I have been working on spinning a good sock yarn. I struggle with the notion that my beautiful yarn may not hold up as well as it's commercially prepared counterparts. So what to do? I don't have any roving with synthetics blended in, but that seems like a good way to go in the future. Being me, and not wanting to wait for an order to come in, I started thinking about the problem.
I don't like knitting in a strand of thread, because then I either miss the critical spot where a hole forms, or I have a stripe around my sock. Neither are something I want to deal with, so another option was essential. So spinning in a support fiber seemed like the best way to go. I used plain old polyester sewing thread, both on the small spool, and also the big serger spools.
When I spun the first singles, I used a few spools of colored thread I had, and I just spun it into the singles. The process was easy, and actually might help a new to sock yarn spinner. When I started learning to spin the ultra fine singles for sock yarn, I found that my bobbin would often suck the yarn right out of my hands, even when the tension was adjusted down as low as possible. This little trick, not only helps stabilize the tension, but also adds durability and strength to the finished yarn. Best of all, it's CHEAP!
For the small spools, I put one on a straight knitting needle, and crammed it into the crack on my chair. This worked really well, because the friction of the spool rubbing on the chair kept it under control and feeding out smoothly.
The second way I tried was with one thread off of a cone of polyester sewing thread designed for a serger machine. This thread is super cheap, and comes with about a million yards on each cone, well several thousand anyway. I set the cone on the floor below and it fed out nicely as I spun. These come in a variety of neutral colors, and if you order, you can get them in about any color you could want. They cost from $2.50 on up, depending on the fiber make up and quality of the thread you choose.
I found two ways to join the thread in that worked well. You can simply hold the thread in your pinching fingers, then pulling it snug, begin to spin as normal.
There will be a little end sticking out where you joined, unless after just a few twists you give it a tiny tug. I found that leaving this sticking out was a good way to know where my singles began.
The other way, is to split the fibers, and put the thread in the space between the two stands, then holding it all snugly begin to spin as normal for a few twists.
The thread will wind around almost like you are plying it in. If you hold the fiber a little to one side, then the fiber will wind around the thread for a thread core type yarn. I didn't do this, I was afraid I would lose elasticity, but I'm not certain of that, testing would need to be done.
My first attempt, I used about 2 spools of polyester sewing thread in a matching color. As I spun the first single, I let the thread feed out slowly, along with the drafted fibers. It made a slightly candy cane effect, that was not terribly visible in the finished yarn.
I had some bumps here and there, but over all the effect was quite nice. If you have to join a new spool of thread, be sure and tie the ends of the new and old together with a good firm square knot. I found if I didn't I had little ends working their way out later.
For my second attempt, I used some premier Cotswold roving I have, and guard carefully! The stuff slides out of your hands and onto the bobbin like a dream. It is very similar to BFL and mohair, but a little softer. The fiber is very "slidey" and smooth to spin. It makes a lovely soft yarn with a nice fuzzy bloom.
Finally be sure and add plenty of twist to your yarn, the singles should be just shy of over-twisted in order to be of a good solid quality after plying. Also a combed or pin drafted roving will yield a slightly more durable result than carded roving
This method should create a solid sock yarn that is durable and will hold up to the wear a sock gets. If you do a two ply then only one singles needs to be spun with a thread. If you do a three ply, you might do two this way. Play around with the idea, and let's share information on the forum about our results.