Friday, May 29, 2009

Almost Like the Real Thing

All that outdoor spinning (but no sunburn, please) has done its magic. I've managed to produce something very like a skein of three-ply sock yarn. It's far from perfect, but for the first time spinning sock yarn, I have to admit it's not bad.

It looks like I will actually be able to make a pair of socks from it. I counted 338 yards, though I haven't finished the yarn yet by washing it. When it goes in the hot water bath, that yardage may well shrink down to 300 or so.

But if I knit the legs on the shorter side, it should be enough. And I do still have a little fiber left over. I do my best to divide the spinning evenly among the bobbins. But somehow when I ply, one always runs out first, leaving some extra singles left on the other bobbins. So in a pinch, I could get a few yards more out of what's left.

I'm also happy with the weight of the yarn. Once I got used to spinning those skinny little singles, and they weren't falling apart, I managed to spin the yarn a little finer than my initial samples. So it may even work for inside-the-shoes socks rather than scuff-cozily-around-the-house socks. I can't say what the wraps-per-inch are, since I haven't measured them. (When I try to, I'm never confident about whether I'm squeezing the yarn together too tightly or letting it spread out too much. So I confess, that tends to sap my enthusiasm for collecting that particular bit of data. Wondering if the number I'm getting is complete nonsense just seems to have that effect on me. For some reason.) But just by holding my newborn yarn up to some commercial skeins of sock yarn, I can tell it's in the right sock-weight ballpark. When I get around to knitting it, the gauge will tell me for sure.

Here you can see that it's not actually as highly twisted as one might like for a strong, durable sock yarn. With this spinning project, I definitely learned more about assessing how the twist is going to come out. I was testing it by letting a little strand double back on itself once in a while during the spinning, but it turns out I have to be a little more careful about how I hold it to get an accurate reading.

It should be okay anyway, though. This fiber (it's called Sockables II, from Little Barn) won't be like 100% merino wool that has to be very tightly spun for socks to stand up to moderate wear. It's is a blend containing 25% mohair (the yarn has a touch of fuzziness if you look closely) and 75% Blue-Faced Leicester wool. Mohair is supposed to provide a lot of strength in a sock yarn. It should go a long way toward compensating for imperfect twist.

So I'm proud to have done reasonably well in my first attempt at spinning sock yarn, but there's one thing that still does bother me a little. It's the color. It's not that it's a bad color. It's a nice denim-y blue, and my friends have been telling me how well it will go with jeans. To me, though, it just seems a little blah. It seems like after all this, these socks ought to look a little more special than "goes with jeans." Especially my first-ever handspun pair.

Never mind. I've got some ideas. :)


Robin said...

Pretty color!

Bess said...

ooo. Yummy. I don't think it's blah at all but I also understand how one might want her first sock yarn to be even more exciting. Can't wait to see what your ideas produce.