ lines accordingly and a hand-carriage must be moved back to front in order to operate. There is no replacement available for the machine because the factory that used to manufacture them, Dubied located in Switzerland, has been destroyed for many decades already. For the last past years, he made it his legacy to collect all the remaining machines so he could use their parts if needed.