Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Handspun Socks 2

Something I didn’t mention yesterday, when I gave all the specs, is gauge. Yarn weight and needles used mean nothing, nada, without gauge. I’m only providing stitch gauge, not row gauge, since row gauge means very little in my recipe socks (knit until it fits).

  • Koigu: 8 spi
  • Trekking XXL: 9.5 spi (sw, nylon)
  • Bright Anklets: 7.5 spi (sw)
  • Black Bunny socks: 7 spi
  • Spunky Eclectic socks: 7spi

These are measured against my well worn socks, so the stitches have fulled a bit on the non superwash (sw) socks.

While I have loved my Koigu socks, these will not be the main staple of my sock drawer — the occasional socks, yes, but they will not make up the majority of my socks. Why? They have not worn well for me. Every single pair of my Koigu socks grew holes in the heels in the 18-24 month range. Perhaps if I squeezed it down to a 9 spi range, it will wear better.

Well, if I really want them to wear better, I would stop wearing them with my Danskos and Birkies. Why? I hate how “enclosed” my feet feel when I wear shoes. I take them off as often as I can. I’ve been known to ask the person sitting across a conference room table from me to kick my shoe back over to me…

Aside: this is also the reason that I like my plain sock recipe.  I don’t like the feel of all that patterning on my feet.  I can feel every little stitch.  Most unpleasant.

That’s a lot of wear on the heels…All that sliding in and out of shoes. The socks that lasted were the ones knitted with commercial sock yarn with nylon content.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. My handspun socks…

When it came down to knitting socks with my own handspun, I wanted to make sure that they last a bit. I kept going down in my needle size until I got a really nice firm fabric — to the point where it was almost unpleasant. I say almost because the work it takes to knit at that gauge with yarn of this weight was offset by the lovely feel of the yarn.

And the feel. The Trekking XXL is loverly. They fit extremely well with dressier shoes because they are so thin. They wear like iron and feels like iron too. It just isn’t soft and squishy.

Because my handspun is loftier than commercial yarn, I can compact it quite a bit while knitting. And my belief is that you should compact it, if you want it to wear well. Hence the gauge.

You may think that 7 spi isn’t really a small gauage for socks. After all, look at the other stocks. Koigu came in at 8. Trekking XXL came in a 9.5. Factor in the weight of the yarn. This is where the wpi comes in.

12 wpi is typically considered worsted weight, and the recommended gauge for this yarn is around 4.5 spi.

At this point, only time will tell. I will need to revisit this issue in another 18 months so see how well these 2 pairs of socks wear.

Of course, there will be a lot more of these in my sock drawer in 18 months time. I really like how these feel on my feet that I will turn a blind eye to the fact that they don’t have nylon content.

Perhaps I will be doing a bit o’ blending for my sock yarn. Silk and mohair are good alternatives to nylon. Come to think of it, I have some fiber in my stash that fit the requirements.

Ta! Off to some experiments.


Handspun socks



1 Comment

  1. Ann, re your problem or concern about heels and toes wearing through with handmade socks == you can add (carry along) nylon yarn when you do the heel flap and the toes. Works just fine and doesn’t add to the thickness of those parts of the sock. And, some people add the nylon to the first inch of the top rib (whatever design it is).

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