Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Fancy Not-Silk Socks

Fancy Not-Silk Socks

Aren't they just beauteous! It's the Fancy Silk Sock pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, knit in Araucania Ranco Solid. It's a perfect match of yarn and pattern. The yarn did give me some trouble when I was winding it, as did the other color that I also bought. I know it wasn't me, so either it was a weird batch, or they just do something really weird when winding their hanks which makes it hard to not get in a knotted mess when you ball it up. But I'm glad I persevered, because the yarn was worth it in the end. So let this be a warning -- the yarn is worth trying, but don't try to wind it when your patience or time is short.

And speaking of yarn that has its issues, how about a yarn with genuine issues, not just superficial winding issues? These socks were knit out of some of my earliest handspun. I have learned a lot since spinning that yarn, and one of the things I've learned is that sometimes there really can be too much of a good thing. The "good thing" in this case was twist. The yarn was spun and plied so tightly that it was very difficult to work with. It was simultaneously too ropey and too springy, coiling back on itself every chance it had. I was concerned that the socks would be garbage, but they actually turned out pretty nicely. At the very least, they should last longer than the cockroaches. (Wait, cockroaches will survive a nuclear Armageddon, but now we're all doing to die from Swine Flue or food shortages caused by global warming, right? Do cockroaches survive those things? Hmm.)

socks for Mom!

For all my complaining about my handspun, I like the socks, and I sent them to my mom. The yarn, by the way, is superwash merino. Indestructible, solid superwash merino, perhaps as dense as the center of a planetary body.

The antithesis of the superwash that is trying to pose as the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is polwarth. Polwarth is a soft and incredibly springy wool, mostly found (if I am correct) in Australia and New Zealand. David, over at Southern Cross Fibre, sells a lot of Polwarth, all dyed in the most perfect Australia-themed colorways. I think this colorway is called Uluru.


polwarth for Alex

It ended up as a sportweight yarn, even though I was aiming for fingering. It's one of those fibers that poofs up to something larger, no matter how thin you think you're spinning it. I'm not complaining, because the resulting yarn is incredibly soft and lofty, and the yardage I got from this skein, which was spun worsted style (short forward draw) was akin to what I'd get spinning woolen longdraw. Here are the socks I made from it, for Alex:

handspun socks for Alex

handspun socks for Alex

While I play blogger-catchup, I realize that I may not write about all the details I'd usually include. Stuff like wraps per inch, and exact yardage and weight for handspun, might get left out. But I have been pretty good about logging all that information in Ravelry, so if you're ever curious about the exact details of a yarn or knitting project, please check over there. My handspun can be found here and my knitting projects can be found here. I in no means plan to have Ravelry replace the blog, but I just want to let the geeks who want to know all the details have access to them, in case I leave things out on the blog. (Which I know I've done in this post.)

I have so much to post about. I made a list, with enough content for 5 meaty posts, including this one. Next up (I think): a couple of handspun scarves, spinning for lace, and a hat pattern preview.


Anonymous barefoot rooster said...

hi there -- i recently acquired a wheel, and have enjoyed many of your posts, both here and on ravelry, focusing on technique/approach. (so inspiring!) that polwarth is fantastic -- lovely and manly at the same time.

6/10/2009 6:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome socks! I need to get more polwarth. And finn. And alpaca/merino/silk... and... crap... oh right, and the 40 lbs of roving should be coming back in a few weeks...

6/10/2009 9:20 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Yay socks! I have a skein of handspun just like you describe the purple one, but I can't finish knitting mine because it hurts my hands too much. I'd rather give up some handspun than the ability to spin more!

The Polwarth socks are particularly nice.

6/11/2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger knithound brooklyn said...

Hi! I am so glad to see your post. I too am following your spinning progress on Ravelry. The blue socks are truly inspiring to me, given that many of my new yarns are overspun, kinky messes. Maybe they WILL be socks too!

6/11/2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger Janis said...

Wow, I love that polwarth, especially since it is called Uluru (the colors are spot on as well). Now I'm worrying about my first handspun sock yarn having too much twist.

6/11/2009 12:09 PM  
Blogger Shaina said...

Another note on Ranco, on the chance that it may save one of your readers some strife: don't cut the yarn that's holding the tag! It's part of the skein! You have to cut or rip the tag itself or your yarn will end up in two pieces. When I worked at a LYS I heard of a lot of people learning that the hard way.

I think my Ranco tangled when I wound it too. It's so wonderful that I can forgive it, though...

6/12/2009 12:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Those purplish-blue socks look heavenly!

6/12/2009 8:26 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

I am glad I visited your blog today, it reminded me to spin! Love the socks, the colour is nice.

6/15/2009 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gorgeous yarn you've spun! The Araucania Ranco Solid did the same for me. I was winding three skeins of it and went half mad by the end. It is lovely yarn though.

6/17/2009 1:06 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I love those Australian colors. The socks you made with that handspun are a great match of yarn and pattern. I love the colors of your blue handspun, too.

6/18/2009 8:53 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


6/19/2009 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

All the socks are gorgeous! Those pink socks made my heart skip a beat—I'm coveting…


6/24/2009 11:03 AM  
Blogger Susie said...

Love those pink socks!

6/25/2009 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom pic of those socks is just delicious! Amazing colors.

7/28/2009 12:46 PM  
Anonymous flyngmunky said...

that handspun polworth is absolutely gorgeous! thanks for sharing your beautiful work.

12/02/2009 10:01 PM  

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