Socks on the Road: Hobbledehoy Merino-Silk

The next socks I’d like to share with you are the only pair that are not from yarn spun this year.

I spun this lovely merino-silk braid into two yarns, back as part of the 51 yarns project I did from 2019-2020. I split it in half, and did one half as my “Default Yarn.” I narrowly stripped it and spun a traditional 3-ply, with the colors randomly assorted. The short-continuous-backwards draft that I used was only beginning to become my default at the time, but having spun all this sock yarn in the meantime, this is definitely my default yarn now!

The other half I spun as my “Default Yarn’s Nemesis.” Basically, this meant that I made everything as hard for myself as possible. The main result was that this yarn is a good bit thicker than the other, despite my attempting to spin them to about the same size.

Ever since I spun them, I thought these yarns would go very well together in a pair of socks. There are many ways to experiment with making more durable handspun socks; one I idea I haven’t seen tried much is to just use a different, more durable yarn for the high-wear spots. The thicker yarn here isn’t more durable per se, but knit down on the same needles as used for the thinner yarn, it will be much more tightly knit.

This was the result. On US 0s, I cast on the toes in the thin yarn, then as soon as I finished increasing, I switched to the thick. When I was sure I was past the ball of the foot, I switched back to the thin, then switched to thick again for the gusset increases. Thus far I knit them one at a time (my preference), but after the heel turn I switched to 2-at-a-time until the thick yarn was used up. Then the legs were knit with thin yarn.

You also get a pretty good look at the different color effects between the thick yarn – spun across the top and then chain-plied – and the thin yarn, all mixed-up. Big bold stripes vs. subtle stripes.

I’ve been careful with each pair not to make them too big. Unfortunately, this pair is a wee bit long. If that means that the ball of my foot – a major wear point for me – is actually on the thinner area, this will change the experiment. But ah well. Not ripping back at this point.

Here you get a good view of the toe-up heel turn used in the Elizabeth Carter pattern I’m using for all of these socks. If you’re familiar with standard top-down socks, this pattern is super intuitive. Just gusset increases instead of decreases, and the heel turn just keeps going until it eats up all those extra gusset stitches. No heel flap. I can do this pattern in my sleep now.

Supposedly, silk is supposed to be more durable. I don’t have a lot of silk or merino in my sock blends, so there’s not much to compare with. Merino I don’t expect to be very durable, though, and I have my suspicions about silk.

These are soft and lovely to wear. After watching this yarn hang in my collection for a couple of years, I’m very happy to see it meet its destiny.

Knitting these socks was a nice companion to the views of both Banff and Jasper. The teal will remind me of the spruce forests we hiked, and learning to enjoy our trip in the bounds of our family’s limitations. Until next time, happy knitting!


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