Dyeing and knitting Suffolk socks

This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion, share pics and projects on this blog or the glorious Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.

Once upon a time there was some raw Suffolk fleece.  And then, it was spun into a 3 ply yarn.  And then, it met several eucalyptus dye baths… and then a nice gentle soaking rinse or three…

A series of small skeins arose.

They were weighed and wound into balls by hand and prepared for hand knitting. This picture captures the colours best, I think.

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There was knitting on public transport.

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there was knitting on the road to Warrnambool.

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There was knitting on the way back.

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And finally… on a day so overcast as to leach colour from the knitting:

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There were socks long enough to go all the way to the top of a gumboot (wellington, galosh) on a chilly morning feeding donkeys.  These socks are bound for a lovely friend who keeps a small farm with a lot of chickens and some rescue donkeys.  She had some specific requirements!  She wasn’t the least bit concerned about socks that would not be silky soft.

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On top of the 3 ply, Suffolk yarn with high twist (and on the thick side for socks), I reinforced heels and toes with silk/cotton thread.  I dyed some in eucalyptus but underestimated how much I was going to need.  When I ran out while on the road (to dye camp!) I wasn’t prepared to stop.

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I think the reality about these socks is that they have been knit at a dense gauge that will hopefully result in long wear even in a gumboot, but it is not very stretchy!

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8 Comments

Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning

8 responses to “Dyeing and knitting Suffolk socks

  1. I love them! Hopefully they will last long 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh gorgeous socks, wonderful colours, I wish I wish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And–it’s only about choices, Penny. You might just sew or walk on the beach instead, and that isn’t a problem, is it? It’s a different form of happiness.

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  3. Rebecca

    I am in absolute awe that not only have the socks been spun from fleece but dyed and reinforced as well! Habe you tried that kind of reinforcing before? How was the Suffolk to spin and knit? I am struggling to get my spinning fine enough for a true sock yarn, are you finding this too? Brilliant addition to the Tuff Socks Naturally stable.

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    • Thanks, Rebecca! The Suffolk is coarser than some fleeces I spin, and a lot shorter. But this Kangaroo Island fleece is longer stapled than other Suffolk I have encountered and it sure does make a springy yarn, and no sign of felting in washing at all. I took a lot of pictures when I was skirting and washing it so perhaps I should create a post about prep as you did with the Shropshire. To be honest, I think I prefer dealing with not-so-fine fleeces. I have tried this reinforcing strategy before but not long enough ago to have a lot of feedback. This yarn is thicker than your average commercial sock yarn, so the answer to your question should probably be an emphatic YES. But once I spun 200g of roving into a 3 ply sock yarn and it was too fine! I don’t think that would be possible [for me] with the Suffolk batts. Nothing defeats my intentions for hard wearing sock yarn more readily than superfine yarn.

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