Darn It!!!

Lots of people, myself included, love to knit socks. We love knitting socks so much that there are entire websites, facebook pages, blogs, pattern books and designers that are  devoted to nothing but socks. There are even beautiful little wooden boxes and chests made especially for keeping our treasured, hand knit socks. I am a sock knitter. When ever I have knitter’s block, I will reach into my stash and start a pair of socks. I love knitting them and I love wearing them. 

Inevitably, there will be a day when you will get that funny feeling on the sole of your foot or on your toes. Something isn’t right. You look and lo and behold, there is a hole. You contemplate all of the hours that you’ve spent making your beautiful socks and how thrilled you were when you purchased the exquisite, artisan dyed merino/nylon blend. You are filled with dismay and sadness.

Not to worry. Your socks are about to gain some character. They can be the proud bearer of a scar that only comes from a life well lived. They can, and should, be darned. 

I am going to show you how to do the good old workhorse method of darning a hole. In later posts, I will show you how to reinforce weak spots, but let’s assume that your sock is too far gone for that. 

A yarn darning tool.
First you will need a darning tool. It doesn’t have to be one like this, but it should be something that will fit into a sock with a smooth, round surface. You can use a lightbulb or a paper weight, or anything else that will do the job.

Step 1: Put the darning tool into your sock and position it underneath the offending hole. Grip the sock underneath the tool to put a bit of tension on the sock.

Yarn darning tool inside a sock about to be mended.
I’m not going to be embarrassed about the state of this sock since we are talking about darning anyway.

Step 2: Thread your sock yarn onto a blunt tapestry needle that is just fine enough for you to get the yarn through the eye. Sew around the hole, catching all the loose stitches and going about 1 stitch in from the side edge. This perimeter line of stitches should be a rough square. Trim all loose bits from the edge of the hole.

Sew around the edge of the hole.
Here is the hole, prepped and ready for darning.

Step 3: Make long vertical stitches that span across the hole. Make them as close together as you can and anchor each stitch with a little stitch on the edge of the hole, catching the perimeter stitching as you go. 

Vertical stitches across the hole.
These vertical stitches will act like a weaving warp.
Weaving back and forth across the hole.
Start weaving to fill in the hole.

Step 4: With the needle, weave over and under each vertical strand, catching the edge of the hole after each pass. Use the needle tip to pack down each row of weaving as you go.

Completed darned sock.
All done. It will always look tidier with matching yarn, but sometimes it’s fun to use any old colour. The older the sock, the more fun it is.

So there you have it. It’s a simple thing that can keep you wearing your hand knit socks for decades, in some cases. Now go and give your socks some love.

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