The focus of the October program was socks. Topics discussed were spinning sock yarn, choosing sock yarn, and knitting socks.
Sarah Humke led the discussion about spinning sock yarn. Her important points are listed below:
- Choose a fiber that is not itchy or scratchy.
- Avoid very soft fibers.
- Blending wool with nylon, silk, or mohair can improve its strength.
- Make at least a three ply yarn for comfort and wear.
- Spin a consistent yarn–thin spots will wear faster.
- Use a tight twist for spinning and plying.
- Balance strength with elasticity.
Sarah cautioned us that just because a commercial yarn is labeled “sock yarn,” it is not necessarily a good yarn for knitting socks. Inspect the yarn to insure it falls into the guidelines mentioned above. If you will be washing your socks in the washer, use superwash wool. Think about how your socks will be used. You will spin or choose different types of yarn for socks worn with hiking boots than socks worn to bed.
There are just about as many ways of knitting socks as there are knitters, and the sock knitters in attendance shared some interesting tips.
- For those who dread turning the heel, an afterthought heel might be a good alternative.
- To get a better fit, try a knit one purl one rib for the instep.
- Help make your socks last longer by washing them inside out.
- Instead of reinforcing the heel and toe with a strand of nylon, use a stronger yarn instead. The thread could be uncomfortable and cut through the softer yarn.
- To avoid “second sock syndrome,” try knitting two socks at the same time.
- Think of the parts of the sock as being interchangeable. Take what you like from different patterns.
Do you knit your socks top down or toe up? Do you use double pointed or circular needles? Do you knit one sock at a time or two? Each knitter has his/her own preference, but we can all agree on this: hand-knitted socks are the best.