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

Shetland Sheep Shearing

Making these wool socks actually begins with 12 months of feeding the sheep as they grow their fleece.

The shearer makes his annual visit in late April or early May – just before llambing 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 llambs. A ewe in full fleece can accidently lay on her lambs without feeling they are there.

The spring also brings the rain so it is always a fretful time booking an appointment with the shearer, hopeful to 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. The fleece is skirted (the poopy parts picked off, along with second cuts and bits of hay) while the shearer shears the next sheep. Each fleece is placed in its own bag where it stays until a second, more thorough skirting is done 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 a fleece is sent with lots of hay in it, the yarn will come back 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.

Shetland Sheep Skirting Fleece

 

Shetland Sheep Sock Yarn

When the skirted fleeces go 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 mill used is environmentally conscious and uses 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 coming back from the mill is a unique colour, based on the fleeces selected in a given year. Typically the yarn batch is a shade of darker brown (called Moorit) or lighter batch (called Fawn), or a blend of the two.

The socks are knit with an antique 1850s hand cranked circular sock knitter and the toes are closed by hand. The knitter is entirely hand operated. (In the picture, the treadle you see is the base of an old sewing machine, from which the work table was made.

The socks are machine washed on Wool Cycle in small load warm/warm,  and hung or laid flat to dry. No bleach. No dryer.  Some folks prefer to hand wash their wool socks. The newer generation of washing machine to have gentle enough cycles – the key with wool, on the farm – small loads and no sudden temperature changes – for me; warm/warm has yielded good results at the farm.

Knitting Shetland Sport Socks

Additional information

Size

XS, Small, Small +, Medium, Medium +, Large, XL, XXL

Colour

Fawn, Moorit