I have finished my first pair of handspun, handknit socks – these are made with the Southdown fiber from the Sheepspot Fiber Club:
Regular readers will know that I was worried about running out of yarn, but as you can see, I finished with a tiny bit of reserve (a mere 3 grams). The finished socks weigh 91.3 grams. I used the garter rib pattern on my standard top-down sock with an eye-of-partridge heel.
I gave them a bath with some hair conditioner (as suggested by Whatzitknitz) and I think these will be a lot more comfortable than I initially thought. I am certainly eager to try them – though I think spring is really, truly here now and I have missed my window until next fall.
The most recent issue of PLY magazine is all about down and down-like breeds (like Southdown), and I was especially interested in Rachel Smith’s article called “A Down Breed Sock Experiment: 2-ply versus 3-ply.” She found the 3-ply handspun sock yarn to be more difficult to knit on small needles – as I did, especially on the heel flap. She was happier working with the 2-ply yarn, and also felt that the sock fabric draped better. BUT THEN… she did the “intensive month of wear” experiment, and her 2-ply handspun socks completely disintegrated. The 3-ply socks survived the experiment, which included daily hard wear inside boots and machine washing every two days. Despite being uncomfortable to knit, they were very comfortable to wear. I hope this is true for my socks, as well… but you’ll have to wait 6 months to find out! (There is a second round of experimentation in the article which is equally interesting, but I won’t reveal that… you should get your hands on the magazine and read the whole account.)
Did you know that down and down-type breeds are supposedly felt resistant? There is a whole article about that in PLY magazine, too. A skeptical writer spun and knit a lot of swatches, and put them through their paces in a washing machine. It seems that the true downs are the most felt-resistant. I’ll be keeping my eye open for down breed fiber (or… even a fleece?!??) at MDSW next month.
After years of knitting socks with millspun yarn, this project was especially satisfying. Boy 1 seemed especially impressed, so he will probably be the recipient of my next pair of handspun, handknit socks.