Crochet 101: Top Down Socks

For my next sock trick, we’ll be working a top down crochet pattern.  Basically, this is the toe up pattern, but I’m working backwards. The measurements are the same, the instructions are the same (done in a different order of course), the only thing that will really change is how the toe is finished.

For those of you who just need the pattern, skip to the bottom like before and you’ll find the short version. For those of you who need a little more help (or just like to read my silliness) the long version comes first.

For this pattern, you will need:

crochet socks you will need

  • 1 Skein Sport weight (3) yarn any brand, fiber, and color (about 275 yards)**
  • 1 size US F-5 (3.75 mm) hook**
  • Split ring markers, locking stitch  markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 2)
  • A measuring tape

**GAUGE NOTE: Because this pattern is using measurements rather than stitches, it doesn’t matter what weight yarn you use or what hook you use as long as you are matching the measurements. I have listed here what I am using for this project.

Top Down Socks

Before we do anything, make a gauge swatch. Not just any gauge swatch though, we’ll need a circular gauge swatch. A circular gauge swatch is the same as a regular gauge swatch, but you work the swatch in a round. Why? Well, take a look:

circular gauge

 

 

See how the top part looks thicker than the bottom? The bottom is worked in the round and the top is worked back and forth like a traditional swatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It might be a little easier to see in this next one:

why circular

What causes the change? All crochet stitches lean one way or another. Usually this lean doesn’t effect the work as a whole, but when you’re working in the round, it can change the gauge that you’re used to working–often making the gauge smaller than you’re used to. It’s also just a good practice to check your gauge the same way you work your project.  Since this sock is worked in the round, you’ll want to work using the circular gauge as your guide.

As we did for the Toe Up Socks grab your tape measure before you start with your hook. You’ll need to measure the circumference of your ankle (or highest point of your sock). Once you have that measurement, you’ll want to take about 10% away from it to start your cuff (ex: if the measurement is 9.5 in, the math is 9.5 * .1 = .95, so 9.5 – .95 = 8.55in for your foundation chain). If you’d rather with this one, you can make your foundation chain and just wrap it around your ankle until it just fits, gently stretched.

One of the biggest problems with top down socks, whether knit or crochet, is that the foundation chain (or cast on for knitting) can be stiff and hard to get a foot through. One of the best techniques for getting around this with socks (and a few other things) is to use a ch/sc foundation.

Working the ch/sc foundation is a little complicated, but it’s really fast once you get it down and it’s got a LOT more stretch than your traditional foundation chain. It also has the added bonus of working round 1 and the same time as your foundation chain. To start, chain two and insert the hook into the first chain.

Yarn over and draw the working yarn through the chain.

chsc1 yo draw through ch

Then yarn over and draw through the two loops on the hook.

chsc1 draw through 2

This is your first ch/sc done. Take some time to take a good look at it from all sides and familiarize yourself with how they look. Find the tail knot to help you see the chain and bottom of the stitch. When you’re ready, insert your hook into the fake chain you just made (or the loop on the right of the picture above):

chsc2 insert into chain

Yarn over and pull through the “chain” to make your next “chain”

chsc2 two loops on

Yarn over and pull through the two loops on the hook to make your single crochet.

chsc2 yo draw through 2

Repeat that process over again until you have the desired number of ch/sc and then join the round with a slip stitch. If that’s too complicated, not fun, or just too time consuming, just chain the amount of stitches you need and join with a slip stitch instead. For those of you following along with what I’m doing, I ended up with 35 ch/scs.

chsc

Now we’re ready to work the rest of the cuff. Pro Tip: as we’re working this sock, you may want to work in a spiral rather than joining each round to avoid having a thick seem running up the sock. If you’re working spirals, place a marker to indicate the start of the row so that you don’t lose your place when you start the heel flap.

Just like before I’m making an ankle sock, so I’m only worked about 1 inch of cuff, but you can work as much as you’d like. Keep in mind if you’re working knee or thigh high socks, you may need to increase and decrease the number of stitches you’re working to accommodate changing circumferences.

cuff

When you’ve finished your cuff, it will be time to measure again. This time, you’ll need to measure from the flat of your foot to where it starts to curve at your Achilles tendon or just below the Medial Malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of some ankles), usually this will be about 2 inches for adults. Once you have your measurement, sc across half (rounded up) the stitches in the round. Chain one, turn, and sc back across. Continue like that until you have reached your measurement (2 inches for me).

heel flap

Now we’re ready to turn the heel. Single crochet across half the stitches in your heel flap. If you have an uneven number, round up just like before. Single crochet two together, twice, and make sure there is an even number of stitches left over. It is more important to have an even number of stitches unworked here than it is to have half the stitches worked, so if you need to go back and round your half down, do it.

Next, single crochet three (yeah, only three) then single crochet two together twice leaving the SAME NUMBER of UNWORKED STITCHES on the other side of your work. Seriously, it’s important.

Single crochet five, then single crochet two together twice using the unworked stitches from the first row of our heel turning adventure (or the stitches on the last row of the heel flap–same thing).

turn heel1

Single crochet seven, then single crochet two together twice using the unworked stitches from the second row of our heel turning adventure (or the stitches on row 1 of the heel turn–again, same thing).

For those of you who need to, continue working in rows, adding two each time and single crocheting two together twice each time until all the stitches that were unworked have been worked (sc 9, sc2tog; sc11 sc2tog; etc). When you’ve finished, you should have something that looks like this:

Notice the ridges on the sides of the rows? For the gusset, I’m calling those peaks and valleys to help with where to pick up stitches.

Heel turn done

Note: If you want to work the gusset in a spiral, you can. Just place a marker to indicate the start of the row (I would advise a different color than the markers we’re using for the gusset) and ignore the “join with a slip st” instruction.

To start the gusset, chain one and single crochet in each “peak” and each “valley” on the heel flap, stop in the second to last row (11 picked up). Using the last row, the cuff stitch that the last row is worked in, and the first unworked cuff stitch, single crochet three together.

Place a marker, then single crochet across all the cuff stitches, stopping at the second to last stitch. Using the last  unworked cuff stitch, the cuff stitch that the heel flap is worked in, and the first row of the heel flap, single crochet three together and place a marker. It seems like a weird instruction, but this will keep the sock from having a hole where the gusset meets the heel.

place marker 2

Working in the side of the heel flap again, pick up the same number of stitches as the first side (11 if you’re copying me), then sc across the top of the heel flap and join the round with a  slip stitch.

Now that we have the gusset set up, the rest is easy. Single crochet until two before the marker, single crochet two together. Single crochet to till the next marker, single crochet two together, single crochet to the end of the round and join with a slip stitch. Repeat that step until you have the same number of stitches as you started with (35 for me).

Gusset. Done.

gusset

Like most socks, the foot is the simplest part (the cuff is right up there too). You’ll first need to measure your foot from the back of the heel to the beginning of your big toe. Then, either working in a spiral or rounds, single crochet around until you’ve reached that measurement (about 8 inches for me).

Yeah, that’s really it. Almost done now.

foot

Yet again, before we get going though, we need to stop and measure. This time from the back of your heel to the tip of your toes. Then, lay your sock flat  (like the picture above) and place markers on either edge of the sock. There is about a 99% chance that this will NOT line up with your round join. That is ok. We want the seem to line up with your foot, not the round.

With markers in place, we’re ready to finish up. Single crochet until two before your marker, single crochet two together, twice. Do that one more time, then single crochet to the end of the round. Place a marker to indicate the beginning of the round, don’t join the round. If you have been working in rounds up to this point, now is the time to be adventurous and try the spiral out. I’m not saying you CAN’T work rounds for the toe, but I am saying that it will make your work difficult when the sc2tog creeps each time and you end up needing to sc2tog across your join.

Single crochet around, then work your decrease round again. Repeat that until you have the length you need on your sock, ending on a single crochet around round.

toe

Turn the sock inside out and lay the toe flat to sew it together using your yarn needle.

If you’re making socks for very small feet or infants, you can skip that second part and just work the decrease round a couple of times instead.

For those of you who have a distaste for yarn needles (or can’t find one, like me), you can use your crochet hook to slip stitch the two sides together rather than sewing them. Just lay the toe flat, lining up the two sides so the stitches match and slip stitch away. You may have to fudge a little if you have an uneven number of stitches, but just slip two together to work it out.

sewing

Time to fasten off, tuck tails and enjoy your work. Your sock is done!

 

…Oh, don’t forget to work sock number 2 for a pair of them.

The Short Version

Materials:

  • 1 Skein Sport weight (3) yarn any brand and color (about 275 yards)**
  • 1 size US F-5 (3.75 mm) hook**
  • Split ring markers, locking stitch markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 2)
  • A measuring tape

Gauge:

5 sc x 5 rows =1 in x 1 in

**GAUGE NOTE: Because this pattern is using measurements rather that stitches, it doesn’t matter what weight yarn you use or what hook you use as long as you are matching the measurements. I have listed here what I am using for this project.

Take Measurements:

  1. Circumference of ankle (or highest point of sock)
  2. Desired cuff length
  3. Heel height from bottom of foot to base of Achilles tendon or just below the Medial Malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of some ankles)
  4. From the back of your heel to the first joint on your big toe
  5. From the back of your heel to the tip of your toes

CUFF

ch/sc foundation (or chain) to match measurement 1 minus 10% Count the number of stitches you have and mark it down somewhere.

Round 1: Sc around.

Repeat round 1 until measurement 2 is reached.

HEEL FLAP

Short Row 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1st sc), sc across half of the CUFF stitches.

Short Row 2: Turn, ch 2, sc to across

Repeat Short Row 2 until measurement 3 is reached.

HEEL SHAPING

Row 1: Ch 2, sc across half the HEEL FLAP sts (rounded up) sc2tog twice. LEAVE AN EVEN NUMBER OF STS UNWORKED.

Row 2: Turn ch2, sc 3, sc2tog twice. LEAVE SAME NUMBER OF UNWORKED STS AS ROW 1

Row 3: turn, ch 2, sc across worked sts from previous row, sc2tog twice in unworked stitches.

Row 4: Turn, ch 2, sc across worked sts from previous row, sc2tog twice in unworked stitches.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all unworked stitches from row 1 and 2 have been picked up.

GUSSET

Round 1: DO NOT TURN. Ch 1, working side of HEEL FLAP rows, evenly pick up stitches in the side of each row, stop at second to last row. Work sc3tog in last row of HEEL FLAP, worked cuff sc and unworked cuff sc. Place marker. Sc across cuff to last stitch. Sc3tog in last cuff sc, worked cuff sc, and first HEEL FLAP row. Place marker. working side of HEEL FLAP rows, evenly pick up stitches in the side of each row (same number as side 1). Sc across top of HEEL FLAP, join round.

Decrease Round: Ch 2, sc to two stitches before marker, sc 2 tog, sc to marker, after marker sc 2 tog, sc to end of round, join with sl st.

Repeat decrease round until the GUSSET stitch count is the same as the CUFF stitch count noted, adjusting markers to remain in the first and last stitch of the CUFF as you work.

FOOT

Round 1: sc around, join round with sl st.

Repeat round 1 until measurement 4 is reached.

TOE

Lay sock flat and place markers in the sides of the foot (markers may not line up with row beginning).

Round 1: Working in a spiral, place marker at beginning of round.  *Sc to two before marker, sc2tog, repeat from * sc to end of round.

Round 2: Sc around

For older child and adult socks:

Repeat increase round 1 and 2 until measurement 5 is reached, adjusting markers as you work.

For younger child and infant socks:

Round 1 until measurement 5 is reached, adjusting markers as you work.

 

 

 

 

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