Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

What else can you do with sock yarn?

32 Comments

An interesting question that a few people asked me this week was “What can you do with sock yarn if you are not a sock knitter?”  I thought that perhaps this might be a good topic for a post.

The answer to the question my friends, is “anything”.  Sock yarn is essentially fingering weight yarn. Some of it is slightly finer, some of it is slightly heavier.  It is sold as sock yarn because it has a tighter construction that “normal” fingering, so that it is strong and durable enough to be made into socks.  It is perfectly usable to make nice hats, mitts, shawls, lightweight garments, baby blankets, blankets (see all the sock yarn blankets being made!) and whatever else you care to work it into.  At one point, I even used it to make patches for the holes in my jeans!

The thing about sock yarn is that the commercial varieties like Opal or Regia are often patterned into a pre-printed sequence designed for small rows, like in socks or fingerless gloves.  This is the sort of thing I mean:

 

Stray too far out from the number of rows that were designed for the pattern, and you will get a very different and not-so-attractive effect.

However, if you choose a yarn that doesn’t have that sequencing, this ceases to be a matter of concern, as is the case with most indie-dyed or single-colour sock yarns.

Here are some examples of projects that I made out of sock yarn that were not socks:

There is plenty of help to get you going. Many patterns on Ravelry utilise sock yarn for other things, and entire books that have been written with sock yarn in mind.  A really good place to start is Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders – 101 Patterns that go way beyond Socks! by Judith Durant.

Some of the single patterns that utilise sock yarn include the very popular free pattern Sockhead Slouch Hat, of which there are over 9,000 projects on Ravelry!  Slipped, the free hat pattern that I designed for Zealana, uses sock yarn.  My ever-popular free pattern, Adorable Kids Fingerless Mitts uses sock yarn.

Then there are shawl favourites, such as the Hitchhiker.  The very popular Stephen West uses a lot of sock yarn for his extraordinary shawl designs.

At some point, I will be knitting this gorgeous shawl from Sylvia Bo Bilvia – Waiting For Rain.  I’ll likely use Knitsch for that.  Color Affection is another runaway hit that has been made thousands of times in sock yarn. Examine the projects on Ravelry for any fingering- weight shawl pattern, and you will inevitably find that many knitters have used a sock yarn to make it.  Shawls are also a great way to quickly use up some of the many skeins of sock yarn that sock knitters find themselves collecting…

Sweater projects like this really sweet hoodie Chambourcin, and hit designs like Hitofude and Old Romance have all been knit in sock yarns.

The great thing about using sock yarn in non-sock projects is that you do not need to knit it at the tight tension required for socks.  If I am knitting a shawl in sock yarn, I’ll typically be working with 4mm needles/US6.  Fingerless gloves and hats are normally knitted with the slightly more fingering-typical gauge of 28sts x 32 rows, which would call for needles in the range of 2.75mm – 3.25mm (US2 – 3).

Have you made projects from sock yarn that are not socks?  Do share!

If you haven’t yet used a sock yarn, I encourage you to go and have a look on Ravelry, start by picking a fingering-weight pattern for an accessory of your liking, choose some beautiful sock yarn, and let the world of sock yarn joy be yours for the taking!

autumn colours

 

 

 

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Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

32 thoughts on “What else can you do with sock yarn?

  1. Kaffe Fassett for Regia , Fall 2011, has a great sweater and shawls with the stripped sock yarn used for his signature circles. Great post.

  2. Such a fun post! I’ve queued more than one pattern here 🙂 I’ve made a few shawls with sock yarn, a baby blanket, fingerless mitts, a cowl…I’ve got plans and the yarn for a sweater!! Just need the guts/time/needles to case on!

  3. Some lovely ideas and links. Thank you so much.

  4. I used sock yarn for a lacy kerchief type scarf. It looked great but didn’t seem to block very well. I wondered if the amount of nylon in it made it less likely to block well. What do you think?

    • Some patterns are not so good in sock yarns. I am not sure if it is the twist or the nylon, but I do avoid anything that requires too much blocking. The other way is to block it very aggressively, which tends to help!

  5. I love the one skein wonders book! I’ve made a few things from it and have several more on the to do list 🙂

  6. Made shawls and hats from sockyarn. And a a too, but that grew too much after (hand)washing. Heard it had to do with it being superwash wool and I have not yet figured out how to solve that problem in possible future projects ( I don’t like to use my washing machine with wool, not even with socks… )

  7. I’m knitting Wendy Johnson’s “Nordic Cowl II” — (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/nordic-border-cowl-ii) — using Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn. It’s a considerable project (12 charts), but I think it will be fabulous once finished.

  8. I love sock yarn! I’ve used it a LOT! It works great for lacy, crochet shawls….which I’ve made many. I love the Sockhead hat and have made several from that pattern. And, of course, socks. But, I have to say that I’ve used it a lot more for other things than socks. It’s great! Happy stitching!

    • I think I’m going to have to start buying more than 100g lots of sock yarn (when I have the budget again!). You are right – it is useful for so many things!

  9. Which pattern is the shawl in your banner picture? It looks like a lovely pattern.

  10. Thank you Wei, such a useful post and so fun to see all the options! Do you think I could use a Noro Taiyo cotton sock yarn for the Hitchiker pattern? (50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% nylon, 16% silk) and only 420 meters instead of pattern calling for 520 meters.
    Thanks for your knowledge, xoxoRobin

    • Glad you enjoy the post Robin! The Noro Taiyo would make a super lovely Hitchiker. My only concern is meterage. You might have to think about getting a second ball, or making a shorter scarf. My only hesitation is that it is 100m less, and you will have issues with length I think.

      • Thank you Wei, I think you are correct, I will have to find another yarn, only have one skein of the Noro : (
        Thanks, xoRobin

  11. I love knitting with sock/fingering weight yarn! Besides socks, I’ve made hats, mittens, shawls, and a baby blanket. One of my next “big” projects will be Bloom Dress (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bloom-dress). I have the yarn, I just need to pluck up the nerve to get started.

  12. I’m knitting “It’s Good To Be A Girl Shawl” from Chrissy Prange, (my first shawl) in Zen from Yarn Garden. It has bit of glitter, but not too much. Wonderful post!

  13. I’m not much of a sock knitter, so any sock yarn I buy gets made into other types of things. I avoid self-striping, for the most part, because I want to avoid the color effects you mention. I’ve found I have to be careful when repurposing sock yarn as fingering in patterns. It’s so highly twisted and dense that gauge swatches don’t always tell you how it will behave in a garment.

    • You are quite right. This is one reason why I’d recommend using sock yarn in small accessories first as it generally works well in things like hats and gloves. Shawls are good too, except for the heavily twisted yarns which can fight blocking efforts.

      • That makes sense. Plus in small items any striping going on will happen in a small, predictable area. Not spread in crazy zigzags over your chest 🙂

      • Yes… that has happened to me once before! The worst thing is that the yarn was supposed to be for garments, so I wasn’t expecting that to happen!

  14. Here is something you might be interested in if you have not already seen them. A local gal to Sonoma County, CA, Sandi Rosner, has written several books on knitting with sock yarn. Very cheap used on Amazon. Titles: “Not Just Socks”, “Not Just More Socks”, “Not Just Socks for Kids”. They all use the self-stripping sock yarns. She’s also on Ravelry.