Sock yarn needs to be hard wearing. I can’t think of anything else I knit that receives close to the same type of punishment.
Socks take a fair amount of time to knit. It always surprises me how quickly the sleeve of a sweater knits up in comparison. So when I knit socks I want them to wear well.
There are 3 things I look for
- Tight Twist. Yarn is made by twisting fibers together. These strands are then twisted with other strands to create yarn. Yarn with more twist works better for socks as it’s harder wearing. This is because each fiber is more firmly locked in place. Singles yarns are created by twisting fibers together into a single strand. They are unsuitable for socks (and in most cases for anything that is going to get much wear).
- Wool content. We’d all love that brilliant yarn which is softer than kitten fur yet is harder wearing than armour. That yarn is like unicorn fluff – it doesn’t exist. So the perfect sock yarn is about compromise. Which wool is used matters a great deal. I love Blue Faced Leicester for its strength and softness. Sheep who can cope with life on the mountains have fleece which can protect them from a lot of weather, and their fleece is often towards the coarse end of the scale. This offers stronger yarns.
- Additions. 100% wool yarns can work for socks, and those spun from the fleece of mountain breeds have the best chance of lasting well. Other fleece benefits from a little help, and either wool or mohair are excellent at providing strength.
If you’re browsing our website you’ll find a note on each listing which says recommended for socks or not recommended for socks. Some yarns aren’t sturdy enough to take the wear that socks get. Those yarns are brilliant for garments and shawls where their loft and softness shine. Other yarns are great all rounders – in particular Britsock which is my go to sock yarn, and the yarn I’ve knitted lots of other things with too.
Regardless of the yarn you choose your sock will last longer if you knit them at a tight tension. During sock madness several years ago I knitted socks on 1.5mm needles – and I suspect these socks will outlast me. It also felt too much like hard work and my hands didn’t much appreciate it, so most of my socks are knitted on 2mm needles.
It’s also worth checking our last chance as there are sometimes discounted skeins which would make wonderful socks.