Sunday, September 17, 2017

STEP INTO CROCHET – Crocheted Sock Techniques from Basic to Beyond!
By Rohn Strong
Published by Interweave Books/F+W Media, Inc.

I have been crocheting for decades, and I have to admit, I have never crocheted a sock, much less two, to wear. (I did crochet a "sock" for a Christmas Stocking pattern for a book, but it was a sock with no heel - a straight sock, from the toes to the cuff.) So I never did learn the various parts of a sock or how and why to measure the parts – parts like the foot, the gusset, the ankle and the leg circumference, or the foot length, or the toe length, or the heel diagonal. I didn't even know there were such things when I made that Christmas Stocking. So when I was asked by Interweave Books/F+W Media Inc. to review the book STEP INTO CROCHET - Crocheted Sock Techniques from Basic to Beyond!, by Rohn Strong, I didn't think twice. Maybe NOW I could learn to crochet real socks.

When I received the book, and started looking it over, I saw some great information on the methods to crochet all the different parts of a sock. And the good news was, you could mix and match the parts and the methods. So if a sock pattern you liked showed one method to crochet a part of the sock, but you liked another method, you could substitute the method you liked. Or if you liked another cuff pattern, you could substitute the one you liked for the  one that was given. That means that each sock you crochet (or pair of socks, hopefully) could be unique to you. And you could start each sock from the toe and work up, or from the cuff and work down. Each way that you could choose to construct the parts – well, the reason why you should pick that method is explained. So if you don't know what to do, or why you should chose one method over another, it's all in the book, all explained.

I was ready to get started on my first sock! But first, I had to pick the yarn. I usually crochet with DK weight (#3), WW weight (#4), or thicker yarn. But the patterns in the book called for sock weight (#1 Super Fine). The book explains all about sock weight yarn, what fibers to look for, how many plies, and why you should look for elasticity, strength, and absorbency in your yarn. Also, how to care for your socks. But I have always told my students in my classes that when they want to learn a new technique that uses yarn they are not used to, they should first work a sample of that technique using yarn that they ARE used to. I decided to take my own advice, and work with WW (worsted weight) yarn. Cotton - because usually you can see the stitches better with cotton than with acrylic or wool. So that's what I picked. (Whew!)

Then I had to pick the pattern. The patterns start with the Simple Socks (that's the title of the first chapter of projects), then go to the next chapters, Textured and Cabled Socks, (below is pictured a sample – North Hills Socks),  

Colorwork Socks, (below is a sample – Lake Lynn Socks), 

and Lace Socks, (below is a sample – Little Rose Garden Socks). 

Okay – I picked a sock in the first chapter, Simple Socks, for my first try at crocheting socks. The Simple Socks in this chapter are described as "basic" socks – the "foundation" of all crocheted sock patterns. There are 4 different patterns in the chapter - two toe-up socks, and two cuff-down socks. (Each of the toe-up socks has a "twin", a cuff-down sock.) I decided to start with a toe-up sock – and the first of the two pairs in the first chapter. I thought it  would be the easiest for a beginner in crocheting socks, like me!
The sock I picked is called the Gorman Street Toe-Up Sock. First, below is a picture of the Gorman Street Cuff-Down sock, the first sock pattern in the first chapter, Simple Socks.

And below is a picture of the Gorman Street Toe-Up Sock, the second sock pattern in the first chapter, and the one that I tried -

And finally, here's the picture of the sock that I crocheted - my version of the Gorman Street Toe-Up sock!

The crochet hook below the sock is there to show you how large my sock turned out. Also, the cuff, worked in the WW cotton, just like the rest of the sock, did not fit the top of the sock – it's too long, and started to ruffle. But I finished it anyway, just to see what it would do. I think it ruffled because the yarn that I used was thicker, heavier, etc., than the yarn that was called for. (I could have easily modified the directions to get the cuff flat. But I wanted you to see how it turned out without any modifications!) 

The directions for all the patterns give you the yarn that was used, including the weight, so you can substitute if you need to. Also, how many yards, and meters, and grams are in each skein. How many skeins you'll need. What size hook to use - and also how to adjust hook size if necessary to obtain gauge. What the gauge should be. What notions you'll need. What the measurements are for the sock that's pictured, and also, what you need to do to make it smaller or larger. Special stitches that you'll use are also included in the description. Then, each pattern has sub-titles like Gusset, Heel Turn, Heel Flap, Cuff, Leg, Foot, and Toe, to let you know what part of the sock you are working on. Some of these you may know what they are, but some may be like reading or speaking a foreign language. So all these terms are explained in a section called The Anatomy of a Sock, in the chapter Basic Sock Construction, and further in a chapter called Heels, Toes, and Cuffs. The beginning chapters also tell you how to measure each part of your foot, so you can pick the right size to crochet. Another chapter tells you how to pick the right yarn for your sock. And how to take care of the socks – how to wash and block them.
The sock patterns are written in clear language – with special stitches and techniques you might need in the back of the book – all with pictures and written instructions. Stitch guides are included with the instructions. And there are stitch diagrams also, where needed.  As I was crocheting my sock, I found it easy to figure out the pattern, easy to decipher all the terms I did not know, and easy to follow the pattern.

So if you want to learn how to crochet socks, starting from the basics to beyond the basics, this is the book for you. All the information you need as a beginner is here, along with how to advance to beyond the beginner. If you have already been crocheting socks, this book helps you put together your own socks – using the information that tells you how to switch parts of the sock patterns given. And how to work socks from the toe up, or the cuff down. Your choice.

If you're interested in this book, it's available here:

It's available as both a paperback and an ebook. 

And if you crochet a sock (or, hopefully, a pair of socks) from this book, please post a picture with a comment. I would love to see what you made!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Crochetville Blog Tour - March 2017
Blog post March 16, 2017

Welcome to the 5th annual Crochetville Blog Tour! I am pleased to be one of the bloggers featured again this year, and for my blog post I thought I would tell you about some of my happiest times as a crochet professional.

During my crochet career, I have been a teacher, a designer, a tech editor, and an editor. I love doing all of these – but I especially love teaching. (That's probably why I have taught just about everything that I've been involved with – that I've really liked – math, ballet, group exercise, calligraphy, graphic arts and design, education, crochet - not listed in any special order.) Teaching gives me such pleasure, especially when I see my students do something with what they've learned – whether it's solving a math problem, using calligraphy to write an invitation, using graphic arts to design the layout for a written pattern or brochure, or using their crochet skills (and math skills) to design and crochet something. Or to alter something that someone else has designed. And that's what I want to write about today – to celebrate National Crochet Month and the Crochetville Blog Tour -  a blog about my Crochet Philosophy and teaching Crochet.
My crochet "philosophy" is to make things simple, but make them look, not necessarily complicated, but not as easy or simple as they are. This is what I do with most of my patterns, and this is how I teach crochet. And I think my students appreciate this – because some have continued with me for many years. (I've been teaching at my LYS for over 16years!) My crochet class is a "crochet what you want" class. But, I use this to teach them things. And I often suggest that they crochet something that they don't usually chose to crochet. Last year, I realized that I had a lot of good crocheters in class, but they were just working on comfort shawls, or scarves, or blankets. All rectangles. All of them just "pick a stitch pattern and go" type of pattern. Nothing is wrong with that, but I thought they could do more. So I challenged them. I suggested that they try to crochet a sweater. They could choose one of my designs, or someone else's design. It didn't matter. But they should try it. And a few of them did. They picked some of my designs because most of my sweaters, whether they are self-published sweaters, or published in a book or magazine or by a yarn company, are simple shapes – squares or rectangles. And when they worked on the sweaters, they learned some important things. Like checking the gauge before you begin the actual pattern – something you don't necessarily have to do with a scarf, shawl or afghan.
Here are some pictures of my students' sweaters – and ponchos.

Some of my students like to take a pattern and change it a little. They may add something – like fringe, or they may make it wider, or more narrow, or longer, or shorter. They make it uniquely their own. I like that – when crocheters take one of my basic patterns (say, a shawl, or a tote) and do something with it that wasn't in the pattern and make it their own. My students do that and so do my "fans" on Ravelry. I constantly read about how they change something – adding fringe, making something wider, or longer. Or using a different yarn. As a designer and a teacher, I'm pleased that my patterns are used this way.

Here are some totes I designed, crocheted by one of my students - with her "take"on them. Notice, the last two totes are the same pattern - but she added some variations.

Here is another tote she crocheted - based on a simple pattern of mine for a Goody Bag. Her tote is the large one on the left. My various Goody Bags are the smaller ones. 

Same pattern - different sizes, different yarns. 

Here are some pictures of variations of one of my most popular shawls on Ravelry – the One Skein Summer Wrap – all crocheted by priscijo. .

These are only two of the many shawls priscijo crocheted. Notice the fringe on one, and the fancy edging on the other. Those are her additions.

Here is the link for the free pattern for my shawl – feel free to add on an edging of your choice.

All of this makes me happy - what my students do with my patterns, and with other patterns. That shows me that they have learned some things from my classes and patterns. One of my favorite sayings, that my students have started using for other purposes, is "We don't make mistakes. We make Design Decisions!" Remember that, in your crochet or crafty life! We make DESIGN DECISIONS!

One more thing – here is a coupon for 50% off my Craftsy class – 
Coupon Details: Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires April 8, 2017.

When you learn Foundation Stitches, you'll be able to make a lot of smart design decisions!
Happy Crocheting!

Here's a list of all the designers taking part in this tour. 
Designers on tour