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…
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!