Those who know me will not be surprised to hear me say that I don’t much like to go clothes shopping. I get very attached to my clothes. If they’re comfortable I want them to last as long as they possibly can, if for no other reason than to avoid shopping for new ones.
I want my clothes to be comfortable, clean, and functional. I want them to be modest. I would like them to be somewhat appropriate for the situation in which they are worn, but fashionable? Up to the moment? The latest fad? That really doesn’t matter to me.
My attachment to my clothes means that I do a lot of mending. I’d rather repair a garment than replace it, any day, and that philosophy extends even to my socks.
Darning is kind of a lost art these days. I know that a person can zip off to WalMart and for just $10.00 or so buy three brand new pairs of socks but, these days, $10.00 is not to be taken lightly, especially when the socks I have can be repaired for just a few cents.
Darning is basically a process of needle weaving: creating fabric to cover a hole or to replace fabric that has worn away. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the same technique can be used to mend tears and holes in even the finest fabrics. I’ve used the same technique (with finer thread) to repair everything from my husband’s plaid work shirts to my favourite silk blouse.
You don’t need much to darn a sock; just your sock, something to stretch it over (I often use a light bulb), some yarn, and a darning needle.
I’ve used yarn of contrasting colours for this project so that you can more easily see what I’m doing. If you’re repairing your own socks, you’ll probably want a yarn that is closer in colour to the sock you’re repairing. In the normal course of events, I would have used a mix of black and white yarn to repair this sock.
Put the light bulb inside the sock, and stretch the sock over the bulb so that the hole is centered and the area around the hole is pulled taught.
You don’t want to make knots in the darning yarn. Start some distance away from the hole, and a little bit above the area that needs to be mended, and make several stitches over top of each other in one place, then work a few stitches of running stitch toward the area being repaired.
Draw the yarn across the width of the area to be mended before stitching it again on the other side.
Make a small stitch perpendicular to the long piece of yarn you’ve just placed and run a new length of yarn in the opposite direction, parallel to the first. Continue on, back and forth, until you’ve covered the entire area to be mended with parallel strands of yarn. These parallel strands will make the warp, through which you’ll weave your needle to darn the sock.
Once all the horizontal threads are in place, turn the sock—still stretched over the light bulb—90 degrees. Now the threads are vertical.
Start a new piece of yarn and use your needle to work it over and under the existing threads, as if weaving a basket.
Continue working back and forth, weaving through the vertical threads. Use the tip of the needle to gently move the woven rows as closely together as possible.
When you’re finished, the darned area will look something like this.
As you can see, my rows were not perfectly parallel, nor were they equally spaced. Just try to make sure that there are no spaces large enough to make a visible hole, and no lengths of thread that are not included in the weaving. Trim off any little ends of wool left where you stopped or started new lengths of yarn, then you're done.
That was easy, wasn't it?
The new, woven area you’ve darned will be as durable or more durable than the original knit, allowing you to continue wearing your sock for a long time to come.