Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Revisiting a Basic Crocheted Sock

Almost ten years ago, I wrote a basic sock pattern that got published on the South Bay Crochet site and was also a free pattern at The Knitting Room in San Jose. The pattern below starts with that pattern and uses a much easier heel construction so the whole pattern is easier.

At the same time, as much as I like to crochet socks and wear the ones I make, I need to point out that crocheted socks are not the same as knitted socks -- they are not for everyone. Knitting makes a lightweight, elastic fabric; crochet makes a sturdy, textured fabric. This makes a difference in socks. In addition, wool (even machine washable wool) does shrink a bit. So if you crochet socks from traditional sock yarn (70-80% wool, and the rest is nylon), you may find that they shrink a bit after a few wearings. I have several pairs of socks that look fine, but they shrank just a little over time so they don’t fit any more. In response to this, I have changed my new favorite stitch for crocheting socks, which I address at the end of the pattern with a note on adjusting the pattern for this other stitch.

If you make these socks with yarn that does not shrink (a cotton/elastic blend is good, or acrylic), you will not run into the shrinking problem. Unfortunately, other fibers may not wear as well as the wool/nylon blend and may get holes in them more quickly in spots (like the heel and toe).

fingering or sport weight yarn, 100 grams/size E hook, or size needed for gauge: 5.5 sts/inch in patt,
DK or light worsted weight yarn, 100-200 grams/size G hook, or size needed for gauge: 4.5 sts/inch in patt,
heavy worsted or bulky weight yarn, 200 grams/size I hook, or size needed for gauge: 3.5 sts/inch in patt.
The gauges given here are suggested gauges to give you a sense of scale.

Note: The amounts of yarn given are for ankle socks to fit medium adult feet. For knee socks, you will need up to twice as much yarn. Also, socks for smaller feet will use less yarn than socks for larger feet.

2 markers

Instructions are given for fingering weight yarn, with changes for sport and worsted in ().

For better fit, measure:
length of the foot from toe to heel: _____, and
the size around at the instep/arch: _____.

Abbreviations (American):
Ch: Chain stitch
Sc: Single crochet
Dc: Double crochet
Sl OR sl st: slip stitch
Inc: Increase
Patt: Pattern stitch (as defined)
Sk: skip
Coil: work in rounds, but do not finish it at the end of each round, just continue on.

Pattern Stitch (worked in a coil, over an odd number of stitches): *Sc1, dc1. Repeat from * around.

Toe Increase: (dc1, sc1, dc1) all in next stitch.

To Begin: Starting at the toe, ch 10 (8, 6). Working into the bottom bump of each stitch, slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook and in each chain across, making the last sl st into the first chain. This reinforces the chain row at the beginning, giving a little extra strength. From here on, insert hook under both top loops of each stitch, as usual in crochet.

Continue in a coil (right side facing): Ch1. Sc1 into the first chain. Dc1 in next stitch. Continue in pattern stitch to end of side, ending with sc1. Make a toe increase in the next stitch to turn corner. Place 1st marker in the middle sc of the increase. Continue in patt st to end of side, ending with dc1 in last slip st. Sc1 in the ch1 that started this round. Make a toe increase in the next sc. Place 2nd marker in the middle sc of the increase.

*Continue in patt to next marker. Inc. Move marker to middle sc of new inc just made.

Find your instep size on this chart, and repeat from * for a total of this many stitches:
size Total # of sts
5” 25 (19, 15) stitches around
6” 29 (23, 17)
7” 35 (27, 21)
8” 39 (31, 23)
9” 45 (35, 27)
10” 49 (39, 29)

Remove markers and set aside.

(If you are working the OTHER PATTERN STITCH -- see below -- start that stitch here.)

Continue in patt, without any more increases, until the piece measures about 2/3 the desired foot length. Lay the piece flat (even though you are working in the round, when you lay the piece with the starting toe edge flat, there will be two side edges/corners). Place a marker in the sc at each side corner. Continue in patt to first marker, ending with a dc in the marked stitch. Count how many stitches are between where you are and the next marker: _____ (Hint: this should be an odd number).

Afterthought Heel: This is an idea I first heard about from the knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann. She didn’t care much for crocheting, but that is ok. She still had a lot of great ideas.

Remove marker. Chain as many stitches as you counted.

Dc in the sc of the remaining marker. Remove that marker.

That is all for the heel right now. You will return to it later. Now, continue with the leg:

For a straight leg: Continue in patt in a coil until leg measures desired length (from the chain row that made the hole for the heel, about 2-3” for baby, 4-5” for child, or 6-7” for adult). After last stitch, finish off like this: Slip stitch in next 2 sts. Fasten off, tuck in loose ends. Make 2nd sock to match.

For a bit of character at the top edge: When the leg measures as long as you want, consider finishing the top edge with a little something. For an easy edge, (sc1, ch1) in each stitch around one time, then finish off.

Knee Sock Option (requires more yarn):
More measurements:
Calf at the biggest size around: _____
Length of leg from the floor to just under the knee (length of sock): _____

After making the heel opening, continue in patt for the ankle (1” for baby, 2” for child, 4” for adult size). Place marker in center back dc.

*Continue in patt to marked stitch. (sc1, ch1, sc1) all in marked st, to increase 2 stitches. Move marker to ch. Continue in patt for 2 more rounds with no increase. When you get to the ch in the next round, sc in it. Move marker to current stitch each time you make a stitch in the marked stitch.

Notice that if you increase in a dc, it takes 2 more rounds to have a dc in the same stitch again, so the increases are on a 3-round repeat.
Repeat from * until the sock measures desired size around. Note: It would be good if you ended with a total number of stitches close to a multiple of 6 if you want to make the Chevron Ribbing.
Continue in patt without any more increases until the sock measures desired length.

Chevron Ribbing for knee sock: End sock body with sc1. Work 1 round in shell stitch, like this: *Sk 2, 5dc in next st, sk 2, sc1 in next st. Repeat from * around one time. Since you aren’t starting with a multiple of 6 stitches, you will have to fudge a little, by skipping only 1 stitch instead of 2, just a few times. End with 1sc in first sc of round. Mark this sc.
Next round: *Sc1 in next 2 dc. (Sc1, ch1, sc1) all in next dc. Sc1 in next 2 dc. Skip next sc. Repeat from * around once.
Next round: *Sc1 in next 2 sc. (Sc1, ch1, sc1) all in next ch1 space. Sc1 in next 2 sc. Skip next 2 sc. Repeat from * around for a total of 6 rounds, or desired length of cuff. Slip stitch in next 2 sts. Fasten off.

Now, back to the Heel:
This is a mirror image of the toe shaping: DEcreasing at each side a lot like how you INcreased at the beginning of the toe.

Setup round: With the right side of the fabric facing, rejoin the yarn with a slip stitch in the side of the last dc before the chain stitches you made for the heel opening. Starting with sc in the next st, continue in pattern across the last row of the foot to the other side of the hole, ending with a sc in the last dc. Dc in the side of the next dc to turn so you can continue around. Place marker on this dc just made. Working into the spare loop on the underside of all those chain stitches, establish the pattern stitch along the bottom of the leg edge, ending up with a sc in the last chain. Notice how many stitches there are on each side: _____.

Set up one decrease point: Yarnover, draw up a loop in side of the dc you joined the yarn in. Yarnover, draw through 2 loops (2 loops remain on hook). Yarnover, draw up a loop in next sc, Yarnover, pull through 2 loops (3 loops remain on hook). Yarnover, pull through all 3 loops to decrease 1 stitch. Put marker on this stitch to mark one decrease point.

**Continue in patt to stitch before next marker.
Heel Decrease: (Yarnover, insert hook in next stitch, yarn over, draw up a loop, yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 3 times. Yarnover, pull through all 4 loops to decrease 2 stitches. The middle part of this decrease should be the marked stitch. Move marker to decrease just made.
Repeat from ** until only about 2/3 of the stitches have been decreased, and only 1/3 are left.
Fasten off, allowing a tail about 5 inches long to sew a seam. And that is the heel
Tuck in loose ends. Make 2nd sock to match.

About that other pattern stitch:
Start the sock as usual.
(The bit about reinforcing the starting chain is not absolutely necessary. I usually start with Foundation stitches, making a row about 1/6 as long as I want around. That means that for a sock 9-inch around, I make a foundation row that is about 1-1/2inches long, ending with a starting toe increase. If this is confusing, skip it.)

When the toe is the right size (the same instructions as before), switch to a ch-2 net stitch: Ending with a sc in a dc, (ch2, skip the next sc, sc in the next dc) around. From here on, (ch2, sc in next ch-2 space) around. That is the pattern stitch. This makes a slightly lacy fabric that has some ’give’ either long or wide, as needed. The over-all sock will have a baggier look, but I think it fits better over time.

To make the heel opening, chain and skip the same number of stitches. To set up the pattern stitch for the leg, work (sc, ch 2, skip 2) across the chain stitches.

Yes, you are replacing each dc with two ch sts. So where the pattern refers to a DC, read ‘ch-2 space.’

When you come back to make the heel, treat each ch-2 as one stitch. Work the heel in the sc/dc pattern stitch because it is sturdy, just like the toe. That means, to set up the heel, do (sc, dc) in each ch-2 space, and just skip the sc's.

It's Time...

In today's tough times, many of us can't just go yarn shopping whenever we feel uninspired by our own stash. And I know I often find myself at a loss when I try to think of things to make for myself, my family, or my home. I already have stuff, and I don't need any more!

So I think this is a good year to recommit to charity knitting. There are so many great charities out there, with so many different needs, we should all be able to find something to do!

Have some luscious, left over, luxury yarns? Make a striped cap for chemo patients. Have some inexpensive, machine washable yarn you don't know what to do with? Make some baby things for a charity benefiting preemies or single moms. This is also a great way to try out those fun patterns that we bought, but don't have a purpose for at the moment. There's no more need to wait!

So here are a couple resources:

Interweave Knits has an extensive list of charities. Find one whose mission appeals to you or one that's local!

And if you want something a little more personalized, Craft Hope finds specific needs and asks people to fill them.

Let's all take this year to build communities and relationships.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Stitchwhisper is on Twitter! You can keep an eye out there for new blogposts and other thoughts. Our screen name is Stitchwhisper.

While you're at it, this months issue of Knitty is kind of fun, this is an interesting thing to do with doilies, and this is fun too--but in a weird way.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finally finishing!

Here Harper has made a gorgous baby bonnet and really cute baby socks, and I'm finally finishing the blue cardigan in time to set it aside to wear in the spring or summer (it is a cotton/silk blend, and the fit is to go over a sleeveless top, not to go over long sleeves).
It looks a lot like a cardigan, which is a good thing because I want to be able to wear it to work in a grown-up office, and I am not making any kind of a craft statement about myself.
My next one will have pockets and be suited more for winter, with larger proportions to wear over long-sleeved shirts.
As Harper pointed out, as nice as it is to start new ideas, it is really nice to finish things, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Socks and Scrap Yarn

My son needed new socks. He had outgrown the old ones. I had the better part of a skein of yellow sock yarn. That should be enough, right? Wrong. As I started on the second sock, my son hit a growth spurt. That yellow yarn wasn't nearly enough, and I had no more of it. What to do?

I took out the foot beyond the gusset in the first sock, and made thick stripes using the yellow sock yarn and some navy tweed leftover from a pair of socks I had just finished for myself. Then I copied the stripe pattern on the second sock. They fit my son with room to spare! Mission accomplished!


I have socks that fill the need that I had, but they don't look good. They looked like I set out making yellow socks and didn't have enough yarn. Now what?

I looked around at my stash and found a little ball of size 10, white crochet cotton. Hmmm. If you don't look too closely at the socks, they look like black and yellow stripes. Sounds like a bee to me, and bees need wings. So I ad libbed two pair of white bees' wings out of the cotton, sewed them onto the socks and added a smiley face and antennae to the toe of each sock. Now my son has bees on his feet. Even my husband thinks they are really cute! I could even imagine doing this with different colors to produce butterflies, lady bugs, and other critters.

And how did I make the wings?

Using #10 cotton and US size 2 knitting needles:
CO 10
Row 1: k
Row 2: k1, inc 1, k to last st, inc 1, k1.
Rep these two rows until you have a total of 18 sts. K 1 row, and then place the first 9 sts of that row on a holder.
Over the rem 9 sts, k 4 rows even.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1.
Next row: k
Rep these 2 rows until 5 sts rem. BO.
Rep for rem 9 sts on holder.
Make a total of 2 per sock.

The moral of the story? If you want to make a "scrap yarn project," but are afraid that the emphasis will wind up on the "scrap" end of it, find ways to embellish the project (either with add-ons or with interesting stitches/textures/shapes built in) that will draw the eye to something else.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Interesting Stitch

This is the other noteworthy stitch I used in the baby bonnet. It was taken from Traditional Edgings to Crochet (Dover Needlework Series), which is a collection of vintage edging patterns that are now out of print. I think it's a really handy book to have on hand.

This stitch is the basis for a lovely edging in Ms. Weiss' book (number 1809) worked in size 30-70 crochet cotton. Worked with number 10 bedspread cotton, the pattern makes an edging that is too large for my purposes and is clearly not as delicate as it ought to be. Using just the first row of the pattern topped with a row of single crochet interspersed with ch-3 picots worked very nicely. In any case, this stitch was a fun one. While it isn't really suitable for making a fabric, I think I will use it in edgings and beadings in the future.

Ch a multiple of 6 plus 1.

Work one row of single crochet. Ch4, turn.

Working in the first sc from the beg of the row, work 1 tr. Sk 2, make a 3-tr cluster in the next sc (work 3 tr in same st, holding back final loop of each, yo, pull through all loops on hook), ch5. In the same sc, make a 3-tr cluster, but do not finish it. Once the three trebles have been begun, sk 2 and work an additional tr in third sc from hook, yo, and pull through all loops on hook (joint cluster made). *Sk 2, 3-tr cluster in next sc, ch5, joint cluster in same sc, rep from * across.

Lacy Flower Motif

This is the pattern for the motif I used on the back of this bonnet. I found it on Karen's Variety, but the pattern has since been removed from the website. Since it was posted there as a reprint of a vintage pattern and is no longer available on that website, I don't think there is any problem with my reposting the pattern here.

I think this is a wonderful pattern for the advanced beginner, because it uses just about every basic stitch you will come across in a crochet pattern and many common techniques.

Please note that I will be working through this pattern again in the next few days, as I believe I found a problem with it in the third or fourth round, but it was one easily solved by looking at the picture. For the baby bonnet, I only used the first four rounds.

  • For Tablecloth: No 20 crochet thread and No. 11 steel crochet hook

  • For Bedspread: String weight thread [no. 10 cotton] and No. 7 or 8 crochet hook

Size: Motif measures 3 1/4 inches square


  • ch = chain
  • st = stitch
  • sl st = slip stitch
  • sp = space
  • rnd = round
  • sc = single crochet
  • hdc = half double crochet
  • dc = double crochet
  • tr = treble crochet
  • dtr cluster = double treble cluster (see below)
  • tr tr = treble treble [or triple treble depending on whom you ask] (see below)


Ch 8, join with a sl st to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 7, dc in ring. * Ch 3, dc in ring, repeat from * 5 more times.Join last ch 3 to 4th st of ch 7 first made (8 spaces).

Round 2: Sl st into first sp. Ch 5, * make a 3-dtr cluster, ch 10, ** makea second petal with a 4-dtr cluster into next sp, ch 10, repeat from **until 8 petals have been made. Ch 2, tr tr in top of first petal, thusmaking a ch equal to the ch 10 between other petals, yet keeping hook inposition for next rnd.

Round 3: Ch 4, 3 dc in sp, ch 5, 4 dc in same sp to form a shell. * (Ch 5,4 dc) twice in next ch 10. Repeat from * around (8 shells); ch 5 and jointo first ch 4 with a sl st.

Round 4: Sl st in 3 dc and in 1 ch of ch 5. Ch 8, dc in same sp, ch 5, scin next ch 5. * Ch 5, dc in next ch 5. Ch 5, dc in same sp. Ch 5, sc innext ch 5. Repeat from * around. Join last ch 5 to third st in ch 8 first made.

Round 5: Sl st in sp. Ch 5, * tr in sp, ch 1, tr in same sp. Repeat from *7 more times. Ch 1, sc in ch 5, ch 1. Make a second scallop as the first.* Ch 10, make 2 more scallops. Repeat from * around. Join last ch 10 tothe fourth st in ch 5 first made.

Round 6: * Ch 8, sc in 5th tr, ch 6, sc in sc, ch 6, sc in last sc, ch 6,sc in last sc, sl st in first sc (3 picot cluster made). Ch 8, sl st in scbetween scallops, ch 8, sl st in dc. Make a 3 picot cluster as before. Ch8, sl st in last tr of scallop. Ch 16, sc in 4th ch from hook, hdc in nextch, 2 dc in each of next 2 chs, 2 tr in each of next 2 chs, 2 dtr in eachof next 2 chs, 2 tr tr in each of next 2 chs. Ch 3, sl st in first tr ofnext scallop. Repeat from * around.

TO JOIN MOTIFS: To make a tablecloth with a scalloped edge, join themotifs diagonally across. Crochet together at the corner points and thetwo middle picots of the clusters on the sides.

FINISHING EDGE: Fasten the thread to a corner point. Ch 6, sc in the point(picot). Ch 8, dc in middle of the side of the point, p. * Ch 6, dc at thecorner of the scallop, p. Ch 8, sc in the middle p of cluster, p, ch 8, dcin p between scallops. Ch 8, sc in the middle p of the second scallop, p.Ch 8, dc at the corner of scallop, p. Ch 6, dc in the middle of the sideof next point, p. Ch 6, sc at the intersection of 3 points (corners of 3motifs). Ch 6, dc in side of point, p. Repeat from * around.


  • At alloutside points, use ch of 8 as at beginning and at intersection of 3points use ch of 6.

  • dtr cluster - thread over hook 3 times and work off 2 lps at a time,retaining last lp of each dtr on hook, thread over and pull through alllps on hook at once to form a cluster

  • tr tr - thread over hook four times and work off 2 lps at a time