Sock Wool Review

**updated 24/11/2015**

The table lists all the wools I've tried; some good, some not so good.

[click here to view original size and download]

It's in order of preference. Orange highlights indicate that I'm not wowed by the product (or that it is unavailable or really, really hard to get); red highlights indicate that I consider the yarn poor value for money and would not buy it again, or recommend it to anyone (note: for socks! It might be beautiful for other purposes!).

Technical geek note: since I've reviewed so many yarns now that the excel spreadsheet won't fit on a nice image anymore, I've had to turn this into a PDF that can be downloaded for better viewing. This should allow for future growth into more than a single page...

I freely admit that these ratings are highly biased. They driven by my own personal sock preferences, which are as follows:
  • I prefer a tight, non floppy sock - socks should hug the leg. This means I tend to prefer a yarn that is more tightly plied and less "squooshy".
  • I wear handknit socks all winter, so they need to stand up to a high degree of wear and washing. Yarns that pill, felt, or get visibly discoloured are de-rated. Note that I wash my socks in a European-brand front-loader, in cold water with delicate detergent, using a "handwash" cycle. The socks are subsequently air-dried. I do not wash socks by hand.
  • I wear them at the office, so they need to be thin - fingering weight only (400m/100g). I do not knit socks with sportweight yarn.
  • I knit for a lot of men, so I'd like yarns to come in XY-chromosome-friendly colours like browns, greys, and greens.
  • I very rarely use self-striping wool; I prefer plain or "kettle dyed" product that allows intricate stitch patterns to shine. Although lately I have been getting to some wild 'n crazy yarns and patterns, so this requirement is starting to become less of an issue!
  • I am on a budget; I'd prefer it if the product cost me less than $20/pair. I will only try more expensive yarns if I can actually see them (I won't order expensive stuff off the interwebs unless I know what I'm getting). That said, if I find a beautiful yarn that also lasts, I will try it and keep in mind for a special gift.
It can be helpful to learn how to read the labels of yarn, to figure out if the wool has the right "thickness" for your project. Here's what I do:

Click on the link to figure out yarn "yardage".

I am now at the point where, unfortunately, I will no longer knit socks from yarns that contain any silk, bamboo (a silk replacement - it's cheaper), angora, cashmere or alpaca; even in blends.  Cotton-blend yarns are also more fragile than pure wool ones. These fibres do not stand up to abrasion well and I find that the resulting sock (foot) becomes unsightly quite quickly. These yarns are lovely for other purposes but really, walking on them will ruin them. The only pairs of socks I have had ruined over time have all fallen into this category.

In general, I've found that the best, longest-lasting sock yarns are of European origin, are not advertised as "merino", and contain at least 20% nylon.

My favorite "daily wear" sock yarn is Regia (plain colours). My "special occasion/gift" sock yarn is Woolen Rabbit Pearl. My favorite "self-striping/wild-n-crazy" sock yarn is Schoppel Zauberball Crazy.

Good, affordable, easily available sock yarn: Patons Kroy and Dynasty Sock.

For more detail, there are some blog posts:

Sock Wool 1 (Scheepjes Invicta, KnitPicks Risata, Lang Jawoll, Kroy Sock, KnitPicks Stroll)

Sock Wool 2 (Schaefer yarn, Araucania Ranco, KnitPicks Stroll update, Gloss, Regia Stretch)

Sock Wool 3 (Malabrigo Sock, Lana Grossa Meilenweight Cotton Stretch, Araucania Itata)

Sock Wool 4 (Tosh Merino Light, Sweatermaker Simply Sock)

Sock Wool 5 (Schoppel Zauberball, Kroy Sock 3-ply, Lion Sock-Ease)

Sock Wool 6 (Malabrigo Sock and Tosh Merino Light update, Regia 3-ply, Lang Mille Colori, Woolen Rabbit Pearl)

Sock Wool 7 (Regia 4-ply jacquard, Lang Magic Degrade, Online Supersocke)

Sock Wool 8 (Woolen Rabbit Harmony, Turtlepurl Sock, Cascade Heritage Sock)

Sock Wool 9 (Manos del Uruguay Alegria; Ancient Arts Fibre Craft sock yarn) 

Sock Wool 10 (Phildar Phil Folk, DGB Confetti Superwash)

Sock Wool 11 (Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome, Alsan Trends Santa Fe, Dynasty Sock)