I Knit Socks! June 24 2015

I knit socks.  I knit a lot of socks.  I like knitting socks - they're quick, portable and can be as easy or as complicated as I want.  I also like sock yarn especially the high twist, hand-dyed, one of a kind varieties. And I don't just use it for socks!

  

Some time ago I asked the big question, could I spin my own sock yarn?

I know people who have had great success using Southdown for their sock yarn so I started with that. I was advised to try a real 3 ply (three separate singles rather than chain-plying one single)  so I split my hand-dyed braid of Southdown into 3 and spun 3 bobbins of what I thought was a fairly fine single with a fair degree of twist.  I plied all 3 and gave the resulting yarn a nice bath.  Southdown is bouncy which is great for socks but my singles were not as fine as I thought they were.  I ended up with a nice bouncy rounded 3 ply yarn but it was more a DK/Worsted weight and a little too thick for socks.  Lovely yarn, just not sock yarn as I wanted it. 

For my second attempt I used some Dorset Horn which is similar to the Southdown and this time I did manage to get a thinner single. But I think I over-twisted them because the resulting plied yarn, although balanced and much closer to a fingering weight, was quite hard and nothing like the sock yarn that I wanted.

 

I am sure both attempts are just reflections of my inexperience as I know many people do spin lovely sock yarn from Southdown, Dorset Horn and other down breeds and indeed, this is what other spinners recommend.  

I looked a bit more closely at the commercially sock yarn I was using. Almost without exception, my favourite yarn was merino with added nylon.  Often, the merino had been super-washed treated so it could be machine washed.  Usually, there were 4 plies but I did find a few with 3 plies.  The high plying twist was apparent in all of them but on closer inspection it appeared that the individual singles were not as tightly spun as I expected.

For my third attempt I used our own super-wash merino and nylon fibre blend.  I spun 3 very fine singles with just enough twist - not too much and plied them fairly tightly.  The resulting yarn was soft, strong and definitely fingering weight. Much more like the commercial sock yarn I love.  Now I just need to knit it up!

Inspired?... 

We dyed some of the super wash merino and nylon fibre blend recently - lovely summer colours that are also perfect for socks so that you can have a go at spinning your own sock yarn.  Let me know how you get on - I'd love to hear!

See our super wash merino and nylon hand dyed fibre

See our super wash merino and nylon hand dyed fibre