15 February 2011

Filling in a Hole (or How to Darn a Sock)

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for The Cheapskates Journal. In light of the current trend to mend and recycle, and because my boys both finally cleaned under their beds, I have a huge pile of socks that need darning.

Socks are cheap these days so some may think I'm nuts to bother with darning. I darn holes in socks because it costs money to replace them, more than it costs in time and yarn to mend a hole.

Wayne's Granny taught me how to darn before we were married. I think she figured if I could cook his favourite foods and darn his socks I'd be able to look after him properly.

If you don't know how to darn it's actually very easy, Granny said to just think of it as weaving to cover a hole. It works - five year olds can weave lengths of yarn together, so you will be able to do so easily.

Here are the steps:
    1. Thread a needle with thread that matches the sock. Don't put a knot in the end; it leaves an uncomfortable lump in the sock (have you ever had a sock pill under foot?).
    2. Count down 5 threads or ribs and start weaving over and under towards the hole.
    3. Two threads or ribs from the hole turn and start weaving over and under the threads around the edge of the hole.
    4.  When you get back to where you started slip the needle under the thread closest to the hole and weaving over and under any threads left in the hole take the needle straight across to the other side.
    5. Pick up a stitch and weave over and under back to the other side.
    6. Continue in this fashion until you fill in the hole.
    7. Turn and work in the same manner in the other direction.
    8. To end off weave down 5 threads or ribs and snip the thread.


Try to match your thread with your sock i.e. cotton socks, use stranded cotton. You can buy stranded cotton (embroidery floss) on sale for 99c a skein for DMC and Anchor, even less if you buy from a $2 shop. If you are darning woollen socks use wool to darn. I've found that tapestry wool is great for darning. It's cheap too, on sale you can get it for around 89c a skein for DMC or Anchor, comes in a great range of colours and can be stranded to match the thickness of the yarn in the sock.

To make the weaving process easier use a darning egg. In the olden days darning eggs were wooden, worn smooth from use. These days a light bulb makes a great darning egg; just remember to treat it gently.

Darning takes practice; don't be worried if your first attempt creates a mountain. Wayne walked on mountains for a while when I first started mending his socks. Nowadays they are only little hills. Lucky for me he doesn't complain.

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