Tuff socks, naturally: The project

My friend-in-blogging-and-making, Rebecca from Needle and Spindle, has had the exciting idea of a shared project on handspun socks without superwash treatment or nylon.  They would make use of the properties of breeds of sheep that were preferred for socks [by those who wearing wearing socks at all] in the swathe of human history in which nylon did not exist, superwash had not been invented, and the merino had not yet become the overwhelming giant of industrial wool production.  I give you the Suffolk!

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Adele Moon will be joining us for some sock spinning and knitting and posting. As you know, I love to knit socks, and I love to spin, and I’ve often thought I should be doing more spinning for sock knitting.  And of course, like a lot of people who read this blog, I think a lot about the industrial production of textiles and the pollution it causes, the permanence and harmfulness of plastics of all kinds (I’m considering nylon just this moment), and about the burdens of my own decisions on the earth and all who share her. There can’t be any pretence, in my case, to having all the answers; or to proving up to the challenge of making right decisions on all occasions.  I should think my readers all know that I can’t do that yet.  But I don’t think that can be a reason not to look for solutions or to make the changes we can figure out how to make.


Full solutions to the issues of pollution and plastics require change on way more than personal level.  There’s no real point, to my way of thinking, in getting overinvolved in our own feelings of self-blame or failure, on these questions. Better to keep focused on how to move forward, and how to spread awareness and action more widely.


At my place, the recently acquired Suffolk fleece will be part of the experiment.  I’ll be sharing what I know about knitting socks that last, and maybe we can spend some time on what to do when they disintegrate too!  I have begun to call in surviving socks that I hand spun and hand knit for friends and relatives so that an inventory (and some mending) can be undertaken. I’ll be spinning, and of course, dyeing with plants and knitting socks on public transport and in meetings.

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The tech minded spinners will have company in Rebecca, and there will be somewhat less well planned spinning at this blog, as you may have come to expect.  It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Feel free to offer your tips and inspirations!

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This is an open project, anyone can join in. If you are interested in being part of the Tuff Socks Naturally Project, please share your experiments or link to your project pages on this blog in post comments, or on Rebecca’s blog, Needle and Spindle, or with any of us on Instagram: @rebeccaspindle, @localandbespoke or @adelemoon and use the #tuffsocksnaturally tag.



Filed under Craftivism, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning

15 responses to “Tuff socks, naturally: The project

  1. Pingback: Tuff Socks Naturally Project: Introduction – needle & spindle

  2. Sounds great I need a new life!! Not enough time left and I can’t spin, although I can knit socks, very slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Khendra

    I can‘t wait to hear how the Suffolk socks will turn out.
    A friend of mine breeds Spaelsau sheep and says they give the best sock wool. Her son wears the socks all day in work boots and says they hold up fine. I have spun up the yarn (and had a love hate relationship with the wool during the spinning process). I two plied it and threw it in a cabinet where it has been waiting around for a year or so now. Looks like I should get it out and knit those socks at last.
    Cool project you and Rebecca thought up. I hope lots of people will join! I think I could get Suffolk wool via the internet. Maybe I will join the party, too. Winter is coming here, lots of dark evenings for spinning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fingers crossed for this yarn. It certainly is not soft the way merino is soft and I don’t think it will be suitable for all skins. I have never touched Spaelsau and would be so curious! Please do join the party ion whatever way seems to make sense. It is hard to beat hand knit socks for warmth on those long cold nights… join us!


  4. Such a beautiful sheep!
    hmmm…maybe I should finally attempt socks again.
    (but I really just want that sheep)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Whoohoo! The quest has begun. I hope you realise it was that bag of Suffolk that started this whole sock project. When I read that post, I got so excited and told anyone who would listen, and some who would not, about how you came to have so much Suffolk and its amazing potential for socks. And then I thought about the fleeces I have always wanted to try for socks. Already folks are suggesting breeds I have never even considered such as the Spaelsau that Khendra suggested above and Texel which one of my blog readers suggested. I think we are all going to have a mighty fine time with socks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did not realise, but thank you for combining your excitement and imagination with that distant fleece and coming up with such a fun project! I am hoping tonight will be a night of carding and cleaning wool ready for a third bobbin of Suffolk singles… wishing you happy times!


  6. Suffolk wool is as resilient as the sheep itself…in the UK (back in the 1990s) there was a brave should making bespoke mattresses stuffed with scoured Suffolk. I should think that would have been splendid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet those mattresses were spongy and gorgeous… but the m*ths would scare me, even after scouring! I love how springy the yarn I’ve made from Suffolk in the past feels. I am looking forward to plying and seeing how it comes up this time!


  7. I’m so excited to find other people who are exploring this! I have a pair of socks on needles for this very purpose – mine are a 70:30 gotland/Shropshire blend from the Strathbogie ranges, spun for me by a friend. They’re my first socks though, so I’ve been sitting on them ever since I reached the heel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How exciting! Don’t let the heel scare you. Just breathe deeply and follow the instructions. My first time it all seemed so mysterious. But as you watch it unfold between your fingers it us just such evidence of human ingenuity! Would you like me to post the steps next time I get to a heel? Assuming I’m doing it some way similar to the one in your pattern?


      • Thankyou! I should be OK – clare from knit share love has taught me (although that’s what freaked me out in the first place!) and I’m going to have a knitting buddy on hand when I tackle it next. I appreciate your offer of help though 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: A decent pair of socks to last – Hedgerow weaver

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