Monday, July 3, 2017

Blended Fiber for socks

Now that I have some experience with single-breed handspun socks, I'm starting to want to branch out into fiber blends. Since I have no ability to blend fibers myself, I'm always on the lookout for suppliers who can sell me sock-friendly blends. My first forays will be into single-breeds with either nylon or mohair for strength.

So far, I've spun up a 70/30 shetland/mohair blend (from the UK) that has become a pair of socks that I am very happy with. The spun yarn (3 ply) had a nice sheen, but no bounce. The socks were knit at tight gauge. They developed a hole at the toe (my big toenail is a veritable saw) rather quickly, and have been darned, but the rest of the sock is, so far, wearing admirably. Comparable to my Romney socks.

[Shetland/mohair socks]

I have also spun and ruined a pair of 70/30 Finn/nylon socks - these felted very quickly. So no more Finn for me.

I have, laying around, some 70/30 Southdown/nylon as well, that is still waiting to be turned into socks. Yes, yes, I will get around to you!

And, I should mention one of my earliest forays into spinning for socks, a 70/30 superwash BFL/nylon blend that became a pair of socks for my husband, which have lasted 2 years so far with no signs of wear. I'll have to do a post on these so you can have a closer look at them (compare new and 2-year old photos), because so far, these are the strongest handspun socks I've made.

But here are some purchases that I made that I now have regrets about:

[70/30 (non-superwash) BFL/nylon blend]

[70/30 BFL/mohair blend]

I purchased them via the internet based on a description alone, which, it turns out, isn't enough. 

It's hard to see (particularly difficult in the second photo), but these blends are not actually blended enough for use in socks. The fiber is meant for decorative items. When the dyer ordered their raw material (from World of Wool, I suspect), they requested only 1 blending pass, so that there are still very visible "ropes" of nylon (emerald green streaks in the upper photo) or mohair (deep yellow, shiny, wavy locks to the right of my thumb in the lower) in the tops. I am afraid that this is not going to even itself out during spinning, so that the yarn will not have an even distribution of nylon in it. While this might be nice for a shimmery shawl, I'm not convinced it's useful for hard-wearing socks...I'll have to make a shawl or something out of these two!

So, lesson learned: I need to be sure that the blending is thoroughly done, and this is something I need to ask about, if I cannot see the product!


  1. I always wondered why some hand dyed fibers had those variations! I thought it was either inconsistent dye, or on purpose for the looks. Didn't realize it is fibers not being thoroughly blended.

  2. Re: that sharp toenail. I have started beveling the edges of my toenails with an emery board. Seems to work!