I’ve knitted hundreds of socks and I’ve usually been of the opinion that life is just to short and busy to darn them. I told myself that making more was a pleasure and that if they wore through, this was love in a very definite sense: the recipients loved to wear them so often that holes appeared.
I had read a few posts by Tom of Holland about the joys of visible mending and darning and thought, how brilliant but, nope, not for me.
But December rolled around as it does, and here I am in the thick of seasonal knitting and I noticed that quite a few socks belonging to my significant others were showing wear and tear, and were not on the socking list (at the moment. Normal service will be resumed after Christmas). When closing down the shop, I had come across a box of darning yarn. I thought about adding them to the sale but, well, lost them if I’m honest. So when they were rediscovered, they came home with my shop yarn stash. So I had a go at darning some of my dear ones socks and actually it was ok. It took about an hour to darn a couple of socks but compared to about 7-8 hours to make a pair of socks that’s a time saving. Of sorts.
I’m a lot quicker now and I understand the process better, so I can darn a pair in about 45 minutes and they look better too. Here’s the latest pair from my younger son’s collection. I didn’t bother with a before – you know what socks with holes look like.
I darned one with a classic weaving using a mushroom, the other was too far gone and needed a patch – simply a square of stocking stitch whip-stitched in place. Now they look very obvious and a bit messy when just done, but the magic of washing the sock makes the darn nice and flat and barely visible (and crucially unfeel-able) to the wearer. The patch isn’t quite as subtle but again feels comfy on the foot. This is down to the natural felting of the woollen darning yarn in the wash. Here’s the darned sock after a wash. Good eh?
Now I know you’ve got busy lives and busy knitting duties so I’m not gonna say darn every single sock, but if it’s one you love, a yarn that was a favourite and the sock ‘body’ is still going strong, why not give it a try?
You’ll need an appropriate darning yarn (now available in John Lewis or online here, a tapestry needle appropriate to the size and if possible a darning “mushroom” or “egg”. If you plan to patch, you’ll probably need to use 2.25mm needles to knit your square/rectangle of stocking stitch.
I won’t give you instructions here (it would take so long to describe it and others have done it much better already) but try Tom of Holland or this video.
If you really get into darning, it helps to tell your family to get the socks to you while they are still thin, but not holed, as you’ve a better chance of repair. Good luck.