Knitting Blog

What Are Sock Blanks? Learn More About This Fun Fiber Trend!

This year I was lucky enough to attend the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF). I usually attend with a couple of knitting friends so that we can help each other control our spending. (That rarely works out.) This year, my friend Sami had just one thing on her SAFF wishlist: a sock blank.

I had never heard of a sock blank before, but I soon discovered its awesomeness. If you're a knitter interested in experimenting with colors, you're gonna love the sock blank too!

Sock blank for knitting

Sock blanks come in many different colors, so you never know how your project will turn out!

Photo via Craftsy member Debbi Houtz

What is a sock blank?

A sock blank is a long, rectangular piece of knitted fabric created by a knitting machine and then dyed or stamped with color.  The edge of the sock blank isn't bound off — it's loose so that you can knit from it, pulling the stitches out as you go. The basic idea behind the sock blank is that you'll get an amazing yet unpredictable colorway when you knit with it. 

When you see it at shows or in stores, it's usually rolled or folded up like a scarf. (Check out the photo above to see an example of a dyed sock blank.) You don't have to wind the blank into a ball; you just knit right from the yarn end. Sock blanks are most popular for knitting socks, but you can also use them to knit things like mittens.

Most sock blanks contain the same amount of yardage as one skein of sock yarn. Like yarn, sock blanks have labels to indicate the fiber content as well as the yardage.

Different types of sock blanks

There are many different design and color options for sock blanks, of course, but when you're shopping for them you'll come across two different types:

  • A regular sock blank with just one strand of working yarn
  • A double knit sock blank with two strands of working yarn — perfect for knitters who like to stitch two socks at a time.

You can also find a lot of color options for sock blanks. Some come undyed and ready for you to experiment with your own dyeing technique, while others (like the one pictured at the top of this post) come already dyed.

Sock blank knit into socks

Photo via Craftsy member Debbi Houtz

How to use your sock blank

Think of a sock blank as a skein of yarn except that instead of winding it, you're just pulling the working yarn right from the sock blank.

The beauty of the sock blank is that you never know how the colors are going to turn out. Depending on what you knit and its size, the colors might turn into a stripe pattern. The colors could also pool in large chunks or maybe even create an ombré effect.

In the photo above, you can see what the sock blank at the top of the post produced when it was knitted into a pair of socks.

The importance of blocking

The yarn that comes off the sock blank will be a bit curled, since you're pulling it off as live stitches. This can cause your knitting to look a little bumpy and uneven, but don't worry! All you need to do is block your finished project to relax the stitches.

Tips for making your own sock blank

You don't have to buy a sock blank! There are a few different options for making your own.

  • If you own a knitting machine, you can knit up a sock blank yourself then dye it or stamp it yourself.
  • Upcycle clothing. Check out your local second-hand store for sweaters that need to be rescued. Sweaters with designs or lots of color are a good choice if you don't want to dye it yourself. Just remember that the colorway will look totally different if you're knitting something small like a sock, since it's not as wide as the sweater.
  • Look for solid white knits that you can dye at home. If you're new to dyeing, check out Sarah Eyre's Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home class. The same techniques used in the class can be applied to undyed sock blanks or upcycled sweaters.

Have you ever used a sock blank? Were you happy with how the colors turned out?

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10 Comments

Sam

this is exciting. Love the idea. thanks for the info.

Reply
Bootsie

I purchased 2 sock blanks and for Easter, instead of color eggs with my grandniece and grandnephew, we colored the sock blanks. Then, they chose what they wanted me to knit with the yarn. Of course, we HAD to unravel them, to be sure that they really were yarn. It was great fun for all of us. One child was very precise about what he wanted to do with his blank. He wanted to paint it in rainbow colors and good saturation. The other child was more interested in drawing and writing things on the sock blank. It was super washed yarn, so I put it into a ‘pre-heated’ slow cooker to set the food dye and kool-aid colors. We moved things along pretty quickly, put the blanks outside to cool them quickly. (WI, early spring) and using towels to blot most of the moisture out of them. Then, using my homemade knittyknotty, we made two skeins. And they were amazed at the changes from what they had painted on the blanks to what the yarn looked like. It was a great afternoon project. Educational, somewhat messy and fun. Knitting came later, then they enjoyed the creatures they chose.

Reply
Cathy

What a great idea, and fun memories for the kids!

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Heather Sinclair

Ive been doing this for about ten years. Best to knit two yarns together and then paint dye, and then knit both socks at once on an circular needle and both socks turn out the same, instead of trying to paint two sock blanks at once.

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Evelyn

Very nice article. First time I have heard of this new sock craft. I am a crocheter, and I am wondering if crochet stitches could be implemented to close the sock. Maybe slip stitches could be used also. Thank you in advance for helping me figure this out.

Reply
Louise

You mention sweaters as a source of yarn. I’m curious to hear stories of success or failure. Has anybody out there bought an item new for the purpose of reusing the yarn? How did that go?

Reply
Juanita

Probably 85% of my yarn is from recycling sweaters I find at thrift stores. I haven’t done anything like this painting concept, but I love having an affordable source of exotic fibers I wouldn’t otherwise have to use. Is this what you wanted to know? P.S. – if you decide to try it, check labels and seams. You don’t want sweaters with serged (= cut!!) side seams, and you should check fiber and laundering info. 🙂

Reply
Esther P

Not actually bought items, but when I was growing up, money was short, and in the post-war years some things hard to come by. So my Mom ripped out sweaters, wound the yarn over a board and steamed it (to straighten the stitch-curl), let it dry and knit new sweaters, socks, mitts, etc., for us. To us they looked brandnew, and Mom got lots of compliments about her knitting. And the occasional question about how she could afford to “buy all that yarn.”

Reply
Debbie

I’d never heard of sock blanks before; very interesting article. Where do you find them?

Reply
Maureen Williams

Until today I had never heard of sock blanks either! It’s a dull day when you don’t learn something. Now to find where I can buy some to experiment with.

Reply

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