You don’t need to use a fingering weight (CYC Size 1) yarn for socks. In fact, I’d suggest learning how to make socks with a thicker yarn because it makes it easier to try out the new bits.
In addition to this, there are two other points that are good to keep in mind for socks:
Stretch: Even if you stitch pattern doesn’t need to be stretched, socks that are stretchy will just feel better to the wearer.
Strength: Socks will slip into and out of shoes A LOT. And they’ll also be stood on for a good portion of the day. I’m sure you’d like to avoid wear-holes and the little holes that seem to come from nowhere.
Laundering Requirements: If the socks are being worn, you’ll also want to launder them. I can tell you from experience that things that require special laundering treatment just don’t get worn as often. I even have a pile for things that need special treatment. Don’t do that for your socks.
These are all good suggestions for both Knitting and Crochet.
Some Common Fibers for Socks
The way this fiber is spun can have an impact on how lightweight or heavy the yarn is. Generally, alpaca is warmer than wool.
Just like other applications, alpaca won’t be very resilient. I’d personally only use Alpaca in a sock if it was mixed with other fibers. It’s lovely, soft and warm – but its lack of resiliency makes it a challenging match for socks.
This can be a great choice if you’re looking for a fiber that’s hypoallergenic or microbial. People will often gravitate toward it as a great alternative to cotton.
It’s best to use this fiber when blended with others. This way you get the positives – soft and strong – without the negatives – a lack of resiliency and a tendency to be baggy. I’d look for this fiber to be blended with others to help offset those cons.
This is a great choice for socks! It keeps you cool in warmer weather and warm in cooler weather. It also has superior wicking and breathability – two things that are really important in a sock.
It also retains heat even when wet and is naturally fire-resistant.
It has great moisture absorption and is both dirt-resistant and elastic. It’s a great fiber for all four seasons but does require some care and regular cleaning.
Some Common Additions in Sock Yarns
A manmade fiber with wonderful wicking properties. It’s warm, lightweight and quick-drying.
This fiber is quite strong and it absorbs more water than most other man-mades. Nylon resists wrinkles, is easy to wash and dry but it does melt if it catches fire.
It’s a great fiber for socks that will go through a lot of stretching or pulling.
It’s more breathable and absorbent than Nylon (above). It’s also strong, wrinkle-resistant and quick-to-dry.
What about Nylon, Polyester and other additions?
These types of additions can make a sock more hard-wearing. They’re typically added in small amounts – just 5 or 10% – so you don’t really feel it.
I tend to look for sock yarn with one of these additions, but I’ve also bought yarn for socks without it just because it’s pretty.
Does it Need to be Superwash?
(this part is just for animal fibers)
Your yarn doesn’t *need* to be Superwash. While it can make it easier to care for (just toss them in the laundry) and wearing them is more care-free (you won’t need to worry as much about the socks felting by just wearing them), you can make a pair of socks out of non-Superwash yarn.
Having said that, I don’t believe I’ve ever made a pair of socks that weren’t able to be tossed in the washing machine.
If you’re giving the socks as a gift though, I strongly recommend that you use a Superwash yarn. Don’t give a job when you give a gift, and don’t fret over the recipient treating them “just so”. Go for the Superwash yarn. You won’t be disappointed.
How Do I Find a Sock Yarn?
There will likely be a whole lot of fingering weight yarn to choose from! The choices can be overwhelming.
There are a few ways to make it a bit easier for you though. Here are a couple things to look for on the label:
- A picture of a sock
- The word “sock” in the yarn
- One of those additions in the list of fibers
What Else can I Do with Sock Yarn?
If you want to use up some sock yarn and don’t want to make socks, there are lots of other things you can do with it!
Here are a few ideas:
- Leg Warmers
- Sweater or Cardigan (just keep in mind that you’ll need a lot of the same yarn and dyelot)