Monday, May 29, 2017

The Anatomy of a Crochet Sock

The class I'm teaching at Houston Fiber Fest "Crochet Sock Techniques" is just four weeks away so socks are in my dreams and dominating my life right now.

I happily knit socks years ago merrily following the pattern without thinking too much. But it's being different being a teacher. They ask you questions. Helping a workshop attendee in the yarn store with their socks I realized I had no idea what turning the heel entailed or what exactly a gusset was. I only had the vaguest idea of how a sock was actually constructed. So when one of my longtime students wanted to learn to crochet socks I had a duty to find out and so the pursuit of the ultimate crochet sock began.

I have made a color-coded sock for my class as a teaching aid. I got this great idea from Karen Whooley's fabulous pattern book "I can't believe I'm crocheting socks". I finally cracked crochet socks with the help of this book. And I now know where the elusive gusset is. My demo sock is the basic cuff down version and each part is a different color - cuff, leg, heel flap, heel turn, gusset area, foot and toe. It's going to be very helpful.

And my crochet sock fame has spread and the lovely Claudia of the Crochet Luna Podcast in California asked me to be her "resident crochet sock expert" earlier this month on her new Ravelry thread "Sock it to me" - how cool is that? - so you can join me over there if you'd like to show us your socks or chat about the merits of different heel constructions and the like... How fun!

And if you're near Houston Texas I know there are still places on my crochet sock class on June 25th. I'd love to meet you in person! Grab your spot here.

Here's the Audio Podcast

Monday, May 22, 2017

Festival of Finishing CAL

I wanted to let you know about a fabulous CAL (crochetalong) that's coming up over the summer. It's called the Festival of Finishing CAL and it's being organized by my friend Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast. Fay has kindly provided me with the graphics to use. Thank you Fay!

I think it says it all. The CAL runs from June 2nd to August 31st and you basically get out all of those unfinished projects (it could be something other than crochet ... knitting, sewing or whatever...) and get them finished. You can also frog them. I like that idea. I'm not scared of frogging at all. Sometimes I wear something several times and decide I don't like it and make it into something else.

Of course there is sharing to be done on Instagram. I have so much fun looking at the hashtags. The hashtag is #FestivalOfFinishing and there is a going to be a CAL specific thread on Ravelry too. I am very excited about this. I have a sweater that I must finish. I am in the final stages, on the arms, but I've become hopelessly distracted by other projects... again. I started it last year. And at the beginning of the year I was telling myself this was going to be the year of the crochet garment and I am running out of time. It's just not happening!

There is also a charity element to the CAL which I love. For every FO (that's finished object) that hits the Ravelry thread or is added to the #, Fay is going to donate £1 (around $1.30) via KNIT IT – HOOK IT – CRAFT IT (that's Fay's business) to Knit for Peace up to a total of £150 (almost $200). So that's the target 150 FOs in the lists by the end of August!  £150 donated to Knit for Peace would help to deliver over 750 knitted and crocheted items to people that need them in the UK and abroad.

So we will be feeling great after finishing projects at long last and also doing a little bit for charity at the same time. Lovely!

So start looking in all of those places where you know there are unfinished projects hidden away. You've got just over a week and join us for the Festival of Finishing on Instagram by using the hashtag and/or on the Ravelry group thread from June 2nd.

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Craftivism Manifesto

My name appears at the bottom of the Craftivism Manifesto as a contributor. Yay! I discovered the Craftivism movement around two years ago finding Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism by Betsy Greer on the "new and notable in 700s" display stand in the downtown Houston Library. Sometimes you read a book and it subtly changes the way you think. And then things are never the same again. Reading that book changed the way I thought about my craft.

I am maybe getting a little ahead of myself. I know my mum is going to ask me what this is, just as I had to explain to her what a podcast was. The word craftivism derives from the combination of the words: craft + activism = craftivism A craftivist is anyone who uses their craft to help the greater good.


I teach people and see their joy in mastering a skill, I run a craft group and we make things collaboratively for local charities. I make gifts for people that I care about - sometimes they even like what I make for them!
Back to the manifesto. You can find this on Betsy Greer's website (btw Betsy is godmother of Craftivism). I am not going to read the Spanish version. I am learning Spanish but I'm just not that brave yet.

Here are links to two additional recent craftivism items:

Betsy was interviewed by the marvelous Vicky Howell super famous crafter and broadcast personality, who lives in nearby Austin, Texas on her Craftish podcast series so check that out
And I spotted a recent article in Molly Makes (wonderful British craft magazine) Making Good: Five Ways to be a Craftivist - an interview with Sarah Corbett the founder of the Crafivist Collective in the UK.
Enjoy! And do let me know if you're thinking of yourself as a craftivist now! Comment below or contact me on Instagram or Twitter. I'm @craftyescapism

Here's the Audio Podcast

Monday, May 8, 2017

Finished Object - My Hotel of Bees Shawl

This week I completed my version of Christina Hadderingh's Hotel of Bees Shawl and I am SO happy with it.

One of my regular Friday afternoon workshop attendees went for a class at Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas and she spent I can't remember how many hours learning about how to make this shawl. Several months later she hadn't started the shawl. It's quite an involved pattern which requires some concentration and lots of counting so it's maybe not ideal for a lively group workshop setting.

But anyway when I heard Claudia on her Crochet Luna podcast talk about the Hotel of Bees crochetalong that Sandra from Cherry Heart and Sam from Betsy Makes were organizing I thought this was a great way to get my friend going with her project and obviously I had to join her so that I could help with any queries along the way.

I absolutely loved the pattern because it is comprised of many different techniques - cute puff stitch for the bees, overlay technique for the wings and fillet crochet for the honeycomb pattern. I enjoyed the challenge of all that counting. It's also a shape that I like. I like my wear my shawls around my shoulders with a knot at the front or the corner so not every shawl works this way.

My yarn choice was Queensland Collection Savannah which is a linen/silk mix. I was a bit worried because it's not soft BUT it's not scratchy either. I haven't used linen before to make a garment. It's starting to get quite hot here in Houston. Wool just doesn't work. Anyway I wore the shawl into work on Wednesday, a rather hot humid day and I am happy to report that it felt great! I think people will be seeing rather a lot of my Hotel of Bees Shawl this summer!

Anyway do go have a look at all the marvellous Hotel of Bees shawls on Ravelry. There are 355 projects to look at as I write this. And/or check out #hobcal on Instagram if that's your thing. I would highly recommend that you make it too!

Here's the Audio Podcast

Monday, May 1, 2017

Designing crochet socks

I've probably mentioned already that I'm teaching a crochet sock technique class at Houston Fiber Fest on 23rd June. Oh yes, I'm going to be famous! I decided to design my own small sock which can be completed in the two hour class to introduce my twelve students to some of the techniques. I could have asked a designer for permission to use one of their patterns and I will definitely be recommending patterns from designers that I have made and loved but I do enjoy a bit of a challenge.


My main focus has been teaching rather than designing....oh and the odd bit of blogging obviously here on And I have written a few simple patterns for my charity crochet group Yak & Yarn before but have yet to publish anything officially.

I really didn't know where to start but after listening to the seven part Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series by Marie Segares on her wonderful Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Podcast show I felt ready.

It has however taken me weeks to finally send the design off to my tech editor. Partly this was due to the pattern writing process itself. I started off writing and making one size and picking up my favorite hook for socks but after my test crocheter said she wanted to make a toddler sock I had to get into gauge and grading. Things then became a lot more complicated. I was finally happy with my design and made the small size but couldn't help tweaking it a bit. Then I thought I'd make the largest size to see how much yardage I needed and figured out my stitch count was out on my small size. Argghh!

Then I was distracted by other unrelated crochet projects - CALs and test crocheting that I really shouldn't have taken on but I have no self control whatsoever. And then of course there is the rest of my life when I am not doing anything crochet related! I do wonder how designers manage to get a whole book of designs out. It is an incredible feat!

I'm working on the content of my class so if you have any questions about crochet socks please do let me know. I will endeavor to answer and it will be super helpful preparation!!  

Here's the Audio Podcast