If you remember from our last sock spinning post, we had two one ounce samples of our Corriedale-Alpaca roving. I spun the first and did a Navajo 3-ply (sometimes called chain-plying), you see that pictured to the left here. A nice, round, plump and still squishy yarn! I'm not sure if it shows in the photo but the sheen of this fiber is amazing! I threw in the light grey Corriedale-Angora yarn just to see the contrast.
The next one ounce sample I did as a 2-ply. Although I really liked the looks of it, when I began knitting the sample I could quickly feel the difference and my preference was the 3-ply. Even my husband could see and feel the difference in the two swatches of fabric. I was finishing up my 2-ply swatch so I could show it to you side by side with the 3-ply, when it occurred to me to try going down a needle size on the 2-ply yarn before I made my final decision, and I'm glad I did! I was most happy with the 2-ply yarn and size 1 needles.
Please excuse the sloppy samples in the picture above - I really should have dampened them down (wet blocked) to get them to lay better and they would show the stitch detail and size difference more (the edges are curling, so I'm not sure how clear this will be) For both samples, I cast on 21 stitches. Measuring just across the center stockinette portion of the samples I came up with 7 to 71/2 stitches to the inch on the size 1 needles. I wish I could tell you how many yards I spun in each sample and I DID have that information written down...but now cannot find it! Ugh...
So anyway, now comes the decision making process. I like the firmness of the 3-ply yarn. Experience and common sense tells me that the 3-ply is going to wear better for socks than the 2-ply, its sturdier. Its softer and "cushier" on the feet. It will also be very warm, and it will felt quite easily, just from wear. If I knit the 2-ply on the size 1 needles, I'll still have a good firm fabric though not quite as dense and heavy. They will probably fit nicer inside of shoes and for me, with my knitting tension, I'll have a bit more stretch to the leg of the sock. There is probably a more technical way of describing this and there are sock knitting experts out there who have written books and articles to explain this all better than I am - LOL - I'm just sharing with you my rambling thought process, to show you how this spinning-knitting shepherdess comes to making sock yarn and socks! I'd also like you to see that what it all comes down to is personal preference, personal knitting and spinning styles and most of all what makes you happy especially if you are making these socks for yourself. Another thing to consider - the 2-ply will take less time to spin, and require less roving to the the same number of yards.
Now another possibility, something I've done numerous times in the past, is to spin both a 3-ply and a 2-ply yarn. Knit the sock foot with the 3-ply and the leg with the 2-ply. As spinners, we're able to adjust our spinning and get a 3-ply and a 2-ply that are approximately the same "size" aren't we?
So, what would you chose at this point? While we decide, I'll leave you with a picture of Yarn On A Plate - I had to take a few minutes to spin up some wildly colored rolags I received as a gift. So pretty and when I finished the little sample, I twisted it together with more of the Corriedale-Alpaca - see them below, and I'll meet you back here next time!