Ruh Roh.

I love wearing socks that are knit out of handspun yarn.

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(These are a pair knit out of Pigeonroof Studio merino/nylon in “Mystere”, n-plied.)

This creates a little bit of an issue — I have to spin the yarn, and then I have to knit the socks. And, as someone who is very hard on socks (for some reason, within the last month or so I have basically walked out of multiple pairs of hand knit socks — we are not talking small holes here, these are just heels that completely gave out!), the thought of walking through a pair of handspun, hand knit socks is very tough.

Yes, of course I can be vigilant about darning my socks…. and I think I will, once I learn how. (Note to self: Research different methods of sock darning.)

I decided to see if I can make a sock yarn that would withstand my tough wear. I had some Coopworth fiber from Shepherd’s Hey Farm (Hannah), and I had some Polwarth fiber from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. What if I ply 2 singles spun out of the polwarth with 1 single of the coopworth? Would the single ply of the long wool fiber make an other wise soft yarn stronger? Would it make the overall yarn very “wooly” or would the polwarth make the yarn softer?

I spun both fibers with more twist than I would normally spin these fibers with. I also plied with pretty high twist — to balance the yarn and because I thought this would make for a harder-wearing yarn. This was a little bit tricky, because the polwarth and coopworth were spun with different amounts of twist…but the resulting yarn ended up being balanced, and I thought, looked pretty.

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The grey is the coopworth, undyed, and the blues to yellow is the BMFA polwarth. I was excited to see how this yarn would knit up. And I had just the pattern for it. Cookie A. Sock Club‘s February 2014 pattern called Possibly Maybe.

I skeined the yarn and set off on knitting the socks.

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I cranked away. I had 330 yards of this yarn, and since most of my socks were 300-320 yards… I thought that I had spun enough yarn.

However….

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Oops!

So.. the solution here? I had a few people weigh in. “NEON PINK”!!! Someone said. (I almost did it, too!) “Try to match one of the colors so it will not be so noticeable.” “It won’t show because you can keep your foot in your shoe…”

I decided, since I had a little bit of the polwarth singles left over, that I would ply that with something (unfortunately, I was out of the coopworth fiber!) to make the Toe Yarn.

Luckily, in the fall, I had spun some Wensleydale that had been dyed navy blue. the single was a little bit thicker than the ply of the Coopworth, but I thought that since Wensleydale is a long wool breed, that this would be close enough for the socks.

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The yarn felt similar, but clearly, it was a lot more blue-dominant than the original yarn.

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…But, the socks are done. The yarn, knit up, feels like wool hiking socks. I think that is what I will be using them for. Let the wearing phase of the experimentation begin! I will report back.

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10 comments
  1. These are so cute! I hope they wear for a really long time, handspun is so precious. That blue toe is the true mark of the uniqueness and ingenuity that is characteristic of a handmade product.

  2. Nancy said:

    Your spinning is wonderful. I don’t spin, but can appreciate yours. Question re: socks wearing out – what size needle do you knit your socks on? I’ve found that the only pair of socks of mine that wore out were knit on size US 2’s. I now use 0 or 1 only (for fingering weight yarns). My husband is a veterinarian and is on his feet all day. He wears his hand knit socks almost daily and they’re still going strong 10 years or more. Anyway, again, your spinning and knitting is lovely and I do enjoy your blog very much. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you so much. I knit my socks on 0s or 1s — and I am a TIGHT knitter. It’s nuts. (Yes, I should probably get pedicures on a regular basis!) I am contemplating knitting in kidsilk haze in the heel, but at the end of the day, I think I have to figure out how to darn my socks…

      • Nancy said:

        Well, there goes that theory. What about some added nylon reinforcement in the heel and toes? If you’ve already tried that, then I don’t know…..

      • I haven’t tried it and I should. I have no issues with toes — it’s the heel and I just seem to walk right though. I should also try maybe going to 00s or something just for the bottom of the heel? I have high arches so the heel flap and gusset type is the best fit for me, and I wonder if the short rowing is a little looser or something….

  3. Lee said:

    I love them! Great solution.

    • Thanks Lee. A year ago, I would have pulled out a grey fiber to try to match the color of yarn, not the fiber property!

  4. I’m learning to darn this month; have done 8 so far (don’t ask how I ended up with such a lot in my darning basket. Some have been there years!) I’m starting to think that the only solution is to have 365 pairs of hand knit socks 🙂

    I do have more luck with tightly twisted handspun. And darning by way of duplicate stitching before the thin stitches become holes 🙂

    Yours are just beautiful! And the toe: i like it… character! You could always dye the other to match, though 🙂

    • Thank you! I love handspun socks and I need to learn how to darn heels before they start giving out!!!

      The socks that have been casualties so far, I was throwing these socks out…since both heels were popping through at the same time. Around the 5th pair though, I started to think that maybe I should fix these things!!!

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