How to Recycle Old Socks

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Recycle Old Socks
Recycle Old Socks

I had enough! Lonely socks and worn-out socks gathering dust in forgotten corners and drawers were getting on my nerves. Gathering up these fellows took most of an afternoon, and then I found myself staring at a large pile of old white(ish) socks and wondering how to recycle this into something useful ... besides hand puppets. While rummaging through some magazines looking for suggestions, I saw something that triggered a memory. Rag rugs! What better stuff to put under your feet than the same stuff you put on top!

Things You'll Need

  • Old socks (or T-shirts)
  • Scissors
  • Needle with large eye and strong double-strand thread
  • Large safety pins
  • A square of strong cotton type material (at least 1 foot wide and long)
  • A pillow

Gather up the socks and wash them; polyester socks are not good for this project.

Trim off the elastic material on the top of the socks (if the sock has any) with the scissors. Don't throw it away ... you'll use it too.

Cut both the elastic and non-elastic material into strips about 1 to 2 inches wide. The thicker the width, the thicker the rug --- but the more socks you'll need to have ready.

Sew the ends of three strips together. Use one stretchy strip and two non-stretchy strips. (As an alternative, you can cut these into strips about 3 inches long and leave them outside for animals to line nests and dens with ... the elastic material is not a good idea for animal use.)

Put the tip under something heavy to hold it down, and then braid the strips. Do not pull the cloth tight, but you do want the braid to be firm and not loose.

As you reach the end of each strip, sew another strip onto it. Don't try to sew a bunch together before braiding because it becomes bulky and ruins the braiding process.

Once you have a good section of braid to work with you can begin to sew the edges together. Turn the edge back on itself and sew it side by side using a whip stitch. The longer the section you sew, the more oval the rug will become.

Continue to sew the sides to each other in a circle until the rug is as large as you want, or you run out of material.

To finish the rug, fold the last of the braid under an edge and sew it flat. Make sure to secure all three strips flat and as hidden as possible.

Take the material (not the elastic part, which will not work for this project) and cut it into strips about 2 inches wide.

Using the safety pins, secure eight to 12 strips side by side onto a pillow (the number of strips depends on how large you want to make the potholder). You will want to pin the top and the bottoms. Make sure the strips are even and tightly secured.

Using a second set of eight to 12 strips begin weaving (from the top) under and over each strip.

On the next strip weave using the opposite strip. If you started by going under the first strip, then on this one you go over the first strip. This will create a waffle pattern. Make sure the weave is tight.

Once the square has been completely woven use your needle and thread to fold down and secure the ends. (You can trim these to about 1/2 inch right before securing) The side you have secured them on will become the inside of the potholder so as long as it is secure, neatness does not matter.

Take the square of cloth and cut the cloth to fit the potholder with about an 1 inch overhang. Fold the edges flat and hem one side. The other three sides are to be sewn to the potholder Using a whip stitch. This leaves an opening for you to put your hand while using the potholder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because the cut edges are not finished, this does tend to leave little bits of sock everywhere. Be prepared to do this in an area that can be cleaned up easily.
  • Since the rug is soft and has nothing to hold it to the floor, don't put in high traffic areas where people can slip easily.
  • Don't skimp on thread while whip stitching, because it leaves holes.

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