I have been experimenting with creating a unique sock yarn which is swiftly and steadfastly becoming my new favorite. It is made from Peruvian Highland breed of sheep, and what I believe to be Corriedale-Merino cross wool, so the fiber has softness of Merino, but equally has crisp and sturdy properties of Corriedale fleece which was bred from a long-wool breed. Not that I have anything against Merino, it is absolutely fabulous, but it is just so delicate, and for socks I have become disenchanted by its downy structure. I want a sock yarn that is energized and holds shape with wear, sturdy with beautiful rustic appeal, and lastly that is machine washable so that I can make hiking socks for myself by the dozens and even give them as gifts and they will hold up being worn over hill & dale as well as the cycles of wash & dry. After years of sampling popular sock yarns, I am certain my Un-Spun superwash sock yarn is going to be my go-to yarn, and lately I have been practicing and streamlining my process.
Over much experimentation, I’ve pretty much got two weights; a fingering and dk weight. First, the dk weight, most rustic appeal of all I think, and knits up super fast and even fluffy. . .
As you can see, I’ve got a boot sock on the needles, knit with the dk and I believe it really is the best I could have hoped for. I seriously am enjoying the robust feel of this crispy, fluffy, soft, and complex yarn. Why do I go through all this effort? I suppose the answer is simply because I can make what I can not find. So presently I am making quite a lot of 100g skeins of the fingering weight, in many colors for when the gift giving comes around, I will have a good stash in my sock yarn drawer. Coming soon — piles of yarns and some finished socks.
The bullet points:
- Corriedale-Merino cross breed wool, and sourced from Peru. Created because I wanted a sock yarn that has rustic appeal, solid (non-gradient) heathered mix colors, and is durable.
- Two yarn weights: Fingering Superwash Sock yarn, approx 374y =100g, and DK Superwash Sock yarn, approx 252y =100g.
- I start with a base yarn Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Superwash, which is very consistently available and not too expensive. I make it by dividing the plies of the base (both bulky and worsted weights), then re-ply the singles with a lot of extra twist, and set twist with a very hot scour wash, finally thwacking aggressively and hanging dry out on the line.
- I made pages to link to from projects of my Un-Spun brand of Peruvian Sock yarns: Fingering and DK so now when I make socks and list the yarn used, there will be a nifty link with some information about it, as each has a different percentage yardage. I don’t plan on selling it, but I am interested in sharing my technique of creating it, which I really enjoy at the very least.
Shown is a skein of Un-Spun Peruvian Superwash DK, made from superwash bulky-weight Wool Of The Andes in the color “Fjord”. Now, if you are interested in trying this yourself, read further. . .
The Techy Part:
Like any handspun, this is going to take a little knowledge of spinning, just the basics, like how to recognize S-twist and Z-twist. The yarn had four plies of Z twist spun, and S twist plied. How I did it:
- First I load the bobbin on my wheel, in the spinning Z twist, unplying a little, but not all the way, so there is little S twist left.
- Once the bobbin is loaded with partly untwisted yarn, I loosen the brake tension on the bobbin so I can pull the yarn back through.
- From the end I divide the 4-plies into two strands of 2 plies, and begin winding a ball in each hand of the two 2ply yarns, while at the same time continuing still in the un-plying direction, so the yarn further un-plies as the brake is loosened, and I wind two balls, one in each hand.
- When I have divided the whole length of the bobbin, I keep one of the two balls tied on to the leader yarn as I now begin plying on to the bobbin in direction of S twist with the brake tension set so that it gets a lot of twist before it reels on to the bobbin, more than a relaxed handspun that I always have done — I mean business here, as the strength of the wear of the sock is going to depend on the final re-plied twist. When the first ball comes to the end, I either splice together or tie ends together with the other ball, and continue until both balls are on the bobbin again, full of super energized S twisted yarn!
- I wind on to my swift (in the clockwise direction, I think which relaxes the twist a little, tie, and then give a scouring hot wash, thwacked it aggressively against the side of the bathtub, and finally hang to dry.
When dry it the yarn will be wrestled into a more relaxed and well-behaved yarn, and if it then gets re-skeined a last time, the twist will relax a little more yet, but after all of that, still there will be some energy left from the super twist is always going to be in the yarn, giving extra strength and spring in your step!