Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sock Scarf

I made this ages ago, way back during the summer. I was sick of knitting and needed a project to take places because I get bored really easily and don't want to offend people I'm talking to by not paying attention. The only way I can listen well is with something in my hands to divert a part of my brain, otherwise I just end up interrupting people (an incredibly bad habit I am trying to curb).

Anyway, I figured I'd talk about it because you may have, like me, got a lot of new socks from Christmas (yay!) and can finally clear out the old ones.

So for this project you will need a bunch of old, clean ankle socks. I used ones that had been separated from their partners or had worn through at the heel or toe. With all the walking I do, my socks get shredded, and I swear shops are selling thinner and thinner socks in an effort to keep prices low.

To prep your sock, you need to cut off the band at the top, the toe, and the heel. This will leave you with 2 cylinders of sock. Cut down both sides of these and you should end up with 4 rectangles. If your sock is particularly old, the bottom section might be worn and discoloured. If so, discard those 2 rectangles and use only the 2 from the ankle portion.

You're going to need a big pile of rectangles for this scarf. Mine used 54.

Now you need to sort out the order your scarf is going to follow keeping sock rectangles in their pairs. Essentially, the scarf is made from a giant long strip of socks, folded in half and sewed down the sides. Each side needs to match up, so first work out which socks you want placed where, then carefully separate the socks into 2 identical piles following this order. Flip one pile over and stack them together, so that the pile mirrors in the middle (this sounds a little confusing but really isn't, I may make a diagram when I find my tablet). This is your sewing order.

Get sewing! I sewed my scarf by hand as a portable project, but machine sewing will be stronger and quicker- I recommend a stitch designed for jersey if your machine has one. Sew the rectangles together with right sides together so the seam forms on the wrong side. When you're done, you'll have a strip double the length of your final scarf. Fold it in half with wrong sides together and machine stitch down the sides, leaving the bottom of the scarf open. Turn the scarf right side out, give it a press with a hot iron, and stitch the bottom edge closed.

Now it's time to decorate! I weighed down my ends with patches, but you could add beads or buttons, or sew on a fringe made from left over bits of sock.

And that's it really. The scarf is snuggly, soft and fairly lightweight because it's made of cotton instead of something heavy and potentially itchy like wool. Here's me wearing mine, to give you an idea of length. I'm 158cm tall.

I have had some weird reactions to sock scarf. People generally think it's very cute, then get weirded out by the fact it's made of socks. One person even told me it was "gross" because "eww, they've been on your feet, and now they're round your neck". I think this reaction sums up how I feel about it best:
I wear socks made of cotton, and cotton is not only harvested by people who are only slightly better off than slaves, it also uses up vast amounts of water (and is grown in water sensitive areas of the world). In addition, according to the Environmental Justice Foundation:

"Cotton grows on 2.4% of the world’s arable land, yet it is responsible for the release of over US$2 billion of chemical pesticides each year.

When people are being treated as disposable and poisoned so that the first world can enjoy affordable things that we see as essential, don't you think we should respect the end product and get the most out of it, instead of creating another environmental problem by dumping it in landfill?

Although I may draw the line at a pants quilt. Maybe.


  1. That is cute! The sock with the Sanrio frog makes it perfect.

    I must wear-out blue jeans at the same rate that you wear-out your socks. I'm visiting home for the holidays and have a big pile of old jeans here with tears in them. I hate to throw away so much material, but with no sewing machine... my options are limited. It takes the better part of a day to patch just one pair by hand.

  2. If you have access to a compost heap, you can compost clothes made from natural materials- that's how we get rid of old underwear, cotton rags etc in our house. The cotton will rot away, leaving any man made bits and then you can just fish them out of the compost when it's ready to harvest. I'm constantly picking bits of old knicker elastic out of my vegetable garden, but the rest rots away to nothing.

    Some municipalities offer textile recycling, so it's worth seeing if you have it in your area. That's how I get rid of any ugly synthetic clothes that aren't in good enough condition to go to a charity shop.

    Another option is to put them up in the classifieds, Craiglist or whatever, as "old jeans, perfect for sewing project". Or ask round friends, see if any of them would want them for a project.