In Praise of Scrappy Socks (…and maybe the Internet)

The internet is a constant source of inspiration for me.  I don’t think I would be half as crafty without it.  I could easily lose a whole day in visiting sewing and knitting blogs and pinning on Pinterest.  Time wasting?  Maybe some days, but most days I learn something new or become inspired to see new possibilities in the yarn and fabric stash I already own.  It also leads me to creative people around the world.

This latest project is proof of the value of browsing.  Pinterest recently recommended these socks to me. I just loved all the color and stranded colorwork knitting is my favorite type.  They were made by a knitter & blogger, Jenny F, in Finland.  Her blog has beautiful photos of her work, but is in Finnish or Swedish or something I only normally encounter in IKEA. :(.  It seems from her Ravelry page that she was inspired to make her socks by some fingerless mitts from a knitter in Reno, Nevada.  See what I mean?  All these connections  wouldn’t happen without some serious internet browsing, right?IMG_0062


Every time I knit a pair of women’s socks it seems I end up with leftover yarn.  I’ve never stopped to measure, but I’m guessing somewhere around 50 – 100 yards on average.  It’s too much to throw away, but it seldom gets used.  I took Jenny F’s socks as my inspiration and worked out the pattern and started knitting using up leftover bits of yarn from my stash.  I’m smitten.

IMG_0066Like so many scrap projects, scrap can look an awful lot like just plain crap when you’re just starting out.  Put 3 or 4 random colors of yarn together and they can be hideous, but something happens when you start adding more.  I especially love throwing in a neutral, like a gray or a brown to give your eyes a little rest now and again.

IMG_0061Hopefully, I’m not the only one who loves the cheerful, rich mix of colors.  I think there are a few things that help in scrap knitting.  First, the cuff, heel and toe are all one color.  I also made sure as I knit the first sock that I had enough yarn to knit the second sock in the the same color pattern so I’d end up with identical twin socks.  I think it gives a little more polish to the scrappiness.

The color work pattern also helps this scrap project.  By carrying the previous color into the next band of color, it helps to blend one color into the next, carrying your eye along with it.  I also forced myself not to think too hard about what color to use next.  If I don’t do that I tend to slip into ROYGBIV color patterns too easily!

Some technical details for anyone thinking of scrap busting their yarn:

Each band takes far less yarn than I would have imagined – the photo of the balls at the top was taken after my socks were more than 3/4 done.  I look forward to making more!

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  I used all superwash fingering weight wool yarns, because thats what I had for leftover sock yarn, but there are solids, tonal, and kettle-dyed yarns, and yarns with glitter here!  I like the gypsy feel that this mix gives off.

I think Jenny F cast on 60 stitches to make her socks.  I cast on 64 and would probably think about going up to 68 next time.  Any even number will work.  I’m using a 1.5 needle here.

I wove most of my ends in as I knit because colorwork finishing is a bitch otherwise :).

Next time, I think I’ll take the time to make jogless stripes.  These socks are for me, and I don’t mind the jog, but with so many color changes, it might be nice.  This time I arranged my stitches so the jog line runs down the back and along the bottom of my foot where it will be less noticeable.

A great resource for making socks is Charlene Schurch’s book Sensational Knitted Socks.  It might be out of print, as it only seems to be available from third-party sellers on Amazon.  If so this is very sad, because this book really teaches you everything you need to know about making socks in any size with virtually any yarn and it includes really great patterns, too.  I refer back to it all the time when making projects like this to guide me through stitch counts for heel turning  and gussets, etc.

It’s so satisfying in a “waste-not-want-not” kind of way to use up my scraps and end up with something pretty!