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Gearing up for Games: Rare Glimpse at Olympic Uniforms, Makers

NAZARETH, PA-- In 2012, some of the U.S. uniforms for the London Olympics were made in China, which didn't sit well with a lot of people. So in 2014 the new motto is 'Made in America.' Tim Kelchner took a tour inside one of the companies who will help bring an American flavor to Sochi; A tiny textile mill in northeastern Pennsylvania.
NAZARETH, PA-- In 2012, some of the U.S. uniforms for the London Olympics were made in China, which didn't sit well with a lot of people. So in 2014 the new motto is 'Made in America.'

Tim Kelchner took a tour inside one of the companies who will help bring an American flavor to Sochi; A tiny textile mill in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"We deal with customers in all kinds of businesses," says David Schmidt, President of Kraemer Textile. "Industrial fabrics. Automotive Fabrics. "Upholstery fabrics."

Kraemer Textile has spun yarns that have been used in national ads by L.L. Bean and Victoria's Secret.. But in February you'll see the 126-year-old company's handywork on the global stage.

"We were thrilled that it was not only going to Ralph Lauren, it was actually going to be used as the sweater for the opening games," says Schmidt.

Schmidt is the president of the Nazareth, Pennsylvania-based and family-owned mill that's been spinning yarn since 1887. It is one of about 40 U.S. companies that have been comissioned by clothing giant Ralph Lauren to help produce Olympic gear for American athletes in Sochi.

"Everybody was amazed. Nobody could believe little Kraemer Textile in Nazareth was going to compete in something that large on the world stage," says Schmidt. "It's an honor."

"Everybody in America loves the Olympics and loves our Olympic team. To be part of the process gives you great pride."

Creating roughly 650 olympic sweaters is a process that spans several states, and it starts with wool from the Imperial Stock Ranch in north central Oregon. From there it's sent to Pennsylvania where it's blended, carted, drawn, spun, and wound.

Kraemer's wound 800 cones of this yarn, and then send it on to the next stop, Longview Yarns in Hickory, NC where it was dyed.

"It's very unglamorous," says Schmidt. "No one really cares if you're spinning yarn for a fabric that's going into construction. A lot of what we do is frankly very boring but this is really exciting."

Kramer Textile employee Josephine Sherbotie agrees. The 82-year old has been spinning at Kraemer's for 58 years. Her and her co-workers are thrilled at the Olympic honor. "Couldn't believe it. Wonderful, great," says Sherbotie.

"I liked it. I thought it was fantastic, and it should be made in the United States," says another Kraemer Textile employee, Nancy Shafer.

"This is a big plug for Kraemer's and I'm glad to be part of it," says another employee known as rams.'

But that doesn't guarantee they'll actually watch the Olympic Games.

"I probably won't. My husband will. Are you going to tell him you helped make those sweaters? Oh yeah, I'll tell him."

Kraemer Textile is just one of more than 40 companies nationwide that are being used in Ralph Lauren's Olympic campaign.

Tim Kelchner will be joining KNWA's Neile Jones in Sochi for reports from the games throughout the month of February.
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