Make Your Handspun Sock Yarn Go Far
We've invited Anne Merrow, editor of Interweave's interactive sock knitting eMag, Sockupied, to share some highlights from the Fall 2013 issue of Sockupied and how spinners can put these sock patterns to best use.
The Azurea Socks by Lorilee Beltman use every inch of handspun yarn. The pattern is designed for extra stretch in the leg, perfect for ample ankles. All photos by Harper Point Photography.
Anne: If you've spun your own sock yarn, you want to use every inch to its best advantage. Even more precious than the loveliest commercial sock yarn, your very own handspun deserves to be savored in the most durable, delightful pair of socks you can imagine. So how can you make the most of that handspun skein?
1. Go toe-up.
There are plenty of good reasons to knit socks from the cuff down, but if you're trying to use every last yard, toe-up socks give you the best opportunity. In her article, "Custom Fit: Socks for Curvy Calves and Ample Ankles," Lorilee Beltman suggests winding your yarn into even balls with the help of a gram scale to make sure that you have as much yarn as possible for each sock. Spinners can go one step further and use a niddy noddy to measure out even numbers of yards for each sock—and use the scale to check the evenness of your spinning.
2. Supplement your handspun with commercial yarn.
If you only have a few yards of handspun, you can still use it for a lovely accent: as stranded colorwork, in heels and toes, or to add a contrasting cuff.
Anna Zilboorg created an ingenious method of knitting toe-up resoleable socks that allows you to remove and reknit any spot that has a hole in it. Since the yarn for the sole and the instep are separate, you can easily use handspun on the top and commercial yarn on the bottom (or a tightly spun yarn for the sole and softer skein for the instep and leg). Her Ovis Socks take advantage of the separate sole and instep to place a colorwork pattern on the top alone.
The eye-of-partridge pattern covers the entire sole as well as the toe of the Rock Paper Scissors Socks by Rae Jean, creating a cushioned and durable sole.
3. Use a reinforcing stitch.
Most sock patterns call for slipped-stitch patterns in the heel to add a little thickness and cushioning, but you can extend that reinforcing pattern to other places that need more fabric. It may use more yarn than a plain stockinette stitch, but if it helps your socks last longer, it's worth the extra yardage. The standard heel stitch and even eye-of-partridge pattern can be used along the whole bottom of the foot for extra durability. Durable socks are the gold standard for handspun sock yarn—you want your handspun socks to last longer than it took to spin them! (Just in case, it doesn't hurt to leave a little yarn for darning, either a few yards of handspun or a coordinating commercial yarn. You can also carry along a reinforcing thread for security.)
The Fall 2013 issue of Sockupied includes four toe-up (and two top-down) patterns, along with technical articles on working stripes and fitting socks for any leg size. Check it out and find new uses for your handspun sock yarn!
P.S. Do you have a skeins of swoon-worthy handspun yarn that you made that spinners everywhere must see? Submit it to our call for entries—one skein will be selected and featured on the back page of the Spring 2014 issue of Spin-Off.
P.P.S. We are looking for motivated spinners to join Team Spin-Off for Spinzilla! We will compete to see what team spins the most yarn October 7–13. Click here for info and to join our team. Deadline to join is September 23.