How to Make Speedy Socks?

Marianne was asking me about socks last night, and I thought, hey! You know who also knows a thing or two about socks? Knit-bloggers, that’s who! And so, I am taking the liberty of bringing her question to you fine folks, to ask you all about socks.

What’s your favourite sock yarn?
I, personally, have never met a superwash sock yarn I didn’t like. Lately I’ve used a lot of Patons Kroy and Austermann Step, and I’ll use them again. I recently (finally) started in on KnitPicks and got their Simple Stripes yarn for my Fair Isle socks (from a couple of posts ago), although despite having an active “shopping cart” with KnitPicks for several months, I still have not yet taken the plunge to order some of their Essential. This is largely because I know I won’t just be able to order a couple of balls of it, and I need to be ready. But I have my eye on some of it, I’m thinking….pink and grey argyles ;)

Behold, my sock knitting yarns of past and very close future. Which one to knit next, which one? The decision-making stress…

(From RIGHT to Left: Austermann Step, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock (Black Purl), Online Linie 3, Fortissima Color Socka Color, Paton’s Kroy…and Briggs & Little sport weight and Belle Vallee Wools worsted)

Those last two are not “sock yarn” per se, but I have knitted a very warm pair of winter house socks with the Belle Vallee (100% Canadian sheepswool, I love it love it), and the Briggs & Little sportweight is another Canadian wool that I bought several months ago. I had a sockish plan for it in mind at the time, and now I’m thinking it is destined to become an extremely warm pair of knee-highs. (I’ve been itching to try my first pair of knee-highs.)

I know there are other superwash yarns out there, though, in heavier weights, as well as other non-superwash yarns that might make good pairs of socks, and this is what might really help out Marianne. You see, she has approximately eleventy-million pairs of socks to knit before Christmas, and she needs them to go a little faster than the usual fingering-weight-sock-yarn speeed. So…

What’s your favourite non-sock-yarn sock yarn?
This is a question I leave largely to you folks, since most of my sock knitting has involved fingering-weight yarns. I know that there are some DK-weight superwash yarns out there, have any of y’all tried them for socks? A quick google search reveals the following, for example:
Merino Blend DK, Emu Superwash DK, Cherry Tree Hill Superwash DK.

Have you knitted socks as gifts and had success with particular yarns? Would a nice stand-by like Patons Classic Merino or Cascade 220 be just as good, or is the superwash factor more important in the socks that will be gifts? Marianne and her Christmas list eagerly await your suggestions! ;)

Happy Knitting to all on this fine Friday.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “How to Make Speedy Socks?

  1. CrazyFiberLady

    I knit a pair for my father last holiday season out of Woolease I want to say. It was the sock pattern that appear oh-so-timely on knitty. Back ages ago when I first starting knitting socks, I primarily used Woolease sport weight. Quick socks for sure. I could wip out a pair in a day, especially when parked on the couch (not an option since the monkeys arrived). They were warm and fast, but I found that I didn’t really like them as the stitches were large enough that they bothered the bottom of my foot. I had little marks from them. I must prefer the tiny stitches with a traditional sock yarn.

    Favorite sock yarn? Koigu/Claudia Handpaint both of which I found out last night are actually from Louet which they sell in the Gems line.

  2. Marianne

    You are just the sweetest, thank you.
    I did send more email, about Sarah’s Yarn, most interesting.

  3. sprite

    I’m knitting a pair of socks in ArtYarn Supermerino, which are moving along quickly on size 5 needles. Still washable, but thicker. (I haven’t washed them yet to see how they hold up, though.)

  4. Aven

    I’ve used Patons Classic Wool for men’s socks — they certainly go much faster, and the recipients like them. But they do have to be handwashed, and over time the soles tend to felt (which can be ok, as long as you size them generously to start with). And I’m sure they won’t last as long as other, less soft wools or wool blends.

    I’ve also made several pairs of socks out of Elann Esprit: http://secure.elann.com/productdisp.asp?NAME=elann%2Ecom+Esprit+Print&Season=&Company=&Cat=&ProductType=5&OrderBy=&Count=2
    which is cotton/elastic. It knits at different gauges depending how you treat it, but my socks (knit with 4.5 mm dpns) are 8sts/” — which sounds small gauge, but they seem to go pretty fast anyway, much faster than normal sock yarn. It can be a little tricky to knit with the elastic yarn at first, but I found once I got the hang of it it was fine. And the socks are comfy and good for people who can’t wear wool, or who want lighter socks.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Sarah

    Ditto to aven – I’m using Cascade Fixation right now, which is identical to Elann Esprit. Great for those allergic to wool, or for cooler weather.

    I’m making a ton of Fuzzy Feet (free pattern from Knitty) for Christmas. I know they’re slippers, not socks, but they’re comfy, customizable, and FAST – I knit 2-1/2 pairs in a week.

    I’ve also made Thujas, the worsted-weight socks on Knitty, out of Cascade 220. They were comfy, but I’d recommend using a superwash yarn, as well as going down a needle size more than the pattern uses.

    As far as thicker sock yarn that’s machine-washable, there’s the aforementioned Fixation, and I’m pretty sure all of Debbie Bliss’s yarns are superwash (but don’t quote me on that!). They’re expensive, sure, but maybe not so bad for just a ball or two? Your choice.

    I’ve never ordered from them, but I know Knitpicks just unveiled a ton of new superwash yarns a while back, some of which ought to be the weight you’re looking for.

  6. Marianne

    Thanks to everyone who commented to help out, I have a few more days to finally decide which way I’m to go, as far as the yarn. I’m thinking I’ll stay with a sport or DK, using US3 dpns, the worsted is just too thick.
    I do appreciate it!