Producers in Sweden: Ljungskile trikå

We are always on the lookout for Swedish garment producers to collaborate with and today we want to introduce the people behind our Blue Highway Clothing T-shirts! Our tee's are made in a small factory, and the fit is based on the original 1950's t-shirt pattern. 
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The workspace of the mill is divided into two halls, one for knitting and one for sewing. Most of the machines are from the 40s-60s.
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Olle Wong and Pernilla Toll run Ljungskile Trikå, a small-scale jersey knitting mill on the west coast of Sweden. The factory was founded by the Mattsson Brothers in the 1940's and is located in the seaside village of Ljungskile, overlooking the Skagerrak sea. With its neon sign it is a big part of the small towns identity and at one point in time it was its largest employer. During the late 90's and early 00's production decreased and was moved to the Baltic countries, the local factory was locked up and the machines fell silent. That could have been the end of jersey production in Ljungskile, but thankfully events took another turn! 
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O and P, what are your backgrounds? 
We are both tailors, O was working in the UK and Pernilla came from the Opera house of Gothenburg.
 
Tell us about how you came across the knitting mill in Ljungskile!
Back in 2014 we rented a part of the sewing room in the mill for our own purposes and used to admire the knitting machines in the hall next door. One day we got the question from the caretaker if we knew anybody who might have an interest in the knitting machines because they had planned to send them to the scrap heap on the Thursday of the following week. We contacted museums and textile schools to no avail, and on late Saturday evening we put it out on social media. We turned off our phones and woke up on monday to find that there had been a huge response!
On Monday the workers came and cut the electricity, and on Tuesday they didn't show up. On Wednesday the process was cancelled and the machines remained.
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How did you decide to start up the production again, and did you experience any difficulties in the process? 
Since we had absolutely no experience in running knitting Machines we had to convince the last foreman of the mill, Åke Hermansson, to teach us everything he knew about knitting. That was the start of a long journey that has led us to many interesting meetings and many human interactions we never could foresee. Amongst others we have met the former employees, syrian refugees with textile backgrounds and the former owners and their families. We spent a lot of late nights in the machine hall, went treasure hunting in the basement and on the attic, we have found hidden slopers under the trusses and lost machine parts in water damaged drawers. Everything we have imagined we needed we have been able to find in the buildings, like a big treasure chest!
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The knitting hall, where tubes of fabric are slowly creating by the insect-like knitting machines.
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Like Douglas and me, you are a couple who run a company. What is it like to live and work together? 
It is satisfying to work with someone you love but when your both are under pressure it can be a challenge.
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What about your team, do you run everything yourselves? 
At this time we are four persons in the company. We subcontract the washing and the finishing to the last remaining finishing plant in Sweden.
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What is your biggest inspiration in your work? 
It is the valuation of the knitting mills history and the quality in the goods from these old fantastic machines. Also, the thought of maintaining a sustainable textile industrial production in Sweden is very rewarding. It is satisfying to make garments that are made to be used.
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The scene of Swedish textile production seems to be growing slowly but steady as consumers start to look for quality clothing that is made close to home. What are your dreams and goals for the future?
World Peace, and beside that we would love to see the mill could flourish and become an attractive workplace. And we would like to see collaborations with other producers to contribute to a sustainable textile production.
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You can follow Ljungskile trikå on Instagram, where they are called @ljungskileknittingmill and if you are ever near Ljungskile, make sure to pay them a visit! 

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