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21. March 2009 12:28
by Jobo
2 Comments

Captain Corriedale... and The Quest for Perfect Hand-Spun Sock Yarn

21. March 2009 12:28 by Jobo | 2 Comments

I have been sitting on a bunch of Superwash Corriedale handpainted rovings I bought about a year ago... when I was just starting to spin.  I have 2 braids of 4 oz each "Sun Ray", and a Navy blue Coordinating BFL roving of about 4 oz that I purchased from Squoosh.

I was afraid to use them at first... because of course as a new spinner, I didn't want to "Ruin" the good stuff during the learning process.  I know thats a silly view to have on things, but I know I'm not alone in that way of thinking.  I read a post on Ravelry the other day about someone else worried about ruining a perfectly good roving by not knowing what to do with it exactly.  Well, since I have been at this a year, I figured the time has come...

My  plan is to divide each yellow braid into sections and spin in long stretches of colour, then 3-ply it to make some superwash sock yarn.  My spinning has been getting better lately, more even and more consistent, so I am able to produce much more useable yarns.  I love knitting socks, so I think sock yarn was the natural choice here.

I hear that for spinning sock yarn, BFL and Corrie are considered to be good choices because: 

     * Longer wool staple

     *A little coarser fiber

I mean seriously, if you are going to all the trouble of spinning the wool, and then knitting socks with it, you want to make sure that the finished socks are at least somewhat durable in the end.  I'd be pretty sour if I got them done, wore them twice, and wore the heel out of them or something. This is a superwash fiber also, so less likely to felt or get ruined during the washing process.  I often worry that a homemade sock will accidentally make it into the dryer and get completely shrunken beyond recognition.

This fiber, though a little coarser than the Merino I have been using lately, is really really soft and squooshy (the supplier didn't lie on that one :P)  And the colours are mostly butter/lemon yellow hues with a few splashes of Blue and green (where the blue and yellow mix of course)  I'm not sure If I will use only the yellow braids, or mix in some of the plain blue braid, or maybe one of the 3 plies as completely blue. I haven't quite decided yet.  I might just spin up a bunch of the yellow first and see what it looks like.  Generally my plan changes on the fly... especially when it comes to spinning it seems.



From the reading I have done it seems that to make an ideal sock yarn, you also want to have: 

     * Worsted spinning (not Woolen)

     * tightly spun singles with lots of twist

     * multiple plies, because more plies yields more strength and durability

Naturally, since this preparation is "top" and all the fibers are already nicely aligned - worsted was a no brainer.  No fluffy airy yarns for these socks!

Also, as I am spinning this up I am trying to add a bit more twist than I usually would, to get a more solid single, and hopefully a more solid and practical yarn.  This is kind of funny to be working on, since all along I have been trying to put in less spin!  My first yarns were very much overspun and almost wiry, so I was trying to learn to lighten up the spin to achieve softer loftier yarns.  I guess it's true how we have to learn and unlearn our so called bad habits.  I have been trying so hard to spin smoother thinner singles, I probably couldn't spin a thick bumpy one if I tried.  Someday when I want to make novelty or thick and thin yarns, I will have to learn all over again to make those newbie errors that it took me so long to forget!

I chose 3-ply simply because I have done this before and it seems to work out okay for me.  I think if I were to try for 4-ply my singles are still a little too fat.  I think after more practice though I could handle this.  The last 3-ply sock yarn I did was nice, and I am having fun working on a mystery project with them (to be posted when finished and photographed).  I also decided against using a Navajo 3-ply after reading the opinions of several Ravellers who mentionned that Navajo doesn't seem to stand up to wear as well since the 3 plies are running back and forth up the shaft of the yarn, not all in the same direction like traditional 3-ply.  I have made socks with navajo plied yarn, and I didn't find any problems, but they are nowhere near being worn out yet... so who knows.  I have lots of time to work on this project, and could definetly use some practice with multiple ply yarns, so I will consider this a kind of experiment as I go.

More pics to come post-spinning :)

Comments (2) -

It looks like a colorful and awesome. .

Great writeup.. I guess you summed it all up.. Cheers

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