knit | spin

Tuff Socks Naturally: Second Sock

November 14, 2017

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.


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  1. So excited to see how this all works out, Rebecca! I am onto my third Suffolk/silk/kid mohair single so will have yarn sometime soon. I am pre-drafting the batts I made, to maximise the fibres running in parallel despite the carded preparation. I have been wondering whether to swatch up and send my swatches to you so they all get the same treatment…

    1. It is getting very exciting Mary!! Good idea with the pre drafting…I have really got to try the drum carding thing…I have never done it. Yes, brilliant, send me the swatches and I can keep machine washing them and see what happens. You should be able to get one in a letter envelope for $1.

  2. That was great, what an inquiring mind 🙂 My sister just sent me 3 pairs of socks for my B-day so I am good to go! Am going to work on a 2 ply for a Hap. You gals GO and educate us all!

    1. So glad you are enjoying this adventure Freyalyn, you can participate at any point, with advice, with questions or your own experiments. I have a feeling there will be no precise end point with this adventure, so the options are wide open.

  3. Yeah, mohair for reinforcing toe and heal! I’ve been doing it for years using yearling or adult fiber. And it works great. Also had a friend who knitted it in on the entire bottom of the foot and swore by it. She spent a lot of time on her feet as a sheep shearer. Great information on the Ryland with results of washing and wear. Ah, yes, if we could only have more time for our craft . . . thanks for sharing.

    1. Phew! Thanks Marilyn, I am glad I am on the right track with the mohair. I was worried it was going to be too hairy as it wasn’t kid. Reassured by your experiences, I shall forge ahead.

  4. This is inspirational! I’ve been trying to move to all natural fibre clothing for a while, but underwear (socks, undies, bras) are hard! I had never heard that there was wool that didn’t felt, which is opening up new possibilities in my mind. I’m not a spinner, and haven’t until now attempted knitting socks, but this project is making me wonder about seeking out wool to join in.

    I particularly admire your wear logging. Now that’s dedication! Thanks so much for doing this and sharing it so we can all learn together!

    1. Dear Bec, What a wonderful quest you are on. I agree socks, undies and bras are hard. Bras seem to be a complete speciality area all on their own. With the right fibres, socks are a most doable wardrobe addition. Check out Knit Share Love website, Claire is exploring Tuff Socks Naturally with knitting yarns rather than spinning fibres. She is having lots of success with a yarn from Blacker Yarns. And yes, please do join us and share your experiments.

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