Technical Tuesday: Using All the Yarn on the Sock

Since I’ve been all about the socks lately I am going to talk about a technique that is really helpful when knitting top-down socks from special yarn. When I say special yarn, I mean something you don’t want to waste any of. It’s something you bought and LOOOOOVE; you can’t stand to think about that little ball of leftover being mixed into a bigger project or re-used as waste yarn.

Photo By: Piotr Jankowski

Photo By: Piotr Jankowski

It’s a provisional cast on. Yes, I actually HEARD the collective groan and eye roll. I am going to repeat my mantra just one more time… it’s not as bad as you think it is. I can remember looking at provisional cast on’s and getting really apprehensive. They were strange and complicated I had to use two different yarns for crying out loud! My problem was the same old problem everyone has at some point. I wasn’t looking in the right place for a technique that suited me. I am just going to go over one cast on in this post because it is my favourite. The crocheted cast on; I am not a crotchetier, there are many who can testify to this. I know how to make a chain and crochet in a circle. That’s it! So if I can do this cast on, so can you!

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Before you cast on, you’re looking at this post and thinking, ‘okay sure, but how do I tell when I am getting to the half way point of my yarn?’ Right? I’ve done this a couple different ways. If you have a food scale that shows ounces, you can weigh your ball and wind it into two separate skeins. Just weigh them and make sure they’re equal. If you do not have a food scale, wind your skein into one ball and I’ll let you know what to do with it closer to the end.

Okay, so now you have your one ball, or possibly two. You’re not going to use either of these to cast on. Grab some waste yarn two to three yards will do. You need your crochet hook and the needle you’re going to be knitting your socks with.

This video is a really good demonstration of a crochet cast on. The way he puts his slipknot on the hook is a little funny, but we all know how to do slipknots and I am sure we all do them differently.

Near the end of the video he says you can chain a few in order to unravel later. That is what you want to do for this cast on.  Once you have cast on your stitches and have them separated onto your double pointed needles, just start your pattern. That’s right, you heard me, skip the cuff. Knit your entire sock, stitch up the toe, weave in your end; the whole nine yards. Do the same thing with your other sock. If you wound your skein into two balls, switch to the other ball.

What you end up with are two socks with provisional cast on’s and no cuffs. If your skein is in one ball you should be getting close to the end of your skein. Now you separate your ball into two. It’s much easier to eyeball a smaller amount and if you are close enough or have enough patience, you can even unwind the rest and measure to make sure you get it exactly in half.

I think you can see where I am headed with this technique. Since you have two small amounts of yarn left, you can knit the cuff up and cast off just before you run out of yarn. Make sure you leave enough to weave in the ends securely.

Now! All that being said, I think it is a good idea to keep a little bit of that yarn, just in case. If you get a hole or something happens to your beautiful socks that you love so much, you’re going to want to darn them. I mean darn in the traditional sense as well; not the Yarn Harlot version of holding them over the garbage can and exclaiming ‘darn’ before you toss them. Chances are; if you loved this yarn enough to search out a post explaining how to use it all, then you’re going to want to be able to fix them.