This post arises from a pair of socks I just recently finished, in time for the birthday of my beloved fairy-goddess-son. They started off with a gifted yarn, Noro Taiyo S69. It’s cotton-wool-polyamide-silk. Something in me just loves a gift from my beloved becoming a gift to our ever growing and beloved friend. Here we are at the start, on the beach.
Casting on. If you look carefully you’ll see that the colour effects for which Noro are famous must be achieved by spinning, while in many other commercial yarns they are achieved by dyeing after the yarn has been spun.
Here I am making a little progress watching other people swim, unable to remember why I didn’t bring my bathers. Noro is a Japanese yarn company justly famous for the colours it uses and its selection of yarns that feature a sequence of long, changing colours. As a person who loves knitting socks from their yarn (whilst always thinking that the fibre miles involved mean I should never do it again), I think the experience offers some tips for the spinner who may wish to create her or his own sock yarn.
On a beach, at a picnic, on holiday. Home grown basil and backyard hen eggs!
Lesson 1: Three plies? Why bother? Noro sells at least two sock yarns that are unplied singles, and this is one of them. Everything I have learned about how to create one’s own sock yarn suggests that a minimum of three singles should be tightly plied together to create a tough sock yarn.
Lesson 2: Knots? What is the problem with knots? Spinners really try to create one continuous thread. Novice spinners curse when their thread snaps and requires a splice of some kind when plying. Noro seems not to care. You can be knitting away and find a knot right in the middle of a colour sequence. It isn’t joined up to continue the colour sequence you expected, either. The knot might join two colours together abruptly and disrupt any repeat colour sequence completely. As happened twice in this ball!
Lesson 3: Vegetable matter–just accept it. Spinning is a craft that should not be taken up by the squeamish. If you are going to process raw fleece, get your tetanus booster and set out squick meter to low, because any minute you will be dealing with grass seeds, chaff, burrs, seeds, dead beetles, sheep manure, mud and, umm, things you can’t identify… and that might be for the best. Once I removed a dead mouse from a fleece I was processing. Hand spinners try to remove this vegetable (and animal) matter from our yarn. So does Noro. But Noro sometimes fails, and so do hand spinners.
Lesson 4: Unpredictable colour changes can be perfect. When I am knitting Noro, there are always times when I just LOVE the colours. And other times when I wonder how much longer I will be knitting this unpleasant grey shade of mauve. Perhaps I should be less judgmental of my own colour choices. Would I apply the same scheme of judgments?
Lesson 5: Evenness is overrated. In a Noro yarn, some sections will be at least double or three times the thickness of others, and slubs are a constant. I still love knitting Noro, and perhaps I could take the same attitude to any yarns I make that are uneven or slubby?
Alert readers will have begun to suspect that I have a plan to spin sock yarn this year. This is the only way I’ll have locally sourced fibres or naturally dyed socks, or even both at once. More soon!