Since the last podcast and the launch of the crochet sockalong, I’ve seen quite a few comments in The Crafternooner’s Facebook group from crocheters who are having sock trouble… I’m talking about sock problems in Episode 3 of the Crafternoon Treats podcast but I thought a blog post with a bit of a crochet sock clinic would also be helpful.
First, be reassured that you are not alone and crochet socks are not that easy. While a larger project like a blanket might take more time and use more yarn, you usually get to grips with a motif and then make loads of them just the same.
Or you start working in rows and quickly get into the swing of the stitch or pattern.
With a sock, its very different. Although a sock is a small item, it still takes quite a few hours to work through and once you have mastered one part of it, along comes the next with its series of complicated instructions.
The crochet sock clinic will see you now…
Fear not, you will master crochet socks
The first time you make a crochet sock pattern will definitely be the hardest. We have two main patterns that people are doing in the crochet sockalong:
- The Survival socks by Elin Stoodley on Ravelry, which is a free download
- The Saunder’s socks by Joanne Scrace of Not so granny, which is a paid download, also on Ravelry
I’ve made two pairs of survival socks and have just finished my first pair of Saunders socks, so I know both patterns work. That is, they work to make a pair of socks for my sized feet – size 5 and an average width.
My best advice is to take your time, follow the pattern (see advice on customising for larger or wider feet, below) and make good use of your stitch markers so you know exactly where you are and how many stitches and rows you have done. Cross of progress on a printout of the pattern, or write your progress down on a scrap of paper on in a notebook. I know you will want to be getting on with the socks, but these are not delays. They will keep you on track and prevent lots of pulling back and frustration.
Making the pattern fit your feet
The thing about making socks is that it all gets very personal. Your feet are a unique size and shape so while a sock pattern can show you what to do, it can only ever be thought of as a guide, not a set-in-stone set of instructions.
If you were to make the socks that I’ve made and you have wide feet and are a size 9, my socks won’t fit. But that doesn’t mean that the pattern doesn’t work… You just have to be a bit more inventive with the way you interpret the instructions.
Customising the survival socks pattern
- Elin has written this pattern for a foot of average width and sizes from 3-8. If you start working on the foot of the sock and find that it is too small to fit over your wider foot, you need to go back to the point where you finished increasing on the toe, and increase again for more rounds.
- You can increase the width of the sock by adding more stitches to work in the round but you need to add multiples of 2 stitches if you are going to be able to work on half the stitches when the time comes to start on the heel.
- Remember that socks need something called ‘negative ease’. They need to be made slightly smaller so that they stretch to fit your foot and feel snug and comfy.
- While you can adjust your tension by changing up or down a hook size, I wouldn’t recommend you go up more than a hook size in order to make your sock bigger. The stitches will become loose and the sock will lose its shape more easily and will not wear as well either. Keep your hook size down so that your stitches are small and close together and increase the number of stitches as described above.
- To make the socks fit a bigger foot, add more length to the foot before you start the heel. I think it works out to be about 1cm per UK shoe size but remember also the negative ease thing. Next time I make these socks I’m going to make my foot length for the size 4, not the size 5, as after washing, the socks have relaxed a bit and do not fit as tightly as I’d like.
Doing the heel on the survival socks
A few people have got confused when they got to the heel because, when you are doing the decreases and then increases what you end up with looks nothing like a heel. But keep going! Follow the pattern just as it is and when you join up with the stitches that go across the front of the foot, all will become clear.
Note that if you have increase the number of stitches in your rounds after the toe section, you will need to add in a couple of decrease and increase rows to the heel.
Making the Saunders socks
The reason I wanted to do the Saunders socks is that they have a different type of heel. This crocheted heel is very much the same as the knitted heel flap and turned heel in a traditional hand-knitted sock.
I was confident the pattern would work, which is does, but this is also not an easy piece of crochet to do. These socks are worked from the cuff down, so completely different to the survival socks. A whole new learning curve and a whole new session in the crochet sock clinic!
There are not pictures in the pattern either!!! Knitters are used to this but it comes as a bit of a shock when we crocheters are getting used to the cushy life of online tutorials and YouTube videos to follow. But its worth sticking at it. I did mine in small sections at times when I could really concentrate. The ribbing and leg sections are easy and then you make a heel flap, which isn’t too bad.
The trickiest sections are next: the turned heel and the gusset. For the heel, you need to do crochet short rows and this article by Kat Goldin, who is the other half of The Crochet Project with Joanne Scrace, is really helpful.
Decreasing at the gusset is straightforward but you will need to get those stitch markers out again. Your decreases should always be either side of the front panel of the foot for the best looking gusset and sock.
The foot is then easy, although be prepared to think you have hobbit feet as the negative ease in these socks is even greater than in the survival socks! For decreasing at the toe, use them there stitch markers again and before you know it, the sock is done.
I’ll be talking through all of this in my next podcast on my YouTube Channel – Episode 3: Yarny pleasure and other stuff so I hope that and this blog post crochet sock clinic all helps. If you are still stuck do post in The Crafternooners group as plenty of people are now making socks and we will do all we can to encourage and help.