Shared from the 12/11/2015 Reading Eagle eEdition

Sock designer following her dream


Berks native Kate T. Williamson uses Japanese influence to produce artistic hosiery.

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READING EAGLE: BEN HASTY

Kate T. Williamson gets some of the This Night socks that she designs ready for display at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

Becoming a sock designer may not be something everyone dreams about, but for Kate T. Williamson, owning This Night sock company is a dream come true.

“I have loved socks since I was a child,” she said. “I love that they can be both beautiful and useful, and I have long dreamed of designing them.”

She graduated from Wyomissing High School in 1997 and was an art major in college, studying primarily filmaking. But the idea of designing socks continued to creep into her thoughts.

During her junior year in college, when she was spending a lot of time wondering what she would do when she graduated, she woke one morning with the realization she was destined to design socks.

Japanese influence

Williamson received a scholarship to travel to Japan and study art in Kyoto the year after she graduated from college.

“I did some casual sock research there, visiting factories and talking with sock designers,” she said. “I was also very inspired by kimono and paper patterns in Japan.”

She said her year in Japan changed her life, and the socks she designs show the Japanese influence in her work.

Her design inspiration comes from Japanese textiles, which she studied while living in Kyoto. The name of her company, This Night, comes from a Japanese poem by Minamoto Nobuakira that she loves:

“If only I could show them to someone who knows/ This moon, these flowers, this night that should not be wasted.”

Hometown honor

Williamson has lived in New York City since 2004. She did her time trekking up the steps to a fifth-floor, 200-squarefoot walk-up near Penn Station for her first 10 years in the city. She recently moved to Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan.

She is committed to honoring her Berks County roots; the region was once a thriving hosiery center. Her socks are manufactured at one of the only remaining knitting mills in the area, Standard Merchandising Co., Muhlenberg Township.

“I’m so grateful to have the socks manufactured in Reading,” she said. “Everyone at the knitting mill has been very helpful, and it was really wonderful to be involved in the various stages of developing these socks.”

For the past several years, she has worked with the mill to develop men’s and women’s versions of what she considers to be the perfect sock, one made with high-quality, U.S.-grown ringspun cotton combined with just a touch of stretch, and a slightly wider band that is not too tight yet still stays up.

The mechanics of the sock are combined with Williamson’s talent for translating Japanese textile designs into beautiful socks with elegant, graphic designs in a colorful yet refined palette.

In her blood

M a n u f a c t u r i n g i s i n Williamson’s blood. Her grandfather started JAW Manufacturing Co. in Reading, which produces small specialized hand tools. Her father continues to run the company that was started 65 years ago.

During a special sale over Black Friday weekend, Williamson donated a portion of sales to the Olivet Boys and Girls Club.

Her socks also can be purchased at seven stores in the Northeast, including the store at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts at 201 Washington St.

“Kate is a very talented, energetic, and detail oriented creator,” said Penny Golden, manager of the Goggleworks store, which features local, handmade gifts. “We carried her book, ‘A Year in Japan,’ and now she has turned her focus to designing; taking an ordinary, functional item and turning it into a work of art. Her colors and designs are thoughtfully chosen and beautiful.”

Kate’s socks are not only made in America, but made in Reading, she said.

Golden said Williamson has thought of every part of the process. Her socks can be purchased during the store’s holiday hours, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Williamson has found that showing up in person at stores was the most successful method of introducing her socks. All of the stores that carry her socks are independent, and in each case she gets to speak directly with the buyer.

Contact Carole Duran: money@ readingeagle.com.

This Night LLC

Website: www.this-night.com

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