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Locally made yarn to be used in USA Olympic sweaters

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 15 2013 04:17:16 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 29 2014 03:50:34 PM CST

For generations, a common thread has bound one family together.

NAZARETH, Pa. -

For generations, a common thread has bound one family together. Soon, their work will be on display at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

It's a busy time inside the Kraemer Textiles factory in Nazareth, Northampton Co. Since 1887, workers have produced yarn for several clothing manufacturers. Now, Ralph Lauren is putting the company on the world stage. It all started with a phone call from a wool supplier.

"She was incredibly excited," said David Schmidt, president of Kraemer Textiles. "And I was just like, Jean, come on that's not going to happen to us."

But it did happen. Wool from Oregon is being spun into yarn that will be sewn in to the 2014 Team USA Olympic opening ceremonies sweater.

"I was making all this stuff and didn't even know," said employee, Mary Fleck.

Ralph Lauren came under fire during the 2012 Winter Olympics for using uniforms made in China. Now, everything will be made in America.

"We were incredibly excited. It's with a lot of pride, that you get an opportunity to produce something like that," added Schmidt. "It certainly makes it not just another order."

It took six weeks of blending, carting, drawing, spinning and finally winding to make the Olympic yarn, which will be dyed, made into a sweater, and have the letters U.S.A. sewn on them.

The company made 6,000 pounds of yarn for Ralph Lauren. While some employees said they don't watch the Olympics, they will in 2014.

"My family, they all think it's great," added Fleck. "They keep telling their friends."

Five generations of the Schmidt family have owned and operated the factory since 1907.

"I've been told we're just too dumb to quit," laughed Schmidt. "No, we take a lot of pride that we've been able to continue to find a way to produce something that has value."

It's gold medal value that will be on display at 2014 Sochi winter games.