Sock Blanks 101 - the What, Why and How of Sock Blanks

Posted by Andre Dixon on

What exactly is a sock blank?

This is a question that I get asked a lot.  Especially from friends and neighbors who are curious about my work.  In a nutshell, a sock blank is a knitted rectangle designed to be unraveled in order to knit from the unraveled yarn.

They look a little bit like an unfinished scarf with live, loose stitches at each end.  My blanks are machine knitted with bare yarn and then painted by me with professional acid dyes in whimsical motifs but sock blanks can be dyed in any manner.  Gradients, stripes and random splashes of color are all popular designs for sock blanks.  

It's important to know that sock blanks can only be unraveled on one side. The other side has a lock stitch and won't let you smoothly unravel. The best way to know which side is the right side for unraveling is to give the yarn a tug. If it pulls freely, then you've got the right end. If it gets stopped on one side, you've got the wrong end. If you start with the wrong side, I suggest snipping the pulled yarn so it's not dangling loose. (Generally less than one yard is sacrificed from selecting the wrong side first.)

How do you knit from a sock blank?

With ordinary yarn balls, you pull from the center to knit.  With sock blanks, you'll be unraveling the blank to knit.  The yarn will be crimped as it is released from the stitches in the sock blank and your finished piece may look "textured" because of the wavy yarn until you soak your finished piece in a warm bath and then block it out to dry.  After the blocking, the knitting smooths out.

Why would anyone unravel your sock blanks?

I get this question quite a bit from knitters and non-knitters alike.  And I can understand why it may seem odd to "destroy" the colorful paintings on the sock blank.  But experienced sock blank knitters will tell you that there's a thrill in watching the images disappear and reappear as beautiful speckled knitted items.  Part of the excitement is not knowing what the sock blank will do when it's transformed.  Like self-striping yarn, sock blanks keep you knitting to get to the next color or the next part so you can see how the picture will unravel and reemerge as your knitted piece.  I've been told that socks knit from sock blanks "practically knit themselves."  They are just plain fun!

Popularity of sock blanks is growing.

Sock blanks are finding their way into the hands of knitters everywhere because they are so easy to throw into a knitting bag and take on the go without worry of the yarn getting tangled.  Since they are not in a ball form- they don't roll off the table and under a chair.  Their ease and portability is amazing.  

AND you can use a sock blank any place you would you use a fingering weight yarn.  A sock blank is the equivalent of a regular 100 gram hank of sock yarn and contains 465 yds.  You can easily get two socks from one sock blank.

While socks are the most popular choice, don't let the name limit you.  Cowls, shawls, mittens, gloves, hats, baby sweaters, stuffed toys, etc. are all great ways to employ a sock blank.  

Still have questions?  Feel free to send me a question through the comment page and I'll answer it here!

Happy knitting!




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