Saturday, September 15, 2018

Crochet sock making tips

Hello current and future crochet sock lovers!!! This is our first blog post kicking off a series of posts for the Sock Along which starts in two weeks time on Saturday 29th September. I’m sharing some tips that I’ve learnt while making crochet socks for myself and others and also teaching crochet sock workshops. Next week we will have a post from Fay on her Knit it Hook it Craft it Blog on Yarn Choice. 


1. START THICK Try making your first crochet socks with a thicker yarn and corresponding larger hook if you're not used to crocheting with fingering weight yarn. Lightweight yarn can be fiddly to work with and if you're new to crochet socks, having difficulty with fiddly yarn and getting your head around new techniques there might just be too much going on at once.
2. START SMALL If the idea of a full-sized sock is putting you off, why not start with a small sock? I designed a small sock for my students at the Houston Fiber Fest last year and this pattern is available for free during the crochet along. It won’t take as long, you only need a small amount of yarn and you will learn some of the techniques required. Then tackle a full-size sock.

3.   START TOE-UP In my opinion, it’s best to start with a toe-up sock because it’s easier to try it on as you go and make changes if you need to.

4.   JOIN A CAL The absolute best way to make crochet socks for the first time is to join a crochet along. Then you can easily ask questions if you get stuck. If you’re shy about asking, it’s more than likely someone else will ask the same question you were unsure of and you will benefit from lurking around. I made the first pair of socks that actually fitted me in a CAL. We have some very experienced crochet sock makers in Claudia’s Ravelry group thread, and we are setting up a bundle of recommended patterns. The chatter has already begun in anticipation so head over to the Sock It To Me thread and join in (or lurk).

5.   READ YOUR PATTERN Take some time to read the whole sock pattern through thoroughly before you start. You need to visualize the anatomy of your sock before you begin. When I first started teaching my open project classes one of my students asked me about the sock gusset and I realized I hadn’t a clue where or what it was. I had to quickly educate myself. Karen Whooley’s first pattern in her classic book I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks are color-coded to show cuff, leg, gusset, foot and toe. What a revelation! I recreated this sock for my workshops and it is SO helpful.

6.   CHECK YOUR GAUGE. Like crochet sweaters, crochet socks have to fit well, especially if you want them to function as socks that you wear under your shoes. Your sock will be worked in the round (usually) so work your gauge swatch in the round. If you have too many stitches you’ll go up a hook size, too few stitches, go down a hook size. Hook that swatch again and check your gauge once more.

7.   MEASURE YOUR FOOT. The width is more important than the length since most patterns ask you to repeat until a certain length for foot and leg. Choose a size that is closest to your foot measurement. If in doubt, pick the size smaller than your foot, not larger.

8.   STITCH MARKERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS Use stitch markers to mark each side when working toes and short rows and place one at the beginning of your round when working in the round. Move it up each round. Sometimes I don’t have a stitch marker to hand and I think “I’ll just wing it” but no, it’s a big mistake. When crocheting in the round if you mess up you can count the number of stitches you have in one round if you have a stitch marker in the first stitch. Likewise, if you mess up you can rip back a single round to the stitch marker and try again. Without a stitch marker you’ll probably have to start from the beginning again.

9.   AVOID SECOND SOCK SYNDROME Work your socks two at a time. In other words, hook the cuff of sock 1, then the cuff of sock 2, leg of sock 1, leg of sock 2 etc. This helps you to avoid second sock syndrome. When you’ve made one sock you’ll be really excited, thinking “hurray I made a sock” but you may well have peaked and not have the emotional energy to make sock number two. Another very real danger is you are very relaxed making sock number 1 and then less relaxed when you make sock number 2 (or vice versa) and one sock ends up larger than the other. This has happened to me. The tension of your work changes depending on how relaxed or uptight you feel. You can wind your sock yarn into two balls, weighing them so that they are of equal size. Or I often just use the same ball if it’s a center pull ball, using yarn from the outside of the ball for sock #1 and inside for sock #2. It’s a bit fiddly really. Two balls work better.

10. SACRIFICIAL SOCK The first pattern you try might not work but persevere! Try out a number of patterns with different heels, toes and cuffs to find your personal favorite. Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats in one of her recent podcasts said that your first sock is often a sacrificial one! I’d agree. My first sock didn’t stretch at all. I realized single crochet (US terms) was not the best stitch for a crochet sock and made a better choice for my next pair of socks! It’s all part of the fun!

Hope you found these tips useful! I can't wait for the Sock Along to begin!
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Friday, September 7, 2018

My crafty British life to date

Have been back in the UK ten weeks already. If you're new to my blog I'm from the UK but have been living in Houston, Texas for the last six years (teaching crochet at my wonderful local yarn store Nimblefingers there for the last four). Now I'm back! Mrs Persuasion, Fay from the Crochet Circle Podcast, has asked me to organise a blog hop for the upcoming Crochet Sock Along she's running with Claudia from the Crochet Luna Podcast (for more details see this page) and my kids started school this week so it's time to reincarnate the blog and record my accompanying podcast. 

I have been seeking out crafty folk since I've been back, finding my tribe, that kind of thing. We have an old-fashioned haberdashers, Sew and Sew, which has a selection of wool, in the village where I live (see, I can call it wool not yarn). Very handy. I pop in for a little natter when I can and for the odd purchase. Bath is just 12 miles away so I've managed to visit the fabulous Wool Bath for a squish on a day trip with my kids. And my parents live just twenty minutes from Dundee and the marvellous Fluph store so I've been to visit Leona there. I just can't not go when I'm in Scotland.

There's a very active yarn addicts Facebook group for my local postal area. They have a regular meetup at a local café so I'm making friends there. I've also found another group Bristol Knititiative run by students from the University of Bristol. They make bright blankets for the homeless. I do need charity crafting projects in my life. Next week another group starts up at my local pub. I'll be there with my crochet and a cheeky pint of West Country cider!

And perhaps the most exciting of all - I attended my first British fiber fest - the Southern Wool Show in Newbury earlier this month. I had the most FABULOUS day meeting up with loads of until now virtual friends - including dear Helen, crochet designer and blogger at Making at Number 14 who I ran the Back To School Crochetalong and Blog Hop with last year and fabulous Fay (Mrs Persuasion again) had a stand at the show selling her amazing craft accessories Knit It Hook It Craft It. I also attended a drop spindle class run by the amazing Fiona from A Little Bit Sheepish. Now I can spin! It was the best day ever!! 

I'll be back, next week, on September 15th with the first of the Crochet Sock Along blog posts - my tips on how to make crochet socks. Start psyching yourself up for all things sock! 

Listen to the Audio Podcast