The right materials for the job

This evening I’ve been quietly cursing my way through a repair… in fact it’s still not finished and I’m just taking a break to write a blog post about it.

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They looked good when I made them

Regular readers may recall that last year I was very excited to have joined a yarn club. I paid a subscription and then each month for six months I would receive a ball of hand dyed sock yarn. It worked well in as much as each month I did receive a ball of beautifully dyed 4-ply yarn… the problem (it turns out) was that it wasn’t really sock yarn. To make socks that last you need a good robust yarn otherwise all the hours you put into knitting are pointless because you end up with holey socks very quickly. In fact, it soon became clear that some of the balls of yarn would be no good for socks – they were beautifully soft wool, with no strength. Sometimes the information that came with the ball did not include details of the composition of the yarn and I had to make a guess. In the end, out of the six balls I only used two for socks… and, it turns out what one of those was a mistake.

The most robust socks are not made of pure wool, but also contain about 25% nylon. This may not sound very green but, in fact, they last so long and are so easy to repair that the addition of a manmade fibre is really worthwhile. I have socks that have been worn for years and years and, because they were knitted from good quality ‘real’ sock yarn, they are still going strong.

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Not very impressive

Erring on the side of caution, both pairs of socks that I made with the yarn club yarn were constructed using genuine sock wool (from a different supplier) for the heels and toes, as these are the parts that get the most wear. In both cases these parts are still fine; however the feet of one pair are worn through only 7 months after the socks were made. I am extremely disappointed, but decided to repair them and keep them going a bit longer (I suspect many more repairs may be necessary in the future).

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Darning and reinforcing

So this evening I have been using a really great sock yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners (the one used for the heels and toes) for some quite extensive darning. Needless to say that I didn’t renew the subscription to the club when it ran out. In fact I did succumb to another yarn club from a different dyer… but this one guaranteed to supply yarn that was 75% British Wool and 25% Nylon every single time.

The lessons? Always use the correct yarn for the job… it saves time, money and stress. Oh and Caveat Emptor!

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This one still to do

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22 Comments

  1. Buyer beware, indeed

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  2. What a shame after all that hard work. Your darning is neat though! 😊

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  3. Beautiful yarn, but literally only skin deep… Nothing wrong with a bit of artificial fibre in the right place, especially if it prolongs wear or makes the garment more comfortable so you get better use out of it.

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  4. nettyg

     /  May 10, 2016

    Bummer! Will you let them know that you’re disappointed and why?

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  5. I’ve just learned you have to be very careful with ‘yarn clubs’ I joined one and was extremely disappointed with what was considered to be ‘an exciting package of yarns in your colourway choice and extras’ I received one hank, priced on-line at half the price of the club total cost, a bar of chocolate [which I don’t eat], a book mark [of which I have plenty, much nicer], some small crystal buttons and an invite to download a free pattern from her Ravelry page. To say I felt ripped off is an understatement! Live and learn! 🙂

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    • Yes, I think there’s a lot of hype. The club that I joined this year is very simple – a specific sock yarn base with a different surprise colour way that knits into stripes. One 100g hank every two months. No fancy gifts or extras so I know exactly what I’m paying for. I’m happy.

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  6. I never knew that about sock yarn, but of course it makes perfect sense. i like the idea of using non-natural materials in situations when they are appropriate. Longer lasting is good.

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  7. Good to know!

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  8. Darning! Your favourite thing 😊

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  9. Oh, what a shame! The color of the yarn is lovely – although at least you had the foresight to use real sock yarn for the heels and toes. Now that I think of it, did you hear about Mend it May? You can find out more at
    http://mymakedoandmendlife.com
    … Might be right up your street! 😀

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  10. It’s such a shame that you spent good money, and didn’t get the right quality of sock yarn 😦
    I love the fact that you are spending the time knitting your own socks (and also slightly jealous, too, if I’m honest!), and to have that time wasted isn’t good.
    I’m very glad you found a subscription that does provide the right kind of mix though, and look forward to seeing the results 🙂

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  11. Good job mending those socks!

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  12. Since I am not handy with yarn, I darn socks the way my grandmother taught me years ago. I mentioned this to my daughter and son-in-law a while back and they seriously cackled with laughter. I put a light bulb in the sock and use it as a hard backing to allow me to stitch up the hole…..

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    • Very sensible – it’s just a glass darning mushroom. My wooden darning mushroom was given to me by my sister (who had two) but before that I used to use a small plastic bowl.

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  1. From squares to stripes | The Snail of Happiness

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