sock yarn

Some knitting project inspiration for 4ply sock yarn... when you don't want to knit socks.

We've started 2024 with four Opal 4ply sock yarn collections:

Sold as 100g balls you've got enough for at least one pair of socks (even for larger feet) and possibly two pairs (for smaller feet).  

This classic 4ply weight produces finer socks, and the wool/polyamide blend gives warmth, elasticity and durability, as well as moisture wicking properties. And it’s machine washable too.

Now I could waffle on about socks, which I do frequently, but instead I'm going to show you some non-sock projects that use 4ply sock yarn. Most of these have used Opal self patterning sock yarns but you can use any 4ply sock yarn. Like Zauberballs or WYS Signature Country Birds.

With patterned sock yarn, like Opal 4ply, different colours come together as you knit to give you subtle or strong stripes or fake stranded colourwork and oftentimes both.


opal sock yarn

 Opal Showbiz 4ply sock yarn


You can see how it knits up as a sock from the picture on the ball band or check out the 'sock swatches' on the website.

The patterning is designed for socks which have a small circumference, and so if you want the best fake stranded colourwork effect it's best to use it for small items.

These include baby garments and accessories like hats, cowls and gloves.

One of our most popular shop samples is our Flax Light, knitted in shade 2101 from the Opal Hundertwassers range.

At this point I should tell you that as Opal bring out a new range of colours  monthly-ish for 10 months of the year their colours are usually non repeatable. Once it's sold out, it's gone.

There are some exceptions to this. One is the Hundertwassers range - a highly patterned sock yarn. We stock this range permanently.


flax light stripey baby jumper in Opal sockyarnFlax Light by Tin Can Knits knitted in Opal Hundertwassers


Flax Light is knitting pattern for a jumper and is part of Tin Can Knits Simple Collection - a collection of free learn to knit patterns.

It is knitted seamlessly from the top down. A baby jumper is a great introduction to this technique and Tin Can Knits have provided lots of help to guide you.

(If the thought of knitting your first garment in thin 4ply fills you with horror, there is a version called Flax which uses aran weight yarn... considerably thicker!)


baby jumper in opal 4ply sock woolFlax Light by Tin Can Knits, knitted by Cindy in an Opal sock yarn


Flax Light, like many Tin Can Knit patterns, have larger child and adult sizes. If you were to use a self patterning sock yarn to knit one of these larger sizes you would get a different effect as the yarn has to travel across more stitches. You could get a more variegated look or a pooling effect or even a lightening bolt of colour. It depends on the yarn and the size of the item you're knitting.

We have another Flax Light baby jumper in the shop. This time showing off our Opal mini balls of 4ply sock yarn. These mini balls are just 10g in size. I used 5 balls to knit this 0-6 month size but you really need 6 (I mistakenly knitted my sleeves a wee bit shorter and only had a tiny bit of yarn left).


multicoloured jumper


Obviously you don't need to use mini balls to get this variegated look. Keep all your leftover 4py sock yarn and put together your own colour palette, perhaps adding some variety with a mini ball or two. 

If you'd rather stick to knitting a front, back and two sleeves, we also have some knitted jumper and cardigan baby patterns for 4ply yarn that you sew up.


baby jumperBaby Jumper in Opal 4ply sock yarn


This jumper, knitted by Anne, uses the Baby Jumper knitting pattern from Viridian, available in the shop and online

Small size baby jumpers take less than one ball of Opal 4ply sock yarn (or less than 100g of any 4ply sock yarn) so they're perfect for those odd balls you buy when you love the colour so much.


Other one ball ideas are accessories - hats, scarves, cowls and mitts. (And socks obviously but we're not mentioning socks😉)

This scarf by Kathryn is based on the tube cowl in our Mini Ball Bag.


multi coloured scarf


A tube cowl is knitted as a narrow tube in the round. You then join the cast on and cast off edges together to make a loop. Kathryn knitted her tube longer and didn't join the edges.

For this cowl, use a 3mm needle (however you like to knit a small circumference) and cast on 60 stitches. Join to work in the round and knit every round.

Our Mini Ball Bags are full of 10g balls of Opal 4ply sock yarn, so Kathryn's scarf is very variegated. It would look just as good using one or two balls of the same shade.

Another cowl from the Mini Ball Bag kit is a short version of our free Simple Cowl pattern.

Cowls have been very popular in the shop. As an item that is both simple to knit (round and round) and to wear (just pop it over your head) they are also small enough to show self patterning yarns and to carry with you as a travel project.

This short version uses just 50g of 4ply sock yarn.


short cowl


Originally written for a combination of Opal 4ply self patterning sock yarn and a solid colour Socks Yeah 4ply, the Simple Cowl is very flexible. One 100g ball would give you a tall cowl that you can fold inwards or scrunch down.

We have a blog post here with some ideas for colour combos.


simple cowl


We have a range of free patterns in the shop for Opal 4ply accessories - including lacy scarves, gloves, mitts and a hat.

You could also knit one of our free patterns for a scarf or shawl.


scarfasymmetrical scarf - free pattern


Of course self-patterning 4ply sock yarn lends itself to toy knitting. Whether it's to knit one like this bear by Pat...


pattern unfortunately discontinued at Schachenmayr


Or to dress a doll like I did.


3 knitted dolls


These dolls are knitted using an Arne & Carlos book called Knitted Dolls.

The dolls used to live in the shop, but since the book is now out of print I've brought them home.

You can still buy the Kindle version of the book. Sometimes craft books aren't great as Kindle versions but I've used the Kindle version of this book on an iPad and it looks good with full colour photos and hyperlinks to different chapters and patterns. 


Something else I go on about is using multiple strands of 4ply sock yarn together to make a thicker and 'quicker to knit' yarn... perfect for large projects like blankets and garments.

I've knitted several blankets like this. They are very satisfying to knit and you can get through lots of yarn (stash buster) whilst keeping your lap warm. For the blanket below I held 4 strands of differently coloured 4ply sock yarn together. As a colour ran out I added in another. I used a 6mm needle and followed Stephen West's free Garter Squish pattern.


multicoloured blanket

 Garter Squish using 4 strands of 4ply, free pattern by Stephen West on Ravelry


You can also try to organise your colours. For AquaMarline I used a combination of Opal 4ply sock yarn and hand dyed 4ply yarn aiming for a bright to dark fade.


multicoloured jumper AquaMarline by Park Williams available to buy on Ravelry


Roughly 4 strands of 4ply sock yarn can give you a chunky gauge. But remember it's best to always check your gauge if your project needs to fit!

If you don't want chunky you can still get a lovely marled effect with two strands of Opal sock yarn. It still gives a variegated look but it can tone down any self-patterning effect.


marled hat

Hedgehog Fibres free Scrappy Marl hat pattern. You can download here.


 multi coloured fingerless mittfingerless mitts using our free shop pattern for Simple Mitts.


Cindy's hot water bottle cover uses our Love Your Wallpaper Choufunga birthday yarn alongside a strand of Socks Yeah 4ply in Quartz a single colour yarn.


hot water bottle

B.M.H.W.B by Kristen Finlay, free pattern on Ravelry


The pale Quartz shade has really lightened the jewel colours of Love Your Wallpaper.

This pattern is a great way to use up sock yarn as you're often left with leftovers after knitting a pair of socks. You could have great fun marling the colours and creating a ombre effect of dark to light or stripes.

And course there is always a sock yarn blanket - something I think about starting but know I'd never finish... although perhaps that's not the point!

Fiona Wright
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