Want to Spin Self-Striping Sock Yarn?

With some planning, yarn dyers—and spinners—can create beautiful sock yarns with distinct stripe patterns.

Anne Merrow Mar 2, 2022 - 3 min read

Want to Spin Self-Striping Sock Yarn? Primary Image

Photo by Mammiya via Pixabay

In my house, socks and spinning go together.

There's nothing I love spinning more than sock yarn. And with long enough runs of color, you can knit socks that have distinct color bands instead of distracting pools and flashes of color. As a spinner I have control over my yarn, so I'm going to try spinning my own self-striping yarns from hand-dyed top.

Planning for Stripes

Creating impressive stripes starts with the fiber. If you want to spin stripes from handpainted roving or top, start with top that has bold areas of color. Smaller areas of color can create a watercolor effect. But the bigger the block of color, the longer the stripe, so examine your fiber closely.

If the fiber has visible repeats, then you're lucky—you have choices! It's easy to match up the areas of red, brown, and gold in this Bluefaced Leicester/silk blend from Abstract Fiber (below, left). For very long stripes, I will break the top into three lengths, perfect for my intended three-ply yarn.


Shown left: The color repeat of this hand-dyed top is easy to follow; it will create a lovely self-striping yarn. Right: Anne doesn't see a distinct repeat pattern in this top, so she'll split it lengthwise into three strips before spinning. Photos by Anne Merrow

The other top I pulled from my stash was parted from its label long ago. Judging by the hand, I suspect it's Merino or BFL (above, right). After comparing different sections I couldn't find a repeat easily, so in order to create matching stripes in all the plies I'll need to strip the top into three equal sections. If I want shorter stripes from the red top, I can use this technique too.

Stripes in the Spin

Preparing the fiber is just the first step. I'll need to spin the singles to preserve the color cohesion, then match up colors in the plying. In the meantime, I'm ready to get started striping up my sock yarn.