Archive for the ‘Yarn’ Category

Good Sock Yarns

I’ve been down my rabbit hole lately researching different breeds of sheep and the wool they produce. I’ve been reading The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. It contains information on over 200 breeds of sheep and their wool. You see, I’ve discovered that the much heralded merino wool is not good sturdy yarn for socks even if it is blended with nylon. In short, it doesn’t wear well. It is not suited to the job. Then why, you might ask, do all fingering and sock yarns feature merino. That’s business ladies and gentlemen. The manufacturers sell you on what they know to be not up to the task so that it wears out quickly and SURPRISE you have to come back for more. Built in obsolescence.

I spend a lot of time knitting socks, especially for The Skipper. I hate it when I spend that much time on a project for it to last barely one season. Thus my search for better sock yarns.

I found that socks fall into three categories. The durable and hard wearing that are worn with boots or hiking shoes, the everyday ones worn with regular shoes, and luxury ones usually reserved for bed or times when you need comforting in your soul. Merino fits the last category and while it is often blended with nylon, nylon does not wear as well or as long as silk. So if it is a luxury sock that will be lightly worn go for a merino silk blend.

The softer the fiber the more pilling and wear will occur. In short it is more fragile. Merino falls into this category. I won’t bore you with micron counts or staple lengths or amount of crimp. But all three factors affect the sturdiness of a yarn.

If you are going for a boot sock Romney may be your best bet but with a few caveats. First, it easily felts. Second, it is not highly elastic. Third, the yarn is not super lofty. But for durability it is great.

Thinking of an every day sock? You have a number of choices: Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, Leicester Longwool, Columbia, Polwarth, Corriedale, and Cheviot. Look for a tight twist with at least 3 plys. The tighter the twist the more durable the yarn.

Finally, the very last thing you should do with any hand knit sock is walk around the house in it without some kind of footwear on. Walking only in your socks causes greater wear and tear on the fabric than wearing them with shoes. Who knew?


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It’s that time of year again when the yearning to buy a few sheep, some alpacas and a couple of small horses is upon me. I collect real estate listings of farms near and far that are up for sale and casually leave the good ones on The Skipper’s side of the dining table. This will last until the end of November.

In the past, we have actually gone out to see the places. But because of one downside or the other have chosen to stay put instead. This year is different. Because of my mastectomy and breast cancer I need to be near doctors and facilities that can monitor me every three months. I trust the doctors and facilities I now have and I don’t think moving away from them would make me comfortable.

Still, I wish for the small sheep farm I’ve always wanted, only now fully recognizing that it may forever stay a dream. Unbeknownst to The Skipper, I am looking into the zoning code of our land to see if we can have sheep and how many. I’ve collected a few pictures of the different breeds that will find their way onto his side of the table. A new tactic. I could be content with two sheep and an alpaca.

All this looking at different breeds has led me to wanting to try yarn that is not the standard merino. Yet when I did a search for yarn other than merino, there is very little on the market in the US. I would love to work with wool I have never used before. Corriedale, Columbia, Rambouillet, are just some of the breeds I’ve come across that I’d be interested in trying.

Since their properties are a little different than merino, my research led me to reading about the best way to spin each separately or the best way to combine them with other fibers. Ladies and gentlemen there is a whole world of wool out there beyond merino. While each has it’s own downsides, I still want to experience them.

So once I’ve finished Dad’s blanket–I am almost done knitting the last strip and in the meanwhile have sewn up half the completed strips–I am going to experiment with wool beyond merino. After all, maybe I can’t have the sheep, but I can treat myself to their wool where I find it.

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