first socks of 2010

I finally got a chance to try Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, in a lovely buttery yellow, for the making of a sock. Part of my problem in doing this has been that most places have the multicolored sock yarn, and I am mainly interested in the semisolid colors; that colorway appeals to me more. But I finally found some and made some very nice socks. I found the shepherd sock yarn to be a perfect yarn for my socks, and I will definitely be returning to it. I liked the feel of it.

I started it in January while visiting my friend in Nashville, and finished them by mid-February. This was pretty fast for me, but I worked on them a lot at church during class and the sermon. Fortunately I don’t seem to disturb anyone while I’m doing this; I’m just becoming known for it. I myself pay attention better when I have something in my hands so that I am less fidgety.

I made them toe-up, with the magic cast-on and short-row toe. The cuff was simple double rib, but the biggest change I made was making sure to do a long cuff than I had been doing. They were six-inch long cuffs, which is just right for a folded cuff on my leg. Sadly, this means that I will be buying extra sock yarn on a regular basis, since I would not have had enough in my skein. Of course, I used very little over one skein, but I like the length, and that just means I will have to find a way to use up leftover sock yarn. Either socks with blended yarn or a leftovers blanket, or something. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure.

I did this one so fast that I immediately started another pair and I’m moving right along on it. I may even set myself a goal of six pairs of socks this year (I played with the thought of twelve, but let’s be realistic). Anything over that number would be a plus. As much as I like my socks, that would be a good thing.

Here’s the socks while they were in progress.Socks in progress

Before I forget

Two things I’ve heard suggested for sock yarn that is durable — a little mohair and a little silk. Apparently the mohair can even stand in for the nylon a bit, for reasons of durability. How about for reasons of elasticity? Isn’t the nylon supposed to contribute to that as well?

I wonder if it would be difficult to make a 70/15/15 blend of wool/silk/mohair?

What have I been doing? (Spinning)

I have continued to work on my skills in spinning, trying to produce consistently fine yarns that can be used to knit, especially socks. I am also, however, interested in producing weaver’s yarns. I think the most important criterion there is that the yarn can take tension, since a warp yarn is by definition under constant tension while on the loom. Interestingly, for both sock yarn and warp yarn, the goal has been similar, spinning yarn that is tightly spun and tightly plied in order to increase its strength and resistance to abrasion.

I’ve only been partially succesful — I think.

At the same time, I’ve been experimenting with the different types of fibers, getting my hands on silk, alpaca, various sheep breads, and some ingeo that’s waiting for me. It’s been interesting feeling the difference in texture as well as the difference in spinnability.

Anyway, let’s look at some of what I’ve produced.Grafton Fibers orange This is something I produced from a batt of Grafton Fibers, although I couldn’t tell you what the colorway is. It’s a slightly deeper orange than the picture shows. I span this over a period of time, so if you look at different stretches of the singles, it shows a tighter and tighter spin. I was focusing on the sock yarn goal when I worked on this, but I’m not sure I met my goal. There should be enough, but it’s not, in my opinion, tightly spun enough to give sufficient resistance to abrasion. I may end up using it for something different.differing ply color

I continued to work with the Grafton fibers orange, but then I plied it with some yellow and red Coopworth that I picked up at the VAS&W festival. I was less pleased with the texture and more pleased with the color combo of the yellow, not so much with the red. I have a little bit more of the orange waiting for me to do something with it, but I think I need to find more yellow to ply it with, since I ran out of what I had.

purple and gray pliedNext, I had another batt from Grafton Fibers that is nicely purply and green, but considerably more dark than I had realized when I ordered it. There are always penalties to buying based on what you see on the monitor, and this was darker than I really wanted, but it was still nice to experiment with. As a test, in order to mitigate the darkness of it, I plied it with the gray Shetland that I am using to spin for a sweater. gray Shetland for sweaterI had extra, and this was the end of a bobbin that I wanted to empty. It worked rather better than I expected. The gray lightened up the black beautifully so that you can see the purples and greens a bit better. I’ll be interested in seeing what it ends up becoming.

A somewhat longterm project that I’ve been working on is (once again) some Shetland Shetland on drop spindle that I used to practice my drop spindling skills. I was rather inconsistent in working on it, but it nevertheless came out okay. It was considerably more fuzzy and neppy than I really liked, but I wasn’t overly fussy. Anyway, here you have three different plies, 4-ply, 3-ply, and 2-ply respectively, all from the spindle. I truthfully find little difference in the 4 and 3-ply, but the 2-ply is perceptibly thinner and flatter. I’m beginning to realize that when I am plying, the 2-ply is somewhat, mmm…, uninteresting, compared to the 3-ply and up. That makes me want to try a cabled yarn something fierce.

Next I did a sample of Dorset sheep that came out very nicely. I was very pleased with how it looked and felt, though I wouldn’t recommend for something against the skin. It span rather fine and chain-plied Dorset chain plynicely. I liked the look and feel of it. It definitely tempts me to get some more of this breed, but I think there are others to try before I get into them any more.

Right now, I am trying to spin some silk to make something that is both 3-ply and somewhere in between laceweight and fingering weight. I picked up the Tussah silk from Shadeyside Farm at the Maryland S&W Festival two years agoShadeyside Farm tussah silk, and have finally gotten around to spinning it. It is responding very nicely to my attempts to spin fine, and I don’t know if that is me or the fiber. It certainly feels very different than wool does.

In the meantime , I have several other fibers waiting for me, such as Teesdale sheep, alpaca, both from a first year and an adult, and a few other sheep breeds that I can’t think of off the top of my head. As the sun shines longer, I want to spin and craft even more. Hopefully, I’ll achieve even more this year than last.

What next? Not sure, but there has been progress in every craft, at least a little bit.