How to prep a sock blank September 27, 2019 08:23

At shows, people will often pick up a sock blank and ask, "What is this for? What do I do with this?"

I explain that it's a machine-knitted rectangle that comes to me undyed, and that I use them to achieve long bands of colors. Like anything else knitted in the flat, they unravel in just one direction--if you try to unravel the blank from the other end, you'll run into a locked stitch at the end of every row.

You can knit or crochet from blanks just as they are, if you don't mind that the yarn is crinkled, and if you want to start with the color that unravels. A blank makes for a convenient travel project--it never rolls away from you.

But if you want to use less crinkled yarn, or you want to begin with the color at the wrong end, you'll need to unravel it. You can use a niddy-noddy or a swift to put into a tidy little hank.

unraveled yarn, very crinkly

Tie it off in a few places to keep it from turning into a tangled mess during the rest of the process. I like to run a piece of string in a figure-eight through the hank.


Twist it up loosely (to cut down on the chance of tangling) and soak it in some cool water for about 30 minutes. A drop of dishwashing detergent (like Dawn) will help the water penetrate into the yarn and get it thoroughly wet.

yarn soaking in a pot of water 

Squeeze out the water and hang the skein up to dry. If crinkles really bother you, you can hang it up on a clothes hanger (use a plastic one--metal ones might leave rust spots) and then place another hanger at the bottom of the skein to add a bit of weight. I wouldn't use anything too heavy, because you don't want the yarn to be permanently stretched out.

yarn hanging from a clothes hanger 

Here's a comparison photo of the yarn after this process, compared to an unraveled skein that hasn't been washed.

one washed skein next to an unwashed skein

Wind up your yarn, and you're ready to go!