Monday, December 11, 2017

Handspun Sock Showdown

Time for a re-examination of some of my better handspun socks. I'll let you guys see the "before-and-after" photos. These are all socks that have held up well after at least a year of heavy use. My other handspun socks have mostly felted and/or shrunk and/or worn faster these, so I won't be using those fibers again. Yes, that includes UK wears fast.

Number 1: UK superwash BFL / nylon (70/30) blend

The yarn was spun very fine - 4 ply - since at the time I was really trying to reproduce commercial sock yarn. The yarn felt quite nice - quite comparable to a millspun yarn although a little tighter plied. I didn't go out of my way to knit them tight. These socks are by far the best of my handspun socks, in terms of longevity. They haven't felted appreciably, and there has been no need to darn them. The dye has faded in the laundry, over time. I would highly recommend this blend for those who don't want to agonize overmuch about TPI, grist, or knitting gauge. In fact, I'd recommend this blend to myself. Self: please get more of this stuff.

[superwash BFL/nylon before]

[superwash BFL/nylon after -
note fading but stitch definition still good. 2.5 yrs old.]

Number 2: UK shetland / mohair (70/30) blend

The yarn is 3-ply and very dense, not very thin though - heavy fingering/light sport. The yarn is rather different to knit - it has very little elasticity, and I knit it supertight, so the resulting fabric is probably not what people are used to in a sock. They're a bit stiff, smooth, and rather slippery. That's the mohair talking! They are very, very warm and comfy though. The socks have been darned once (they wore through at the toe very quickly) but since then have been performing well. They have felted and shrunk a tiny bit. This is a good blend for those who eschew the use of nylon and superwash.

[shetland/mohair blend, before]

[...and after. Minimal fading. 1 yr old.]

[there is felting on the inside, on all my handspun socks, 
but much less on the superwash ones]

Both fibers from number 1 and number 2 socks came from Hilltop Cloud, a favorite indie fiber dyer of mine. I'm pretty sure she uses UK-sourced fiber. She does not always carry sock blends. I love her sense of colour, and I keep an eye on her shop so I can order from her when she does carry my favorite blends.

Number 3: local Romney, 100% pure wool

The fiber is local, not UK Romney, and was pindrafted roving (not combed top), so these are true woolen spun socks (for those purists out there). Like the socks above, the yarn was dense, and I knit them at a tight gauge, so the socks were not as elastic as you'd get from a commercial sock yarn, but they were super warm. I loved them!! They were tough as nails, but now have started to wear out at the heel, and have been darned twice at the toe. They currently reside in my darning basket...

[local romney, before]

[...and after. 2 yrs old. Note fading and pilling, 
and you can see the darning spot on the heel...]

[...with more required!]

That gives me a pretty good choice of sock fibers to pick from! 

Of course, I'm still trying other fibers and blends...the fun never stops!

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