Shetland Sport Socks
I make these amazing socks with a blend of 70% Wool from our Heritage Shetland Sheep and 30% Nylon.
Hand made on my antique circular sock knitter.
...right from the farm
Making these wool socks actually begins with 12 months of feeding my heritage breed flock of Shetland Sheep as they grow their fleece.
The shearer makes his annual visit in late April or early May – just before lambing time. Besides being a pleasant time of year to work outside, shearing at this time ensures that new born lambs will more easily find their mama’s udder than if she is laden with a heavy coat of wool. It also means the mother will be more aware when she lays down with her lambs. A ewe in full fleece can accidently lay on her lambs without feeling they are there.
The spring also brings the rain so I am always fretful when booking an appointment with the shearer that we will luck out and have a few dry days in a row, as the sheep need to be dry for shearing.
On shearing day the fleece from each sheep is ‘thrown’ on the skirting table. I ‘skirt’ the fleece (pick off the poopy parts, second cuts, bits of hay) while the shearer shears the next sheep. I put each fleece in its own bag where it stays until I do a second, more thorough skirting when the busyness of shearing day is past.
It is important to skirt the fleeces properly. The equipment at the mill can only do so much and if I send a fleece with lots of hay in it, I will get back yarn with lots of hay in it – and that means sitting with a pair of tweezers to pick out the bits.
Another reason to skirt the fleeces thoroughly is the increasing cost of shipping them to the mill. It would be a shame to pay postage on weight that will be sorted of and thrown in the garbage by the mill.
When I send the skirted fleeces to the mill they are washed (3-4 times), rinsed (2 – 3 times) carded, spun into singles (thin strands) and finally 2 or 3 singles are plyed into yarn. The Shetland fleece used for these sport socks is blended with 30% nylon before spinning for added durability.
The mills I use are environmentally conscious and use only mild detergents to wash the wool. Larger commercial mills are more inclined to use a chemical process called carbonizing to clean the wool – it literally dissolves dirt, grease, and bits of vegetation.
Each batch of sock yarn I get from the mill is a unique colour, based on the fleeces I select in a given year. Typically I end up with a batch in a darker brown (called Moorit) and I lighter batch (called Fawn).
I knit the socks with an antique 1850s hand cranked circular sock knitter and I seamlessly weave the toes closed. The knitter is entirely hand operated. (In my picture the treadle you see is the base of an old sewing machine, from which I made my work table.
I machine wash on Wool Cycle in small load warm/warm, and hang or dry them flat. No bleach. No dryer. Some folks prefer to hand wash their wool socks. I find the newer generation of washing machine to have gentle enough cycles – the key with wool, for me – small loads and no sudden temperature changes – for me, I use warm/warm.
XS, Small, Small +, Medium, Medium +, Large, XL, XXL