Tag Archives: bamboo

Handspun socks in use 1 & 2 PLUS Knitting in a patch

I thought one thing I could do to complete the feedback loop on the toughness or otherwise of my sock spinning would be to ask people I’ve given handspun socks to whether they could return them for inspection.  One of the hard things about the fact that I–gasp–can no longer wear handknit socks, is that I don’t have the capacity to see and feel for myself how my handspinning fares in daily wear inside a shoe or boot.  In return for people showing me how their socks have worn, I’m offering to mend socks that come back to me to close the feedback loop.  So if you happen to be reading this and you think you have a pair of handspun, handknit socks I gave you, bring them in and if they need darning, I’ll do the honours!

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I think it is worth considering the question of wear.   It is a striking feature of most conversations I have with people about how hand knit items are wearing, that they feel they need to apologise if something I knit has worn out or worn through.  I don’t think so.  Sometimes it is obvious enough that the fault was with the spinning or knitting or fibre choice (so if anyone should apologise it should be me; or perhaps there could be shared acknowledgement of how wonderful the alpaca socks felt, but that they were never destined to last decades).  On the whole, though, I tend to think that it is rather flattering that people like things I made enough to wear them until they fall apart.  And unless I know what happened to them, sometimes I am not in a position to learn what might make me a better sock spinner (for example).  Nylon is permanent, it will never biodegrade, and therefore we should think seriously before we use it.  But the flip side of this recognition is awareness that socks without nylon will not wear as well as those with nylon.  There is a reason it came into use in the context of socks.  And–now that I have lived long enough to understand how a plastic bag will “degrade” into squillions of little bits of plastic, I think it may be time for a thoroughgoing recognition that when your #tuffsocksnaturally wear out they will biodegrade, so the compost or the worms can take them, especially if you dyed thoughtfully too.

But I digress.  This sock came home recently with only one hole!  I made these socks a little over a year ago (follow the link for details),  so they have not had a huge amount of wear.  But the hole was quite big, and clearly resulted from the fabric wearing right through in a large area. Given the fact that the other sock had not worn through in the same place, I’d say there was a weak patch in the fabric, likely caused in this case by the blending of the fibres (Suffolk, mohair and silk) being uneven, or by the spinning being on the thin side, or underplied.  I decided on a knit-in patch rather than a darn.  So I picked up stitches at the base of the heel flap (above) and began to knit, joining on by picking up a stitch on each side of the patch each row, and knitting it together with the edge stitch of the patched section.  The under-heel section will be thicker than the surrounding fabric, and the patch is generous, but I think under the heel is about the least sensitive place to put a patch and clearly reinforcement is needed!

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To finish the patch, I picked up the same number of stitches , knit right up to them, and grafted them together (kitchener stitch, if you prefer).  If you’d like to see that mending strategy again, I’ve blogged it before here and here (on cardigans) and here (another pair of socks!)

Another pair of handspun and handknit socks came home the same day.  These had two tiny, neat darns in red thread, a lovely application of visible mending (and I think I found the remainder of the skein in my stash subsequently, which may explain the yarn choice another way).  One darn was up by the cuff, where it may have been a breach in the spinning or perhaps a munch from a m*th.  The other is here on the toe, where wear is to be expected, in my view.  All our feet (and shoes) are different, of course!

 

I found the post about knitting these socks here.  They were knit in 2014 and have gone from son to mother in their lifetimes thus far.  And yest so little obvious wear??

I spun them from… Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon blend.  I bought it at a spinning workshop as the recommended blend for sock spinning, and did a class on spinning for socks.  the other thing I note with interest is that I knit them on 2.75 mm needles.  I think that was partly because the yarn was finer than I anticipated, but it dies also suggest a  finer gauge than my usual, and that is another long-wearing-sock-strategy handed down through the ages. So–the combination of nylon content, tight gauge, machine prepared fibre and handspinning produced a higher wear sock–but not a nylon-free sock, and let’s not pretend that industrially produced bamboo fibre is kind to the environment–though I do assume it would biodegrade at least.  So there you have it!  My first two worked examples of handspun handknit socks in wear for review.  What are you learning from reviewing your spinning and knitting?

 

 

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Mending

There has been less mending this winter because after the attack of the m*ths last year, stringent measures have been taken round here. M*th proof storage and pheromone sticky traps, and a cleaning programme that gets into the corners.  This is the first mend I’ve needed to make to a woollen undergarment this season, and this garment is years old and has seen a lot of wear.  It’s underwear, so I decided to trial an external patch, as well as an internal patch.  The internal patch was almost invisible from the outside. Here’s the outside view of the external patch:

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Silkymerino eucalyptus-print patch sewn on with eucalyptus dyed silk thread… and here is the inside–interior patch on the left and exterior patch on the right.

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I also have a favourite T shirt.  It’s a fine bamboo shirt with a design by the wonderful Nikki McClure. It has worn some small holes in front.  In the region of the belly button (or perhaps the belt buckle), to be exact!  Hence the trial of internal and external patching.  Conclusion: a feature external patch in this location… will not be flattering when the garment is on, though it could look great if it wasn’t actually on me!  The patched place is at the centre bottom of this image, looking slightly puckered.

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Here is the inside view–silkymerino stitched with madder dyed cotton/silk thread.  The little holes show red and so do all the tiny stitches… so there is a little speckled area on the front of the shirt.  In the spirit of the visible mending programme, this patch is visible… but not too visible!  And I personally will enjoy the internal view.

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And… some rough and ready patching on my gardening jeans has also been needed.  The second knee finally gave way.

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And when I went to mend the knee, one of the back pockets pulled away from the seat.  Better than this happening while I’m out on the street!  I decided against anything fancy because there isn’t much left in the way of strong fabric in these jeans any more–the hem has worn right through, the belt loops are pulling away from the waistband, and the next pair in the queue are more than ready for a permanent move to gardening wear.  In the meantime, some reinforcement on the inside and some machine darning over the most threadbare section will keep them going awhile longer…

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Handspun socks

Once upon a time there was a braid of Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon blend, especially for sock spinners from Ewe Give Me The Knits, who surely wins a prize for business name.  I spent many an hour, some more patient than others, turning it into 100g of handspun three ply (for those who knit but do not spin, I mean there are three strands going into the final yarn, not that it is finer than ‘fingering’ or ‘4 ply’), high-twist yarn.  There is a previous post about the spinning part.  Fibre selection and spinning strategy were both focused on producing sock yarn.

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In my experience, if I want to produce a fine yarn, especially one with three plies, I have to make sure the singles are really fine.  In this case I went with ‘as fine as possible’, pretty much.  The comments at Guild touched on ‘frog hair’, though needless to say there are some serious fine spinners in the Guild, and I’m not one of them.  Here is my yarn beside some 4 ply (fingering) sock yarns I’ve knit into socks using 3 mm needles.

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Closer… I think my yarn is on the thin side compared to the 4 ply (fingering) yarn I usually would use to knit socks, so I went down a needle size to 2.75 mm (oooh—) and cast on!

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With yarn and needles as fine as any I’ve ever used, this took a little while.  Quite a while.  But in the end… these went off to warm the toes of my fairy godson–and yesterday I sighted them peeking out between his shoes and his jeans as we all pedalled into town to see a fabulous exhibition and talk about political printmaking in South Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. I feel very deeply blessed to have precious friends who appreciate handmade things so fulsomely.

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There are never too many socks or too many friends to knit socks for…

Another pair of socks reached completion on the weekend.  Their final moments happened at a long lunch, on a farm, where–I admit–my knitting was much commented on but did not seem to offend.  Two more sets of slippers were negotiated over lunch, and it was a truly lovely afternoon. I took a picture of my sock-in-progress on the table, a la Yarn Harlot

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And the finished socks are ready.  The friend for whom they are intended is a big repairer and recycler.  One of the biggest I know, which is saying quite a lot.  She’s coming around to finish up rehabilitating a table this week, and when I saw her on the weekend she showed off some pretty wonderful jeans mending.  When I told her about my Mum’s favourite way to mend jeans, she knew that method already and had tried it on sheets.  Say no more.  You can’t talk the pros and cons of different mending strategies with just anyone.  She is a sister!  If she can’t already darn, she’ll want to learn, and I am one of the keepers of the skill for future generations–only too happy to teach her.  [I’ve asked now, and can confirm she already knows how to mend]. So, her ball of darning wool is right there ready to add into the small pile of woolly goodness that is soon to be hers.

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The yarn is locally dyed by Kathys Fibres–wool/bamboo/nylon, autumn colourway.

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More socks for happy feet

More socks were completed over the end of year break. These are for my daughter, who got to try them out for fit and taste while we were visiting–and what a pleasure it was to be visiting!

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The pattern is Jaywalker, by Grumperina, and the yarn is Kathys Fibres Wool/Bamboo/Nylon Sock in Stained Glass.  Jaywalker is not a very stretchy stitch pattern, but it is simple to memorise, a couple of stitch markers make it easy to execute, and it is dramatic in a suitable colourway.  I always love wearing them myself.  I thought the yarn called out for something more than a simple rib.  The lary colours raised eyebrows while they were in progress… but it’s all a question of what the recipient will enjoy, and hopefully she will enjoy these for years to come.

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The spinning continues

Unfortunately, it has been a time of illness and low energy round here just lately.  Fortunately, spinning provides solace and the level of exercise I’ve been capable of undertaking.

Here, some delicious black baby alpaca I bought from SpunOut at Bendigo (three plied).  It is called Handspinners Dream and, mmmm.  It was! Luxury fibre with a price tag to match.

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I also finished some spinning intended as sock yarn–the purple yarn in the photo.  It is a true three ply yarn with high twist.  I spun it slowly since it has been on the wheel I take to the Guild only twice a month.  There have been many jokes about frog hair, and more than one person has asked me if I am really spinning, because the singles were so fine they couldn’t be seen from across the hall.  I will be so interested to see how this works out as  socks.  Despite all the joking, this is not too fine for sock knitting.  Since I have three pairs of socks on my needles at present and all three are still in the first sock stage, I may not find out for a while.  I have one still on the leg, one just past the heel and still on the gusset, and one almost at the toe.

Back to spinning though–and that is where my time has been spent lately–the purple sock yarn is from Ewe Give Me the Knits.  It’s her Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon blend, especially for sock spinners.  Another lovely spinning experience.  I am warming up to spinning some of the fleece I’ve washed through summer after all this pre-prepared fibre.

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After Bendigo

Last year I went to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show with a friend.  We had a great time, and I spent plenty!  Just recently I decided to spin some of the prepared fibre I bought there.  This is grey merino/llama/silk dyed by the Thylacine in Evandale.  It was luscious to spin and inspired me to get back to dyeing over grey fleece. I chain-plied it to maintain distinct colours.

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I bought some Raxor batts: Corriedale x English Leicester and Blue-faced Leicester in ‘Before dawn’.  Clearly also from my grey period.  I core spun these over a crossbred grey wool core. The pink skein is chain plied merino/bamboo dyed ‘berry lush’ from Kathys Fibres.  All a delight to spin.

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