From sheep to sock

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a completely new 100% Irish offering in the shop: S Twist’s gorgeous new Hiking Sock Yarn in lovely colours. When Diarmuid Commins introduced his handspun yarn in undyed colourways last May, he wrote a guest post about it for us. We’re very happy that he’s done the same for his new range!

The wool comes from Castlecomer, Kilkenny and is from Cheviot sheep, a breed with a centuries-long history. They’re a reliable producer of dense, firm wool that is durable without being harsh, with a long staple length and lovely bouncy crimp.


(Cheviot ewe and lamb © Donald Macleod and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons BY licence.)

In other words, it’s perfect sock wool. I add 10% nylon for extra strength, and then the wool is blended and spun for S Twist Wool. Each skein is then dyed individually. After the skeins have dried, I go through them to see which are finished as they are and which need to go back for another dyeing. Each round of dyeing adds another layer of complexity and depth to the colours of the skein. This, of course, is the part which is the most fun. It also means that every single skein is unique!

One of the main things that I love about this line of yarn is that it is like the knitter and I are doing it together. As I am dyeing up the different families of colour, I have an image in my mind of how the different skeins would work together and I use the techniques and tools of a dyer to make my image happen. As at least two skeins are needed to make a pair of socks, the knitter goes through a similar process while choosing which skeins to get. They then use the techniques and tools of the knitter to make their vision happen. At the end of it, the knitter and I have worked together to create something truly unique and special. I find that idea very exciting and a lot of fun.

I’d love to see pictures of your finished Hiking Sock Yarn projects – you can email them to [email protected], or post them in the S Twist group over on Ravelry!