In the crafting world, many refer to October as Socktober because it is the month when sock making intensifies. Summer has passed, Autumn is in full blast and crafters in the Northern Hemisphere begin preparing for the colder months by making warmer attire. A common accessory for cooler temperatures is most definitely socks!
Over the past decade, however, many crochet designers have turned their attention to creating innovative sock designs that incorporate fine, high quality yarns and stretchy crochet stitches. This has made it possible to crochet socks that can actually be worn in shoes, trainers or boots. These recent designs create socks that are flexible and cozy without being girthy. Photo 1 shows one of my favorite socks on their way out on the town (Nope... it wasn't Halloween!). Does it surprise you that crocheted socks are gaining popularity as a practical accessory?
In comparison, most crochet stitches are made by pulling yarn through at least two loops. This, in turn, creates stitches that are loose and open; and a fabric that is not only heavy and hefty, but that also has a more open weave. This type of fabric was not appropriate for producing a fine, delicate wardrobe accessory; hence the rejection. However, over time, crochet sock designers learned to alter the density and flexibility of their finished socks through their choice of stitch, fiber content, crochet gauge and hook size. Their end product would never be identical to that of the knitters, but they were producing exemplary, durable and elegant items. Photos 2 and 3 highlight the many similarities between the sock construction of knit and crochet socks.
Differences in fabric density and drape, weren't the only obstacles faced when makers tried to create a crocheted sock that could stand up to the knitted version. There was also a problem with the stretch of the fabric. Since crochet fabric had little horizontal give, stretching the cuff of the crocheted sock to slide it over the heel (a measurement known as long heel girth or heel diagonal) presented a design challenge. Crochet sock designers accepted the challenge and found that using heel flaps and gussets (which add additional stitches to the foot before reaching the heel) along with increasing hook size at the heel by at least 0.5 mm and using stitches with more stretch (such as linked stitches or extended stitches) provided an adequate solution to this problem.
For example, the "Toil and trouble socks" of Photo 4 incorporate a short-row heel to build up extra rows and, therefore, extra space at the heel. The "Peanuts and Candy socks" shown in Photo 5 were constructed using crochet brioche on the foot. This creates a squishy, ribbed fabric that has a lot of stretch and padding.
To attend this issue, one recent suggestion is to add elastic thread to the cuff as it is knit. The elastic can also be hand sewn into the cuff, if and when it begins to slouch. For crochet socks, the cuff can be created using vertical rows, instead of crocheting in the standard horizontal direction as shown in Photo 6. This will increase the horizontal stretch of the fabric at the cuff. Another alternative is to incorporate your cuff into the leg of your sock with a stretchy stitch, as shown in Photo 7.