crocheted baby booties

Mom learned this pattern from her great aunt -- or maybe it was my great aunt; it's much too late to ask. Where-ever the pattern came from, each of us changed it a little before passing it on.

two stages of starting

Begin by crocheting twenty-two stitches of foundation chain, then three stitches of turning chain.1

Work a double into each foundation stitch, beginning with the last stitch worked. Pause and count the stitches to make sure you have twenty-two, then work four more doubles into the same place as the last double, to make a total of five doubles in this link of the foundation, and an increase of three. This is the heel of the bootie.

Work back along the other side of the chain. Work five stitches into the last link, which will be a total of seven stitches and an increase of five, since there is already a double and a turning chain sprouting from this stitch. Slip stitch into the third stitch of the turning chain.

Chain three, then work another round of doubles. Work two doubles into each of the three middle stitches of the five heel stitches. (That is, increase three at the heel.)

Work two doubles into each of the increase stitches at the toe, that is, work one double into stitch #1, the stitch for this side of the chain stitch it was worked in, work two doubles into each of stitches #2 through #5, and one double into the sixth stitch. Since the sixth stitch already has a three-stitch chain sprouting from it, this makes five increases at the toe.

Slip stitch into the third stitch of the chain. Chain three, work two rounds of doubles without increasing. Be careful *not* to work into the stitch from which the chain sprouts.

After slip-stitching into the beginning chain of the second plain round, chain two and work a double into the third stitch back. You may skip up to five stitches if you like a square corner to the toe.

Chain two, skip two doubles, work a double into the third. Repeat. You now have three doubles in the toe-filling.

Chain two, remove the hook from the work, put it from the outside in through the third double after the last one worked (skip the same number of stitches skipped at the beginning of the filling), catch the loop, and draw it through.

At this point, you have one row of four filet mesh, with the end holes triangular if you worked it my way, rounded if you skipped more stitches, and square if you skipped the maximum of five.

Slip stitch into the next three stitches. Because you are working backward from the usual direction, it will be necessary to pull the hook out and re-insert it for each slip stitch to avoid twisting the stitches. Don't work too tightly; you want the slip stitches to look like the stitches they are covering.

(Chain two, work a double into the next filet double) three times, chain two, remove hook and draw the loop through the third double from the place where you turned to start the toe filling. You now have two rows of four filet spaces.

Slip stitch into the next three doubles. You are working in the normal direction, so you don't have to pull the hook out for each stitch -- so you'll have to pay more attention to not pulling the stitches knotty tight. (But don't get wild-eyed and leave them loose and loopy.)

Work two more rows of filet spaces, for a total of four. After the last join, chain three instead of slip-stitching three.

Work one plain round of doubles. When you work into the double where the filet mesh was joined, put the hook through both the slip stitch and the head of the double.

When you are crossing the filet spaces, work by slipping the hook through the bump underneath, under the top two threads -- treat the chain stitches as doubles with missing stalks.

If this drives you up the wall, just work two doubles into each space. The stitches will shift, but it won't show much.

After slip-stitching into the chain at the beginning of this round, chain five, skip two stitches, double into the third double, chain two, etc. to make a round of filet spaces. When you reach the toe, fudge if necessary to make the filet spaces of the beading line up with the filet spaces of the toe filling.

After joining, chain three to make sure the join doesn't come undone while you are fiddling around, then fold the bootie so that the spaces in the beading line up, and make sure that you have an even number of spaces. If you don't have an even number, rip back a little past the fudging place and re-fudge -- It's usually wise to add, rather than remove, one space. This can be done by making one or two spaces skip one double instead of two. Rip back far enough that the fudged spaces needn't be adjacent. After fudging, check the count again.

Unravel any surplus stitches in your security chain and work an edging onto the bootie. The easiest is:

Chain one, *double into the next double, chain three, single into the top of the double just worked, two more picoted doubles into the same double, single into the next double, repeat from * around, slip stitch into the chain stitch. Break off and hide the end.

Any other edging that comes to mind can be used.2 One can also crochet on a sort of collar, for a moccasin look. 3

The bootie should be tied with a piece of quarter-inch double-faced satin ribbon. Alas, ribbons that both look good and stay tied are very hard to find. A crocheted tie is much easier to come by. One can make a simple chain, a simple chain with tags on the ends, a foundation chain finished with a loop of simple chain at each end, or a foundation chain with tags.

To make a tag, work one shell of whatever edging you have used. The easiest edging, for example, would have a tag of ch6, sc in third chain (fourth from hook), dc in first chain, ch3, sc in top of dc, ch 2, slip stitch in first chain, begin plain or foundation chain for tie. End the same way, hide thread ends inside the bases of the double crochets. For a bigger tag, work more doubles and picots.


[1] The pattern was worked into twenty-five stitches of plain chain when I got it, but somewhere along the way I picked up the trick of working a single crochet into the single crochet below to make a double chain for a firmer foundation. If you are using a single chain, pick up one thread on each side, leaving the crossing thread showing between the two rows of doubles.  If you are using a double chain, work over both threads on each side, leaving the two rows of doubles butted up against one another with no sign of the foundation visible.

[2] If it happens that the spaces in the beading are a multiple of three, you can work *chain three, three doubles in the next space (the center space of the set of three), chain three, slip stitch in the top of the last double worked, two more doubles in the same space, chain three, slip stitch in the top of the next double (The end post in the set of three spaces), repeat from * around.

These booties were developed in bedspread cotton, a cheap thread about the thickness of #10, but loosely twisted and fuzzy. Because of improvements in spinning technique, thread this cheap is no longer to be had at any price. Bedspread cotton made wonderfully soft booties, but because the dye was also cheap, any color other than white or natural looked dirty. To get around this, I worked one strand of undyed bedspread cotton with one strand of embroidery floss. Since both threads were loosely twisted, the effect was frosted, rather than speckled. (Later I used hard-twisted sewing thread in the same way to make a chicken with speckled feathers.)

When working this way, I'd make the "easiest edging" above in a different way: instead of working picots, I'd work six doubles to a shell, then break the embroidery floss and work the picots as a separate round, alternating two or three chains (three ruffles the edge) with a single crochet in each double of each shell, and a slip stitch into the single crochet between two doubles. One could, of course, break a #10 thread and make the picots in a different #10 thread. Don't feel obliged to start the new thread precisely where you broke the old one. Crochet the string to match the picots.

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