A Use for Unwearable Handknit Socks: Cable Kitty

One of the down sides to making things by hand is that sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. I like to knit socks, but even though I have made so many pairs that I have the pattern memorized, not every pair is a success. Sometimes the yarn is a bad choice, or the size isn’t quite right. As a result, I have a bag of handknit socks that I don’t wear but haven’t been able to throw away.

Imagine my delight when I came across the book Stray Sock Sewing: Making One of A Kind Creatures From Socks. Here was a book with patterns turning socks into totally adorable little critters. I was stoked.

straysocksewingcover

Unfortunately, while the book title implies you will be using cast-off socks to make your new friends, the results are much better if you buy new socks for these projects. Socks that have been worn are stretched in places so that the stuffed shapes you make are warped. Brand-new baby socks seem to work best — tiny weave and tiny feet make for the sweetest tiny critters. Also, you can choose the coloring of the sock to enhance the appearance of your finished creature.

Making these toys out of socks knit by hand with colorful yarns? Not really what the author had in mind.

I refused to be daunted. I was not about to buy socks for my project. My goal was to find a way to use the socks I already had. So I dug through my bag and decided to make a cat from pair of rainbow socks that I didn’t wear because they hurt my feet (the yarn was too thick and hard).

sockcat1_web

It worked in the end. Granted, my kitty is not the sweet, tiny, Japanese-style creation that this book promotes. Instead, it’s big and chunky. But I love it.

sockcat2_web

Because I was already in recycling mode, I was inspired to give the cat a necklace that is actually a bracelet I made but never wore. The birds on the necklace seemed exactly the sort of thing this happy little kitty would wear and by dumb luck, it fit.

sockcatcu_web

Best of all, this little cat has a job. The cable that runs from my laptop to my monitor on my standing desk has a tiny connection and a heavy dongle. I was afraid the strain on the plug would damage the computer, the cable, or both. But my recycled sock kitty is the perfect size to hold up the cable, and she loves her job.

sockcatatwork_web
You can tell she loves her job. She’s smiling!

What do you do with unused knitting projects?

Finished Friday: Knitting Socks from Leftover Yarn

Between the holidays and my new drawing class, I’ve been rather distracted, so my latest knitting project was understandably simple. I figured my best bet was to make yet another pair of socks from the pattern I know so well. The only problem: I didn’t have enough of any one sock yarn for a whole pair. My solution: combine the tag ends of yarn from socks I’d already made into a single pair.

These socks show the different yarns I used. My campaign to use up my leftovers was so successful that I haven't got any yarn left from the first three pairs.
These socks show the different yarns I used. (My campaign to use up my leftovers was so successful that I haven’t got any yarn left to photograph.)

To make the socks look like they belong together, I did my best to mix the yarns up as I went. I alternated two yarns throughout the body of the socks, knitting stripes two rows wide. I made several mistakes, knitting an extra row occasionally. I also ran out of yarn in the middle of a stripe and would just change it. I think the stray errors help keep the striping on the socks from being too predictable. The color changes in the yarns also helped with that.

If you look closely, you'll see that not all the stripes are the same width.
If you look closely, you’ll see that not all the stripes are the same width.
Socks made using four different self-striping yarns.
Socks made using four different self-striping yarns.

I didn’t bother to change yarns when knitting a toe or heel. I did carry the yarn into the body of the sock to help tie the toe and heel colors to the rest of the sock.

These were fun to knit, more interesting that working with just one yarn, and I like the narrow stripes I got. They look like they were made from leftovers, but I like that about them, too. No one is going to think I got these from a store!

What do you do with leftover yarn from a knitting or crochet project?

The Joys of My Sock-Knitting Rut

Knitting is one of my relaxation hobbies. I pick up the needles when I need something quiet and restorative to do, when I’m too tired to work and too awake to nap. As a result, most of my knitting projects are simple. If I have to think too much, it defeats the purpose. So mostly I knit socks.

SocksCU

Socks would not be everyone’s idea of an easy project, but I’ve been making them for years. I have my favorite sock pattern memorized and knitting in the round has become automatic. The heel and the toe require some attention, but if I am knitting a plain sock without any fancy stitches or patterning, I spend most of the time doing simple, straightforward, brain-dead knitting that allows me to slip into the meditative state I’m looking for.

A decidedly portable knitting project, socks are much easier to travel with than sweaters or afghans, and they are practical. When I’m done, I have something I will wear. Other small knitting projects, like hats and gloves, are also practical, but how many hats do you need? Unless you lose them all the time, a couple of hats will take care of you for many winters. I put on a different pair of socks every day.

Self-striping yarn and the socks I made with it.
Self-striping yarn and the socks I made with it.

My favorite way to make sock-knitting more exciting without making it any harder is to use self-striping yarn. The yarn is dyed with a variety of colors so that it makes stripes or other patterns as you knit. When I first started using these yarns, I bought three different styles. I started knitting my first sock, eager to see what pattern the yarn would make. Once I could tell what the yarn was doing, I was itching to play with the other two skeins I’d bought. I had to force myself to finish that first sock before I switched yarns, but I didn’t make a complete pair of socks until I’d made one sock with each of them.

One of my favorite things about the socks I knit is that they never get lost in the wash. Unlike boring white store-bought socks, my hand-knit babies go in a mesh bag and stay together in the washer. Then I take them out and lay them out to air dry. Fortunately, the evil laundry elves that suck socks out of the washer can’t get them out of that bag. They don’t know how zippers work.

I only have two concerns about my sock fetish.

Some of my hand-knit socks.  I have a few more pairs that need mending.
Some of my hand-knit socks. I have a few more pairs that need mending.

The first is that I have enough socks and really don’t need any more. I am making them faster than they wear out.
The easy fix is to start making socks for other people, but then I have to worry about them fitting. I know exactly what to do to make socks for myself. I have a small feet, so I don’t need that much yarn and it doesn’t take that long. I keep thinking I should make a pair for my husband. Then I look at his size 10/11 feet and shake my head.

The second is that I’m in a rut. I’ve been trying to get out of creative ruts and don’t want to be in one with my knitting. That’s why I’ve been knitting “at random” this year, making animals, vegetables, and pajamas for piggy banks. I’m currently making a patterned bag, and the knitting is involved without being difficult, but there are still days when I hesitate to pick it up.

I will keep trying other projects and stretching my knitting horizons. But I’m pretty sure as soon as I’ve finished the bag I’m working on, I’ll be casting a new pair of socks.