I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks by Karen Ratto-Whooley

Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Okay, so everyone who knows me knows that I love crocheted socks. My sock yarn stash has a special bin that I can reach at any time. If I have extra money to spend, it will often go to sock yarn. This is because, to me, socks are the perfect travel project. They fit in my purse, are easy to do on a plane or bus, and allow me to make something for myself in a short amount of time. I actually bought a pair of shoes that show off my crocheted socks and wear them proudly to any yarn event. My socks never match my outfit, and I don’t worry about that.

See?

So when I heard that my dear friend and fellow designer, Karen Ratto-Whooley, was coming out with a sock book, I was so excited. When she asked me to do a stop on her blog tour, I was over the moon. The book is I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks and is published by Leisure Arts.

First off, a little about Karen. She is so completely awesome. I met her in person at the 2010 Knit and Crochet Show. We clicked instantly and hung out most of the weekend. Unfortunately, we were so busy chatting and having fun that we failed to get a photo together. And of course, we didn’t notice that until we were back at our respective homes. She is the utmost professional, and a very talented designer.

Okay, so the book. When I got it in the mail, I dropped everything and immediately flipped through it. This book is so very well put together. She explains the parts of the sock, the differences in fiber types, and all the tools you’ll need to make socks. Once you get addicted like we are, you’ll start keeping a whole kit together just for your sock projects. Go ahead and set it up now, you’ll thank me later.

One thing I love about this book is there are two patterns explaining the basic sock methods: Toe up and Cuff Down. And Karen has written the patterns where you can change color in each different part of the sock. It’s not necessary, but if you’re making socks for the first time, this is really great to understand the concept of what you’re doing. I love it.

Basic Toe Up Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Basic Cuff Down Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Another thing I love about this book is the patterns themselves. There’s a great mix between toe-up and cuff down. There are two socks sized for men (which after making socks for my dad and brother after extrapolating a pattern I typically used, this is a great thing…less math for me!). All the sock patterns suggest sock yarn, which means these will fit in your shoes! Also, no seaming (unless you’re doing cuff down, then you just have to close up your toe)!

Ripple Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission.

These ones are my favorites and the ones I’m currently working on. I’d hoped to have at least one to show you, but life got in the way and I didn’t get them finished in time. But they will be done soon and I’ll blog about them! These are the Ripple Socks and the pattern is very easy to understand. I will share one bit of advice. Trust Karen. Seriously. She knows what she’s doing. I had a moment where I thought, “Hmmm, that’s different than I usually do it, I better be prepared to fudge it to make it work.” But you know what? I didn’t have to. It was perfect.

The photography is fabulous in this book. Especially in the first two patterns which are broken down like tutorials. Perfect for new sock crocheters. The patterns are clearly written. Everything you need to know is there. If you’ve ever thought of crocheting socks, this is the book to get.

Now, I wanted to do a question and answer with Karen, so here we go:

Karen, as a fellow sock addict, I’m so thankful you did this book. Why do you love crocheting socks so much?

There are lots of reasons! They are fast and portable. A whole lot faster than knitting socks! I love all of the self-striping and long-striping yarns available in sock weight yarns. I end up crocheting a whole lot longer because I want to see “what the next color will do”. And then when that color is done, I want to see the next one. LOL!

Many crocheters seem to be afraid of crocheting socks. Why do you think that is?

Honestly, I think crocheters are intimidated by the size of the yarn. When you see a knitter knitting socks, they are using very small needles (Size 0 sometimes!) That is not true with crochet. I actually encourage using a larger hook than you would normally in order to get the drape and elasticity needed for socks. Crochet is already dense. The larger hook helps reduce that density.

The other thing I think that crocheters don’t realize is that you can use sock yarns. So many patterns in the past use sport or worsted weight yarns. The result is “slipper-like” socks, that won’t fit in a shoe, and many times are so bulky that most people don’t like the way they look. By using sock yarns with a slightly larger hook, the result is a sock that can be worn and is lovely to look at.

What would be your advice for a crocheter trying socks for the first time? Should they do one of the tutorial patterns in a larger yarn? I know you suggest a “light” yarn for those. Do you find this helps the crocheter learn the steps before committing to smaller sock yarn?

If a crocheter hasn’t made socks before, I would say, definitely try the cuff-down tutorial pattern first. Try using the sock yarn first, but if you are struggling, then go up to sport or worsted weight. Once you can see what you are looking for, then bump back down to the sock yarn. The cuff-down sock would be the best for a first timer. Once that has been accomplished, the toe up will make more sense.

There are so many sock yarns on the market now. Do you have a favorite sock yarn? Do you prefer yarns that will stripe or just regular variegated yarns? What’s your go-to sock fiber?

I have to choose? LOL! I love the striping yarns, I love the variegated yarns. I love the solid colors. I think I pick my yarn based on the pattern. If there is a lot of detail in the sock pattern, I will gravitate toward a solid or a tonal yarn. If the sock is more basic, I will chose a striping or variegated yarn

As far as fiber, I really love yarns with bamboo in them. Not only are they soft, but they have a beautiful sheen. I always make sure that my yarns have a little wool or acrylic for those who might be allergic to wool. Wool and acrylic have more elasticity than cotton, silk or bamboo. Using a blend helps with fit! My LYS just got in a sock yarn with Cashmere. I haven’t tried that one yet, but just by touch I think that could be a new favorite.

What is your number one tip for sock crocheting success?

I think the best tip I have is to TRUST in the pattern. I teach that all the time in my sock classes. A lot of the time my students will start a toe-up sock and it just doesn’t look right to them at the beginning. Many times the pattern for a sock isn’t straight forward. But if you just trust and keep going, you will discover that it usually works out in the end.

Can I just toss in an “absolutely!” here? πŸ™‚

One of the complaints I hear about making socks (both by crocheters and knitters) is having to make two items from the same pattern. Any tips to help stave off the dreaded ‘second sock syndrome’?

Split your ball of yarn, and work both socks at the same time! If you purchase a large ball of yarn (350-450 yards in a single ball will usually make a pair of crocheted socks) have the LYS wind and split the ball evenly for you. If you have to do it yourself, use a kitchen scale that has grams. Weigh the ball before and then keep weighing until you have split the ball in two.

When working the pattern, do the cuff on one sock then do the cuff of the other. Then one leg, then the other. Same for the heels and foot and toe. It goes faster and you don’t have to remember for very long or have to write down your row counts as much if you do it this way. And it is something that knitters cannot do necessarily unless they know how to knit 2 at once on a circular. We just have to pull the hook out.

Confession time. I have nine pairs of completed crocheted socks and three pairs that just need some finishing (or are close to being done). Just how many pairs of crocheted socks do you have?

For myself, I only have 2-3 pairs. My kids each have more than that and even my husband has a pair. The rest of the socks have gone to either family, models for classes and/or books! Although I do have a pair that are in progress just for me! If I ever get a chance to get back to them!

I’m beginning to think I might have a problem now.

I’m a huge fan of toe-up socks because I hate that seam at my toe (and no matter how smoothly I try to do my whip stitching, I can always feel it). What’s your favorite direction to work your socks?

Toe up is definitely my favorite way as well. I am one of those people who doesn’t like to sew either. This way, I only have the ends to weave in.

However, there are times that the cuff down with the heel flap and gusset are better. I think for men’s socks especially. Men seem to have trouble with getting their feet into socks if it is too tight at the ankle. The way I do my short row heels help in the ankle area. And I am working now on a pattern with a toe up heel flap and gusset pattern, so that I can avoid that issue.

For people who may want a hands on lesson in learning to crochet socks, where can they take classes from you?

I regularly teach at Crochetville.org. I have 2 sock classes on the schedule there this year. Cuff down starts May 6th and Toe Up starts November 4th!

I am also starting to teach online at my website. The Crochet Learning Studio will be open this month, hopefully by March 7th, 2011 for registration. The link is http://www.krwknitwear.com/learningcenter. I have a newsletter there just for classes, so be sure to sign up if you are interested.

If you are local to me, I teach classes at Great Yarns! in Everett,WA http://www.greatyarns.com. Check the website for the class schedules.

I also teach nationwide. If you have a guild or a shop that might like to have me come and teach, let me know! I love to visit new places! I also teach at major events like Stitches and The Knit and Crochet Show. I always have my schedule on my website: http://www.krwknitwear.com.

I hope you enjoyed our visit with Karen today! If you love crocheting socks, get this book. If you’ve always wanted to try crocheting socks, get this book! You, too, will be saying, “I can’t believe I’m crocheting socks!”

Another thing I can show you

Let’s play another round of “Remember this?”

Remember this?

Well, it turned into this:

Spring Ripple Baby Blanket (Lion Brand’s link) / Ravelry link….go look at it on the Lion Brand site, their pictures are much better than mine. πŸ™‚

I’ve been waiting to tell you about this yarn. It’s AWESOME! Seriously, I’m going to buy a ton of this when it hits stores near me. It’s a superwash merino wool. 306 yards to a 100g skein. AWESOME. It’s so soft and yummy and the colors are so neat. The info on the site says that it’s a DK weight yarn, but I personally think you might maybe be able to do a pair of socks in it. They might be a bit thick, but that’s my plan. I’m going to swatch with the little bit I have left from the project. I also have a top I want to make with this yarn. Go get some of this if you can. It’s a really nice yarn. πŸ™‚

What else am I working on? Well, I just finished the sample size for SSP#5. I want to test the other two sizes to make sure my math is right. I also sent off four proposals this morning. So it’s been a busy start to the new year.

Oh, and I finished Kelli’s second sock yesterday and sent it home with Mom. Here’s the picture of the single sock:

Now all that’s left to do is John’s vest. He’s resigned himself to getting it as a birthday present in February. I’m hoping I can get it done before then. πŸ™‚ We’ll see.

Well, time to get back to work. I’d like to get my to-do list done today before mid afternoon so I can do a bit of housework before John comes home tonight.

It’s hard to blog when nothing can be shown or talked about!

*waves*

I’m still here! Y’all remember me? LOL

I’ve been crocheting away the last few days but I can’t show you any of it! I’m making great progress on SSP#4. Hopefully it will be done and out the door by the end of this week.

The other things I’m working on? Holiday gifts. And I can’t show those, either. πŸ™‚ I did complete Holiday Socks #1 on Friday. I finished the first sock of Holiday Socks #2 yesterday and am about halfway through the foot of the second sock. That still leaves 2 more pairs to make. But, I’m feeling like I’m in a good place and can get the bulk of the gifts done in time. I say that because I know I won’t get John’s gift done in time. He already said to do his last so I can get the other ones done for Christmas morning. Good guy. πŸ™‚

Another way he’s a good guy? He called me Friday from the mall near the airport. He was at the bookstore and wanted to know what crochet magazines I needed. I had already picked up the new Crochet Today (at my grocery store!) and I get Crochet! through subscription. Interweave Crochet isn’t out yet (although it looks REALLY COOL this month). So that left Crochet World. So he found one and brought it home to me. πŸ™‚ Yay!

I did get a new book yesterday. It’s Rowan’s Crochet Workshop. Good book if you teach or you know a beginner who could use clear pictures. I’m likely loaning mine to my friend Mare since she’s a new crocheter. I also got a neat messenger bag at the same time (I buy my books through Crafter’s Choice). I’m going to make a CLF patch (pattern is in the CLF First Ever Book) and sew it on there. πŸ™‚ The bag is olive drab green so it should work out.

Okay, I need to get back to sock making or I won’t make my deadlines. πŸ™‚ Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Catching up…lots of pictures

Yesterday morning I finished the project for the yarn company, wove in all the ends, and packaged it to go to the post office (which I will be doing shortly). Here’s a closeup of it:

After I finished that I got started on the hat for Andrea’s hat and scarf she’s ordered. I’m using my Beatrice Hat pattern and will be designing a scarf to match it for her. I’m using Cascade 220 in Mystic Purple and black. I think it’s turning out pretty good. Here’s the progress picture after day 1:

Last night I finished the first of the pair of socks now known as the Pensacola socks since that’s where John was when he got the yarn for me. I love this yarn. It’s soft and springy and the socks fit perfectly:

Oh, and the next project after I finish the hat and scarf is to start on SSP#4…the yarn came the other day. Wanna see?

There must be something going on at the Air Force base in Tampa. Between yesterday and today I’ve heard 4 large planes go over our house. We’re not on a typical flight path for commercial planes, but John told me last time I heard this that it’s flights coming and going from the base. It still freaks me out because they sound like they’re trying to land on our house.

I’ve had to redo my work schedule. I’m working full days Monday through Thursday and then half days on Fridays. Friday afternoons will be my major housecleaning day (rather than pushing it to the weekend as I usually do) so the house is all clean and the housework is all done before John gets home from his trips. I am, however, likely taking this Monday off. It’s a holiday, and I told myself I’d take holidays off. Plus, I’m not sure I’ll be in the mood to do work stuff. This week John leaves on Sunday afternoon to have time to get up there and find his hotel and the site and all that. So I’m a wee bit cranky about that figure Monday would be best for me to just sit and do stuff for me that day. If I’m in an okay mood, then I’ll work on work stuff.

Okay, time to get another cup of coffee before running up to the post office to send off the package for the yarn company. Have a good day, everyone!

Yesterday was the day for finishing

I had a rather productive day yesterday. I didn’t get my housework done, but I did finish quite a few things. I got my Ravelympics sweater done (as seen in the last post) and then I worked and finished SSP#2. Last night while watching Harry Potter I finished the end of the second sock that I’d had for a month. Here’s a pic of them:

Now I’m on hold for doing anymore socks because I’m out of sock yarn. πŸ™ Well, I’m out of nice sock yarn. I have some that I’m likely going to use to design with, but that will come later.

I did start a new project last night. I know, I have a few things hibernating that I should get back on to. But, I wanted something somewhat mindless and easy for me to work on. So what did I do?

I started another Seraphina Shawl. This time out of the Debbie Mumm Traditions yarn I got nearly a year ago at my birthday. This is the last of my “birthday yarn” that I’m finally using. That’s where my sweater yarn came from. If y’all remember, John gave me a gift certificate and told me that I had to buy yarn for me for a specified project. So I got the yarn for the sweater and the yarn for the convertible wrap (that I need to finish, it’s nearly done). The DMT yarn I got with a gift card to Joann’s for my birthday.

Anyway, today’s plan is housework and possibly taking a day off from crocheting. I need to weave in ends and block SSP#2, but I may let that wait until Monday. My hands could use a break. We have to go shopping later after lunch to Comp USA. The server has died. This is very distressing and sad because that’s where my website is hosted. So it’s imperative we get it back up as soon as possible. Everyone keep their fingers crossed that we can find what we need locally so we don’t have to wait for it to be shipped.

Still no magazine, but I have a sock!

John made fun of me today while I jumped up and ran to the front room every time I thought I heard the mail man. Unfortunately, he did not bring a magazine. In fact, the only thing he brought was my book from OverStock.com: 200 Crochet Blocks. I’d been eyeing the book at the bookstore the past few weeks. Well, I had some leftover money on my OverStock gift card and they had this book so I snagged it.

I did also finish my first sock of the pair. The pattern had info on doing a chevron cuff and I chose to do that this time. I think it turned out well. See?

I love how the colors striped like they did. It made the cuff pop as well:

Yesterday I got quite a bit done on what we’ll now call Super Secret Project #2 (the item that will be published next year). It’s moving along pretty quickly and I’m ahead of projected goals of how much I need to have done each day to get finished on time. The plan is to continue staying ahead of the curve so I have plenty of time. This helps just in case something happens and I get sick…I can still get it done. Sure, it’s not something regular people worry about, but when you have fibromyalgia, it is something that stays in the forefront of your mind. I never like to plan something right up to the end because something always happens. I may work some this weekend on it doing a bit of the small bits so I can be ahead of the game on Monday.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

The yarn fairy came today!

Today’s design hours were spent attempting to grade a pattern. Well, let me start over, today was spent researching measurements, swatching different stitch patterns, and then doing a lot of what shouldn’t be complicated math.

I’m likely overthinking a lot of what I’m trying to do. But that’s par for the course with me. Around 4pm I had the stitch pattern decided on and was still trying to figure out the best way to start the thing to make it simple. Yeah. I was giving myself a headache so I stopped for the day.

A little bit ago we were sitting here watching TV after dinner and we heard a knock at the door. I got up and beat the dog to the door and saw through our mega peephole that it was the UPS truck. That’s when I got excited.

See, that pattern that just got accepted came with yarn support and sure enough, that’s what this was. So, this is all I can show you right now (I don’t think I’ll be able to do any super duper close ups on this one without giving it away) but I hope it whets your appetite for when it comes out next year.

Hooray yarn! Aren’t those colors just awesome? I can’t wait!!! This is another one of those designs that I can say I’m just tickled with how well the swatch matched what was in my head. I can’t wait to see the whole thing done.

Oh, and while I had the camera out, I got a shot of the sock I’m working on:

Notice how there is no marking on the handle to tell you what size hook that is? That’s because I’ve worn it down. It’s not the only hook like that. My I hook is missing its label and the G hook is starting to lose its label as well. Oh well. I need to have John either engrave them for me or do letter press into it or something.

Okay, I’m off to work on a sock while a storm rolls through. Tomorrow I start work on the design! πŸ™‚

I think I might have a slight addiction

I just started another pair of socks.

Seriously, this might be an issue. And today at the shop I had my eye on all the different sock yarns she carries.

It’d be one thing if I was starting my holiday sock crocheting. But no, this is another pair of socks for me. πŸ™‚

But, this is my last skein of nice sock yarn. So very likely, this will be the end of my sock crocheting adventure until money comes in from work (other than my lessons ’cause that money turns magically into fuel for the van).

So, pictures later once these ones look a little more like socks. πŸ™‚

In other news, my first planned project with the yarn company was put on hold (on their end) so I’m waiting for another assignment. I’m cool with it because the original one had one heck of a deadline. The next one hopefully won’t be as tight of a deadline (or so I’m told). Yarn should be on its way to me for the accepted design.

While I’m waiting for those things to take place, this week will be spent on learning to grade patterns. I have all the tools at my disposal, I just need to work through it to learn it. So that’s my plan this week.

Okay, off to work on the sock some more before bedtime.

Weekend update

Friday night we went out to dinner to celebrate my good news. πŸ™‚ A great dinner at a nice little place up the road.

Saturday I didn’t do a lot, just relaxed and watched TV while John worked out in the garage. I worked a bit on my sock, but mostly just lounged around.

Sunday I got a bit more done. I straightened my studio up since I have a lesson here this afternoon and I’ll be working in there a lot more starting later this week. We went out and did our usual Sunday trip of lunch, Borders, and errand running. Once we got back John mowed the lawn and I ran the vacuum. Then I finished my sock while we watched TV. See?

Today I have a couple of lesson plans to write up and then I have a lesson this afternoon. Tomorrow I have another lesson at the shop. Hopefully on Wednesday or Thursday I will be getting a box o’yarn (woo hoo) and will need to crochet my little fingers off to get the project turned around and back out the door. πŸ™‚ We’ll see. It’s exciting.

And yeah, I’m not giving real details yet on what’s going on, but yes, I got the gig. This is the type of gig where the boxes show up at the door with yarn. πŸ˜€ So, I’m going to be very very busy soon. Which is good.

Okay, I’m off to get work done!

Slow moving, but at least moving

The last two days were a whirlwind. Both my lessons went really well and the shop was hopping both days. I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, that’s how fast the days have gone by.

I finished one sock last night. I had to rip back the first pattern I had tried. I was doing something wrong so I just decided to use the yarn doing a pattern I know and love. I decided to do a V-stitch cuff. It turned out pretty. Here’s a rather dark picture taken this morning:

Today is a design day. I’m doodling in yarn today trying to recreate or mimic something I’ve seen in nature. If I can do it, the pattern will be named after my niece since she has always loved this flower and picks them constantly. But first I have to see if I can do it.

So, time to get back to it! Hope everyone has a good rest of the week and weekend!

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