Once your fiber is ready to spin, you need to decide what yarn weight you want to spin. Fingering is the commercial standard for sock yarn, but you’re in charge of your yarn now, so DK, Sport or Worsted are all possible. Fingering weight makes something you can wear in your Birkies or to the gym, DK and Sport are good for hiking socks, and Worsted is great for work socks and bed socks. A good way to ensure that you spin a consistent size is to tie a few inches of commercial yarn to the front of your wheel or near where you spindle, so you can easily glance at it to remind yourself of the size you want. Remember that the commercial yarn is plied, so you’re aiming to spin to the size of the singles that make up the finished yarn.
Sample, sample, sample till you achieve the weight you want, and make short notes on how you made each sample (number of treadles, length of yarn drafted till wind-on, etc). For spindlers, you can lay the spun yarn on a piece of paper and draw a line to represent the twist angle, which will give an indication of the amount of twist you inserted in that particular length of yarn. Immediately after spinning a length of yarn, let it twist back on itself in a 2- or 3-ply—this is what your finished yarn will look like. When your sample is the yarn you want for your socks, simply continue to duplicate the steps in the notes you took for that sample, and check your yarn weight occasionally be letting it double back on itself and comparing it to the commercial yarn. By keeping notes and checking your spinning, you can interrupt your spinning and pick it up again later and still be consistent. Keep in mind that sock yarn needs a little more twist and a tighter ply than usual garment yarns because socks take quite a bit more wear and tear. More on this next time….