There’s a fascinating article which talks about synthetic fibres being found in oceans – and how much of that comes from clothing. What’s less clear is how much of the damage is being done during manufacturing, but it’s clear that fabric continues to shed particles over it’s lifetime.
So less nylon in wool blends would see fewer fibres available to end up in the ocean. I’d also suggest that hand washing socks would see fewer loose fibres – there’s a lot less friction in hand washing so fibres have less opportunity to work loose.
The idea of nylon in socks as a good thing is pretty widespread, and I know it’s something we get asked for a lot. Nylon isn’t always bad stuff. It has a lot of uses. However one of the things it does promote is the use of fibres in sock yarns which wouldn’t otherwise be a wise choice.
Cashmere is an amazing fibre – but it’s short staple length means it’s never going to make hard wearing socks. Perfect bed socks, yes. Perfect socks for day to day wear – no. I’d also class fine merino in this category – it’s not the most hard wearing yarn, and often it takes a combination of super wash treatment (where the wool scales are removed) and nylon to make something hard wearing enough for day to day use.
I think super wash yarns have their place (and we’ll continue to sell two of them) – but I don’t think it’s always necessary for socks.
When we designed Britsock we knew we wanted to avoid the chemicals used in super wash – and the compromise was to use nylon in the blend to extend the wear. It’s something we’ll continue to review, and if we could find a non synthetic alternative we’d look at changing the blend.
Our new Wensleydale and Shetland is a pure wool – and the characteristics of both breeds plus the high twist construction mean it should stand up to the demands of day to day sock wear. The trade off is that it’s not the softest yarn ever – it has a nicely robust character which should wear well over time, and I already have a sweater being knitted from it.
So as part of the No Nylon KAL I’ll be making socks with Wensleydale and Shetland. Once they’re finished I’ll wear them to work (so inside Dr. Martens) and see how they behave.
Watch this space.