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Upcycling mismatched socks

 
master gardener
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I don't know about y'all, but my socks have a tendency to vanish, usually just one of a matching pair, almost never both.

I don't know where they go, how they go, or when they go, but they go somewhere, somehow.

I've tried to minimize this from happening by folding the matched socks together, so they are connected when I put them in the dirty clothes, which seems to help a lot.

I have quite a few older mismatched socks. I have kept them, hoping I will find their match. Sometimes I find the match, sometimes I never find it.

So lately I've been putting these mismatched socks to use, wearing these pairs of mismatched socks around the house.

I've designated a separate basket to put the dirty mismatched socks in that don't have a match after they are used, which helps me keep my sanity, as trying to find the matches for the normal socks is already challenging enough. This way the mismatched socks are all washed together, and I don't have to worry about mixing them with matching pairs, and I just dump them in the clean basket for mismatched socks.

I feel like with this method I'm able to get good use out of perfectly good socks, even if they don't have a match, and who knows, if the other match ever wanders home, I'll have its match ready and willing to reunite with it! Hopefully I won't forget and wear them out, but who knows, it could start a new fad.

Is anyone else upcycling mismatched socks and wearing them around the house?
 
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I cheat when it comes to socks and buy one brand one colour so I dont have to worry about mismatched socks just the one single one after the rest have been folded. Well almost I've ruined my own system and bought a couple pairs of different cold weather only socks but I have managed to keep them together.

I have recently learnt a great use for socks that either have holes or are done being worn for another reason. I now keep ratchet straps in the old socks, it keeps the straps all neat and tidy with the benefit of if I'm ever in need of socks I will at least have something.
 
steward & bricolagier
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Sock puppets!!  



Seriously, unless it's a pair of socks I absolutely love, strays get tossed in a pile with any socks that just need to leave, and every year or so, the pile gets dumped into my rag bags. I'm pretty psycho about keeping my socks together, so I don't lose many.

My parents bought a laundromat when I was 14, I have spent a LOT of time washing clothes. Me and my siblings found a book about some kids that went to the sixth dimension by going through the dryer, following the lost socks. We loved it, made sense to us. How can you count them in, watch them closely and they still get away? Has to be a portal to the sixth dimension.

:D
 
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I wear mismatched socks all the time. I prefer socks to slippers which drives my husband nuts. He prefers a knock around shoe, which drives me nuts. We compromise and don’t talk about. After being married for nearly 40 years, you just let it go if it isn’t important!
 
pollinator
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Hahahaha, thanks for the good laugh Steve.
Maybe all mismatched socks owners should meet up somewhere in the middle and bring their socks along, we'll get this sought out once and for all. Also for tupperware storage containers and lids!
 
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I've used mismatched socks in the following ways:
* fill halfway with rice, tie off, and fold the open end back over the filled end. Use as localized heat pads; small ones for earaches, longer ones to wrap around necks, over shoulders, etc
* dust mitts
* fill long ones full of beans (for weight), encase in additional long socks, and lay across small window sills, to block drafts
* add drawstrings to the tops, and use to pack crochet hooks, cheap art paint brushes, colored pencils, etc
* adult size tube socks are great for packing glasses, wine bottles, or other breakable for picnics, camping, long storage, or moving
* slip over bare roots & dampen, to transport, without water spillage
* tuck toys into, to safely throw into washing machine
* stick a pair of tennis balls into one, tie off, and use for self back massage
* slip Christmas ornaments inside to pack away
Staff note (Carla Burke) :

I didn't add sock puppets, but have done so many in the past, that people started asking me to either make some for them, or teach them how to make them, like mine. I once had my daughter's 'Brownie' troop bring some in, and we made sock puppets for the other little kids in their lives, as Christmas gifts.

 
Carla Burke
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Oh! I forgot this one! My puppy is so tiny, she just walks right out of even xx-small sweaters and jackets, but also gets too cold, very quickly, outside. So, I cut up one of my fluffy ankle socks, to warm her.
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Charlie in a sweater I made from one of my mismatched footie socks
Charlie in a sweater I made from one of my mismatched footie socks
 
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These days what I do is cut them in half, and then use both halves to cover my little green apples. The ones that don't fall off protect the apples, somewhat, against bugs, diseases and those $%$%^ squirrels who stole most of my apples last year. Sometimes the mature apple has an interesting woven pattern in the skin, as the blocked parts don't turn red...
 
pollinator
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That is a great idea! I love walking around the house in my sock-feet.

What I usually do is to throw the more absorbent cotton socks in the rag pile after cutting them in half longways.

For the dress socks, I actually make dog toys out of by stuffing them with treats and tying the socks in knots all the way up, with layers of treats in between.

If you try this yourself, please be sure to only let your dog play with these while supervised! Some dogs think the socks are food too, and will swallow them whole.

I am fortunate enough to have a dog with some sense, but I still won't ever leave her alone with these toys.


I love posts like these. It's always so great to get new ideas on how to save money and reduce our inputs into the environment.
 
pollinator
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I tend to wear through my sport socks fairly evenly. If there's a hole in the toe of one, you can be sure there's a hole in the heel of the other.

I try for hand-knit wool socks nowadays, because my much-better-half's mom makes amazing ones. They are seriously my favourite Christmas and birthday present. I don't darn them myself just yet, but they are the type of socks for which I will learn to properly darn. The ones I have on right now are so repaired, and they're still so darned amazing.

She made me a toque this past Christmas, though, that I'm wearing as we speak that's so damned comfy I don't want to take it off.

If I have unpaired socks, I simply wear them, but only if they're distinctive and hilariously mismatched. Otherwise, it just looks sloppy.

I love some of the other ideas, though, especially the homemade heat and cold bags.

-CK
 
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I use mine worn out or mismatched ones for jar cozies and fingerless mittens ... It helps that I wear only wool.
If the heel wears out I snip the toe off and have a nice mitten that sometimes is longer enough to warm my arms too. My favorite is cutting off the whole foot part, leaving me with a tube I slip around the mason jars we drink from. Great for hot or cold drinks! I also have those screw on sippy tops for some jars and it makes them into lovely portable tea mugs.
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Sock tea cosy
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sock wrist warmer
 
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Great ideas on this thread! Here is a poem by my friend Phil Knight. I have this posted in our laundry room.

Ode to a Sock
Phil Knight

I did a wash yesterday. Today I’m grieving.

Oh sock, you were my favorite
You and your mate
Fitting the foot so comfortably
Your worth I cannot estimate
A friend you were to me
Why then, my friend
Did you decide to flee?
You were in the basket
I saw you in the basket
I know you were in the basket
When I put you in the wash
But after the drying was done
You chose to run
But where?
But why?
Why have you left your mate
All alone?
Are you somewhere
In the Twilight Zone?
I sit here grieving
Everyone misses you
Especially the shoe
Shit.
 
master pollinator
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It's strange. I can loose many things, but never a sock. They always stay in pairs.
But socks do wear out. I know how to mend (darn) them, but that's only for expensive ones and the socks I knitted myself. When a pair of cheap socks (mostly white cotton tennis socks) is worn out (holes in the sole, the toe, the heel), I cut it off at the ankle. That upper part isn't worn out. I use it around my under arm while painting watercolours, this 'cut off sock device' is the ideal tool for wiping off wet brushes!
 
gardener
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This too is a use for worn out rather than a mismatched sock - I add them to my painting equipment for cleaning up spills or wiping brushes on. They've been washed so many times that there's not much lint in them and they're small enough that once they've got a bunch of paint on them, I just toss them in the trash - one last use for an honorably- lived life!
 
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Marc Dube wrote:I cheat when it comes to socks and buy one brand one colour so I dont have to worry about mismatched socks just the one single one after the rest have been folded. .



I do the same, except now I have several generations of socks of the same color and brand, but they're worn to different degrees. Now when I sort socks I think about Steven Wright's joke:

"I went into this bar and sat down next to a pretty girl. She looked at me and said, 'Hey, you have two different colored socks on.' I said, 'Yeah, I know, but to me they're the same because I go by thickness.'"
 
pollinator
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Now that we’ve sort of veered  into ‘worn out’ territory-

I buy/wear smart wool year round if I’m wearing socks (summer is barefoot or sandals mostly) so mis match is never a problem. But- Once the toe/heel wears out, the thick ankle area is still in great shape. I use them as super absorbent rags, to set hot pots or plates on, and other random things, but mainly I wear them on my wrists (similar to leg warmer concept) to cover that cold spot between glove and sleeve when I’m working outside in winter. I also found that those disposable heat packs can be tucked inside, against your inner wrist, much the reverse of how you run cold water there to cool off. If you don’t want that much heat directly on your skin, the heat pack can be folded inside in thirds. I find that keeps my hands just as warm, without the thing sliding around inside my gloves.
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wool sock with warmer
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wool sock with warmer
 
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* Well if its wool and you can find the 'tail', unravel the sock and reuse the yarn.
* Hand dusters as someone else mentioned.
* When cut into strips they make excellent barrel swabs for cleaning the firearms after use. Much cheaper than those purpose made ones at the sporting goods store.
* Polyester socks if cut with a heat knife seal the edge. The resulting rings have multiple uses, wrist bands, hair bands, etc.
* Some of the wool poly blends are pretty good for waxing the car.
 
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my mismatched socks are often worn to bed to increase warmth. I work in a refrigerated area most days so no one cares what they look like or that they are often mismatched in layers! When they wear out enough they become are used for cleaning - dust, floor, car, etc. Then the compost pile. I was just researching cloth grow bags and think I will try to use them as grow bags for smallish plants.
 
pollinator
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I only wear my own hand knit wool socks this time of year, and I make them so that they are easily repairable--they are an investment in time and I would definitely wear them as odd socks if I lost one!  In summer I prefer to go without socks.  However, I take my husband's and son's cast off bought socks and cut them from toe to cuff (vertically), then cut them in approximately 1-2 inch strips horizontally.  These stretchy strips make good ties for all sorts of things, but I mainly use them in the garden as plant ties.  However, they have been discovered holding together power cords and other cables, tying bundles of willow withies, temporarily connecting wire fence panels...
 
pollinator
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My uncle had the perfect solution for missing socks.
He only had one leg.

I usually buy several pairs of the exact same sock when I buy socks.
That way missing socks isn't a problem until I'm down to the last pair.

Single socks and socks my toe has poked through are good for applying wood stain, paste wax, and buffing finishes.
 
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Apparently if the clothes washer is too full and especially unbalanced, socks can get to the edge of the spinning drum and get snagged/pulled out between the drum and the outer chassis. Apparently you can open up the back of at least some washers and find lost socks that way. I recall doing this once for some friends and found about 15 socks piled up inside on the bottom of the washer.
 
pollinator
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Mark Brunnr wrote:Apparently you can open up the back of at least some washers and find lost socks that way. I recall doing this once for some friends and found about 15 socks piled up inside on the bottom of the washer.



You might have to literally tear the house apart.
We took down the living room ceiling when an old gas line (yeah, gas lighting, though the fixtures were gone) started leaking.  We discovered an ancient rat's nest up there which was lined with a snazzy yellow and green striped cotton knee sock from the 20s.
 
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Sock Poi, anyone??

If you don't know Poi, it's considered a "flow art" like hulahooping and baton spinning, it's traditionally done with fire, but sock poi is the "practice" version, there's lots of variations of poi. For sock poi, you can use rice/beans for the weight, or tennis balls like in the picture below, tennis balls would probably hurt less if you hit yourself.

For the soap users out there, you could put your bar in a mismatched sock for lathering.

I was glad to see most of my other contibuting ideas were already mentioned, but I did want to expand on Carla Burke's contribution of her tiny dog shirt. I have always wanted to make a vest for a larger dog using mismatched socks, I just thought it would be cute with all the funky patterns you could possibly make.

sock-poi.jpg
[Thumbnail for sock-poi.jpg]
 
pollinator
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I would like to add a couple of ideas that I didn’t see mentioned (if already mentioned I apologize!)
1. Cut the toe and roll into a doughnut for hair bun
2. Cut the toe and roll into a doughnut. Wrap in yarn or fabric for a small pumpkin.
3. Cut the toe and slip over crawling baby’s legs. It will protect their knees. And easier to deal with than tights.
4. If sock intact, use as a small grow bag.
5.  Fill with uncooked rice. Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. Tie end with a knot. Place in microwave. Reusable heating pad
6.  If sock intact, insert an empty semi collapsed plastic disposable water bottle with the cap on.   Tie end with a knot. Krinkle dog toy.
😊
 
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I cut them into small strips andstrategically place them on top of the bushes outside the funeral home. I love seeing birds fly off with the pieces to add to their nests.
 
pollinator
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Cut off the foot part at the ankle = legwarmers!

There are tons of sock animals you can make. Some of the really impressive ones require a pair (giraffes, elephants) but many can be made with just one sock. I haven't actually made any yet, but I plan to...someday.
 
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greetings, fellow permies! after a couple years of passivity, I am finally brave enough to engage in online conversations! My best use of worn socks has been to fill them with pea gravel and use them like small sandbags as seasonal water bars on our hillside dirt and gravel road. They can be driven over by vehicles yet still do the job when there's a gully washer. In the dry season just place them at the edge of the drive.
 
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Sprouting alfalfa seeds. I hang it up over the sink with seeds inside and rinse several times a day. Tie it to the outside of a pack when camping for fresh greens on trail. Or greens at home in long winter. (for use with a thinnish stocking or nylons/tights)

Similarly, tie a sliver of soap inside one and hang over sink or near outdoor water butt for a hand-washing station that won't get slimy with soap.

As a jelly bag to strain grapes or berries! Never buy cheesecloth.

To strain tea, I infuse the tea leaves in a mason jar and pour it though the fabric into cup or travel mug. Filters better than a metal strainer.

Our family generates lots of orphan socks, sadly. After messy uses, I just compost the pieces.
I feel like my suggestions are sort of weird and obscure. Of course, these are all uses for nice clean socks.

Works great to cut into thin rings for use on a loop loom for weaving. I made potholders this way as a kid.

Making dolls when kids were little. If anyone is into Waldorf dolls, they sell expensive tubes of knit jersey for the forms, and old socks work just great.  

Just the leg part cut off of a tallish sock can be a great cover for a rolling pin. Lefse and springerle pins especially need a cover! (see? obscure!)

Carrying change to the laundromat (can't use a sock worn thin!) The advantage is I can tie a knot to hold it, and it won't spill.

Keeping knitting together with the needles.

Stuff with other old fabric and use to keep heat from going out/draft from coming in under a door, especially where weatherstripping doesn't work or isn't enough.

Keeping sunglasses from getting scratched in my bag, separately keeping pencils from marking things in bag.

More personal/delicate uses:
Old smartwool or Costco/pseudo-smartwool socks can be cut up little to use for kleenex when one needs something extra soft.

Cut up as inserts for gladRags type menstrual stuff, or cloth diapers--super soft and absorbent.

I second the baby legwarmers idea! Especially good for that phase when they're crawling and still need lots of changes. Also great for Elimination Communication or potty training!

I actually didn't realize I had so many uses to mention, this is getting absurd!
 
Julie Reed
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You unwittingly started my day with a great laugh Libby! I envisioned a Mother Earth News article titled “That green stuff growing in your socks is delicious!” We used nylons to cover the sprout jar, but never thought about just eliminating the jar. Some good tips!
 
Mary Cook
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Okay, heeeere you go. I was thinking about socks, not nylons, but I actually need to find some old black nylons...to make a hornet's nest, or two or three. And why do I want to make fake hornet's nests? because I read that the presence--or apparent presence--of hornets will repel carpenter bees, which have been playing hell with buildings in my area the last few years. It seemed to work the first time I tried it, just stuffing a brown paper bag and hanging it from a rafter...but not last year with three of them.  I think I could make a more convincing fake with black nylons stuffed with white material, with maybe the overlapping curved lines drawn on...
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I don't know about y'all, but my socks have a tendency to vanish, usually just one of a matching pair, almost never both.

I don't know where they go, how they go, or when they go, but they go somewhere, somehow.

I've tried to minimize this from happening by folding the matched socks together, so they are connected when I put them in the dirty clothes, which seems to help a lot.

I have quite a few older mismatched socks. I have kept them, hoping I will find their match. Sometimes I find the match, sometimes I never find it.

So lately I've been putting these mismatched socks to use, wearing these pairs of mismatched socks around the house.

I've designated a separate basket to put the dirty mismatched socks in that don't have a match after they are used, which helps me keep my sanity, as trying to find the matches for the normal socks is already challenging enough. This way the mismatched socks are all washed together, and I don't have to worry about mixing them with matching pairs, and I just dump them in the clean basket for mismatched socks.

I feel like with this method I'm able to get good use out of perfectly good socks, even if they don't have a match, and who knows, if the other match ever wanders home, I'll have its match ready and willing to reunite with it! Hopefully I won't forget and wear them out, but who knows, it could start a new fad.

Is anyone else upcycling mismatched socks and wearing them around the house?




I have one black sock and one dark brown sock of the same brand. I lost their pair a long time ago and I wear them now as a pair.
The rest of the mismatched socks, I’m still waiting for their partners to come back...

Eventually, I’ll start using them for dusting around the house. I put my hand inside a sock and I dust away.
 
pollinator
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I only buy wool or cotton.  So if one is dead, it goes to the compost heap.
 
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I'll wear mismatched socks if their colors are somewhat similar, like a purple sock with a red one, or a blue sock with a green one.  I kept a drawer of "socks without partners" for my husband whose office dress code probably didn't include socks of differing colors, and eventually many of these "single socks" found a new partner.  His socks were more likely to be retired due to holes than mystery disappearances, although both were known to happen.

For what it's worth I can't wear wool.  I itch to death just thinking about it.
 
Erica Daly
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my local transfer station had a spot to collect reusable / recyclable fabrics from clothing to sneakers. That is temporarily closed including other recyclables (except cardboard) to protect the workers and public.So my socks I have a few to become sprouting containers...and perhaps some other clothing may become potato grow sacks.Wool makes me crazy itchy too!
 
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I love the idea of putting out strips of sock fabric for the birds. The Ravens are nesting here and any piece of string or fabric you put out will quickly disappear.

We had a missing sock epidemic when we had ferrets. They will even pull them off your feet and run off to stash them in some dark secret place, inside the couch lining, under the washing machine or dresser, in the attic,... . A successful sock treasure hunt could yield dozens. By the time you find them however their mismatched partners may have been put to other uses.
 
Carla Burke
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Our giant breed puppy, Bailey is incredibly tough on toys. I mend them and give them back to her, until they just can't be mended, anymore - sometimes this only takes a few days, from purchase to unusable 'toast'!. Then, I remove the ridiculously huge squeakers, and (if they still work) and drop them into a lonely sock, then twist it back over itself a few times. If I think it needs more padding, I'll just keep adding socks. Then I track down the open end with a bit of stitching, and toss them back to her. She LOVES them!
 
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I love this idea:




My favorite potholders:




Make fish!



 
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Anne Miller, I absolutely love those fish!

Some years back, when my kids were in middle or high school, mismatched socks were apparently fashionable. They refused to wear both socks of a pair at the same time.

I don't know if that is still a thing, but I took it as permission to wear whatever socks I felt inclined to put together and have continued to do so, when I can't find the matching sock or just because I feel like it. Mismatched socks with sandals will usually get you some very odd looks, LOL.
 
Anne Miller
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Andrea, mismatched socks seem to be still in fashion as I sometimes see them on TV.

My socks are all either black for black shoes or white for white shoes.  Now days its mostly no socks as I wear mostly flipflops!

My kids liked colorful socks like those in the pictures when they lived at home. Mismatched socks fad came along after they left home.

The potholders in the picture are our favorite potholders.

Still this was a fun thread!  Thanks, Steve!
 
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