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I was so inspired by the Ply Magazine sock issue I had to blend some sock fiber for myself.  I choose a blend that a customer wanted to try and I was also inspired by blends I saw in the magazine.  Mind you, I am not a sock knitter, but I appreciate hand-knit socks and understand the “wear factor” the fiber must have to make a good, rugged, yet comfy sock.

   
When I received my mill blended fiber I was not really prepared for the vast differences in the feel of the blends.  Each blend had its own character and even though I blended them in mind for a different type of sock, it actually took me by surprise.


The first blend recommended by my customer was Happy Feet, a Ramboiuillet/fake cashmere blend.  This made sense. The Ramboiullet, a medium wool and extended Merino family,  has more disorganized crimp which creates a beautiful lofty, springy and elastic yarn that  translates nicely to socks.   The staple length can be 2-4 inches and often as long as 5 inches.  This length reduces the chance of pilling and allows the yarn to be spun a bit bulkier for a super cushy sock.  The addition of the fake cashmere, which is a super soft nylon, added further strength and softness.


he next blend was Tootsies, a Dorset horn/mulberry silk blend.  This blend is a bit more coarse when compared to the two other blends due to the Dorset micron of 22 to 33, however, it is still next-to-the-skin wearable.  I choose the Dorset Horn because it is a down breed and resistant to felting. Which is good for people like me who toss handmade socks in the washer and dryer when I am in washing day mode.  I added a bit of mulberry silk to add softness and strength, measured by its tensile strength or the force it takes to break the fiber.  Did you know silk is the strongest natural fiber on earth?   That is what I am looking for in a good wearing sock, resistance to shrinking due to my absent-mindedness and hard wearing which means less mending of worn out heels and toes.


he last blend I was inspired to create was a Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) superwash/kid mohair/fake cashmere blend.  The superwash is a no brainer because it will not felt no matter what you do to it.  BFL is a finer wool and a good durable fiber that “plays well” when blended with fibers such as Kid Mohair.  BFL also holds up to intense wear and is why I chose this fiber for Das Boot. The addition of Kid Mohair and Fake Cashmere, which are also non-feltable fibers, gives the rugged BFL only more strength to be a power-house sock yarn.  


ou can make sock yarn out of any fiber you choose, but you run the risk of the sock not holding up to the wear of walking or the abrasion of slipping shoes on and off.  If I were to make a sock I would want it to last for a good, long time.  Giving some thought to the fibers, their wear and tear level and comfort factor is what makes a great sock yarn. 



Mary Egbert
Camaj Fiber Arts
The Spinning Box


Comments

  1. I am a serious sock knitter but a new spinner I think it will take quite a while for me to get good enough to spin sock yarn. Having knit over 100 pairs I can say that cashmere is one of my least favorite fibers for socks, too much pilling, even after slight wear. Yarns with lots of plys are best....at least in my experience knitting with commercial yarns and wearing them lots. I even have a pair from 10 years ago that still fit and wear well. They have slight felting on the feet.

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