Elk SkeinBy Amelia

When I first started spinning, like many other people, I wanted to spin sock yarn. But, I know I knit slow, so when I found out about circular sock machines, I got into those. And, promptly started amassing commercial sock yarns (grin).

Despite being side-tracked, I still pursued "the perfect sock yarn" on my wheel:
How do I make sure my singles aren't underspun?
Wait, how does making yarn not add to my stash?
Do you really measure twists per inch?
How do you make a good-looking 2-ply yarn?
How fine do I spin my singles to get a target WPI in my plied yarn?
Spinning for socks
How can I copy a commercial yarn?
How can I spin sock yarn?
How can I divide roving evenly for a 2 or 3 ply?

Besides, all that commercial sock yarn let me get in lots of practice on the sock machine.

So now, I can present you with: Sock-cess!

These are the socks I envisioned waaaay back there at the beginning.

The yarn is an overplied 2-ply, space-dyed superwash merino pencil roving (yes, from Crown Mountain Farms -- dyed by Teyani, it's one of the retired colorways), rough-finished to a 17-wpi yarn.

Knit on my black 2005-model NZAK with an 80/40 in my "standard long" sock pattern:
  • wind the skein onto a cone with my cone-winder
  • 25 rows 1/1 rib (including selvedge) with lycra thread
  • 75 rows 3/1 rib
  • 25 rows false heel (replace ribber needles on the back with cylinder needles)
  • standard short row heel with extra needle at edges to close the corner
  • foot with 3/1 rib on the top (left the ribber in while I did the heel -- living dangerously, I know!) and the tension left on, 8" from heel bottom to starting the toe (to fit my foot)
  • standard short row toe with one needle removed to prevent dog ears
  • kitchenered shut on the purl side

Long-term goals are great, and as they go, this one wasn't even a decade in reaching. My next long term spinning goal involves Shetland and Cashmere, and weaving. I'm in no hurry, but look forward to making progress with it from time to time.
posted 19 January 2009 at Edited 21 Jan 2009 to add the yarn pictures :-) thanks for asking, Nancy!


Leigh said...

An excellent collection of posts. I have to admit that the first time I used commercial sock yarn to knit socks, I felt like I was being unfaithful to my spinning wheel. :)

Anonymous said...

The socks are wonderful! Can we see a picture of the yarn before you knit it up? Do you generally like two ply or three ply sock yarn? I've stuck with three ply so far - haven't tried the two ply.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Leigh: tell the wheel you want to make sure to be able to knit the perfect socks with your handspun -- that store-bought stuff is for practice!

@Nancy: thanks for asking, I added a picture of the skein; there are a few more incarnations of it on my flickr, it's called "Elk".

I generally now spin a high-twist, over-plied, rough-finished 2-ply for socks, but will occasionally spin a 3-ply. The earlier pair of handspun socks on the path to these was a 3-ply. I like the extra cushiness of the 2-ply; the singles in the 3-ply were so fine that they lost that, in the same final yarn thickness.