Thursday, 8 November 2007

From handspun merino yarn to stripey socks.

I haven't written much about spinning yet. I was just thinking this the other day, wondering where to start on the subject,and then I looked at the socks I was wearing. See the above photo. Most of the socks I've knitted are in commercial sock yarn, but then the Online Guild had a sock knitting workshop. I wanted to use my own handspun for the workshop, and so spun some wool and knitted the photographed socks as a trial. When it came to the workshop, I'd used all the yarn, so I knitted my toe-up socks in Opal sock yarn instead.

I knitted these socks from the pattern "Simply Splendid" given by Lucy Neatby in her book "Cool Socks Warm Feet". They are a top down knit,using the heel style she calls "common heel" and a "common wedge toe". I think this was about my third pair of socks, and considering that they turned out well and have worn well.

The yarn is spun from dyed merino tops purchased from Wingham Wool Works. I first learnt to spin with tuition from Ruth Gough at Wingham Wools. While I was having my beginner lesson, two other spinners where there learning fancy techniques. When I was thinking about spinning a multi-colour sock yarn, I remembered Ruth had demonstrated spinning wonderful multicolour blends where different coloured wools were blended by spiking handfuls of different coloured merino fibre on a hackle, then pulling the fibre off the hackle through a diz (she used a small washer, but recommended that a button could also be used). The colour choice was based on picking some colours that went together and then one colour that was totally different.

I was thinking about Ruth's advice on colours, and selected for my socks a light blue, a mid-blue, a light blue-green, and a darker blue-green, with a bright pink. As I didn't have a hackle, or combs, I sat with small handfuls of different colours on my knee and kept changing colour, no particular theme or rhythm, just whatever I felt like next. I spun a couple of bobbins of singles yarn like this, and then plied them together. Knitting it was very exciting - I had no idea how the colours would work in the knitted fabric. As it happens, I'm very pleased with the resulting soft stripes. The socks are warm and soft, and they are wearing well, although the yarn has pilled a bit.

As you see, I have spun some more of this yarn, and it's been sitting around for a while now. Maybe it's time for another pair of socks...


Dorothy said...

I have just had to remove a comment that arrived very quick after this post was published, it seemed to be sent out automatically and was from a commercial company offering debt consolidation!!!

You will understand why I have just changed settings to moderate all comments in future.

This is a matter I took especial fast action on as I work both as an employed outreach adviser and a volunteer social policy co-ordinator for my local Citizens Advice Bureau. I am sick of the seeing the blood suckers who prey on people with financial trouble. If you're in the UK and need debt advice, look at the Citizen's Advice web site. Their assistance is free, impartial and entirely confidential.

Peg in South Carolina said...

I got a strange comment once that seemed to have been from an automated source, at least based on my Google research. I removed the comment but did not enable comment moderation. So far no more.
I like your socks. Sock knitting is what fills the boring hours waiting for things like doctors. I have never had the courage to spin my own sock yarn, however I have spun with colors the way you do. I too lack hackles, etc.! Did you ply your yarn?

Dorothy said...

Hi Peg, yes the yarn is plied. It was interesting plying the singles because there was no way I could predict how the different colours would be distributed in the finished yarn. I was very happy with the result. I've been thinking about spinning wool for a jumper using the same technique, only with longer sections of each colour in the yarn because of it being a larger garment.

Leigh said...

I love that book! Your socks are great.

I had an extremely lengthy and obnoxious comment left on both of my cat blogs. I know it was automated because the comments were identical. Like Peg, I just deleted it but didn't enable comment moderation. I haven't had any trouble since, but it has alerted me to check my email for new comments every day!

Cally said...

These look wonderful and really cosy. My favourite socks were ones I knitted with handspun, but I'm afraid I accidentally scooped them up in the wrong wash one time and they are now more like boots! They aren't wasted though - I wear them over a pair of cotton socks and they very comfortable for treadling in.