Sock Yarn Longevity: Brown Sheep Nature Spun

A daily mini-series in which I give an updated review of some sock yarns I have used, having given the socks some wear. For first post and longer explanation, click here. Pattern link below is to my original review of the yarn when the socks were completed; yarn link goes to Ravelry.

Patterns: “Highland Schottische Kilt Hose” from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company’s “Nature Spun Fingering

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Years Worn: 6 (infrequently)

Verdict: This is an interesting one. Brown Feet Nature Spun Fingering is not marketed, as far as I know, as a sock yarn. It’s just a fingering weight wool, a good ol’ toothy wool, good for fair isle and things. No nylon content, not at all superwash, loosely plied, so not particularly hard-wearing in a direct sense.

My motivation for using this yarn, originally, were these: 1) These socks took up a lot of yarn, and I wanted something cheap, 2) I wanted something still natural, since it’s a pretty traditional sort of pattern, and 3) They certainly didn’t used to put nylon into sock yarns back in the day, so I wanted to know what it’d be like to have socks knit with less specialized yarn.

I did this twice: on was with Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper wool. I gave them away (hence no re-review in this series), but I know from my mom’s report that they were a disaster. They wore holes almost instantly. This is no critique of J&S; their jumper wool is one of my favorites in all creation. It was my silly idea to try it out on socks, and not their fault that it didn’t hold up. (Who knows, it might have done better if I knit it down on size 00s or something, but I value my time and wrists more than that.)

By contrast, this Nature Spun Fingering has done pretty darn well.

I admit, I baby these socks a little. I only wore them maybe once a month for years, only washing them by hand (so in other words, almost never). Now I just throw them in with all my socks in the delicate cycle, and lay flat to dry. These socks have always had more than their fair share of pills. You can see that they’ve definitely turned into felt with holes, rather than a lace pattern.

But by golly, it’s pretty solid pilly felt. The holes are all ones that I put there on purpose. You can see on the balls of the feet, wear I give my socks the most wear, the layer of pills and felt have been worn away, and there’s still sturdy knit fabric underneath. The felting means they’re a bit shorter than before, but they were so long before, now I just flip up the cuff and they come up to my knees. (They’re always hidden underneath trouser legs for me anyway. Yep, I knit these gorgeous things, blog about them, then hide them away.)

So, make of that what you will. I’d go back to this yarn for a sweater I wanted to last (keeping in mind I’d have some pilling). I wouldn’t make socks out of them again. But it was an interesting experiment, no? 1 thumb up as sock yarn; 2 thumbs up as yarn in its proper context.

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