Friday 15 October 2021

How to design crochet socks that fit


Hello! This week I'd like to delve into my design process with you and let you know how I go about designing crochet socks that fit. There are two key things which really help me in this process; firstly crocheting lots (and lots!) of socks and secondly my specialisation in Sculpture at art college. I feel it's these two elements together which help me manipulate crochet stitches and create the shapes I need.

I frequently crochet socks using my own patterns and I also follow patterns from other designers to learn how they use crochet stitches to create the heel in particular. I love the way that in crochet, unlike in knitting, the results are instant - you don't have to wait until your work is off the needles to see if your idea has worked, it's there for you to see right away. 

Socks almost always begin either at the toe as toe-up socks, or at the cuff as cuff-down socks. It's possible to crochet socks sideways too, but I've yet to try this technique! When crocheting toe-up socks I begin at the toe and increase stitches until I reach the correct circumference for the foot. I keep my blocker by my side so I can try it on the blocker as I go along and get the fit spot on. 

With cuff-down socks like my Fiddle Socks above, I use the same technique. I know approximately how many stitches I need for the cuff because I've got the numbers in my head from crocheting so many pairs of socks. Once I've worked 3 or 4 rounds of cuff I'll try it on my blocker for size - making sure it fits over the heel too!

Going back to my student days, I graduated from studying Fine Art, Sculpture at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in the year 2000. I specialised in making life sized (and life like) sculptures of the human figure in clay and casting them into resin reinforced with fibre glass. Alongside this I drew hundreds of large self portraits and made small terracotta clay self portraits from memory which were fired in the kiln.

Working from life models and using what I could see in front of me to create in clay or on paper is definitely a skill which has transferred itself to my crochet practice. Somehow my brain just takes the shape & size of a heel and says "oh yeah, the next row will be 10 stitches with a decrease at either end" - I don't think I can explain it better than that!

As you can see in the photo above, it's not always right first time! Last week I was working on my latest sock design (which is going to be called Fiddle Socks) and I was on the gusset. Within a few rounds I could tell that my calculations were way off and the gusset and heel section were going to be huge! A quick bit of rattling down (you may have seen my frogging reel on Instagram?) and by working less stitches down the side of the heel flap things were back on track. I am super pleased with this heel, it fits my blocker and my foot perfectly!

If you're keen to start designing your own crocheted socks my advice would be to follow lots of other designers patterns for ideas on technique (not to copy their designs!) and to work with a sock blocker at your side. If you're working with sock yarn it will rattle down easily when things don't go to plan, which will happen! Use your mistakes to learn and to work out how to shape differently next time. 

I'll finish with a quick update on where I'm at with this new pattern and my other recent designs. I need to do a few calculations to work the heel stitch numbers out across the different sizes for my Fiddle Socks before I send it to be tech edited and then tested. My Mavis Mitts are very nearly ready for release - I'm just waiting for the photos back from eldest son, we had an excellent photo shoot together. As for my Air Balloon Beanie, it's been tech edited and is currently at the testing stage. To keep up to date with these future releases (and receive more generous discount codes than anywhere else on the internet) subscribe to my mailing list here.

Until next time, happy crocheting,

Marta xx 

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