Crocheting socks is not always easy sailing, but it is a very rewarding way to expand to your crochet skills. With a good sock pattern and a willingness to make adaptations for a great fit, you'll soon be totally addicted!
I started to learn more about how to crochet socks a few months ago and I'll start by saying that this is a project for a crocheter with experience. In the same way that you wouldn't try to knit socks if you've just managed to learn to the basic knit stitches, don't try to attempt crochet socks if all you've done so far is make a basic granny square.
Choosing the right yarn for your crochet socks
The weight of yarn is up to you.
Patterns are available for chunky slipper socks made with a 6mm hook or larger, and you can also find patterns made in sock weight yarn with a 3mm or 2.5mm hook.
- Socks made in chunky yarn can be good for extreme conditions such as skiing or long hikes. They're also great or for snuggling up at home by the fire.
- Socks made with finer yarn are great everyday socks that can be worn instead of store-bought socks — and once you've tried them, there will be no going back.
Be sure to consider fiber content when picking yarn for your socks.
Natural vs. synthetic
Synthetic fibers like acrylic don't have the same moisture-wicking properties as natural fibers such as wool, alpaca or cotton. Blends can work very well, and bamboo yarns are a good alternative if you don't want to use wool.
It's also important (more so than in knitting) to choose a yarn with some stretch. Wool is just about the perfect material for socks — which is why sock yarn is usually a wool and nylon blend. The wool gives the socks warmth and keeps your feet dry inside boots and shoes, and the nylon is there to help the socks stand up to rough treatment.
It's also key to think about how you want to use your socks. For everyday socks, pick a wool sock yarn with at least 20 percent nylon so that your socks are hardwearing enough to give you a lot of wear. Socks made in 100 percent merino are perfect for lounging at home, but would probably develop holes quite quickly if you wore them in your hiking boots!
Picking the right color for your crochet socks.
The rise in popularity of knitted socks in recent years means that us crocheters now also have lots colorful sock yarns to choose from, ranging from relatively inexpensive ones to the more "treat yourself," hand-painted, beautiful sock yarns.
For your first pair of crochet socks, choose a yarn in a colorway you love, but skew toward the less expensive end of the spectrum. You can move onto the pricier, hand-dyed sock yarns when you have some experience under your belt.
How to crochet socks with enough stretch
One of the main hurdles I ran into with crochet socks is a lack of stretch: Crochet stitches don't stretch the same way that knitted stockinette does. Commercially made socks are all knitted, and we are used to pulling on a pair of socks easily and take it for granted they will snap into place and stay up once they are on. Unfortunately, that's not always the case with crocheted socks.
Therefore, the choice of stitch in a pattern is crucial. The crochet fabric needs to stretch enough to fit around the widest part of your ankle and heel but then not sag once it's pulled up. Most designers will design with this in mind, but remember that your foot is unique and you may still need to make small adaptations for the best fit possible.
Whichever crochet pattern you use, try your sock on frequently as you make it. This is particularly important just before and after adding the heel. It's better to know sooner rather than later if your sock won't go over your heel — ripping back is always painful, but the sooner you find the problem, the better.
Craftsy designer AimorroPatterns demonstrates the use of stretch perfectly with the shell socks. The open shell stitch design used in these knee-high socks opens up to give a huge amount of stretch and a perfect fit all the way up the calf.
Toe-up or cuff-down?
Just like knitters, crocheters can make a sock starting at the toe and working up, or at the cuff and work down. Each technique has its pros and cons.
Regardless of direction worked, the most important element in a pattern is the type of heel. Because of the lack of stretch, the more room you have in the heel design, the better. An afterthought heel is often the least roomy, so I prefer patterns that include a traditional heel flap or heel turn. It's possible to do these working either cuff-down or toe-up, but cuff-down seems to give me the best results. I like the heel flap to be at the back of my heel, rather than below at the bottom of my foot.
The other advantage of working cuff-down is that the faux ribbing has more stretch. In my Super Sonic crochet sock pattern (available free on Craftsy), I used single crochet stitches in the back loop only to make a strip of ribbing, which I then joined with slip stitches. Once this is flipped on its side, it gives you the perfect launching point for working your leg section in the round.
My personal preference is a pattern that uses a traditional gusset decrease and works the toe section using two decreases at each side with a stitch in between. I did this in my pattern because I was aiming to make crochet socks that look as close to knitted ones as possible... and they are pretty close.
Having said that, other designers have also produced socks that look as if they might be knitted using the toe-up technique. Craftsy designer Brenda Bourg has two sock patterns that look fantastic. The first is for the gorgeous textured Fantasy Fair Isle socks shown above.
The second pattern by Brenda is another toe-up pattern for the Indigo Dreams Socks. These have such texture and look great in the bright magenta sock yarn she used. I like the look of the afterthought heel used in both these patterns too — it seems to give a far better fit than others that I've seen.
Try out both a cuff-down method and a toe-up method to see which you prefer. So many variations are possible and what might fit my feet could be totally wrong for you!
Understanding the concept of negative ease
Most crochet sock patterns will give you instructions for different sizes, but I've found that trying the sock on and modifying both the stitch count in the round for the leg and foot is necessary to get a perfect fit. We all have different sized feet, but they are all different shapes too!
When figuring out how many rounds to complete in your foot section, remember that although crochet fabric doesn't stretch sideways very well, it does have quite a lot of stretch along the body of the sock. You need to stop crocheting to allow room to complete your toe section and also to make the sock about 1/2" shorter (or more) than your actual foot.
This half inch is called the negative ease, which means the half inch that your sock stretches to fit the actual length of your foot once you put it on. The first socks I made had no negative ease and once washed and worn a few times, they could easily fit someone with a foot several sizes bigger! I made my early pair using the Survival Socks pattern by Elin Stoodley.
All of my socks since look quite funny — like they were made for a hobbit! Compare the socks above with this pair that I made using the Saunders Sock pattern by Joanne Scrace:
Most well-fitting crochet socks may look awkward, but they need that negative ease to fit well and not sag or fall off your foot!
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