As you might know, I have knit a lot of pairs of socks this year. I am choosing now to focus on some other projects, so that my sock output has dropped off remarkably. Experimenting with both yarn and patterns, I had been branching out from some of the traditional sock yarns into Indie dyers of 100% merino, merino/tencil, merino/bamboo and other fiber combinations.
Looking back at the socks I knit 12 years ago, the ones from cheap yarns did not survive without pilling. Many of them were for my children. They have been outgrown, worn through, and singles lost along the way. My socks are a different story. I take care of them, washing on wool cycle and hanging to dry. So that it should not be surprising that I have pairs that are 12 years old, worn regularly and in fairly good shape.
The socks that have developed problems feel into two categories – they are either heavier weight or not knit out of sock yarn. With the exception of a pair knit out of some lovely handspun I received from Ruth, the survivors are all knit of sock yarn. Not 100% merino, but sock yarn with nylon or similar fiber added (up to 25%).
I think this is important. If I am going to spend hours on a sock, I want it to last more than a couple of wearings. Especially if they will be gifts for someone else.
Let me show you what I mean – looking at the heels
Now look a little closer –
The black and white are out of Schöllinger yarn, knit sometime prior to 1998. They are probably over 10 years old. I wear them regularly and they have been through the wash dozens of times. The blue and pink are a pair of boot socks, knit with doubled sock yarn. They date from 1996. The heels are starting to wear. The red/black pair I knit this summer. They have been through the wash at least five times and show no signs of distress.
compare that to this
looks fine – the soles? But looking at the heels –
this is one wearing. Just one time being worn and through the wash. The cables are pilling and losing their appearance.
Now, you might want to state that it is always what happens when you do details on heels, then stick your foot in sandals. I would like to say that this is the only pair acting this way, but the same thing is happening with other socks that are 100% merino. This is lovely yarn, the colorways are wonderful and the service from the people is fantastic.
It is not happening with some of the less expensive yarns, from those Indie dyers who are using a regular “sock yarn” as their base. And it is not a problem with any of the standard German commercial sock yarns. I don’t walk around in my stocking feet, but do wear socks with sandals unless there is snow on the ground or puddles to deep to avoid.
I want my socks to last.
As I sorted through the stash purchased this last year, I think I am going to change my knitting priorities for now. Sock yarns first, high twist merino to follow leaving some of the more beautiful yarns to lay fallow in the basket for a while.
Just past the armhole split – I now have two balls going; one for the back and one for the two fronts. Stopping every few rows to untangle (it is a mess when you are knitting from the inside and outside of a ball at the same time), I am trying to make sure that all three pieces are the same length. This part seems to be going a lot slower.
Maybe I just will go and read a few more books.