Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why I love sock yarn

Yesterday I posted about R&R and how I really enjoyed my weekend.  I also made the observation that I've come to the conclusion that sock yarn is my favorite yarn.  I thought I'd expound on that today.

From the moment I started knitting my first pair of socks just a tad over a year ago I've been addicted to making socks.  And as I mentioned when I started knitting that first pair of socks it was really the whole reason I learned to knit.  I speculated in that first foray into hand-knitted socks that I probably wouldn't wear them every day with my regular shoes, but I was oh-so-wrong.  I actually bought new shoes to wear with my hand-knitted socks...and I'm still in the hunt for the perfect pair of sandals or Mary Janes that will show them off and still look decent when wearing them.

I wear my hand-knitted socks all year. Unlike people in the far north, I don't need special, extra-thick socks for winter, so I haven't made any in thicker yarn for myself, though I have made them for other people.  And I think that I will eventually make myself some just to wear around the house when it is very cold...our house gets cold in the winter even though I'm not from the far north.

But, back to the yarn that most socks are made of.  It's called fingering weight.  For socks, it's knitted at a fairly tight gauge of 8-9 stitches per inch.  It's most often superwash merino, which means that it's soft and machine washable (won't felt).  It's very often combined with specialty fibers such as silk, cashmere or tencel.  It will often have nylon blended in for strength.  Some sock yarns will have sparkly fibers blended in as well.

Fingering weight yarn is also great knitted up at looser gauges.  I recently completed a neon hat knitted with size 5 needles and I'm now working on a matching scarf (garter stitch) with the same size needles.  The yarn is super soft and snuggly and wonderful for those projects.  I've made a shawl knitted at an even looser gauge and in lace to create a beautiful drape that is perfect for a summer shoulder wrap, or for cooler weather tied around my neck.

I've seen patterns for fingering weight yarn to make sweaters, blankets (I'm currently working on 2 blankets made in sock yarn), and other items.  I love making up my monsters in the fingering weight yarn in a tight gauge like socks.  They're tiny and cute and fun.

But, fingering weight does not necessarily mean sock yarn...and sock yarn is super special.  A whole market has sprung up in the hand-dyed world.  Sock yarns can be variegated or solid, self-striping or slow color change.  They come in knitted up "flats" that have been hand-painted (I love these).  It's really very fun working with them because you're not always sure what's coming next.  I love all the colors.  It's also easy to buy them.  One 100g hank is enough (more than enough) to make a full pair of socks plus extras for leftover projects.  Or, you could make a shawl or a hat or something else out of one 100g hank.  That's pretty economical considering how many skeins/hanks of yarn it usually takes to make sweaters and other projects.

I could go on and on...but really, I think you get my point.  Sock yarns are special.  They have a particular place in my heart and hands, and I will always be working on a project made from sock yarn.  That I can guarantee you.

Today's picture is of the baby blanket I'm currently knitting as my "main" project.  It's for a co-worker who's having a baby at the end of the summer.  I can hope that I finish it before then.  This is a great example of hand-dyed yarn (Shibui sock).  It's mostly solid, but the color variations are slight and gorgeous.  The colorway is called "sky"...and to me it evokes a sky on a beautiful spring day--wisps of clouds break up the solid of the blue, but the blue is deep and true.

And I know that the picture doesn't look like a blanket, but instead looks like a hat...that's because the project is knit from the center out.  I won't know what it looks like until it's finished.  And that's kind of fun...but tense too because I don't know if I've made it big enough until I take it off of the needles.  This is going to be an exercise in patience, self control, and using up the allotment of yarn!

1 comment:

  1. You're so right - fingering gets great mileage, gives excellent value for the price, and if you're not knitting socks you don't even have to use supertiny needles ;^)