I wish I could spin and knit faster. There are so many things I want to try out for the Tuff Socks Naturally Project. This project is a collaborative project exploring durable, non nylon, non superwash alternatives to the standard sock yarns and fibres around at the moment. It is an open project, so please join in at anytime with socks, ideas or fibre suggestions.
The Remade Spindle Socks constitute the first pair of socks for this project and I have just finished spinning for my second sock, like the first but with mohair reinforcing. This pair of socks will knitted from the same Corriedale x Ryeland x Finn fleece from Lucinvale Fleeces, spun into a 3 ply worsted sock (high twist) yarn. I was pleased with the spinning but I needed to be more consistent in the plying as I haven’t got quite the high twist I wanted throughout the skein. The difference between the two pairs is that these will be reinforced at heels and toes with a mohair laceweight yarn that I have spun from 5th clip mohair from Mohair Rare.
I bought this mohair to experiment with spinning embroidery floss as it retains all the lovely lustre of kid mohair but is coarser. That might be an appropriate choice for decorative embroidery floss but it may be too coarse for sock reinforcing but that will be another thing to find out. Lill Roberts from Mohair Rare is always on the lookout for uses for the fibre of her older girls as she doesn’t practice culling, so it is a good experiment to try. Because I have used the same base yarn for both socks, the addition of reinforcing in one pair should provide a clear comparison of wear rates.
I prepared the fleece by combing and whilst this is quite a time consuming preparation, it does speed up the spinning enormously and I have been experimenting with ways of speeding up the worsted draw to further reduce spinning times. I know Mary over at Local and Bespoke has drumcarded her Suffolk, silk and kid mohair blend and this is something I would like to explore further as a way of speeding up the whole sock process. I have seen drumcarded batts rolled parallel to the fibres for worsted spinning instead of the usually perpendicular roll used for woollen spinning, so I can try this with the next batch of fleece.
Since I last posted, I have been wearing my Corriedale x Ryeland x Finn remade socks as much as possible, which I confess has stalled a little since the weather has got warmer. Spring and Summer in Australia, are probably not ideal times to be exploring hand spun, hand knit socks but when the muse strikes, we must follow. I have been logging hours of wear and hand washes for the socks and will do this for all the socks I make. In this way, I can track wear over time.
I also made a swatch sample and have been machine washing this with my regular loads. The swatch is up to its third machine wash and I am excited to report that although the stitch count has tightened by a couple of stitches over 10cm, the row count has remained the same. This is remarkable for a woollen swatch and shows how the Ryeland qualities dominate this particular fleece. My success here led me to purchase some pure Ryeland fleece which should arrive soon and I will discuss the wonders of Ryeland fleece in a subsequent post.
Remember, Tuff Socks Naturally is an open project, anyone can join in. You can share your insights and experiments too, in comments on this blog or on Mary’s blog, Local and Bespoke, or with any of us on Instagram: @rebeccaspindle, @localandbespoke or @adelemoon using hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.