Dear Readers, the open, collaborative project that is #tuffsocksnaturally– spinning, dyeing and knitting tuff socks without nylon– has led to an article by the wonderful Rebecca Marsh and myself in PLY Magazine.
PLY is a rather fabulous magazine run by Jacey Boggs, whose spinning know-how, fabulous art yarn spinning videos, book and craftsy classes the spinners among you may well have learned from. I know I have. I listened to her extraordinary podcast years ago and appreciated her blog while it lasted–both since eclipsed by Ply. Should you wish to look into Ply and read our article–needless to say it is available online here–and digital copies are one of the options for those of us far from North America, where the magazine is published. We are in the Sock Yarn Issue, Winter 2018. Winter in the other hemisphere, Australian friends!! I write from a sweaty location in sub tropical Australia where knitting socks at this time of year (because needless to say I am knitting them) even turns the heads of knitters in this heat.
This project was such fun–and only partly because socks are the best knitting projects. Mostly because Rebecca from Needle and Spindle is a fabulous, creative, generous, and wise collaborator. It has been a privilege to work with someone so gracious, experienced and farsighted. You can read her post about our article here. Without her, my spinning Suffolk would have been a preoccupation of mine without all the fun of discussion, social media, and collaborative exchange.
Meanwhile, I am knitting down leg 2 of one pair of socks and headed for the outrageous cochineal pair of tuff frankensocks-to-be depicted above.
There has been a return of my Royal Show entries. I was so unwell when I spun some of them, and had no option but to submit things already dyed rather than dye to purpose, that I was surprised to win any prize at all on these grounds–and then, there are much better spinners than me!
I applied cochineal to some of the Suffolk previously dyed with indigo in places, and to the Ryeland. The hen is a Royal Show reference–and the colour in the photo above and right is a better reflection of the cochineal than the one below…
Some time back, I decided to use up of some fibres that had been purchased years ago with specific uses in mind that no longer seem interesting to me. First, Perendale curls that I had used to create lockspun yarns. After all the sock yarn spinning I’ve done in the last six months, this was massive! I also spun up small quantities of commercially dyed merino roving but don’t seem to have taken pictures of it.
I found I also had some eucalyptus dyed batts and some carded local wool I’d prepared some time ago, and as serious fibre prep has felt beyond me in the last while, I spun them too.
I progressed on through roving in the stash to some oatmeal BFL dyed by The Thylacine and acquired from a destash a few years ago. The braids were so spectacular! I tried to maintain some of the colour changes. And I also discovered I had some Australian grown Cormo from the Tonne of Wool–most of mine went to a fine spinning competition at my Guild, but I found a little bag of odds and ends of Cormo roving and it was buttery, velvety, exquisitely soft. Also, so white I didn’t get a great photo of it!
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 on this blog or on the blog of the fabulous Rebecca at Needle and Spindle or on Instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally. It is from Rebecca that this rather beautiful fleece came to me. She gave it to me washed, with its lock formation intact in a way that I almost never manage. I am deeply grateful for this wonderful gift!
There was a day I was so keen to get spinning, I pulled this fleece from its calico bag next to the drum carder and visualised carding it. And put it back in its bag! The care and work represented by its beautiful cleansing was just too precious. In the end I decided to flick card each lock individually and spin directly from the lock, and what a lovely experience that was.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but I think I am getting better at spinning sock yarn through practising–and with such a lovely, beautifully prepared fibre and a longer, softer lock than the Suffolk, this felt a real breeze to spin. I’m really happy with this result.
Ultimately I decided to dye it in cochineal with some vinegar in hopes of heightening the red tones. And now, my friends, it has wandered off to be exhibited in the Royal Show!