Tuff Socks Naturally: Shropshire Spin

April 26, 2018

Today’s post is one in a series called Tuff Socks Naturally, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion, share pics and projects on this blog or Local and Bespoke or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.

For the Shropshire spinning for Tuff Socks Naturally, I wanted to focus on the high grist 2ply. In a recent edition of Ply Magazine, Rachel Smith (2017) from Welford Purls/Wool n’Spinning explored the application of a tightly spun, high density 2 ply for sock knitting. The enormous benefit of this yarn is that it is fast yet still durable. And when you are spinning for socks which then have to be knit and possibly dyed, time is an important consideration.

I wasn’t too happy with the high grist 2ply I made from the Ryeland, it was a little too fine, although it is wearing extremely well at this point. So I wanted the Shropshire to be a little denser. The end result is probably a little too dense than what I was after (probably a heavy fingering weight) but it is round and sturdy.

I spun these from a drum carded batt from the fleece you saw in the last post. I was careful to introduce locks into the carder in a uniform way that would preserve their direction and then spun with the direction of the locks as for worsted spinning. The Shropshire fibres are so kinky and springy it was hard to get a fine single but even after plying with lots of twist, the result is still surprisingly elastic.

For those of you curious about details, I spun the singles on a ratio of 11.5:1 at a rate of 1″ per treadle. They were plied on a ratio of 8:1 at the same rate. This gave me a yarn of 8 twists per inch and 14 wraps per inch.  Interestingly, the crimp rate was 8 crimps per inch so theoretically my yarn is has been spun to the crimp rather than at a higher twist rate. However, if I was spinning this fleece for a sweater yarn, even at same wraps per inch, I would have added less twist both for singles and plying. But this is a very dense yarn, more fibre is packed into the yarn diameter than I would usually have for a sweater yarn, so perhaps for the density of the yarn, it is tightly spun. OK enough geeky pondering now! Hopefully, I’ve made a durable sock yarn and can replicate it.


Rachel Smith, ‘A Down Breed Sock Experiment’ PLY, Issue 6, Spring 2017