Introduction: Crochet Dog Sweater From Old Socks

Picture of Crochet Dog Sweater From Old Socks

Have you ever wanted to turn some old, holey socks into something useful? Turns out you can cut them up and turn them into something resembling thick yarn. You can then use this yarn – which I’m here terming “sarn” (from sock yarn) – to crochet or knit something super thick and durable. I decided to make my sarn into a dog sweater. So if you have some old, holey socks and a medium- to large-sized dog that you’d like to humiliate, then this Instructables project is for you!

As a side note, years ago, I’d seen somebody make yarn from cut-up plastic bags, which has been termed “plarn,” but I have never seen anybody attempt this with socks. So, I gave it a try for this Instructables, and it worked well! I will probably make a separate Instructables just on making yarn from socks, or sarn.

Step 1: Materials You’ll Need

Picture of Materials You’ll Need
You’ll need the items pictured above, as well as a few other things – here’s everything you’ll need to gather:
  • Old socks. I used 35 socks to make a small sweater for a leggy, athletic, 30-pound dog (a golden retriever-poodle mix). They were a mix of men’s and women’s. One of these socks, unstretched, roughly made about 135 cm (53 inches) of yarn/sarn.
  • Scissors.
  • A friend to help you cut up some old socks! This is optional, but truly helps.
  • Large crochet hook. I used a Q/16 mm but you could try something bigger. I got mine through Amazon.com.
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • If you want to make it light up: Sewing needle, sewing thread (that matches the neck’s sock color), a battery-powered LED, and epoxy that works with plastics. You can purchase a set of ten of the LEDs that I use in this project from Amazon.com for just $10.
  • A patient dog you want to humiliate. Because this sweater is relatively heavy, I’d recommend the dog weigh at least 30 pounds and be young and healthy.

Step 2: Sorting the Socks

Picture of Sorting the Socks

If you want to create different-colored balls of sock yarn, first sort the socks based on color. I ended up with separate piles of black, blue, red, white, and beige socks. If you want all of the colors mixed together in your sock yarn, then just skip sorting them.

Step 3: Cutting Up the Socks

Picture of Cutting Up the Socks

Next you’ll need to cut all of those socks up. Laying a sock flat, stretched out from left to right, cut it vertically into pieces that are each about 2 cm (nearly 1 inch) long. (After cutting up 35 socks like this, there was quite a bit of variation in size for my pieces, from 1 cm to 3 cm wide. Basically, don’t worry about being too accurate – it’ll still work fine!)

The key thing is to make each piece be a complete loop, so if you have any holes in the socks, keep this in mind as you cut them up – I just worked around any holes and it worked well. You can cut a slit in the ending toe piece to make it into a loop.

Note: Cutting up socks can be messy – they can leave many small pieces behind! I’d recommend cutting them up (and working with them) over a flat surface that can easily be vacuumed or swept. As I went along, I’d continually shake them out and then clean up the bits they left behind – they shed less and less as I went on.

Step 4: Making the “Sarn”

Picture of Making the “Sarn”

Once you’ve turned all of the socks into small loops, it’s time to turn the socks into yarn, or sarn. To do this, take two loops. Put one loop inside of the other, and then intertwine them. Gently pull on the ends (of the two different loops) to pull them together. This should knot the loops together. Pull until they’re firmly knotted together. If you’re having trouble getting it to work, try playing around with it for a moment and see the pictures for more guidance.

Make long chains of sarn by repeating this process, adding one loop on at a time. For me, one adult’s sock made about 135 cm (or 53 inches) of sarn, but it depends on the sock size. If you want each ball of sarn to be a different color, then just use loops of the same color for each chain.

Note: The sarn is awesome in that it is modular. This means that you can easily take off, or add, a sarn loop anywhere in a chain. So, instead of cutting them up to end a thread, as you’d do with real yarn, I just undid the knot at the end of a loop to disconnect it from the rest in the chain. It’s really useful.

Step 5: Making the Torso Part

Picture of Making the Torso Part
First take some measurements of your dog. Measure the circumference around the front part of the dog’s torso, right behind their front legs – this is labeled “A” in the first picture here. Now measure the circumference around the back part of the dog’s torso, right in front of their back legs, which is labeled “B” in the picture. Lastly measure the length of their torso, labeled “C” in the picture.

Pick which sarn you want to use for the torso part. (The torso part of the sweater will use the largest amount of sarn, so pick a color[s] that you have a lot of.) Then make a chain that is as long as the circumference you measured for measurement A. For example, for measurement A, I measured 70 cm, and it took me 35 chains to reach a length of 70 cm.

To make a chain (which is shown in the pictures using beige sarn), do the following:
  1. Pull the slipknot a little tight on the hook (but not too tight!).
  2. Pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (going in a clockwise direction).
  3. Pull the hook down through the slipknot so that the sarn you just placed on it is pulled down through the slipknot. The slipknot should slide off of the hook, and you should be left with the “new” sarn on the hook.
Once your chain is the same length as measurement A, use a slip stitch to attach the end of the chain to its beginning.

To make a slip stitch (which is shown in the pictures using black sarn), do the following:
  1. Put the hook into the chain.
  2. Pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (clockwise).
  3. Pull the hook back through both of the chains that were on the hook.
  4. You should end up with only the new sarn on the hook.
Before you do anything else, measure the width of your chain. For example, my chain had a width of about 2 to 3 cm. Write this down – you’ll need it in a moment.

Then do one round around of single crochets (sc) (making one single crochet into each chain). For me, this was a round of 35 sc.

To make a single crochet (which is shown in the pictures using black sarn, after the slip stitch pictures), do the following:
  1. Put the hook into the chain.
  2. Pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (clockwise).
  3. Pull the hook back through one of the chains that were on the hook. You should have two chains left on the hook.
  4. Again pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (clockwise) .
  5. This time pull the hook back through both of the chains that were on the hook. You should end up with only the new sarn on the hook.
At this point you’ll need to do some math. Measure the width of your torso part so far. For me, mine was about now about 5 to 6 cm wide. Subtract the width you wrote down for the initial chain. For example, my chain was 2 to 3 cm wide, so this value would be around 3 cm. This is roughly the width of one round of single crochets. Figure out how many rounds you’d need to do to reach the length of the torso, or measurement C. For example, for measurement C, I had 24 cm, so I’d need about 8 rounds to reach this (not counting the first round of chains), since 24 cm divided by 3 cm is 8.

Next, if your value for measurement A was larger than measurement B, you’ll need to figure out how many chains/stitches to decrease each round to get down to measurement B (and have the torso part change shape to match the dog’s body). For example, for measurement B, I had 50 cm, and since I had 70 cm for measurement A, this meant I’d have to decrease the circumference by 20 cm. Since I had 35 chains for 70 cm, this equaled 2 cm of length per chain, so to decrease it by 20 cm I’d need to decrease 10 stitches over the 8 rounds. I rounded this to 1 decrease stitch per round to make things easy.

After doing this math, I continued to do single crochets around each round and one single crochet decrease each round. However, I did not reach measurement C because I did not have enough sarn. Instead, I ended up doing three rounds (after the initial round of chains) and stopped there. (I added a fourth round later, when I knew I had extra sarn.) I’d recommend trying the torso on the dog as you go to make sure it fits as expected, and I would not make the torso part reach the entire length of measurement C because this may be hard to fit on the dog – just doing four rounds seemed to work well for me.

To make a single crochet decrease (which is shown in the pictures using black sarn, after the single crochet stitch pictures), do the following:
  1. Put the hook into the desired stitch.
  2. Pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (clockwise).
  3. Pull the hook back through only the first stitch that was on the hook. (This means you should have one stitch and a loop from the “new” sarn still on your hook.)
  4. Put the hook into the next stitch.
  5. Pull the sarn over the tip of the hook (clockwise).
  6. Pull the hook back through all three loops that are on the hook. You should end up with only the new sarn on the hook.
Tip: If you are new to crochet, you may want to practice with some normal, non-bulky yarn first. It can be tricky to get the hang of bulky yarn, but once you get it it’s great because it crockets up fast and the bumps help hide any little mistakes!

Step 6: Making the Neck Part

Picture of Making the Neck Part

First take some more measurements of your dog. Measure the circumference around the bottom part of the dog’s neck, right above their front legs (and around the lower back part of their neck) – this is labeled “D” in the first picture here. Now measure the circumference around the upper part of the dog’s neck, right below their jaw – this is labeled “E” in the picture. Lastly measure the length of their neck, labeled “F” in the picture.

Pick which sarn you want to use for the neck part. Then make a chain that is as long as the circumference you measured for measurement D. For example, for measurement D, I measured 45 cm, and it took me 26 chains (using thinner socks than for the torso part) to reach a length of 45 cm. Once your chain is the same length as measurement D, use a slip stitch to attach the end of the chain to its beginning. Note: If you want to add an LED to the neck part later, make it a few cm larger in diameter than you measured on the dog.

Again you’ll need to do some math. Knowing roughly the width of one round of single crochets (based on making the torso), figure out how many rounds you’d need to do to reach the length of the neck, or measurement F. Then, since my value for measurement E was smaller than my value for measurement D, I again had to determine how many chains/stitches to decrease each round to get down to measurement E (and have the neck part change shape to match the dog’s body). See the previous step for an idea of how to do this math. For example, for measurement E I had 33 cm, and since I had 45 cm for measurement D, this meant I’d have to decrease the circumference by 12 cm. Ultimately it ended up that I again had to do 1 decrease stitch per round.

After doing this math, I continued to do single crochets around each round and one single crochet decrease each round. However, I again did not reach measurement E because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough sarn. Instead, I ended up doing just two rounds (after the initial round of chains) and stopped. Again, I’d recommend trying the neck part on the dog as you go to make sure it fits as expected, and I wouldn’t make the neck part reach the entire length of measurement F because this may be hard to fit on the dog (just two rounds worked well for me).

Step 7: Making the Leg Parts

Picture of Making the Leg Parts

Take some final measurements of your dog. Measure the circumference around the top part of the dog’s front leg, right below where it meets their torso – this is labeled “G” in the first picture here. Now measure the circumference around the lower part of their leg, just above where their dew claw would be – this is labeled “H” in the picture. Lastly measure the length of their leg, labeled “I” in the picture.

Pick which sarn you want to use for the leg parts. Then make a chain that is as long as the circumference you measured for measurement G. For example, for measurement G, I measured 28 cm, and it took me 12 chains to reach a length of 28 cm. Once your chain is the same length as measurement G, use a slip stitch to attach the end of the chain to its beginning.

Again you’ll need to do some math. Knowing roughly the width of one round of single crochets (based on making the torso), figure out how many rounds you’d need to do to reach the length of the neck, or measurement I. Then, if the value for measurement H was smaller than your value for measurement G, determine how many chains/stitches to decrease each round to get down to measurement H (and have the leg part change shape to match the dog’s body). See the “Making the Torso Part” step for an idea of how to do this math. For example, for measurement H I had 15 cm, and since I had 28 cm for measurement G, this meant I’d have to decrease the circumference by 13 cm. But, all that said, I ended up only doing one round of all single crochets after the initial round of chains – this was long enough for the sweater I made. Again, I’d recommend trying the neck part on the dog as you go to make sure it fits as expected, and I wouldn’t make the leg parts reach the entire length of measurement I because this may be hard to fit on the dog (just one round was fine for me).

Repeat this to make a second leg part.

Step 8: Putting It Together

Picture of Putting It Together

Once you’ve made the torso, leg, and neck parts, it’s time to put it altogether! Put it all on the dog and use some sarn to basically sew the pieces together however they fit best. (I used some red sarn to do this, which gave it a nice highlight.)

Then you’ll probably have a gap between the legs at the front of the dog (see the pictures). I measured mine and found it to be about 7 cm by 7 cm. I crocheted a simple piece (in beige) to fill the hole. To do this, I made a chain the same length (this was a chain of 3, which measured 8 cm), added an extra chain, then turned and in the chain that was second from the hook I did a single crochet, and then one more single crochet in the next chain. And that created a rough square shape around 7 cm by 7 cm. I again used some sarn (in red) to basically sew the square in place. I knotted off the sewing sarn when I was done with it and undid the knot that tied it to the other modular sarn units in that thread.

Step 9: Adding the Finishing Touches

Picture of Adding the Finishing Touches

I made a few final touches that you can include or skip. Here’s what I did:

Adding a heart: I had extra red sarn so I made a small heart and put it on the back. To do this, I chained 2, then single crocheted six in the second chain from the hook. This made one small circle. I repeated this to make a second small circle. To connect the circles to make a heart, I did single crochets along the bottom of the two circles (sitting next to each other), and at the end I turned and did one single crochet in one stitch away from the hook. See the pictures. I used some beige sarn to sew it on to the center of the back of the sweater.

Adding additional length: I added one more round of slip stitches to the end of the torso piece (using white and multi-colored sarn). This was about all the extra sarn I had to use! It gave the end of the torso section some nice variation in color. When you’re done making any additions, be sure to tie off the ends and weave the “tails” into the sweater so they’re not sticking out.

Adding some lights: Take the Velcro and cut paired pieces that are about 2.75 cm to 3 cm long each. (In other words, you should end up with two pieces total, one with the “soft” Velcro side and one with the “rough” Velcro side.) Fold each piece in half and use scissors to cut out a small diamond shape in the middle – see the pictures. The diamond should be about 0.75 by 0.75 cm (the max width by height). Confirm that the diamond hole fits over one of the LED lights, as shown in the pictures. Use epoxy to attach the “rough” Velcro piece to the LED, fitting the LED through the diamond hole, and leaving the rough side facing up.

Next take the back part of the neck (or wherever you want a light glowing) and flip it back to access the inside part. Find an area where you can squeeze the LED through (it needs gaps big enough to do this). Take the “soft” Velcro piece you cut and sew it on the part you identified, leaving the “soft” side facing inward.

When you’re done (and the epoxy has cured), attach the LED to the sweater using the Velcro pieces. The Velcro should securely hold the LED in place. Flip the LEDs on and get a beautiful little light show, and help protect your dog from not being seen when it’s dark at night!

Step 10: The End Product

Picture of The End Product

When you're done, enjoy humiliating your dog with a unique, rugged sweater!

Comments

lindarose92 (author)2014-01-06

This is so cool! I never thought it was possible to create a yarn with socks...I've seen it done with t-shirts, but definitely not socks :D Great job!

Teisha (author)lindarose922014-01-06

Thanks! I've honestly never seen it done before, but have made "plarn" from plastic bags before and didn't see why it couldn't be done with socks. (I even did Google searching and couldn't find anything on yarn from socks.) It works well -- if you use a size Q/16 mm hook, it is very sturdy/stiff stuff, so a larger hook might be needed to make it "softer" and more flexible. Thanks for checking out my Instructables project! :)

ShelbyH (author)2015-01-19

Do you think using way smaller strips of the socks would make ut possible to make a sweater for a teacup puppy?

Teisha (author)ShelbyH2015-01-20

That's a good question, ShelbyH. Using smaller strips would probably give it more flexibility, yes, but the strips will probably also break more easily (since they'll be thinner). Maybe try baby socks, or another type of sock that is made with thin material? If you used a larger hook it'd probably help give it more flexibility -- part of the "tightness" of the dog sweater I made was likely due to the hook size used, and using a larger hook would make it looser. I hope that helps. It ultimately will probably need you to play around with some sarn to see what works best.

DeandrasCrafts (author)2014-01-06

I too am impressed. I was drawn to the way the sock material just pops out from the crochet stitches, from the inside of the sock to the outside. It makes for an eye-catching piece. Really! I would have never thought that socks could have been crocheted, nor would it be something useful in the end. Great job!

Teisha (author)DeandrasCrafts2014-01-07

Thanks, DeandrasCrafts! It was really surprisingly easy to crochet with this stuff, and, like you said, it has a great texture to it. Great to finally have something useful to do with all those holey socks... (though I think it'd make an even better tough dog toy than it did a dog sweater!)

Teisha (author)2014-01-06

Thanks, CrochetCat17! Thanks for checking out my project, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Bio: I am a scientist, professional science writer, and science educator. I'm also author of the Biology Bytes books: http://www.biology-bytes.com/book/.
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