We visited a friend recently and of course, I was knitting away as we chatted. I explained about the tuff socks naturally project and she brought out her entire sock drawer in which there were quite a few pairs knit by my own hands, some of which I don’t remember knitting! There was just one hand spun pair, and they were quite recent. Here they are finished in mid 2017. They look very lightly worn indeed though she assures me she has been wearing them. No signs of wear at all on this as-yet-young pair of tough knits. Hopefully that speaks to the qualities of a suffolk/mohair/silk blend…
Tag Archives: kid mohair
I keep forgetting, or simply not finding the time to post. Apologies, gentle readers. I’ve needed the making more than I’ve been inclined to post about it this last while. But I’ve been spinning Malcolm’s Kangaroo Island “black” Merino cross (left), and leftover batts of local Finn cross (right) and clearly there was a day when they posed with leaves and flowers…
When we were at Marion Bay (cough) I carded a lot of wool, and did some blending.
But I’ve also spun up all manner of wool dyed previously, including the last of the earth palette dyed wool. There was a request for bulky yarn from one friend in particular. She’s managing the state of the world by knitting a lot of beanies and gauntlets. So I sent more yarn. And there was some very pale woad dyed wool that went into a vat with soursobs I weeded at someone else’s house.
But the big excitement is the Suffolk/Silk/Kid Mohair blend for #tuffsocksnaturally. The last of which is in the dyepot with some leaves on the day I am drafting this post. To be continued…
Some time back, I embarked upon creating sock yarn from scratch, beginning with scouring, dyeing and combing raw local Suffolk fleece. If you missed the early, exciting stages (yes, that is a joke!) here is a post about the wool. Here is one of multiple dye adventures. And the spinning went on at intervals over some months. It’s hard to make incremental progress in spinning fun with photos!
Here is the first sock being knit at a coffee shop after exercise class, overseen by a dog.
Here is the second sock, almost done on the weekend when I cooked for many friends planting 500 trees on land two of our friends (and their two children, as they grow) are reclaiming, rehabilitating and revegetating with a degree of care, thought, vision and commitment that is awesome to behold. I was just too scared of back re-injury to plant. So made myself a bit useful kitchen handing. In between times, I knit and chatted with small folk. I even did the hilarious feat of walking while knitting.
It was hard to photograph the socks really well. But there are some nice colours in there!
And I am a sucker for the ingenuity of the heel arrangement. The socks have whimsical cables, which puzzled some onlookers and delighted others. And they are in no way twins, which likewise puzzled and affronted some while pleasing others very much. I’ll be honest, this is not exactly what I intended. But you know–they are fine! And headed to a happy new home as I type. They will be snug, and hopefully, made as they are from a suffolk/silk/mohair blend and dyed with plants and cochineal–strong and colourful both. And–there is enough for another pair, perhaps with a toe that, in this context, will not stand out if knit from a different yarn altogether–the finished socks weigh 101g and 89g remains…
Classically, a hand spun sock yarn is made with a combed, rather than carded, preparation of fibres. I started out with my kilogram of Suffolk fleece, and divided it up. Some has been dyed with legacy unnatural dyes and some with plant dyes. I started in on combing some wool dyed in shades of blue and green. I dyed some tussah silk along with the wool (the silk did not take the dye well at all), and have local kid mohair that is plain natural white, and some that has been dyed with dyers’ chamomile, and some I bought dyed by the seller in shades of blue and purple. I am blending in the silk and mohair for strength and durability.
I have ‘English’ combs. I am not sure what makes them English (they were made here in Australia)–I am sure there is a historical reason for the name. But they are vicious looking things. When I take them to Guild, there are always onlookers commenting on the fiendish tines. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a Guildie who can offer me advice on better use. This seems to be a minority preoccupation at my Guild, or perhaps I’ve just been unlucky. So. Step 1 is ‘lashing on’, loading the stationary comb with fibres.
Step 2 involves combing the fibres off that comb and onto the other. Done!
Now, transferring the fibres back to the stationary comb. It could go on… but this is the extent of my patience at this point.
Then, pulling off ‘top’ through a diz. I do love spinning terminology! This produces a preparation in which the fibres are in alignment, ready to be spun into a dense, hard wearing yarn.
Some of my top shows that I tried to blend fibres of different lengths. This is a vice to be avoided in combing. Combing does a great job of removing short fibres (and burrs and grass seeds…) but if the fibres are of differing lengths, the top will have (in my case) all mohair–the longest fibre–at one end and wool predominating in the middle, with the shortest silk fibres predominating at the other end. I cut some of the kid mohair locks in half (another spinning crime!) to resolve this issue in some cases, and in others, spun top from both ends to blend the fibres as I spun them up.
And here is the finished skein. It is abut 5 ply (fingering), a little thicker than many sock yarns–but after my last effort, where I produced something thinner than sock yarn and have been too overcome to knit it up–I think that is OK. I have chain plied it, which is not strictly speaking recommended for durability–but this seems to be a much debated point and I chose colour happiness over potentially reduced durability on this occasion. So–I am not quite ready for the knitting to begin, but I am getting closer. One sock down to the toe on the current pair in progress…