Knitting natural and more sustainable socks

This is a guest article by my dear friend Saskia Maas from Ovis et Cetera. She's very very knowledgable on natural and sustainably knitting yarns and I know you'll love what she has to say... XS 


Hi! my name is Saskia (yes, as well) Maas, the dyer behind Ovis et cetera yarns. I met Saskia de Feijter when she started selling my yarn in her Rotterdam shop Ja, Wol. Pretty soon after we met, we decided to share stands at the Yarndale and Edinburg yarn festivals. They both were wonderful adventures. Working, knitting, sipping coffees together and chatting until we fell asleep in Saskia's camper. We discovered to have very similar taste and values, both in life & yarn. But let's talk about the last one now. Yarn! And specifically, sock yarn.

Since I started Ovis et cetera it has been very important to me to sell solely nonsuperwash yarns. Wool is such a beautiful product, it is absolutely perfect the way it is. And I never understood why we would want to change it with chemical treatments just to be able to throw it in the washing machine. Doesn't it make sense after spending hours and hours of knitting to take good and gentle care of your knitwear?

A little explanation:

Each strand of wool is made up of minuscule overlapping scales. When washed in hot water (plus soap and agitation) these scales interlock and the strands become tighter, causing felting and shrinkage. Superwash treatments prevent exactly this by either (or both) chemically removing the scales and coating the strands of wool in plastic. That is why superwash yarn usually feels smooth and soft.

Besides it not being very sustainable because of the extra use of energy, chemicals, and water plus creating waste, the beautiful characteristics of wool are also taken away in this process. It loses bounce, memory, and elasticity. It is far less warm than untreated wool.

Wool is naturally self-cleaning and doesn't provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Coating it in plastic it becomes a different story. Natural wool doesn't need to be washed that often. Even wool socks can be worn several times before they need a wash. Wool is compostable, superwash wool, because the plastic coating is not biodegradable, as well will it shed microplastics.

This brings me to nylon, again a plastic. Are socks with added nylon more durable? Absolutely. I am not going to lie about that. But for what it is worth? Microplastics are a huge problem, a problem we haven't been aware of for a long time. Now that we are, and know how to prevent worse, we should try our very best to add as little plastic as possible to our lives.

There are several ways to make natural socks more durable. 

  • Yarn spun with some extra twist makes it more sturdy. 
  • Strong natural fibers like ramie, silk, or mohair can be blended in. Besides giving the yarn strength, all three of these add shine and are very soft, so you get a bit of luxury as a bonus!
  • When knitting socks it is important to knit at a tight gauge, you want a firm and therefore durable fabric. 
  • Additionally, you can use reinforcement at exactly those places you know to get the most wear. You probably know the slip stitch heel flap, consider using the same slip stitches in other places that you know get thin after a lot of wear


At this moment there are 3 different natural sock yarns in the Ovis et Cetera collection:


A luscious plump non-superwash sock yarn. 100% made out of natural fibres.

Sport weight



100 gram / 300 meter / 328 yard approx 


A luxurious blend of wool, ramie and silk. Soft shiny and drapey, very suitable for accessories and garments or a pair of luxurious socks.

Fingering weight


20% ramie

20% silk

100 gram / 425 meter / 464 yard  approx

Corriedale twist

100% Corriedale, spun with some extra high twist which makes it very suitable for durable socks but of course also perfect for garments and accessories. Corriedale twist has a slight sheen and feels lovely & soft.

Fingering weight

100% Corriedale wool

100 gram / 400 meter / 437 yard approx

And as soon as next week a new very exciting sock yarn will be added, custom spun by John Arbon textiles:


40% Devon Closewool

40% Exmoor Blueface

20% Zwartbles 

100 gram/ 400 meter / 437 yard approx

But more is to come! This year Ovis et cetera will have 6! different natural sock yarns in the collection. They are specifically suitable for socks in their unique ways. They do have something in common: all are 100% made out of natural materials, non-superwash & hand dyed sustainably with GOTS-certified dyes.

Do you want to come on a bi-monthly journey to discover all that is good about natural sock yarns?

Every 2 months you will receive at least 100 grams of sock yarn. Either as a full skein, a big skein with a mini, or a mini skein set. You get to taste and experience the different characteristics of all Ovis et cetera sock yarns. And your sock drawer will get stocked up with toasty natural socks bit by bit over the year.

When exactly you will receive what specific base will be a surprise, as well as the colours. In the end, you will have the complete Ovis et cetera sock yarn collection dyed up in signature Ovis Et cetera colourways.

With every shipment, you will receive a little information and backstory about that particular yarn, as well as several pattern suggestions, specifically suitable for that month's yarn base.

Your yarns will ship in the first week of each of the following months: February, April, June, August, October & December. All shipping is included in the price. Subscribe, and enjoy a year of bi-monthly woolly surprises in your mail.

Let's fill up those sock drawers!

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