pile of mini balls of Opal 4ply sock yarn at the woolly brew


We've sold Opal mini balls for a while now and for the past two years we've also had Mini Ball Bags.

Opal mini balls are 10g balls of the very popular self-patterning sock yarn. Each ball has 42m of yarn and they are super cute and colourful. They don't have shade numbers and I can't pick the colours so it's always a surprise when they arrive.

A Mini Ball Bag has 20 of these balls along with an ideas leaflet, all packaged up in a handmade drawstring project bag.

In the Pittenweem shop I often get asked what the mini balls can be used for. Well...

The obvious answer is socks - although you do need more than one ball for even a baby pair. But you do get a fab 'frankensock' effect when you mix all the different patterns together.


frankensock made up of mini balls of opal sock yarn wool


A pair of socks (for me) uses 60g of sock yarn - so 6 mini balls. I split each ball in two, so that I would get a pair of socks that look similar, but also so I could pack as many colours and patterns into one sock.

I used a simple pattern, a free one we have in the shop. There are also lots of patterns available online. My current favourite one is by Meaghan Schmaltz and is available on Ravelry.

But sock yarn is not just for socks! It also works really well for smaller projects (so the coloured patterns come together).

For each new Mini Ball Bag collection I make some shop samples to show off their scrappy patterning effect.  Most of these samples are in the Pittenweem shop if you'd like a closer look.


a stripey cowl using mini balls of opal 4ply sock yarn at the woolly brew


This is a short version of our Simple Cowl pattern.

Originally done using one self patterning sock yarn and a solid colour of Socks Yeah 4ply, the cowl pattern is very versatile and is quite striking in mismatched stripes.

The cowl above uses 5 mini balls. I just knitted one ball after the other to give big blocky stripes. I did try and choose colours that were different to give a nice contrast. But you could choose similar shades for a more muted stripe effect.


short cowl in mini balls of opal 4ply sock yarn wool at the woolly brew


Obviously you don't have to knit each ball in turn, you could stripe them together as seen in our second idea - wrist warmers.


two stripey wristwarmers using mini balls of opal sock yarn at the woolly brew

Each wrist warmer uses two balls. The wrist warmer on the left has two row stripes, alternating each ball. I just carried the unused yarn loosely up the inside, so there aren't lots of ends to weave in. For the wrist warmer on the right I knit one ball after the other.

Wrist warmers are a great first project for beginner in the round knitters. I knitted mine using Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) but you could try out different techniques like magic loop or two circulars or even knit two at a time. All great practice if you want to go on and knit socks or other in the round projects.

The wrist warmers are very easy to modify. By adding a ribbed end you can make it closer fitting but stretchy. You could knit them longer (use 3 balls for each one) to make sleeves for chilly days. Knitting them in the round means you can try them on as you go so you can make them wider if you need to. A quick way to do this is simply use a larger needle for the forearm end.

Another excellent project is a tube cowl. This is just a really long tube (again you knit in the round using you're preferred method for knitting a small circumference).

tube cowl in mini balls of opal sock yarn at the woolly brew

Like the wrist warmers, there is no shaping and you're knitting a small 'sock width' circumference so all the lovely self patterning comes out really well. You can knit each ball one after the other, or do some striping or both. This cowl uses 10 mini balls.

For a later collection of Mini Ball Bags I made a version of our Asymmetrical Scarf - a free shop pattern you can download here.

multi coloured scarf


Using 10 balls of Opal 4ply mini balls this scarf is a lot of fun to knit and really shows off the versatility of self-patterning sock yarn.

In smooth stocking stitch, this self-patterning yarn can give the look of 'fair isle' or stranded colour work. As a 4ply self-patterning sock yarn this fake colour work works best across a small number of stitches... like a sock.

This scarf is knitted in garter stitch, where you knit every row, and across an increasing number of stitches. So, you get garter stitch bumps and as the colours are knitted across more stitches, the overall colour effect is more muddled.


multicoloured garter stitch

For the next batch of Mini Ball Bags I went back to my first love... socks!


multi coloured sock

In the shop, people often think this is from one ball of sock yarn as the patterning looks deliberate. In fact it's 6 different mini balls (split in half). I think it looks less scrappy as 5 of the mini balls I used had a black and white 'fair isle' effect.

This wasn't deliberate! In fact it can be tricky to guess what the mini ball will turn into as often the outside of the ball doesn't reflect all the colours and patterning.

Oh. And a top tip to work out how much yarn you'll need to knit a pair of socks - If you have a pair of 4ply hand knit socks at home, weigh them and that will give you an idea of how many mini balls you will need to make yourself a pair. I'm a size 6.5 and use about 60g of yarn. Although for these scrappy socks I nearly ran out at the toe... I think I knitted the leg a bit longer than usual. 

Some knitters prefer to knit their socks from the toe up. That way they can knit the leg the length their yarn allows for. I shared some toe-up sock tips in last month's WIP update.

Now, if you've read about our Mini Ball Bags before, or read about our 100g balls of Opal sock yarn, you will have seen me mention marling, or working with multiple strands of yarn held together.

For our latest collection of Mini Ball Bags I decided to make a couple of shop samples showing off this lovely effect. It also makes thicker items - perfect for colder weather.

The first project is a version of our free shop pattern for Simple Mitts.


multi coloured fingerless mitts and 5 mini balls of yarn


This marled mitt is made using two strands of Opal 4ply sock yarn held together. It's very easy to knit with two strands of yarn. You don't need to wind the two yarns into one ball, just hold the two strands together and knit (or purl). 

I tried to choose balls that were different in colour. For a pair of mitts you’ll need at least five 10g balls. 

Like the scrappy socks, to make a pair of mitts that look similar, split the 10g balls into two balls so each colour is used in both mitts. If you make the balls different lengths (I did it by weight using my kitchen scales) then the colours will blend more rather than the two strands running out at the same time.

This free fingerless mitt pattern is available to download. There are two patterns listed. For these marled mitts I used the Simple Mitts pattern but added a (K2, P1) rib at the wrist and fingers.


multi coloured knitted hat



For the second marled idea I made a hat using Hedgehog Fibres Scrappy Marl hat pattern. You can download here.

This hat looks amazing! It used about 5 - 6 balls, holding together two strands of yarn. I tried to choose colours that looked different to each other for maximum marl.


scrappy multicoloured hat and mitt

All these projects will work well with 4ply leftovers too.

But if your stash needs an injection of something different you can buy mini balls in the Pittenweem shop and online here.

And if you want to go all in on mini balls try our Mini Ball Bag.

It's an armful of 20 mini balls in a drawstring project bag with lots of ideas, tips and tricks to get the most from your balls.

drawstring brightly patterned project bags


You can use this kit as a countdown to a special day.

Or as motivation to get you through your gift knitting list.

Or as a cheeky palate cleanser during a large never ending project.

Or just because it's cute mini balls and lots of fun.

Each handmade drawstring project bag is filled with 20 mini balls. Each is unique and non repeatable.

You can dip your hand into the bag each day to pull out a surprise mini ball of yarn. Pick a project and knit each ball daily - creating unique and surprising colour combos.

Or you can empty out the bag and choose specific colours for a project... using similar shades, or clashing colours or even try and find a gradient effect.

It's suitable for beginners, although it does not teach you how to knit.

It does feature knitting 'in the round' patterns but the yarn and general principle will work for crochet patterns. And of course you can do your own thing.

It is great fun. But if you like things to match and you don't like random, it might not be for you.

You can see our current selection of bags here... the yarn is a surprise!

Oh. This would make a great short advent calendar and a great Christmas gift, but it's not just for Christmas. It is available all year round. That's the aim. But as the bags are handmade and the yarn handpicked there may be short periods where it is not available!

See the Mini Ball Bag yarn kit here.

Please note...shades used in these projects may not be in the Mini Ball Bag yarn kit!

Fiona Wright