Questions for an Alaskan Crafter

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010

I want to make some quick, easy wool socks to tuck into my Xtratufs for the winter and I can't knit! Any suggestions?

There is a fantastic way to whip together wool socks without the hassle of learning to knit. You will need a wool sweater (perhaps an old one from your closet, or one purchased from the thrift store), scissors, thread and a needle. Not much!

Put the sweater in your washer on high heat followed by the dryer on high heat as well. This will both shrink the sweater (so if you have larger feet make sure to buy a big sweater!) and felt the sweater. This process agitates and binds the fibers of the sweater together to create a frayless fabric.

Lay the felted sweater out flat and cut the arms off at the shoulder. Turn the sleeves inside out then pull one sleeve on like a sock with the ribbed edge at your calf and the shoulder edge at your toes.

Pin or mark with chalk the end of your new sock at the toeline. Stitch the marked edge together and trim the excess.

When you are complete, flip the sweater arm inside out and you have a brand new cozy wool sock that won't fray.

Tuck these babies in your rubber boots and you'll have instantly warm winter boots. Dress up your sock by felting a design around the top and folding it over your winter wellies. If it's a bit itchy, line your wool socks with fleece for double warmth.

Visit www.alaskacrafter.com for my version of felted footwear.

I want to buy my girlfriend a "crochet kit" so she can learn how to make her own scarves. Do you have any suggestions for what to buy?

Often beginner crochetiers and knitters buy the fanciest yarns available because they are so fun and furry. I suggest suppressing those urges, and buying something simple for the beginner.

Yarns come in six different weight categories, which refer to the thickness of the fibers. The weights vary from super fine (1) to super bulky (6). Super fine is itty-bitty, for socks and what-not, and super bulky is quite enormous. Try a medium (4) or bulky (5) weight for your lovely lady to start.

As far as crochet hooks are concerned, there are a couple of things to think about. You'll want to match the size of the hook to the yarn weight because she will surely be in a fix if she a has a huge hook and tiny yarn, or vice-versa.

Unfortunately hooks can be labeled in three different ways: thickness in millimeters; U.S. sizing, which uses both numbers and letters; and UK/Canada sizing, which is in reverse numbering from US sizing. Ack! I like to use the basic lettering system to prevent confusion with numbers, but even I get confused so simply pop online and check a conversion chart if needed.

I suggest starting with a J-M-sized hook, and since they are fairly inexpensive, buy two sizes.

To finish up, visit learntocrochet.lionbrand.com, which has descriptive illustrations and video in step-by-step tutorials to get you going. You'll surely be the hit with your gifted "crochet kit."

• Tanna Peters is a local crafter, illustrator and designer. Craft with her online at www.alaskacrafter.com and join the Craft Addicts, a local crafting collective, at www.craftaddicts.blogspot.com. Craft questions may be directed to tanna.craft@gmail.com.



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