Corriedale + Honey
I find it funny how hazy memories can become. I could have sworn that I could have used years to measure the time between first taking up knitting needles and knitting my first socks. After scrolling to the bottom of my Ravelry project list, however, I realized that I should measure that time in months. It didn't take me long to start in on sock knitting.
(And now I'm realizing that both my ten-year Knitiversary and ten-year Sockiversary have passed without acknowledgement! That's something I shall have to remedy at a later date.)
All that to say: I've been knitting socks for over ten years, and in all that time, I've scarcely paid attention to the wool breed of the yarn I've used. I've paid attention to color (of course!) and twist and whether nylon is blended in or if the wool is superwash, but never have I investigated breeds. In my defense, since the vast majority of sock yarn available is Merino, it never before occurred to me that I might enjoy branching out into other breeds.
I recently knit a pair of socks using a Corriedale/nylon yarn dyed by Gabby Gergler from Once Upon a Corgi in the "Ghoul Haunted Woodlands of Weir" colorway. I'll admit, I was simply drawn to the color: a warm neutral with fun speckles in orange and red. It's... moody, and I love it. I had an Etsy gift card and she had it available on her "Marie Cutie" Corriedale/nylon base, and soon after Christmas, it arrived in the mail. Happy Mail Day!
Immediately, I could see that Marie Cutie was different than my usual merino. It looked rougher. If I'm honest, I was a little nervous that it would be itchy. I chose the Tuku Honey Sock pattern by Andrea Mowry (which she had just released) because it called for a slightly thicker fingering weight, and the Marie Cutie looked thick to me.
I began to play with my skein, doing my usual routine of squishing, pulling apart, stroking, unwinding (and photographing it every step of the way,) and the yarn charmed me. It felt softer than it looked. Putting the light behind it, I discovered a delightful halo. And the way the light hit the unskeined yarn...
Well, let's just say there's a reason that this is the yarn featured on the blog splash page and header. I'm in love.
I wanted to know more, so I asked Gabby about this base. I find it amusing that she chose some of the exact words that I would to describe this Corriedale:
Gabby told me that while the majority of yarns available from indie dyers is Merino, many customers are starting to look for variety in wool breeds:
For so many reasons, Corriedale wool is a fabulous choice for socks. From Gabby:
Merino yarn has a fine texture, short fiber length, and lots of crimp. It's stretchy and soft and feels great next to the skin. Our socks need to be strong, though, to hold up to being walked on all day--our socks get rubbed between our feet and shoes, soaking up sweat all the while, which is a recipe for felting and wearing thin, eventually. A good Merino sock yarn will be tightly spun and may be blended with nylon to help this sweet and soft yarn handle the abuse.
Long-staple, thick, wool, like Lincoln or Leicester, is sturdier and less stretchy, with lots of luster. For many of us, though, it's not soft enough to enjoy wearing next-to-skin, despite its practicality.
My friends, this is the true experience of serendipity: a whim of a purchase that opened up a new world for me. The yarn and pattern are a match made in heaven; the rough, plump yarn combined with a reverse stockinette stitch gives the socks a casual coziness. These are the socks to indulge in at the end of the day while sitting by the fire. You can be sure that I will be knitting more Corriedale in the future... and exploring what other breeds have to offer.
As for the color, Gabby says it is inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe piece, Ballad Ulalume:
Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year—
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber—
(Though once we had journeyed down here)—
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir. "