Crochet 101: The “Ugly” Christmas Stocking

Roll up your sleeves and put on your Dean Martin, Straight No Chaser, or Trans-Siberian Orchestra, we’re launching into our Christmas project!

For those of you who missed the last post on design, yes, it’s July. It is also the perfect time to start all your Christmas (or other winter holiday) projects so that you’re not rushing to finish at the end of the year.

In the design post, I posted this as the basic design for the project:

crochet design

If you don’t like that or would like to do something else, then please do! I’ll be following this as a basic pattern and showing you what I do for it. We’ll be reviewing colorwork (both in pattern and stripes) and learning about edging and appliques on this project.

The VERY first thing we’ll do though is take a look back at the posts on toe up socks and top down socks to guide us through making the basic form of our stocking. You’ll want to measure out before hand how big (or small) you want your stocking to be so that you don’t end up with a really skinny, tiny stocking (unless that’s what you actually wanted to make). A lot of times, taking a large piece of paper and drawing what you want your stocking to look like or measuring an existing stocking helps (if you don’t have a stocking hanging check the craft store and measure what they have).

Once you know how you’re going to make your stocking and what the measurements are, we’re ready to start looking at the pattern. I’m going to work my stocking top down this time, starting with the red and green tree portion. This is the part where we get to pull out the colorwork technique we learned a few posts ago. Take a minute and go back to that post if you need to review on how to get cleaner looking colors.

We’ll also need to have the tree pattern. Since I’m not planning on writing out every single line BEFORE I get started, I’m going to work off a chart. We’ve sort of dealt with charts before when we talked about pixel art in Designing Colorwork. Color charts look like this:

blank-tree

Usually the rows are numbered up one side and the stitches are numbered across the top or bottom. This is only one type of chart used in crochet, but we’ll get to the other kind another time. For this sock, I’ll be using a chart similar to the chart above to work the tree into my stocking. For those of you who want to follow along, here it is:

Chart

I know that I am going to be making about a 7 inch square stocking (the top will be seven inches wide, the leg will be 7 inches tall, and the foot will be seven inches long–it seemed like a good number at the time). I also know that I am going to be making my stocking top down (hence starting with the tree). I have my chart ready, so there’s only ONE more thing to look at before we REALLY get going.

I my post on top down socks, I have you work the cuff in the round. The reason we do that is to avoid having a seam running up the leg of the sock. In this case, we’ll be working the cuff in rows, back and forth and joining as we go (sc across, join, turn, repeat). Because no one is going to wear this sock (who am I kidding, my three year old will have this on in no time), I am not concerned about the seem and it will in face help us when we get to the heel portion in the next post.

Since I know all of that, and I’ve already gotten my gauge from my gauge swatch. If you haven’t made a gauge swatch, make one. I did. All the cool kids do. See:

gauge swatch

I know how many stitches to chain to make 14 inches (7 inches across and it’s round). In my case it’s 52 (hence the 26 stitch tree up above). Make sure you check you gauge if you’re following along or this could get messy. If you’re not following along, you can just use a tape measure to check the length of your chain. You’ll want it to be twice the width of the desired top of your sock.

measure.png

For those of you who went back an read my post on top down socks again you’ll notice that I did NOT make my gauge swatch in the round. I made a square rather than a round because we’ll be working back an forth, NOT in a spiral around.

When you have the length you want, join your chain and TURN. Work two rows (or about half an inch) of single crochets. Don’t forget to join the rows and TURN the work. You’ll start seeing the seam right away, but it really won’t be that big of a deal. Once that’s done, we can start on the colorwork. (If you don’t want to work the half inch, don’t. it’s purely for aesthetic reasons that I have it there).

Now you can begin your chart. If you’re following mine, start at the top and work the next 20 rows, joining the round and turning at the end of each round. You’ll be making one tree on each side of your stocking, so you may want to make two balls out of your green to make the work a little easier (I did), but you can also just carry the green around with you. When you’re finished with your chart, work two more rounds of just red (sc around, join, turn).

Why is it so important to work in rows this time? I don’t want that seam! Can’t I just work in the round?

Alright Mr. George Bailey, let’s take you down that lovely path of what if…..

When you have the length you want, join your chain and work two rows (or half an inch) of single crochet in a spiral. For those of you unfamiliar with working in a spiral, when you get around to the first single crochet in the round, just keep working on top of it. Don’t worry about joining or chaining or anything, just keep workin’. Once that’s done, we can start on the colorwork. (If you don’t want to work the half inch, don’t. it’s purely for aesthetic reasons that I have it there).

Now you can begin your chart. If you’re following mine, start at the top and work the next 20 rows, working the round in a spiral. You’ll be making one tree on each side of your stocking, so you may want to make two balls out of your green to make the work a little easier (I did), but you can also just carry the green around with you.

If you chose to work with two balls of green, you’ll notice as you work around that the green is on the wrong end of the work for you to pick it up when you come around. Don’t worry. This is called a float and you’ll see it in Fair Isle knitting as well (should you choose to take up Fair Isle knitting).

To get the float back to the right side of things, lay it under the working yarn and then use it like you would normally.

As you’re working with the float, watch your tension VERY closely. Pull the line too tight or leave it hanging too loose and you’ll be able to see it on the front of the work. Note: I adjusted the color on the ‘too loose’ picture to–hopefully–help you see the puffy stitches that are too loose. The red I’m working with doesn’t like the camera very much.

When you’re finished with your chart, work two more rounds of just red (sc around, in a spiral like before) and you’ll have the finished leg! You’re ready to move on to the heel and the next post!

tilted

Now that this little adventure is over, let’s all have a hug, ring a bell for Clarence, and have a look at the REAL finished work.

straight finish

Comparing the two, I’m sure you can see that the first one is tilted. That’s not just a trick of the photo, it REALLY does lean like that. Working in a spiral shifts the work by one stitch every time you go around. You’ll have the same issue if you join your work, but don’t turn it. Because you’re continuing around rather than turning, the natural lean of the stitching will start to show through. Working back and forth allows the lean to move left and right as you work, pulling the work straight.

It’s not right or wrong to have your work one way or the other, but you need to be aware of what will happen before you choose so that you get the outcome you’re after. Whichever way you choose to work your colorwork, you are now ready to move on to the heel and the next post for sure!

 

 

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