My favoritest new shoes.

I needed these shoes. I was teaching at Yarnover in Minneapolis [which was super-fabulous, by the way] and needed a little footwear-based oomph to make my super-teacher powers fully activate.

You understand, surely.

These are Dr Martens 1461 Oxfords in the unbelievable-but-true color they call Blueberry. The leather is softer than the usual Doc oxford style [which could probably be used as the outer skin of a tank].

They fit great, with super-thick socks. For two reasons. 1: Docs don’t come in half sizes. 2: Even though the leather is softer than their usual, I have wussy baby princess feet and need the protection of a thicker-than-usual sock fabric.

That said, they’re SUPER comfy with the right socks and my trusty Birkenstock insoles [I put these in everything I wear, unless they're already Birkenstocks]. And as you can see in the pic above, the Thorlo light hiking socks I had worked. But man, I’m a knitter. They’re embarrassing. I need to knit me some beautiful socks that will give me cushy protection.

Challenge: I’m allergic to wool, and most non-wool sock yarns aren’t thick enough to make a sock that will work with these shoes. Sock Candy, for example, my usual go-to sock yarn, is great for regular wear. But it’s not enough. Two strands? Not quite what I was thinking.

So I put it to you, dear readers. What wool-free yarns have I not considered [or may not be aware of] that are more likely sport- or even light-worsted-weight, that will make a comfy, cushy, pretty sock? Maybe you’ll see something at Maryland Sheep & Wool this weekend? Maybe you know of an indie who’s using an unusual base? I sure would love a handpaint for these.

Fill the comments with your ideas. I’ll be super grateful.

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51 Responses to Help me find the right non-wool sock yarn!

  1. TravelingAnn says:

    No sock yarn advice, but I love the shoes.

    I have a pair of Electric Blue high leg Doc boots. They are US 5, so I can squeeze into them, but they aren’t really comfortable.
    sigh

  2. Irene says:

    Check out A to Z Alpacas. Leslie has some great yarns available.

    http://www.atozalpacas.com

  3. Karen says:

    My mom is also non-wool. Her favorite is Cascade Fixation, however, I like working with Crystal Palace Bamboozle more. http://straw.com/cpy/yarns/bamboozle_card.html

  4. June says:

    Hemp is nice to work with, maybe you would like blend with bamboo

  5. Barbara says:

    I’ve never tried this yarn, just heard about it from another knitting blog. She has some interesting fibres, and I believe she uses natural dyes as well. http://www.etsy.com/shop/quovadishandspun

  6. Seanna Lea says:

    This might not help, but have you considered doing a pair of socks with double knitting? You would then have a smooth stockinette sock facing you and they would have the option of being reversable.

  7. Jen says:

    Check out Grumperina’s blog post on the subject, here: http://www.grumperina.com/knitblog/nonwoolysockyarn.htm

    She mentions several options that would make “good house socks.” Might be a good place to start.

  8. Beth Collins says:

    I like Berroco Comfort Sock, which is really a sport weight; you can knit it on size three needles. I use it for socks I’m giving to anti-wool wearers. It is 50% acrylic, 50% nylon. They have four new colors that are nice and bright.

  9. Abigail says:

    I have knit a couple of pairs of socks with Comfort Sock, but none for myself. They seem the same thickness as Sock Candy socks to me. Comfort also comes in DK, which might make the right weight socks. I was also going to bring up Fixation, which isn’t exotic by any means, but makes fairly thick socks in my experience. Thicker than Sock Candy or Panda Cotton (which has been my go-to sock yarn in the past).

  10. Ashley says:

    You could try Cascade Fixation if you want something elastic enough to stay snug. But with a little swatching I think Berroco Remix might work? A nice soft tweedy non-wool blend, I think it would hold up fairly well… Comes in a great color range too.

  11. Jenn says:

    I made a pair of socks out of Trendsetter Kashmir worsted weight. They were absolutely delicious.

    You might also look at a bamboo-silk blend, like Ella Rae Bamboo Silk.

    Or you could be utterly decadent and look at 100% silk. It’s an excellent insulator and kind to delicate feet.

  12. Amy says:

    Update: thanks to the tips so far, I’ve found two (very old, since it’s long discontinued) balls of Artful Yarns Candy and ordered them.

    Also looking at:
    Knit One Crochet Too Wick (only one variegated colorway, but it’s a pretty one!)
    https://www.shopatron.com/products/productdetail/part_number=YRNWICK-429/703.0

    Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl (to be hand dyed by a goddess of color)
    http://www.straw.com/cpy/yarns/cotton_twirl_card.html

    And have asked Berroco about their Comfort Sock possibly coming out in a heavier weight. It’s the only sock of all non-wools I’ve seen that has the printed look you get with Regia, etc. But it’s too fine for this purpose.
    http://www.berroco.com/shade_cards/comfort_sock_sh.html

    Keep the tips coming!

  13. Amy says:

    Oh, dear. K1C2 Wick is discontinued. If you want some, grab it while you can. Such is the way of the yarns.

  14. Beth says:

    Mohair is perfect for socks. It’s soft, hard-wearing, and has anti-bacterial wizardry built in. Allegedly, truck drivers are fond of mohair socks as they don’t wear into holes on the sole of the accelerator foot.

    I’m afraid all my sources are UK or Euro-based but I just found this one via Google…
    http://www.localharvest.org/mohair-sock-yarn-C14135

    good luck in your search

  15. Vismajor says:

    I’m a fan of Cascade Fixation: DK weight, 98% cotton, comfortable to knit with & wear, and sturdy for socks. They’re my go-to boot socks.

  16. Katie says:

    Dizzy Lettuce has a nice bamboo sport weight and her colors are wonderful.

  17. KarenVR says:

    Fabulous shoes. Are they blue, or purple-ish?

  18. Raymonde says:

    Have you thought of wearing a thin pair of socks, also called liners, under your thick socks? Sock liners are thin, lightweight wicking socks designed to be worn right next to your skin. These liners wick sweat away from the surface of your foot to keep you dry and more comfortable. Liners also limit the amount of abrasion between your outer sock and your skin. They are designed to be worn under other socks. I also have VERY sensitive feet, or should I say very sensitive skin on my feet and wearing two pairs of socks allows me to walk for miles without any discomfort, or blisters! :-)

  19. Janelle says:

    How about Cascade Pima Tencel? Not normally a sock yarn but it would feel fabulous on the feet.

    One of my favourite non-wool sock yarns is S.R. Kertzer On Your Toes Bamboo. Maybe used doubled?

  20. Christine says:

    Hands down… Berroco comfort. Comes in lots of different weights, wears like iron, completely machine washable. And you can get pretty much any color your heart desires. Have fun!

  21. Sheeri says:

    If you need worsted, you can always try kitchen cotton!

  22. Elizabeth Risch says:

    I was wondering if something like Rowan Calmer, or Knit Picks has some new non-wool yarns would be acceptable. I love your new shoes, BTW.

  23. Michelle says:

    Ooo – I wish I’d looked earlier. Successful trip to LYS for materials for UK size 14 knee highs. Saw v.v. lovely recycled cotton + acrylic that wd fit the bill (I think). It knits as aran, but can’t remember the name. Oops!

  24. Emma (Kesal) says:

    Oh, and thank you for this thread, I have a wool allergy too, and finding suitable sock yarn alternatives has been interesting. I don’t always want to use the same two yarns!

  25. Gloria Patterson says:

    Have you tried Sugar N Cream’s cotton yarn? It’s medium weight. Here is a link if you want to check it out.
    http://www.sugarncream.com/index.php

  26. Nicole says:

    Cascade Fixation all the way!

  27. Gwendolyn says:

    Hey, you might try http://whimzypinzycreations.biz/
    Her cotton sock yarn is heavier than most others I’ve seen/worked with. I don’t know about her current base, but it sounds similar. We used to sell her yarn at the LYS I taught classes at. And pretty hand dyed colors too!

  28. Diane says:

    It’s not an indie yarn, but I really like Knit One Crochet Too “Wick”. I’ve made a few pairs out of this; it’s essentially a worsted weight and the breatheability of the yarn is great. Nice elasticity so it stands up to being a sock. Mine were simple ribbing, short row heel. Enjoy!

    • Amy says:

      I like it too, but just learned it’s discontinued. Maybe go hunting and stock up before it’s gone.

  29. Silverlotus says:

    I really like On Your Toes Bamboo. It is fairly thick, even though it is fingering weight.

  30. Johnnie Boughner says:

    For years now, on the advice of my dermatologist, I have double-socked it. The inner sock is a thin bamboo blend with an anything I want sock on the outside. Comfy, my feet stay dry and I haven’t had a blister in forever.

  31. Cora says:

    I am in the process of knitting Squared Feet (Knitter’s Magazine-Spring 2012. I am using Bernat Sox (http://www.bernat.com/product.php?LGC=sox&SPP=999) I am loving it and the colors are very pretty :) It is an acrylic/nylon blend.

  32. mollysusie says:

    I have no sock yarn advice but I’m lurking with great glee … I must have wussy baby princess feet too because although I’m usually fine with the wooliest of wools, my feet are not. Which I did not find out about until after painstakingly knitting my first pair of socks in super expensive (I believe $32) sock yarn and wearing them for approx 2.2 seconds. Still meaning to pull those babies apart and make a shawl.

  33. Booklish says:

    Check out SRL on your toes bamboo by Kertzer. It’s 75% bamboo 25% nylon. I used it to make a pair of socks for my Mom who is allergic to wool. She loves them, and it was nice yarn to knit with too! http://www.kertzer.com

  34. Catherine says:

    Kollage Yarns Luscious. 63% cotton/37% nylon elastic. It’s the only cotton yarn I can stand to wear, and I’ve tried a LOT of them. It’s 345 yds to 100 grams, so the heavier side of fingering weight, and I’ve found it plumps up a bit after washing. Doesn’t fit in my regular shoes. Comes in lots of nice solid colors, and some multis, too.

  35. quinn says:

    I like Fixation, and it makes quite a thick and cushy sock…sounds like just the thing for your gorgeous Blueberry Shoes!

  36. AmberSchiwi says:

    My mum also can’t wear wool. I found a cotton-PA blend with stretch that is just SO perfect for socks.
    I’m not sure though whether the company ships to the US
    http://shop.wolleroedel.de/index.php?cat=c673_63-Cotton-Stretch-50g.html

  37. Erika says:

    Here’s another fiber to consider:corn!

    I think Kollage’s Corntasic is quite soft. It would make great socks! (DK weight)

  38. Zelda says:

    Couple of knitters at my LYS have made beautiful socks with Pediwick from Knit One Crochet Two, a bamboo/nylon blend. Only solids, but a decent color range. It’s surprisingly squishy for the fiber profile.
    Hope you find a winner!

  39. Susan says:

    Its nice to see so many nice comments about Fixation; I made socks out of it and they shrank when I washed them. What is the secret for avoiding shrinkage? Thanks.

  40. Krysta says:

    Another vote for Cascade Fixation here! Such a lovely sock yarn. Cotton and elastic, and is nice and thick and cushy

  41. I love the sock-liner idea, and it could look amazing with the shoes and some fabulous lacy hand-knit sock – even if the liner colors are limited. Great idea for the nonwool knitter, but also would permit the wool-enabled to extend the lacy-socks season.

    Can’t wait to hear which of these yarns you try/love!

  42. Janice D says:

    No suggestions, just a big thank you! I have really flat feet and have been wearing orthotics since I was 12 (that means 40 years). The prescription ones are pricey, even with health insurance, so I’m always looking for alternatives. I couldn’t wear sandals for years until I found out about Birkenstocks. I had no idea they made insoles. Huzzah! Good luck with your sock yarn selection.

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