The main reason for my experimental foray into the world of knitting with sock blanks was to find out what it is like and to share that experience and some helpful resources with you. I discovered that sock blanks are some of the most gorgeous and unique sock yarns available. I particularly love the hand-painted ones by Bogga of Knitting in France. You can check them out in her online shop here. I also discovered that sock blanks are versatile, easy to work with, very portable, and, most importantly, produce gorgeous socks (among other things – the possibilities are potentially endless) and I am now the happy owner of a pair of lovely pink ombre specimens! It was a great experience and I can say with confidence that I foresee many more beautiful sock blanks making their way into my future!
This experiment was undertaken as a joint effort between Bogga and I. Bogga generously donated two gorgeous sock blank knitting kits – one for me to try out, and one for a giveaway – details to come later in this post! I had heard the term “sock blank” before, but had never seen one up close let alone used one. Really, until now, I had no idea what a sock blank was or how to use it. When I searched online, I found precious little information to help me out and most of it was rather disappointingly vague. So we want to spread the word – sock blanks are easy to work with, stunningly beautiful, and lots of fun!
Let’s talk about the materials and methods involved. Let’s start with the sock blank itself. Maybe you’re wondering, like I did at first, “What exactly is a sock blank?!” Very simply put, a sock blank is a skein of sock yarn that has been machine knit into a flat rectangular length of knitted fabric with a few rows of scrap yarn forming a selvedge at one edge.
A sock blank can be either single-knit or double-knit. A single-knit sock blank is exactly what it sounds like – it has been machine knit with only one strand of yarn. A double-knit sock blank is also exactly what it sounds like – it has been machine knit holding two strands of yarn together so that you can have two separate working yarns when you unravel it to work with later. This is perfect, for example, for making socks using the magic loop method.
Most sock blanks are beautifully hand-dyed by fiber artists, like Bogga, with hand-painting being a very popular and lovely method. My sock blank was gorgeously hand-painted by Bogga in a pink ombre from the palest of pale pinks to a vibrant magenta – I love it! (The sock blank in the giveaway kit is a stunning blue ombre – from palest blue to breathtaking azure! Of course, I love that one too! Who wouldn’t?!)
Also included in the sock-blank knitting kit that Bogga sent (and, of course, in the give away kit as well!) were a gorgeous set of stitch markers and a lovely project bag! All that’s left to gather together then is the knitter’s choice of needles and pattern.
What to make with a sock blank? The possibilities are endless, friends! Of course, a very popular choice is to make a pair of socks, but one could make virtually anything – matching hat & gloves, a scarf or cowl, a shawl (may need more than one sock blank for this depending on the size of the shawl), leg warmers, arm warmers, etc…Pretty much anything that you would make with sock yarn can be made with sock blanks!
But how, exactly, does one use a sock blank to knit with, you may be wondering, as I was. Well, I have great news for you: It’s simple, and very easy. All one must to do to knit with a sock blank is unravel it a bit at a time, and knit with the portion of yarn you’ve just unraveled! Yep, it’s that easy! Yes! You actually GET to unravel something for FUN! Start at the selvedge end of the sock blank, with the scrap yarn edge and unravel that until you get to the “real” sock yarn. Separate the scrap yarn from the sock yarn – untie it or snip it off with scissors. Unravel a portion of the sock yarn to work with and begin casting on for your project!
What did I make with my first-time-ever sock blank? I knit a pair of socks, plain socks. Toe up, magic loop socks. My sock blank was double-knit, so it worked perfectly with the magic loop method of sock knitting. It was actually two firsts for me: My first time knitting with a sock blank, and my first time using the magic loop method.
Magic loop is a sock knitting method whereby one uses a circular needle to knit both socks, side by side, at the same time. Of course, for that method it’s necessary to have either two balls of yarn or a double-knit sock blank so you can have two separate working yarns – one for each sock. I love magic loop because it allowed me to avoid the dreaded “second sock syndrome.” Here is a link to the free pattern I used for the socks. The pattern was well written and instructional enough to allow someone (like me) who had never used the magic loop method before or knit two socks at once to be successful and enjoy the process. Here also are a couple of helpful video tutorials on the magic loop method for anyone who (like me) might find them useful:
Knitting in the Round on Magic Loop – Basic is a great introduction to magic loop and how it works.
Cast-Ons – Two at a Time – Liat’s Limitless cast on for two at a time ANYthing is a great for learning two at a time magic loop cast-on. Note that it is an example of casting on for an open tube, so direct application of these instructions would be perfect for top down socks or any other project where your starting edges are open.
Two at a Time Magic Loop Socks by VeryPink Knits is a very detailed, in-depth tutorial that includes a link to the sock pattern used in the tutorial. It is specifically about how to make two at a time, toe up magic loop socks.
Let’s talk about results. What kind of results did I see from my sock blank knitting experiment? Quite a lot! I found it helpful to group them into several categories: Tangible, technical, and general knitterly development. The most obvious result, of course is the tangible one – the actual pair of lovely new pink ombre socks that are now keeping my feet toasty warm! And may also eventually result in a sock knitting addiction… Technical results include knowledge and experience gained from learning a new skill, such as how easy sock blanks are to work with, that they are extremely versatile both in purpose and appearance, and that they are amazingly portable. Results in the area of general knitterly development include developing more interest in sock knitting in general, and in knitting with sock blanks specifically, as well as increased knitting-confidence – all as a result of a great positive experience with sock blanks. I may also be feeling an urge to go look at more hand-painted sock blanks… 😉
Hand knit socks. I’ve never really gotten into the sock knitting scene before. Sure, I’ve knit a pair here and there, but for whatever reason, it didn’t hold my attention until now. Maybe it was because I gave the socks away and therefore never experienced what it’s like to wear a pair of hand knit socks. So nice. Heavenly! I don’t want to go back if can help it! Darning socks may even be worth it! (I’m already working on a back-up pair right now.) Look out family members – you may all be introduced to the luxury of hand knit socks at some point in the foreseeable future!
Easy, sock blanks are so easy to knit with. You just unravel a bit, knit, unravel some more, knit some more, and so on. The yarn is kinky of course, from having been knit into the blank, but that is perfectly fine. Once you block your finished socks, the yarn is perfectly smooth again. I found that the kinkiness did not bother me while I was knitting. It was actually kind of fascinating and novel, in a way.
It was also really fascinating to see the color changes coming as I unraveled the yarn from the sock blank and then knit it up. Depending on the style/patterning used in hand-painting or dying your sock blank, the color changes could be subtle or intense, with each being fascinating and gorgeous in its own way. Add the diversity and uniqueness of the hand-painted or dyed coloring of the sock blank to the wide variety of items you can make with it, and you have an extremely versatile medium with seemingly endless possibilities.
Sock blanks are very portable and comfortable to knit with. They just lie flat on your lap while you knit, and take up very little space either on your lap or in your knitting/project bag. You don’t need to worry about chasing them around like a ball of yarn, and you don’t need to wind them into a center-pull ball before you can cast on like you would with a skein. You can just unravel the selvedge and start casting on!
If you are using a double-knit sock blank and knitting two items at once (for example: knitting two socks at once using the magic loop method), like I was, I did discover one thing to be aware of: Pay attention to which way you turn your work. If you turn your work around in the same direction every time, you will end up twisting the two strands of working yarn so tightly together that eventually it becomes impossible to knit anymore and you must stop and untwist. As I discovered (the hard way), it is infinitely more efficient and enjoyable to pay attention to which way you turned your work last, and turn it the other way next time so that you don’t twist your working yarns together multiple times.
Learning how to knit with a sock blank felt so adventurous! Gaining a new skill and experience increased my self-confidence as an individual and as a knitter. And there is just something beautifully wholesome about creating something new as you are unraveling yarn from something else. If you’ve never tried knitting with sock blanks before, or even if it’s just been a while, I’d encourage you to give it a try!
To that end, we have the giveaway that I mentioned earlier! The prize is the second sock blank knitting kit that Bogga so generously donated! It contains: A gorgeous double-knit blue ombre sock blank, a set of stitch markers, a project bag, and a Knitting in France magnet!
To enter, visit Bogga’s Etsy Shop and have a look around; leave a comment on this blog post about an item you saw there that caught your fancy! Then click on this link:a Rafflecopter giveaway to record your entry. For a bonus entry, you can also choose to tweet a message about what you might make with the sock blank if you win! (Note: There are links to the shop and back to the blog on the Giveaway page).
The Giveaway runs from Monday, March 7th, 2016 through Monday, March 14th, 2016. A winner will be selected at random, notified by email, and announced on the blog. Good luck!