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 What fiber blends make the best socks?
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KinneyM
New Pal

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2012 :  09:01:54 AM  Show Profile Send KinneyM a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have just finished my first sock through a class I took at my local yarn shop (YEA!), and I've found I am truly addicted! They are a lot easier to make than I thought! I am wondering what the best yarns are to make them. I really like the superwash wool we used in the class, but to looks online at the seemingly MILLIONS of different ones - how the heck does one choose??? They are all so beautiful, I'm afraid I'll get swept away by the color & the socks won't be wearable. After showing off my sock to my family & friends, they all want me to make them a pair! I bought Clara's book on socks, and I love the fiber descriptions, but I'm feeling kinda overwhelmed.
Can anyone help a fellow sock addict?
Emilie

Ceil
Permanent Resident

USA
1845 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2012 :  7:21:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit Ceil's Homepage Send Ceil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seems to me the best thing you can do is try different sock yarns. However, longevity of socks is also tied up in gauge: if it's too loose, the sock wears out faster. So, you could use a really great sock yarn that doesn't last because the stitches are too holey! To that end, we had a discussion some time ago in KR about sock yarn gauges, which you can look up. Someone said in that thread that the gauges given on most labels are for >sweaters<, not socks! I find myself going down a needle size or two from what's on the label, because when I knit to the listed gauges, the stitches are too big. This is just another reason why it is SO important to swatch.

You should also know that I create my own patterns based on gauge and two simple measurements. So I can knit socks at a gauge that seems right for the yarn, instead of being beholden to what The Almighty Pattern says. I have seen the socks of several other knitters as they knitted from patterns, and really, the stitches were too big. (I wish I could tell them this, but I don't want to break their spirit and passion, so I don't. I can tell YOU this, because you are just starting.) When socks wear out quickly, it can be deceptively discouraging to knit more. It shouldn't be!

My favorite sock yarn is Opal, with a sturdy gauge, of course. The worst yarn I know of for socks is Jitterbug: even though I tightened up the gauge, the heels wore out after moderate wear in four months. That's not the case with other socks I have knitted. So, I save Jitterbug for fingerless gloves; less wear and tear on the yarn that way.

How do you know when the gauge is TOO tight? It may be harder to tell if you knit English, because it seems to me it's harder to feel the yarn tension when knitting that way. (Surely someone else will tell you I am way off base on this point, and that's fine!) As a Combination knitter (left hand carrying the yarn), I find that when knitting feels labored, the gauge is just too small, so I go up a needle size (often just a half size because the needles are so small), which usually takes care of it.

My favorite book for socks is "Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. I'm afraid I don't know Clara's book (I'm big time into sweaters now, so don't think I want more socks books), but Priscilla is all about figuring out stitch numbers without following a pattern with established stitch numbers to knit socks that fit. Yes, I do that.

Hope this helps, and keep up your enthusiasm!

Ceil
(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
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Shalee
Permanent Resident

USA
2049 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2012 :  11:09:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shalee's Homepage Send Shalee a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Emilie, I just finished a pair using Trecking XXL, and before that some Red Heart. Just getting ready to start a pair using Fortissima Colori. I've got all kinds of sock yarn. So far I've only had two bad yarn experiences. One was supposedly machine washable, but it shrunk bad and the other was the yarn with the elastic in it. I'm a sock-a-holic when it comes to yarn! I've spent from $2.50, on sale, for 50 grams up to $20.00 for 100 grams of sock yarn.

I have a tendency to knit a bit loose, at times, so I always use size 0 when kitting socks. I also keep all of my leftover sock yarn in one of those plastic see-thru shoe boxes. If, in time, I need to darn one I can match the original yarn.

You will find that we are just a big bunch of enablers here. Love to share our habit and encourage others!

Oops, edit: Most sock yarn is made from about 75% wool and 25% nylon.



Sharon in NW PA
I always wanted my own library but I didn't realize it would be all knitting books!


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eldergirl
Permanent Resident

USA
1810 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2012 :  8:03:53 PM  Show Profile Send eldergirl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, Clara's new book, "The Knitter's Book of Socks" is just marvelous on this topic. The characteristics of the yarn are described with Clara's fluid expertise, and the sock patterns are lovely.

As with all her books, it is worth it's weight in gold! Go Clara!

Best wishes,

Anna

Life is beautiful.
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gcelee
New Pal

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2012 :  12:48:41 AM  Show Profile Send gcelee a Private Message  Reply with Quote
KinnyM
Glad to hear you've had such a great first sock experience. Clara's book is a wonderful reference. My best experience with sock yarn are those with a mix of Merino and nylon. For my first few socks I'd stay away from the expensive hand dyed and stick to yarns like Lorna's Laces, Opal, Trekking, etc. You might try The Loopy Ewe online store. They specialize in sock yarn, have GREAT customer service and will help with any questions you might have. Good luck and good knitting!




Carol
Knitting is cheaper than therapy and more effective. I enjoy it more and it's good for my blood pressure. What more could you want?
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sockjoan
Warming Up

Australia
61 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2012 :  01:42:01 AM  Show Profile Send sockjoan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My main criterion for sock yarn is machine-washability; Clara's book is very helpful on how to choose and use yarns for socks. I ALWAYS use the finest possible needles for heels and toes (usually 2mm), and knit both heels and toes in a reinforced stitch. Socks are addictive!
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kmd52@yahoo.com


USA
Posts

Posted - 02/02/2012 :  07:56:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit kmd52@yahoo.com's Homepage Send kmd52@yahoo.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have been knitting socks for about 10 years and I give thumbs up to Opal. They last forever.
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Dampal2000
New Pal

8 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2012 :  08:41:07 AM  Show Profile Send Dampal2000 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The sock yarns that tend to last the longest are those with a fair bit of Nylon in them - 10-25%.

You want to knit socks with a fairly tight gauge - this means that the stitches, locked closely together and not prone to the same amount of movement when they are walked on, will not wear as much. Going down a needle size or two is a good idea - but then MAKE SURE you cast on enough stitches to fit the person you are making the socks for. If you are using a particular pattern that is not easily modifiable, this can be a problem.

Hand Maiden makes some GREAT sock yarns with small amounts of cashmere and Nylon - don't forget to try those. Also, Blue Faced Leicester is a lovely, soft, long wool that makes great socks. The only way to know is to buy lots of sock yarns and start knitting - you will figure out what works for you eventually. That's the FUN!!!! But Nylon in socks makes then wear like iron.

And just for the records, I don't agree with Ceil that English knitters have more trouble with tensioning their yarn at all....
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HRH the Knitting Queen
Chatty Knitter

USA
344 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2012 :  09:14:33 AM  Show Profile Send HRH the Knitting Queen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I love knitting socks. There are so many yarns out there...I just buy what strikes my fancy and go from there. I knit my socks mostly using 2-2.5mm needles. I think you will develop a personal preference after you knit many pair. Enjoy your journey!

www.merrykarma.blogspot.com -~- I'm MerryKarma on Ravelry.
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Panhandle Jane
Seriously Hooked

USA
607 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2012 :  07:41:16 AM  Show Profile Send Panhandle Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can keep an even tension more easily when knitting in the English style, but I don't think it matters. Use whichever style works best for you. I do not knit socks quite as tightly as some people because I find socks that are too tightly knit are uncomfortable for me. It is a matter of personal preference. If you are just beginning, I'd stick to the yarns with some nylon or the European equivalent before moving on to the fancier yarns. I sometimes check WEBS or Elann to see what's on sale, particularly if I'm ordering some other yarn anyway, but then I don't have a local yarn source. Another inexpensive yarn that makes comfy socks is Patons Kroy. The cheaper yarns sometimes don't feel as good to your fingers while you're knitting them, but after they are knitted, washed, and blocked, they are quite comfortable and longwearing. I also like Regia, On-line, Trekking, and Knit Picks. In the finer yarns, I love Mountain Colors Bearfoot, but it requires more care in laundering than other yarns. I also like yarns made from
bamboo and corn, but I wouldn't begin with them.

Blog--http:\\www.panhandleknitandsew.blogspot.com
Ravelry--panhandlejane

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KinneyM
New Pal

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2012 :  6:45:04 PM  Show Profile Send KinneyM a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks SO much, guys!!! You all were very helpful! I actually had a skein of Opal yarn that I got from my sock class. Not that I used it for the class - I could NOT pass it up! The Opal yarn comes in so many b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l colors! I was a yarn addict with my crocheting, but sock yarn is a whole other world of addiction!!! :-) My local yarn store (the one I had my class at) is having a Super Bowl sale tomorrow - 20% off of everything! Figured I'd take my wallet & your suggestions and go to town! Thanks again, guys!
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Panhandle Jane
Seriously Hooked

USA
607 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2012 :  9:25:52 PM  Show Profile Send Panhandle Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sock yarn is really addictive because you can do so much with so little, unlike buying yarn for an afghan or a sweater. Enjoy!

Blog--http:\\www.panhandleknitandsew.blogspot.com
Ravelry--panhandlejane

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carlyta
New Pal

USA
15 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2012 :  08:55:10 AM  Show Profile Send carlyta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for all the useful info about knitting socks. To start knitting socks was my plan for the new year. And you are correct: once you start knitting socks, you can't stop. Everyone in my family will get socks for XMAS this year.

Carlyta
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5194 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2012 :  09:43:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I vastly prefer silk to nylon in my sock yarns. Silk also lends strength to the yarn, but it feels much nicer than nylon, and takes dyes more readily.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4395 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2012 :  4:02:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Me too, Lanea. I love using 100% wool for my socks, but silk is also a perfect addition once you go there, there's no desire to go back to using yarn with nylon in it!

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album
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Deborah Tomasello
Warming Up

58 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2012 :  05:12:59 AM  Show Profile  Visit Deborah Tomasello's Homepage Send Deborah Tomasello a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If machine washing is a person's criterion for a sock, go buy some at Walmart. If gorgeous feel and warmth are what a gal/guy wants, go for wool and happily hand wash with love!
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4395 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2012 :  10:37:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wash all my wool socks in the machine, and I've never had a problem. I dry them on my old-timey drying rack. I figure if the yarn is sturdy enough to be socks, it's sturdy enough to withstand the gentle cycle!

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album
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Deborah Tomasello
Warming Up

58 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2012 :  5:09:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit Deborah Tomasello's Homepage Send Deborah Tomasello a Private Message  Reply with Quote
and no felting??? great!
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