Natural sock yarn club
Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me! I hope you loved it as much as I did. The idea for this club came as I was waiting for both the first batch of Close and the Dutch yarns (where you received the Texelaar Mohair of). But then getting to see, feel, knit and share these yarns has been so good!
I have always been particularly interested in natural sock yarn bases and this club sparked my passion even more. I discovered this year I love creating yarns, and coming up with blends.
I am not finished with this journey and have still so many ideas for good natural sock yarns that I am continuing next year with
Natural Sock Yarn Club 2. There will be at least 3 new yarns and the familiar ones will come in different colours or forms.
I would love it it if you would join again!
Another custom spun yarn! Meet Kanab, 80% British wool and 20% Belgian Hemp, spun in Yorkshire, UK.
This whole journey along all the different sock yarns made me even more enthusiastic and curious about all the possibilities for natural sock yarns and I very much wanted to try out hemp.
Hemp is one of the strongest fibers around. It was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 50,000 years ago. Like its cousin, flax, hemp is a “bast” fiber. It grows quickly, is naturally resistant to many insect species, and needs little water to cultivate. It also has a deep root system, which helps to reduce soil loss and erosion. Hemp is among the fastest growing plants on Earth.
Strong, sustainable and it grows in colder climates, so it can be sourced locally. I hope you like this British-Belgian marriage!
I am just as much discovering these new yarns as you are, and have just started knitting with Kanab. The hemp feels really interesting, maybe a bit coarse at first, but already while knitting you can feel it getting softer, almost a melting sensation.
On the label I call Kanab a sport weight, but to be honest I think technically it is still considered a fingering weight, so I might change this in the future.
It's spun into a 2 ply, which looks particularly good in lace knitting. All the patterns suggested for Corriedale twist, another 2 ply yarn, would also suit Kanab perfectly. But of course, I have a few more for you as well.
Kultaniitty Socks by Veera Välimäki (Ravelry)
Poet socks by Sari Nordlund (Ravelry)
In bloom sock set by Summer Lee (Ravelry)
5. Texelaar set
Just over 2 years ago I drove a rented station wagon filled to the roof with Dutch fleeces to a little spinning mill in Belgium. The spun results I received back this February. I chose to have small quantities spun off quite a few different types of yarn. Two of them you are holding in your hands now in the form of a sock set!
The waiting for this yarn indirectly sparked the idea for the sock club. While I was getting just a little bit impatient for 'my yarn' to be ready I contacted John Arbon Textiles, just desperate to have an exclusive Ovis et cetera natural sock yarn. And then when I realised 3 new sock yarns were coming, the idea for this sock club was born.
These fleeces I had spun came from all over Holland. I collected them over one summer, then skirted & sorted them by hand before bringing them to the mill. The Texelaar in this sock yarn comes from sheep that live at a horse riding school in Soest, and the Mohair from petting zoo mohair goats.
The Mohair is mixed in the white tread, you can probably feel the dyed (white) yarn being slightly softer. This is due to the added mohair, mohair is a very soft and silky fiber. It is also very strong and therefore a good nylon substitute. A perfect addition to sock yarn.
I didn't specify percentages on the label, as I simply don't know exactly. There should be about 25% in the white thread/dyed yarn, which would make it about 12.5% in the marled yarn.
Sorting the mohair
I knew this particular mill wouldn't be able to spin a traditional sock-weight yarn. But still, the yarn came out quite a bit thicker than I had thought. Which is perfectly fine as well of course. You will maybe notice this yarn is a bit 'rough around the edges' as there are some knots and a few spots that seem to be not spun/plied like the rest. Both as I had the feeling I had to make up for this fact and because you just simply need more weight when your yarn is thicker to make a pair of socks I had to be generous with this set and make it 150 grams altogether. It will make a perfect pair of cosy house socks to snuggle up on the sofa with this winter!
I hope you will enjoy this little yarn-making experiment of mine. This is a unique yarn that won't be repeated. The other yarns that were spun from my Dutch fleeces will be added to the shop very soon. I will make sure to announce them in my newsletter.
I haven't knit a full sock out of the Texelaar yarn yet, but did make a little cuff-size swatch. And I think I can say you don't need as big a needle as you might expect. Therefore I come with DK weight pattern suggestions as well as I think the gauge used in these patterns will go well with this yarn.
The first two patterns are written to use with sock weight yarn held double. Obviously you don't need to do that, the Texelaar yarn is just as thick as 2 sock weight yarns held together.
These lovely cosy Bear Paw Socks by Andrea Mowry will suit the marled yarn perfectly, as well does it make good use of a contrast colour with the interesting heel construction.
A perfect vanilla plus some extra's pattern is the Thicksgiving socks by Summer Lee. (Ravelry link) There are three different variations of socks to knit, including vanilla, ribbed, and cabled.
The Hyak socks by Kim Swingle (Ravelry link) are designed with very similar yarn as your Ovis et cetera Texelaar yarn. I myself love a traditional looking sock like this.
Like Herba, Igneae has been around since the very beginning of Ovis et cetera. It is my most popular yarn, probably because of its shiny appearance and versatility. Igneae is so much more than just sock yarn! Both the ramie and the silk give Igneae its drape and shine, which makes it perfect for shawls or flowy garments. Because of its relatively low wool content, and the ramie and silk, Igneae is very suitable for summer garments and accessories.
Cinthia Vallet loves using Igneae and created both bunny Odile and Nanna the lady duck (Ravelry links) out of Igneae.
The ramie and silk also make this an extra durable yarn, which is exactly why I chose this base, always looking for no nylon sock yarn alternatives.
I dyed your skein using a sort of tie-dye technique that I am calling 'Confetti' as it creates little specks once knitted up. I think it shows best using a relatively plain pattern. So if you have a favourite vanilla sock pattern, this is a great skein for it!
But Igneae also has beautiful stitch definition, therefore I chose patterns that both make the colourway and the yarn base characteristics shine!
First up is a pattern that was designed in Igneae, Origin by Jessica Gore (Ravelry link) for a sock publication by Making Stories, which is now available as a single pattern. You can see how lovely the stitch definition is with Igneae.
Who doesn't know the Rye socks by Tin Can Knits? Available in all sizes, from baby to big adult feet. Tin Can Knits has a free app now, which looks extremely handy & interesting and I might just have to try it out to knit myself a pair of Rye socks.
Another famous pair of socks: Monkey Socks by Cookie A. (Ravelry link) An absolute classic! And just perfect for Igneae.
From all the Ovis et cetera sock yarns, Igneae is the most summery yarn, so a pair of shorty socks had to be included.
Hazel socks by DUCATHI
For your 3rd sock yarn you have received a bundle of Herba. Herba has been in the Ovis et cetera collection from the very beginning, and for good reasons! It is such a versatile workhorse yarn. You can use it for just about anything. But this is a sock yarn club, so let's talk socks first. Herba is made up of 20% ramie, the other 80% is non superwash wool.
Ramie is a plant fiber that comes from the stem bark of the Boehmeria nivea, a perennial shrub of the nettle family. It is also known as China grass or grass linen. The use of ramie dates back to ancient China, where it was first cultivated for its fiber around 4000 BC.
Ramie is a strong, durable, and lustrous fiber that is known for its smooth texture. Its natural color is creamy white. Ramie is often compared to linen, because of its breathability and strength. However unlike linen, ramie is soft and shiny, almost silk like. Besides adding durability, ramie has non-allergenic and antimicrobial properties, which makes it a perfect addition to a sock yarn.
Herba is a sport weight yarn, don't let this scare you. Sport weight is only a tiny bit more plump than the traditional sock weight yarn. You can definitely use any pattern written for fingering weight yarn, you could even try to use the same needle size for a firm and durable pair of socks.
Your bundle of colours gives you a ton of possibilities to play around!
I have knit the Anna socks by Skeindeer knits (Ravelry link) out of a very similar colour combination as you will find in your bundle. Choose different colours for heels cuffs and toes to make optimal use of your colours. And if you knit a short cuff you should even be able to make 2 different pair of these.
My Anna socks out of Herba
The Pixel rise socks by Kemper Wray (Ravelry link) are the ultimate vanilla-but-with-added-colour-play socks. You won't be able to put these down.
Another Skeindeer pattern: the Hjaltland socks. (Ravelry link) Follow the chart, but choose your own colours randomly.
The simple Skyp socks (Ravelry link) are almost vanilla. Use them as a canvas for your colours: stripes, colour blocks, play around!
I would like you to have a look at Rebekka Mauser's designs, her socks will blow your mind and are perfect for your mini skein bundle. I have knit the Gioia socks myself, but I just don't want you to miss out on any of the other ones that use the same technique. They are so much fun!
My Gioia socks (out of Corriedale twist in this case)
I hope this gave you some useful inspiration for your bundle of Herba.
Like said, Herba is an extremely versatile yarn. The 20% ramie makes it a bit less warm than a 100% wool yarn as well as adding a bit of drape, which makes it also very suitable for summer knits and shawls. Have a look at my Ravelry bundle for more Herba inspiration.
2. Corriedale twist
It is time for our second natural sock yarn. Meet Corriedale twist!
The Corriedale sheep originates from New Zealand by cross-breeding Merino and Lincoln Longwool. They have since then been exported to many countries all over the world. Nowadays a big part of the sheep population on the Falkland Islands is made up of Corriedale sheep.
Corriedale is a true dual-purpose sheep, it is bred for meat as well as its excellent wool.
The wool combines the softness and bounce of Merino with the lustre and longer staple of the Lincoln Longwool. You can probably see the slight sheen on your skein.
This base takes dye quite vibrant, which made me choose the colourway, I think it looks particularly good on Corriedale twist. (I am not going to be too specific as not everybody will receive their yarn at the same time.)
Corriedale twist is spun in Yorkshire, UK. You will probably immediately notice it has a very high twist, hence its name. It makes this yarn very suitable as a sock yarn.
It is spun as a 2-ply, which is perfect for lace and it will create a characterful stockinette.
A little bit of lace because a 2ply works very well with lace. And the last 2 patterns will work beautifully with this colourway.
Irving socks by Jaclyn Salem (Ravelry link)
Azulejo Socks by Soprano Knits (Ravelry link)
Calluna Socks by Soprano knits (Ravelry link)
You have just received and unwrapped your first package which led you to this page. I decided to start with the newest addition: Close. I am extremely excited about this new base and therefore didn't want to delay introducing it to you. I hope you will love it as much as I do.
This time last year I got in touch with the people at John Arbon textiles as I wanted to have a custom sock yarn spun. I was looking for a yarn that was a true sock yarn first of all, but also versatile enough to be used for other things. I chose all three sheep breeds in this blend because they have the kind of wool I love: a bunch of character but still soft. I also liked the idea of a naturally coloured yarn as up until that point there only were white sock yarns in the Ovis et cetera collection.The dash of Zwartbles gives the yarn its lovely heathered colour, while it adds a bit of my Dutch heritage. Most important to me was that all the wool for this yarn was sourced in the UK, and it turned out even better as all three of these breeds are sourced close by the mill in Devon making this a minimally traveled yarn. I loved working with the friendly people at John Arbon textiles, and am very thankful for this beautiful natural sock yarn that I now get to share with you.
Both Devon Closewool and Exmoor Blueface are crossbred from the Exmoor Horn. Devon Closewool is Exmoor Horn x Devon Longwool, and Exmoor Blueface as the name suggests, is a crossbreed between the Exmoor Horn and Bluefaced Leicester.
So technically there is quite a bit of Exmoor Horn in this yarn, also as it is such a cool sheep it needs a little introduction:
Exmoor Horn sheep are an ancient breed indigenous to Exmoor. The remains of similar sheep have been found amongst the detritus of Roman encampments on the North Devon coast. Although farmed commercially, they are a minority breed and are classed as “at risk” since 95% of the breeding stock is within the moorland areas of Devon and West Somerset. They are one of the few hill breeds with a relatively fine fleece, and with a good staple length. Unusually, both males and females are horned.
Scientific studies have shown that Exmoor Horns are genetically adapted to their environment. They are tough, hardy sheep, able to withstand high rainfall with minimal foot trouble. They are very protective mothers, good milkers, and able to thrive on what would otherwise be considered poor herbage. An Exmoor Horn ewe, though docile and easy to contain, will look you straight in the eye. It is this irascible, defiant grumpiness that ensures their survival under adverse conditions, wool with attitude you might say.
The Devon Closewool is a very hardy sheep with a docile temperament. It is distributed almost exclusively on Exmoor in North Devon, in southwest England. Thrives on a purely grass-based diet. A medium-sized white-faced sheep without horns. Its significant feature is its exceptional fleece of wool.
The breed arose around the mid-1800s when Exmoor Horn sheep were crossed with the Devon Longwools. The resultant intermediate-sized sheep proved very popular and expanded rapidly in numbers. By 1950 there were around 229,000 Closewools, almost all of them located in Devon making them the most numerous breed in the county at that time. The Devon Closewool Sheep Breeders Society was formed in 1923.
Devon Closewools are a true triple-purpose breed, meat, dense strong wool, and an ideal sheep for crossbreeding. The wool is dense, medium length with a strong staple that does not part easily so the skin stays dry. This enables the sheep to thrive in wet, cold conditions.
About the Exmoor Blueface from the John Arbon website:
The Exmoor Blueface is a crossbreed of the Exmoor Horn (our local hill sheep) and the distinguished Bluefaced Leicester (the softest British sheep breed). Its fibre has a wonderful springy nature and adds plenty of bounce to a blend. As the name implies, our Exmoor Blueface is bred and farmed in Devon where we live – and can often be seen roaming happily on the Exmoor hills.
The history of the Zwartbles as a sheep breed starts in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It is thought that the Zwartbles breed is descended from a relatively large breed of sheep called the Schoonebeker which grazed the heathlands of North East Holland. It gets its name from a place called Schoonebeek in the province of Drenthe.
The Schoonebeker lambs were at the time walked to the livestock market in Norg where they were sold as store lambs to farmers from Northern Friesland who used them to fertilise their pastures while fattening. This practice declined when commercial fertilisers became available and the Schoonebeker lamb trade crashed resulting in the Schoonebeker becoming an extremely rare breed. Some of the store lambs sold had badger face markings that resemble the modern day Zwartbles sheep, and if you look at the pictures of the Schoonebeker you can see the resemblance including the slight roman noses, long neck and erect posture. A number of Friesian farmers decided to line breed these “Zwartbles “ Schoonebeker sheep and with some influence from Friesian Milk sheep and Texel’s the modern day Zwartbles was developed.
You have two 50-gram skeins in the colourways Wine and Sage, as I wanted you to see how wonderful the grey base is for both saturated and pale colours. Also as Close is such a woolly yarn, it lends itself very well for colourwork.
Close is spun as a 3-ply, not to be mistaken or compared with sock yarn weight being referred to as 4-ply. Close is made up of 3 smaller strands that are plied together. 3 Ply yarns create a smooth and even fabric in stockinette while it makes cables and textured stitches pop and stand out.
I picked a few patterns that would be perfect for your two colour bundle of Close. A little bit of everything. The possibilities don't end here. Use any 2 colour pattern or your favourite sock pattern and stripe the colours, or make contrasting heels cuffs and toes.
I would love to see what you make! Please share your makes in any way you are comfortable with. If you use social media it would be great if you use #naturalsockyarnclub & #ovisetcetera You can follow these hashtags to see what your fellow club members are making.
Happy natural sock knitting!
Texts and pictures from: