If you are a spinner and sock knitter, then why not combine the two?
Planning your project.
1. First, choose your fibre, pure wool, wool and synthetic fibre blend, or man-made vegetable fibre. There are several appropriate fibres from which to choose. Each has their merits. My samples are 75% merino or wool and 25% nylon.
Taking a close look at sock yarn shows it to be quite round and have many twists per inch. These features ensure long lasting, even wear with little pilling but the yarn is still fairly ‘lofty’ and comfortably soft. Un-dyed yarn bought for the purpose of dyeing may not at first seem as ‘nice’ as commercial yarns but it ‘fulls’ and softens in the dyeing and washing process, as does hand-spun. Both will shrink a little in length.
2. Spin your yarn. You will need to decide whether you are to make one large skein of 100g or 2 of 50g. I would suggest two of the same weight, to be dyed in the same sequence so they match.
If you prefer woollen spun from the fleece you may find a breed that makes good sock yarn without any added supplementary fibre. Or, you may decide to add a synthetic fibre to increase the wear and life of your yarn. In this case, to produce a yarn that wears evenly depends upon the careful measurement of proportions of each fibre in the rolags.
I spun 2 50g skeins of semi-worsted 2 ply yarn with 9 twists per inch and 9 wraps per inch. (See pic. blue and brown socks)
Once spun, as I used commercial tops and intended to dye with acid dyes, scouring was not necessary.
3. Tension swatch. When the yarn was dry and wound into centre pull balls I knitted a tension square. After 3 trials I decided that 3.25mm needles gave me the fabric I wanted with 24 sts in 4” width; 6 sts per inch.
4. Sock tube trial. As the widest part of me foot is 9” round I cast 54 sts on 3 dpns and knitted a circular sampler to try around my foot. The first was too big, so I reduced the number of stitches by 10% and tried again – success.
To calculate the length of yarn needed for each row of socks. After the cast on and one row of knitting I marked the yarn at the beginning of the next row by tying in a short length of another yarn. Then I knitted 20 rows and marked the yarn again. After which I undid the knitting, measured the length of yarn taken for 20 rows and divided by 20 to give me the length of yarn needed for each row. This helped me to find the correct distance apart to put the skeining posts. (See previous blog for skeining & dyeing instructions.)
I realise that there may be some difference when the yarn has been dyed but I'm not sure how one can make allowances for this!
Once the above calculations had been made, again, the big decisions, dye colours to use, width of stripes - all equal or varying?
I’m not exactly sure how much yarn is used in the heel of a sock so I wasn’t sure how far the hand-spun yarn would go so I decided to knit them toe up, because the length of the leg section was not so important to me.
The finished socks
Gauntlets for a friend.