Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sock Yarns on Review

Edited to add: As I still haven't taken pictures of my Berwick jumper, I'm leaving this up for FO / Fibre Arts Friday in case it is of interest ;)

I heartily admit that I may have become a little obsessed with sock knitting since my first pair - I still dream of an all-handknit sock drawer and I'm getting there slowly *laughs*

Having said that, it might seem a little too obsessed to have been pondering my sock drawer earlier (sometimes it takes a while to decide which pair to wear) and have then come up with this post...

I was interested to see how some of the different sock yarns I'd used had been holding up, so I thought it might be interesting/useful/none of the above to do a quick review of the most worn socks and their condition.

I've focused on the socks I wear the most, which have all had roughly the same amount of wear (ok, so this isn't a scientific study but I think it'll be sufficient!). Also worth noting - I handwash all my socks, even the ones that can go in the machine.

Princess Unicorn Socks
Yarn: KnitPicks Imagination: 50% Merino, 25% Alpaca, 25% Nylon 

The heel on these has completely felted, which is perhaps unsurprising as the yarn is particularly soft and fluffy. They are the only princess soles on the list, which makes me wonder if that has any additional properties that might affect wear. Now I'm going to have to make more to test this theory *laughs*

Super Awesome Happy Rainbow Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici: 75% merino, 25% nylon

I love these socks. They're my softest pair and they feel like old friends when I put them on. Being so soft, I am pretty impressed with how the yarn is holding up, often the softer yarns are not the most hard wearing. You can see some pilling on the foot, but it is relatively minor. The heels are a bit felted, but the stitches are still in good condition. Overall, I'm pleased with these ;)

Second Socks
Yarn: Zauberball: 75% wool, 25% nylon

I think these socks are in the worst condition of all of them. To be fair, they have been around the longest (side note, my first socks aren't on this list because I don't wear them very often!) but I also don't wear them as much as some of the others any more.

The foot is completely pilled, it's hard to show because of how dark the yarn is but even this picture demonstrates a lot of pilling. Where it's not pilled the yarn is completely fuzzy. This is probably due to the fact that Zauberball is a single plied yarn, so it gets fuzzed really easily. Regardless, they still feel good on my feet - I just wouldn't knit anything with a pattern, it would be completely obscured.

Socks the Third
Yarn: Silky 4 ply Sock: 80% wool, 20% tencel

When I first finished these socks, the yarn felt all weird and squeaky and I wasn't sure I'd like them. After a wash it was all good, they became soft and lovely. They have also held up probably better than any of the other socks. Minor pilling and fuzzing around the heel but nothing really of note.

The only thing I will say is that the yarn hasn't got much spring to it, the ribbing on the cuffs is a lot looser now, and they feel like they have stretched a little. So maybe they're not holding up as well as I think. The colour is still awesome though (I dyed the yarn myself you see *laughs*)

Starpower Socks
Yarn: Skinny Bugga: 80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere

These are my most expensive socks. They are also the worst for pilling. Because of the colour and the pattern, it was really hard to get a good picture, so I picked the bobbly bits off one of the socks and took a photo of that instead *laughs*:

I was a little surprised at how badly these have pilled, and a little disappointed if I'm honest. I have another skein of skinny bugga in my stash, and I'm pretty sure I won't be knitting socks with it. It is beautiful yarn, but not cut out for socks. A shame really, I like the luxury of having some cashmere on my feet ;)

Multicoloured Swap Socks
Yarn: Drachenwolle: 75% wool, 25% nylon

I debated whether or not to include these, as they're made with German yarn that might not be easily accessible to other people (I got it in a swap). But then I looked at how great the condition was and decided to include them anyway.

They aren't the softest socks in my drawer, but aside from a small amount of fuzziness on the heels, they look the same as the day I finished them.

Drunken Socks of Deformity
Yarn: Moonlight and Laughter Merino Superwash Sock: 100% merino

Sock yarn with no nylon - I expected these to fall apart if I'm honest! They've pilled a little on the feet, and the heels are quite felted, but they're actually much better than I expected. One heel is worse than the other, but if you know the backstory of these socks then that won't come as a surprise ;)


So there you have it - the softest yarns aren't necessarily going to fall to bits after a few wears, the hardiest yarn is still pretty hardy, and the expensive yarn may be best used for something that gets a little less wear than your average pair of socks.

I hope this post has been interesting, or informative, or at least just not horribly dull!


  1. Wow, I think they have all held up remarkably well! I wouldn't expect handmade socks to tolerate regular wear and tear, so this really encourages me to give sock knitting a try. Thanks Natalie!

  2. Thanks for this. I'm not a knitter of socks but I've been looking for some sock yarn to gift to a friend who is so your review is really handy :)

  3. Although I do not buy those brands, it's helpful to know for the future and other yarns. While every yarn is different, these are good guidelines. Thanks for sharing!

  4. That is really interesting. I've had some surprises with sock yarn as well.

  5. Such an interesting sock study. I'm glad you have taken such a liking to them. My second ever pair used the Knit Picks Imagination and they have held up super well over the years for what they are.

  6. Thanks for sharing. With my own sock obsession I am always interested in seeing how sock yarn holds up over time.

  7. Those socks are all so awesome. Such pretty colors.

  8. Very interesting....I never would have thought to compare my socks. LOL at your picking off the pills and taking their pic on your Starpowers socks.

  9. I agree... interesting to see how they are all holding up.

  10. Lovely socks! My favorite are the rainbow.

    Here's my FO:

  11. Obviously there is a difference. I always use an additional thin thread for the heel and the toe part in order to keep the socks alive much longer. I have socks that are more then 10 years old. Of course, they are a bit felted on the sole, but still look good.

  12. Hmmmm.... This is a nice comparative review. I should look at some of my more worn socks in a side-by-side and see which yarns have held up best. Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  13. It really is hard to predict how sock yarns will wear, isn't it? I've learned to avoid Koigu - the colours are beautiful but they're hard on your feet and then they felt and matte after washing. My best wearing socks are Wollemeise (no surprise there) and Katia Darling. That last yarn was awful to knit but it washes and wears beautifully and those socks are soooo comfy!

  14. Really interesting article. I am a sock virgin. Something I mean to put right soon, so this is really useful. There are so many sock patterns and wools out there it can be confusing.

  15. Thanks for posting this - not boring at all! I've been thinking about getting some Felici to knit socks for my husband, but he is really hard on his socks so it's very useful to hear that it holds up alright :)

  16. aw, look at all of those beautiful socks. We share the same goal. I have tons of sock yarn that don't have any nylon and now I wonder if I should even knit the 100% Superwash. Maybe I should barter for the superwash/nylon?

  17. So interesting. Great comparisons that will surely help my future sock yarn purchases.

  18. What a great analysis of the sock yarn you've tried out so far. I'm bummed about what happened to the Zauberball. I have a ball I'm dying to try. I have mostly ised Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Sock. There is no pilling I believe.

  19. Thank you so much for this review! Very interesting to see how different yarns wear and holding up after wearing, I'm very surprised at the 100% merino result which gives me hope for spinning sock yarns with merino :)

  20. it's interesting to see all the sock yarns you've picked to knit with (and to see how they're holding up) because it made me realise that I only really choose one type of yarn to knit socks with, some form of superwash wool mixed in with something strong like nylon. it's good to see that other yarns hold up just as well (or better in some cases), so maybe I'll start branching out!

  21. This is fantastic, thank you so much.

  22. I really like this post - it satisfies the knitter-geek in me! :D


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