Japanese Factory Lets You Knit Your Own Socks by Riding a Bicycle

Souki Socks, a small sock factory in Japan’s Nara Prefecture, has devised a machine that allows people to knit their own socks by pedaling on a stationary bicycle.

Unless you’re a fan of knitting, making socks doesn’t exactly sound like a fun experience. This was the reality that the brilliant minds Souki Socks were confronted with when they set out to make sock-making exciting for the masses. Luckily, despite having the odds stacked against them, they managed to come up with an ingenious contraption that combined a mechanical sock knitting machine and a bicycle to allow virtually anyone to knit their own socks just by pedaling. Named “Charix,” the machine has been very popular with tourists ever since it was inaugurated in 2017.

Photo: YouTube

Loose socks knitting machines were all the rage in Japan in the 1990s, but as the hype around loose socks died down, factories stopped making the machines and they became relics of a bygone era. However, Souki Socks managed to breathe new life into these machines by hooping them up to stationary bikes and allowing factory visitors to knit their own loose socks.

Before they start pedaling, factory visitors choose the size of the socks as well as the colors of the threads they want to use. Specialized staff connects the threads to the machine, and when they’re done, it’s time to pedal. Making a pair of socks is said to take about 10 minutes, just enough to keep things from getting boring. After you’re done pedaling, the staff sew the toes and press-finish the knitted socks on the spot, so you can take them home with you.

Photo: Souki Socks

Because the sock knitting machines are no longer being manufactured, whenever a part breaks down, Souki Socks has to have it made to order in order to keep their Charix project going, but the public’s interest in it makes it all worthwhile.

In fact, demand for pedal-knitted socks has gotten so high that Souki recently launched a new option for customers. With the Covid-19 pandemic keeping people from traveling as much as they used to, many didn’t have the opportunity to visit the factory and knit their own socks, so Souki decided to have their management do the pedaling for them.

Photo: Souki Socks

Charix Online allows customers to select the size of their socks and 3 thread colors from a total of 36, before designating a cyclist from a list of Souki Socks employees, 68-year-old Chairman Yasuhiko, Presiden Kohei, or Managing Director Midori. The knitting process is then uploaded on social media as proof. The price of a pair of socks through Charix Online is 2200 yen ($18.50).

So if you’re even in Hikiso, Nara Prefecture, and want to experience cycling as a way to knit your own pair of loose socks, don’t hesitate to try the Charix machine at Souki Socks.

Photo: Souki Socks

This isn’t the first ingenious approach we’ve seen from a Japanese company specializing in making generally mundane products. A while back, we featured an elevator button factory that invited visitors to press 1,000 buttons on a custom-made panel as part of a unique factory tour.