(I’m all moved in to my new place, but I expect to take a while to unpack and organize. Until I get the spinning all set up again, here’s another historical yarn.)
I love 3-ply sock yarn. One of the things I love the most about it is the subtle speckled depth of color that comes from a semi-solid handpainted roving.
Now, spinning an entire 4 oz braid of a single color is usually enough to bore me, even if it’s semi-solid. Ditto for knitting solid-colored socks. I need some kind of color change to keep me entertained. I think I found a perfect balance between semi-solid speckles and color changes in a superwash Merino roving from Sosae Caetano.
Sosae was having a “Choose Your Own Adventure” spin along, with colorways like Pharoah’s Tomb, Hidden Temple and Desert Oasis. I loved this theme so much that I got two and (in keeping with the theme) spun them while watching all three Indiana Jones movies* and Warehouse 13. One of the colorways I opted for was Arabian Night:
When I un-braided this roving, I discovered that the colors made six near-perfect down-and-back color repeats. I started spinning before I thought to take pictures, but here is 2/3rds of the entire roving:
Imagine another roving strand sitting alongside those two and that’s what I started with. The implication of 6 repeats meant that I could make a 3-ply yarn match up colors along the whole length of a skein, and then do it twice to have two socks (3 x 2 = 6 matching singles.) Because of the down-and-back nature of the color repeat (A-B-C-C-B-A) instead of a forward repeat (A-B-C-A-B-C), I could spin each strand end-to-end and then knit socks from the opposite ends of the skein. This way, I could just do 3 bobbins instead of 6.
The next step was more accurate dividing between the three pieces of roving. I weighed them on my gram scale and tore little bits of yellow off the end of one and added it to another to make them equal weight.
Then I predrafted and spun 3 bobbins, each with one of the thirds. (I have no pictures of this. I think I was too excited to stop.) I did my typical sock yarn spin, which is ~40 wraps per inch, with a high twist (wheel on the 10:1 ratio, two right-foot pedals per draft) and a short forward draft.
A traditional 3-ply matched all the colors back up, giving me that great 3-ply depth-of-color look while still getting a slow color change. Here’s the finished yarn:
In a cake, you can see that if I knit one sock from the outside and one from the inside, they’ll both start with yellow and should finish when they meet at the middle yellow:
To use every last bit of handspun, I would normally then knit these socks two-at-a-time on a circular needle. However, for this yarn I fell in love with a heavily modified version of the Kiila pattern. Since I wanted to do even more modification, I knit them one at a time so I could work out all the kinks just once.
The result is my absolute favorite pair of socks to date:
I loved them so much that I couldn’t bear to gift them like most of my socks, and even though the sock-wearing season in the desert of Arizona is a short one, I kept them for myself. I did take them home to Kansas for the holidays to show off:
I loved this method so thoroughly that I did it a second time with another of Sosae’s gorgeous SW merino rovings, this one called Woodland Creek. I documented the spinning a little better on this one, though it hasn’t been successfully made into socks yet. I tried to knit it into socks for my dad in a wheat stitch pattern (my dad works with wheat), but there were stretchiness failure issues, so it went into hibernation.
(I’m spinning on Frank, my Lendrum double treadle. That’s Lilith, my Kromski Prelude, in the background).
Down and back colors:
I think you can more clearly see the magic of the 3-ply here; there’s a bright orange-gold color in the roving that mellows to a beautiful wheat tone when it’s blended with the creams and browns. I just love watching the transformation process!
Hmm… now I want to go find the yarn, de-hibernate it, and finish the process.
*Yes, there are only 3 real Indiana Jones movies. Hush, you.