Until now, Green Mountain Spinnery yarns were primarily in the DK- to worsted-weight range, with yarns like Mountain Mohair and Weekend Wool. These yarns are great for most projects, but if you want to knit socks or lace? Alas, you’d have to look elsewhere.
But the Vermont-based community spinnery has just unveiled its new Sock Art line. The line consists of two yarns, both of which are two-ply sock-weight: Meadow, a blend of 50% kid mohair and 50% Targhee wool; and Forest, a blend of 70% wool and 30% Tencel Lyocell.
Both ship in massive 400-yard/365m hanks that, unless you’re knitting a pair of thigh-high stockings for someone with size 14 feet, will give you sufficient yarn for one full pair of socks. But these yarns, despite the word “sock” in the name, are equally well suited for any finer-gauged project, especially lace. I’m a mohair fan, so I took Meadow out for a test knit.
While unwinding the hank into a ball I came across three knots and one giant slub, possibly where one of the plies snapped during spinning and was spliced back together again—or just one of those irregularities that can happen any time you try to control a natural material. Knots are never ideal, but this is especially the case with socks and lace because you have to conceal your joins more artfully and securely.
Since socks and lace are such different beasts, I knit up two types of swatches. First, I knit a miniature sock. And then I tried two different lace patterns. The hand-painted colors will overpower any extremely elaborate lace pattern, so I stuck with Feather and Fan and a simple staggered vine motif.
The yarn happily allowed itself to be formed into any stitch I tried. The elasticity in the wool helped the yarn hug my needles while also letting it stretch to accommodate k2tog decreases. Whether on my tiny sock needles or larger Addi Turbos, the yarn never snagged or split.
Occasionally I’d encounter a fleck of vegetation here or there, all of which were easily removed. Such vegetation is a necessary by-product of Green Mountain Spinnery’s gentle fiber processing techniques. In exchange for picking out a piece of grass or hay here and there, you get happier, more vibrant fibers that haven’t been stripped of their natural moisture or luster.
At the finer gauge, the yarn produced a dense, firm fabric that is ideal for socks. The yarn’s two-ply composition gave my stockinette a somewhat pebbly texture, lending more of an earthy “handmade” quality to the fabric. On larger needles, those same two plies gave beautiful structure and definition to my lace openwork.
Blocking / Washing
I didn’t see a hint of bleeding in cold, lukewarm, and even warm water washes. The colors stayed absolutely true.
The firm fabric in my finer-gauge swatches relaxed just a little in the wash, drying true to shape without any shrinking or stretching. The lace swatches relaxed much more, allowing me to stretch and block them into shape without any complaints.
The folks at Green Mountain Spinnery chose to blend a premium fine wool and an excellent grade of mohair. The wool gives bounce and structure to the finished fabric, while the mohair adds a touch of drape and a gorgeous luster that resembles silk.
The fibers are so well blended and spun together that there is nary a mohair halo to be found—it’s all about the luster. The strength and longer staple of mohair will definitely add more wearability to your finished garment, although you may still want to reinforce sock heels with nylon if you tend to be rough on your socks.
From a touch perspective, the yarn has a comfortable and reasonably soft hand. It isn’t a delicate merino, nor is it a crunchy barnyard wool. It sits nicely in the middle, warming but not scratching the wearer’s feet or neck.
For sock knitters, I see this yarn as a welcome distraction from the seemingly endless parade of colorful hand-dyed superwash merinos crossing our paths. It’s different—earthy, honest, and refreshingly subtle.
The undyed or semisolid colorway would make a lovely pair of Jane’s Hedgerow Socks. The natural off-white color would render the stitchwork in Amy King’s Guernsey Socks perfectly, while any of the colorways would produce an attractive pair of Shelia January’s Little Shells Socks (both socks from my book, The Knitter’s Book of Wool).
My only fear is that the rest of the knitting world will overlook the yarn simply because it has “sock” in its name. That would be a pity, for this yarn will thrive in many other knitterly situations far beyond socks.
Maybe it’s the snowy Maine winter talking, but I’m tempted to use two or three skeins for a cozy triangle shawl. Or better yet, one of the contrasting colorways would make a stunningly classic Shoalwater Shawl.
8.5 sts per inch on US 1 (2.25mm) needle
Hand-painted $28/skein; undyed white $22/skein