Self striping sock yarn is one of my favourite things to knit with. There’s something magical about watching the colours appear with no extra effort.

When we have self striping sock yarn at shows we sometimes get asked why it is so expensive. That’s a good question – it’s not always obvious what steps go into making something, and extra steps add time and cost. 

When our yarn arrives with us it’s in hanks. Usually these are ready for soaking and dyeing. Self striping yarn needs long runs of colour and the way we get those is by winding the regular hanks into much bigger hanks. That sounds simple, and in many ways it is. It also takes quite a bit of time.

If you’ve ever used a knitting machine you’ll know how important it is to work with yarn that can flow freely. Winding large hanks is the same, so we start by winding the hanks into yarn cakes.

self striping sock yarn preparation wind  cakes

From there we’re ready to wind big skeins. We do this on a winder that Bobbie build which is a giant swift. 

self stripe sock yarn prep making big skeins

We wind 400 grams of yarn into each skein. Its the best compromise between making the skeins too heavy and having to dye too many batches.

Once the skeins are wound ties are put on. I can eyeball what quarter of a regular skein looks like, but I need to mark the long skeins. 

self stripe prep big and little skeins

Just for scale – the top skein will becaome self striping sock yarn and the botton skein is how the Britsock arrives with us.

Then it’s off to the dye pots.

Then it’s back onto the big swift so the yarn can be put back into yarn cakes or skeins.


Using a ball winder is the best way to get the yarn out of the long skeins. Usually that’s how its sold, but for now we’re then winding these cakes into skeins as it makes them easier to fit through letter boxes (and that makes life easier for posties). The whole process is very hands on – apart from then the yarn is being dyed and is left in dye pots while the colour takes every other step requires either Bobbie or I to do it. We have an electric skein winder for smaller skeins, so we can walk away from that while it works, but self striping sock yarn doesn’t offer us that option. So the higher cost is the extra time involved. 

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