Sock yarn stash? Sock yarn shawls!

Martingale's Knit & Crochet Friday

Sock-Yarn ShawlsI just couldn’t wait. I’m sure you know the feeling: you fall head over heels for a pattern, you happen to know the perfect yarn is waiting patiently in your stash, and your fingers start twitching with that irresistible urge to cast on. Right. Now. That’s how I felt when I saw the project photos for Jen Lucas’s new knitting book, Sock-Yarn Shawls.

The pattern that whispered my name? It’s called “Inflorescence,” and it just so happens that it ended up on the cover. Isn’t it stunning? There was just one problem, one wee obstacle keeping me from scratching my itch: the pattern wasn’t available yet. Oh sure, we had the shawls in the office and the photo shoot had already taken place. But the book was still being edited and we were nowhere near page-layout stage. What to do? What any self-respecting knitter would do who had access to gorgeous shawl patterns before they were available to the public: go right into that manuscript file and print the instructions, of course! Can you blame me? These designs are stunning. Who wouldn’t want to get started right away? And because I got started right away, not being a very fast knitter, I actually finished in time to show you the results today, at the same time I have the pleasure of introducing the book.

Mary's Inflorescence shawl
Here’s my version of “Inflorescence.” The yarn was a birthday gift several years ago and has been waiting for the perfect project. I’m thrilled with the finished shawl.

But let’s back up and provide a little background for those who might be wondering: What is sock yarn and why should I care? The term sock yarn has come to refer to fingering-weight yarn designed specifically for knitting socks. It might be wool, wool-blend, Superwash wool, or any of a range of fibers including cashmere, bamboo, tencel, and cotton. It might be mottled, self striping, variegated, or hand dyed. Regardless of the fiber content, the yarn is superfine and is usually knit on small (US size 1 to 3) needles at a gauge of seven to eight stitches per inch.

Sock yarns

It’s hard to say which came first, the popularity of sock knitting or the yarns designed for knitting socks. It’s kind of a chicken-egg question. Did knitters start knitting socks like crazy and yarn companies respond with fabulous yarns? Or did the yarns come first, leading to the mind-boggling popularity of sock knitting? Either way, it’s fair to say we’ve witnessed an explosion of sock patterns in the last decade or so, and with it, absolutely gorgeous yarns with which to knit them. And sock yarns have been adopted by indie dyers in a big way, making these some of the most beautiful—and irresistible—yarns available.

But what happens when you’ve knitted socks for every day of the month as well as for every member of your family and you still have a stash of sock yarn? Or maybe you never quite got the hang of sock knitting (or don’t care for it) but couldn’t resist the yarns? What do you do? You start searching for patterns for sock yarn, and you discover that there are nearly as many uses for sock yarn as there are for any other yarn weight. You can make accessories such as hats, scarves, and gloves, children’s clothing, and lightweight sweaters and tops. Or you can make small shawls, as Jen Lucas learned.

From Sock-Yarn Shawls

Jen admits that, once she discovered that people were using sock yarn to knit small shawls and tried one herself, she quickly became obsessed. To the extent that she knit the same shawlette pattern four times before stopping herself. Eventually she began to design her own patterns, leading to the collection of 15 lovely designs presented in this book. Each design is knit from just one skein of yarn, although it should be noted that if you substitute yarn, the yardage requirements might change and you might need more than one skein.

Tab cast onYou can choose a design with more or less lace, depending on your preference. The projects are divided into three sections: lace edged, allover lace, and something called “Beyond the Triangle.” There are both charts and written instructions for every project, so you can work whichever way is more comfortable for you (speaking as someone who’d rather have a root canal than work from a chart, there’s no question what I prefer). And many of the patterns include an option for making the shawl larger by repeating certain elements. But my favorite discovery (besides the patterns) is Jen’s clever Tab Cast On (above), a beautiful way to begin any triangle shawl and a technique that I plan to use from now on. You just have to see it!

So, are you ready to take a break from sock knitting and wear some of your beautiful yarn where the whole world can see it? Look through the photos below and listen carefully…one of them just might be calling your name.

What projects have you made with sock yarn? Share your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Sock-Yarn Shawls eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won.

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Julie, who writes:

“I’ve never made a shawl with sock yarn. I’ve got several skeins of sock yarn that would be perfect for this type of project! I just need to win the book to start!”

Julie, we’ll email you about your free eBook. Congratulations!

Wow sale: 40% off select books!


  • I’ve never made a shawl with sock yarn. I’ve got several skeins of sock yarn that would be perfect for this type of project!! I just need to win the book to start!!!

    —Julie in Tucson, AZ on January 18, 2013
  • I have made a shawl from sock yarn and just loved it. A great way to use up some of the beautiful yarn I just can’t help buying. This new book looks delicious, I just have to have it!

    —Linda on January 18, 2013
  • I am in that category of having knit hundreds of pairs of fingering weight socks as well as gloves, mitts and hats. I love the weight of fingering as I work. During a trip to the Yukon and Alaska I acquired some sock wool that is just too beautiful for socks. It needs to be seen—all of it. I have been looking for just the right shawl style and lace pattern. I think I have found it—-the teal one pictured in you post. Thank you Jen Lucas.

    —Audrey on January 18, 2013
  • Lots and lots of shawls! Mittens, hats, baby clothes, cardis… everything!

    —Ulrika Reinholdsson on January 18, 2013
  • I also have sock yarn I have never used and fell in love with this new book coming out. I can hardly wait!

    —Linda on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made several scarves and four (maybe five?) shawls out of sock yarn. I have only made one pair of socks 🙂

    —Jean Ashley on January 18, 2013
  • I have rediscovered knitting after many years and absolutely love the feel and look of the many sock yarns that I just could not resist. I am having a problem finding a sock pattern that fits me well so I am ready to try something else like a beautiful shawl and these are perfect projects. Quick and beautiful. Thank you.

    —Glenna in VA on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made beautiful scarves with variegated sock yarn. I have some great sock yarn from a Missouri alpaca farm that would make beautiful shawls like the ones featured in the book.

    —Susan on January 18, 2013
  • Gee, I’ve knit more than one shawl from sock yarn and absolutely LOVE them! Who says lacy shawls have to be knit from lace yarn? This looks like a great book, will be going on my home wish list, but I’ll have to work from my stash for a while.

    —Kim Q on January 18, 2013
  • I’m just learning to knit and starting a stash. I have several skeins that would be PERFECT for the shawls! Now if I just had the book!

    —Christi on January 18, 2013
  • Sock Yarn is my go to yarn when I make shawls and I made 11 of them in 2012. They are oh so soft and wear wonderfully!!

    —Carol on January 18, 2013
  • I am one of those people who loves sock yarn. Too date, I have made only three pairs of socks. I also have about three pairs that are sitting and waiting to be worked on but absolutely little desire to finish them. On the other hand, I have made oodles of little shawls/shawlettes with sock yarn. I have a canvas bag (size of large sleeping bag) full of sock yarn just waiting to be made over into shawls. Anything to show off the gorgeous colorways of sock yarn.

    —Pat in Alberta on January 18, 2013
  • So far I’ve only made socks with sock yarn! I really enjoy knitting socks so I have a lot of yarn. It would be fun to make something different…the shawls are beautiful. Thank you for the chance to win this eBook. 🙂

    —Jane S. on January 18, 2013
  • I have never made a shawl with sock yarn, or anything else for that matter. I asked for a "sock loom" for Christmas but didn’t get it. I would love to win this ebook so I could get started making those lovely shawls! Thank you!

    —Jan Staples on January 18, 2013
  • I don’t knit. But, I do have a very dear friend who knits regularly, even while she was on the road to recovery from breast cancer last year. She uses leftover sock yarn to make caps for infants and donates the caps to local hospitals. If I’m selected to receive this book — it will be immediately given to Carol. She will love it and treasure it!

    —Jayne on January 18, 2013
  • I am absolutely in love with sock yarn and have made more pairs of socks than I can count-friends and relatives are now hooked on them also. I have also made "slouchy" hats, winter triangle hats, sweaters and even a long-sleeve turtleneck onesie out of sock yarn. I would love to make a shawl and could even find some yarn to make one, once I have the book (hope I win it!)

    —Victoria Winkler on January 18, 2013
  • I have made several shawls from different sock yarns. I love the delicate lacy way they look.

    —Mary on January 18, 2013
  • What HAVEN’T I made with sock yarn? It’s my go-to yarn for shawls. I’ve also made hats, cowls, scarves, socks (of course), toys, table runners, mittens and fingerless mitts. I use the leftover bits to make knitted coasters, no two are alike!

    Barb on January 18, 2013
  • I have made socks, booties, shawlettes and a baby sweater from sock yarn. I have some Koto’s Garden by Green Strings that would LOVE to morph into one of the lovely patterns in the book!

    —Dawn M on January 18, 2013
  • Obessed is, indeed, an accurate description. I do love handmade socks but I also love to show off the colors in sock yarn (without having to lift my foot up to eye level) by knitting shawlettes/scarves. Five years ago I thought I wasn’t interested in lace shawls but made one for our local group’s KAL. Haven’t stopped since then. Not all of mine are lace, some involve variations of colorwork. But I have close to ten and have given away or donated about 5. I have also made flip top mittens out of sock yarn (my 18 year old son usually has warm hands and doesn’t need thicker mitts) and baby booties.

    —Aleen on January 18, 2013
  • I make shawls and gloves from sock yarn. I would love to have the book. Thanks for the chance

    —Robin D on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made shawls, shawlettes, and scarves with sock yarn. I just love using sock yarn for these because of the drape and how well they hold up!

    —Katie Kent on January 18, 2013
  • I purchased several skeins of rather expensive (hand painted) yarn several years ago to make a shawl (in this very fine weight you refer to) and I don’t know what there is about the pattern, but I don’t like it. So, I’m dying to find another one that would use this weight yarn so I can have something to wear. Wearing skeins of yarn draped on your body is soooooo T-A-C-K-Y!

    —Claudia on January 18, 2013
  • I love them all! But the lacier they are, the better. So pretty.

    —Yvonne on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made socks, scarves, shawls, bookmarks and kitty toys!

    —Debbie H on January 18, 2013
  • I have a stash of sock yarn to rival anyone’s but have yet to knit a pair of socks! 🙁 I love shawls made from the beautiful options available in this weight and wristers are another great project in this weight. I am drooling over the opportunity to get started on the projects in this book.

    My most unusual project from sock yarn was a man’s tie for my brother! Turned out pretty cool!

    —TrailerTrash on January 18, 2013
  • I made myself a pair of fingerless mitts with sock yarn. My sister loved them, so I made a pair for her and my niece. Then, I decided they made the perfect Christmas gift and made three more pairs. People wore them as they traveled to relatives for the holidays, and the hosts loved them. So, now I’m making three more pair! All this because I wanted to use up a little sock yarn. Obviously, I’d love to win the book and have something different to make from my ever-growing stash of sock yarn.

    —Joan on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made shawls, fingerless gloves, sweaters, doll clothes, even socks with sock yarn! This book looks wonderful and I really hope I win, thanks for the chance.

    —susan on January 18, 2013
  • So far, I have made exactly ONE project with sock yarn! I was fascinated by all the sock books and patterns I saw, and bought a skein so that I could try it. I decided to start by making a pair of socks for myself, just in case they didn’t turn out well. Then, if they did turn out OK, I’d make them for other people. So they turned out great, and I started buying sock yarn. Which is now sitting in my stash, patiently waiting for me to have time to work on more socks. But now that I see the pictures of the shawls, I am dying to try one!

    —Barb Johnson on January 18, 2013
  • I love making shawls and shawlettes with sock yarn. I’ve also used it for hats and mitts. Sometimes I will combine multiple strands of sock yarn, or a strand of sock yarn with a strand or two of lace weight yarn. There’s no end to what you can do with sock yarn!

    —Jane on January 18, 2013
  • I just started working with sock yarn. Right now I’m working on my first sock yarn pair of socks, got to the instep decreases last night, working on the foot part tonight. I tried the medium sock patterns first, then thought I’d try the sock yarn…when I went to buy my yarn I felt very nervouse because the yarn was so small, but bought it…and am I glad I did. So far the socks are turning out, with no ladders. I have this feeling my knitting is taking on a new outlet.

    —Darlene Krystal on January 18, 2013
  • Until last week, I’d never used sock yarn to make socks. Instead, I’ve made shawlettes, toys, and ornaments.

    —Charlotte on January 18, 2013
  • I have made several shawls from sock yarn. I especially love adding beads to sock yarn shawls. My all time favorite non-sock sock yarn project has to be the Linen Stitch scarf. It was, at times, a pain to knit, but in the end I absolutely love the scarf. It’s a great way to use smaller skeins of beautiful variegated yarn that don’t necessarily match.

    —Kaidy on January 18, 2013
  • I am currently working on a pair of socks, my first ! But I have used sock yarn to make Icord for stems and also used sock yarn to make leaves to be used as decorations(vines and leaves on a Nicky Epstein scarf. The new book looks like so much fun ! Would love to win it. Thanks for the chance,

    —Sammie on January 18, 2013
  • I have used sock yarn for knitting my toddlers jumpers when they were small as I find it is a lovely weight for them, not a heavy weight yarn. I just looooooove the shawls that Jen has made from the yarn!!!!!

    —Lee on January 18, 2013
  • I’ve made hats, mitts and cowls with sock yarn. I don’t dare make socks, as everyone in my family needs cast iron socks if they’re to last more than a few wearings.

    —KittenWithAWhiplash on January 18, 2013
  • My mother travels frequently by bus to visit her newest grandchild. The trip takes seven hours. My mother suffers from osteoporosis and feels the cold most terribly. I have knitted up a beautiful capelet in sock yarn that wards off the cold from her shoulders. As well, I knitted up a lap coverlet that I then felted. This ensures that her knees are kept warm. Mother keeps both items in her traveling case ready for her next trip.


    —Kathleen on January 19, 2013
  • I made a sweater using sock yarn. I didn’t have a pattern so I used one from Lion Brand that called for larger yarn and translated (badly.) The sweater is pretty funky but is just the right weight for an old hot-flashing knitter. I love sock yarn and have a big stash but this sweater was the first thing I’ve knitted with it and it took me a full year to get it done. These shawls are gorgeous! I’d love to win the e-book.

    —Helen Durst on January 19, 2013
  • so far only socks, but if i win this book, i will definitely be making a shawl–i am a shawl lover and maker and can’t wait to make one from sock yarn!

    —Pam on January 19, 2013
  • I’ve been knitting (and crocheting) baby blankets for dying preemies for a charity called "Threads of Love" for some time now. The yarn has to be no larger than a #3 weight, because of the fragility of the skin of the baby. The parents get to wrap their baby in the blanket to hold their wee one for perhaps the last time…and then keep the blanket in memory of their lost one. It’s something that touched their little angel…and sock yarn can be the softest yarn in the world for these little blankets that are only 26″ X 26″..and the little ones still ‘swim’ in them…

    I would love to win the book, so I could make a beautiful shawl for the mother…it would be amazing what 2 skeins of sock yarn from my huge stash could accomplish.

    —Gabrielle on January 20, 2013

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