Handspun for socks? Absolutely!

You may not think it's a good use of handspun yarn to walk around wearing it out under the soles of your feet. Why use yarn that you've put a lot of effort into creating for a project that will develop holes? In honor of the Spring 2012 issue of Sockupied, here are three good reasons.

1. You can spin exactly the yarn you want for socks.

Spin yarn with lots of twist for Lorilee Beltman's Our Paths Cross Socks.

The Frost Feather stockings would be perfect in woolen-spun yarn.

When Lorilee Beltman proposed the Our Paths Cross Socks design for this issue, she told me that the yarn would need to meet very specific criteria: it needed to have at least three plies, and it needed to hold lots of twist while remaining soft and supple. Lorilee's eye-catching vertical stranding technique, which she demonstrates in this issue, requires clear stitch definition for best effect. There weren't many commercial yarns that met her standards, but handspinners can create the perfect worsted-spun three- or four-ply yarn for these socks with plenty of twist. (A worsted draw and multiple plies will also help protect the yarn from abrasion, making the socks more durable). Rather not use handspun for the whole project? The vertical stranding design requires just 16 yards each of two contrast colors, a perfect use of a few precious yards.

On the other hand, when choosing yarn for Deborah Newton's Frost Feather Stockings, I looked for lightweight elastic yarn to hug the legs up over the knees and found myself dreaming of a woolen-spun Polwarth or Cormo yarn for the leg portion (though I might spin a few yards with a worsted draw to stand up to abrasion in the feet).

 2. You can use up every inch of handspun.

This issue features four cast-ons for knitting socks toe-up and four toe-up designs, which allow you to make socks just long enough to use every last yard of handspun. Cat Bordhi's Flutterby Socks, which showcase her new Sweet Tomato Heel, can be worked either toe-up or top-down, and the contrasting color in the cuff helps stretch out a main yarn while integrating remnants of another.

Cat Bordhi's Flutterby Socks feature her Sweet Tomato Heel and can be worked in either direction.

 3. They're a perfect place to use brightly colored yarns.

I am a sucker for four-ounce braids of hand-dyed top. I probably have forty of them waiting in my stash—but since I buy them one or two at a time, I don't have enough to make a sweater or even a vest. Besides, the riotous colors would make me look like a walking carnival. Not only are brightly colored socks a fun peek-a-boo under a staid wardrobe, they can show off colors beautifully. In this issue, Debbie O'Neill's Leapfrog Socks are designed to use colorful yarn to its best advantage.

The Leapfrog Socks pattern was designed to play nicely with bright yarns.

I've vowed to knit from my sock-yarn stash this year, and I can't wait to cast on with some of my handspun favorites. Now the only question is where to start!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out: