Skip to content

Dear Kay,

I keep gazing at the #mdkknittinggetaway photos and laughing. More pix to come tomorrow, for sure.

I haven’t even begun to process the weekend we just spent at the MDK Knitting Getaway, part of Shakerag Workshops at St. Andrews-Sewanee School.

I have, however, begun processing one of the projects that were a highlight of our time with 100 fellow knitters.

Donna Brown was our fearless leader through an ocean of cochineal, madder, logwood, and marigold—more than a dozen colors in all.

Our target for these gentle, sustainable dyes, made with natural extracts?

A piece of merino wool, machine knitted. Knitted double, in fact, so as to allow the intrepid knitter to dye up one of these sock blanks, then unravel the knitting in order to knit a pair of socks with matching colors.

Yes: a sock blank.

Wacky, right? Seems like a crazy thing to reknit something that has already been knitted. But remember: I did not knit the sock blank. A machine knitted the sock blank. This is going to be the first time I personally, Ann Shayne, have knitted this merino wool. So it’s not like I’m some kind of a freak who reknits something I already knitted. Gah.

The colors were glorious. Some people went with a palette of two or three colors.

Not me.

I just started slapping down stripes and blocks of everything. Donna said natural dyes all go together, so I was going for the ultimate test of this theory.

Donna explained that we needed to steam the sock blank for an hour to set the color. Here’s what mine looked like pre-steam:

Note that the colors are completely different from the final piece. Nature is so awesomely amazing.

Now that my sock blank has finally dried (Tennessee humidity is for real), I need to wind my yarn so I can start my journey toward a pair of hand-dyed, natural-dyed socks. Dying of curiosity to see what happens!

There were dozens of sock blanks created during the MDK Knitting Getaway. We’re going to be posting our knitting efforts with our sock blanks at #shakeragsockblank on Instagram, so if you’re curious to see before and afters on a large number of beautiful sock blanks, be sure to follow along.




  • In following the IG pictures of the knitting getaway, I was especially intrigued by the pictures of the sock blanks. What an amazing idea for a clas! I must say that when sock blanks were all the rage I had no time for them when I saw them in the yarn shops. In recent months, however, I had become fascinated with the idea but they were no longer being carried in any of my LYSs. These sock blanks that were painted with natural dyes are amazing! Also, I had no idea that the blanks are originally knit double so that both socks would have the same colors. I also did not realize about the steaming. Ann, it is amazing to see how the color sets in the sock blank after steaming! Your sock blank looks so beautiful! Whenever you are able to complete the socks I hope you show us how they turn out. If any of the other people who attended the knitting get away and made sock blanks finishes their socks I would love to see them as well, and hope that maybe there could be a special post regarding them.

    Ann, special thanks for this post.

    • I agree the most interesting thing about this was learning about the double knitting. Until now I never understood the point of sock blanks.

      • Yes, indeed. Fun and also gorgeous. Well I do like pink!

  • So much fun, and those colours!

  • The sock blanks were a revelation, and so much fun! I started unraveling mine on Sunday but am enjoying looking at its lovely colors too much in blank form. Can’t wait to see what everyone knits up.
    PS- are those tiny little Polaroid type photos next to your blank?

  • I’ve already separated my blank into 2 balls and will begin my socks TONIGHT! Stay tuned for final reveal.

    • I loved my Claire-led bicycle ride through her home town, so I refuse to regret that I didn’t make a sock blank.
      I will make sure to take a local class on natural dyes, to make up for it.

    • Any tips for winding them from the sock blank? This will be my first.

  • I think the sock blank is lovely as it is, could be worn as a scarf or shawl. Seems a shame to undo all that gorgeous knitting. But socks would be lovely too.

    • Where can you get undyed sock blanks to use at home?

  • I don’t unravel and wind up my sock blanks – I knit straight from the blank. I knit my socks 2 at a time on Magic Loop so I just cast both socks on the one needle and pull the yarn from the blank as I go.
    I love the looks I get as people realize that I’m magically turning a “scarf” into a pair of socks.

    • and that you’re magically making them match at every color point! hope i remember this wonderful idea if i ever get to do sock blanks. love it!

  • where do you get the sock blanks? and are there directions somewhere and a source list for the dyes>

  • I want to know when the next getaway is.

  • I set out my still-damp sock blank when I got home to Berkeley, and it was dry within hours. The class was fun and informative. I’m curious to see how my yarn knits up…

  • Some people, like me, find knitting dyed sock blank annoyingly kinky. I do not enjoy the curly yarn. So I skein the dyed, rinsed unraveled dry yarn, then wet it again after skeining. (Skeining wet yarn is not fun.) I hang the skein dripping wet from my shower head. Then hang a cast iron frying pan from the end loop of the skein with an S hook. Admittedly, this looks rather alarming. When dry, I replace the skein on its swift and wind balls of nice, straight colorful yarn.

  • Beautiful! Just wish I could find reasonably priced sock blanks!

  • I love dyeing sock blanks. The first blank I dyed was with Koolaid .After that I was addicted. I have dyed more than 10 blanks and have even knitted some of them up. Sometimes I will knit up one sock just to see what wonderful pattern they create, I usually get around to knitting up the second xock though.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping