My obsession with sock knitting over the years means I has turned my free and commuting time magically into dozens of pairs of socks. A great deal of them end up being gifted, so I can't really keep track of the wear and tear they get.
I'm usually pretty gentle with my socks. I wash them by hand, or, if I have confidence in what I made them with, I wash the hard-core superwash/nylon blends in the wash machine. Never, ever, ever do I put them in the drier. I do think they just keep better being hand-washed and I don't really mind the extra work. The socks that I give are always superwash. I know the great majority of the world isn't as psychotic as I am when it comes to washing delicate things. I just leave care instructions with the gifts to not put them in the dryer and then let them go.
So as I was sorting through the woolies as the air was getting a chill to it, I noticed that my original pair of socks (the socks that started it all) were looking a little thin in the heels. These were made from a couple of skeins of Lorna's Laces. I've worn them pretty hard for many years, so it wasn't exactly surprising.
Note the two skeins of yarn I used- they were from different dyelots apparently. One is much darker than the other. Regardless, they are socks, and I don't care about something that is going to be concealed beneath shoes enough to care that much. I deemed them a candidate for heel reinforcement. One day. When I get to it. When the mood strikes me.
I put those brown stripey socks in my mending pile, waiting for the sock heel-reinforcement tedium mood to strike me, when, lo, my feet start feeling a little breezy.
A much more recent pair. The pattern is Vog On from Knitty.com. I made them with 2 Skeins of Koigu KPPPM, which is just 100% Merino, no nylon. The other heel looks like it's about to have a blow out as well. I'm pretty good about keeping scraps of sock yarn lying about for years, so with a little time to dive into the scrap yarn pile, I'm sure I'll come up with tangled bits of the original yarn. This darning process is a bit more labor intensive than heel reinforcement. Crap.
As much as I love working with wool, I've really come to the conclusion that one who makes serious socks should probably stay away from sock yarns that don't contain at least a little bit of nylon in it. It might not mean the socks are super soft (although some nylon blends are softer than others), but it really strengthens the wear points and adds years of life to the socks. Which is important if you have just spent 2+ weeks of your life making them. Here is a great guide to sock-darning and reinforcement tips from around the web. So, no more straight-up merino for me and my socks.
Says she who is currently making another pair of socks with Koigu KPPM (which were started a bit before the blowout). D'oh! It the last pair, I swear. The yarn is lovely, and I will be pre-reinforcing the heels just to give them a chance.