Does Anyone Know How to Darn Socks?

Updated on January 24, 2009
B.P. asks from Belmont, MA
10 answers

I want to repair holes the heels of some expensive socks. They are made from performance wool and other materials that are warm but don't make your feet sweaty. You can't just sew the edges of the holes together because the sock will have an uncomfortable fit. In the "old" days, people didn't throw away socks, but instead "darned" (repaired) them. Any darners out there who can advise me? Thanks very much.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your responses. I appreciate them so much. Everyone suggested using a darning ball, attaching special darning cotton to the edges of the hole, and filling the hole with rows of stitches. There's a great Ben Franklin near here that has all kinds of supplies for sewing and arts and crafts. Someone suggested that the Internet has videos and info about everything, and I'll check there. I'm also going to write the manufacturer because these are Smartwool socks, and the yarn must be special.

My former neighbors have two girls (9 and 10) and a boy (7). The girls loved the Little House on the Prairie Books and talked about Laura a lot when I first met them. I knew about the books from copyediting a book about themes from the Little House books and watching the show. I guess no one wants to go back to those times of severe hardship, but people were practical then and kept and repaired everything until they fell apart. It's a better way, in my mind. Less of a waste of limited natural resources and more respectful of nature. People in those days fought continually with the natural world to carve out a safe place to live. Now it seems with global climate change we may be fighting for our survival again, but in a different way. So I figure, if I can help in any way to slow down those unwelcome changes, I'll do it.

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L.R.

answers from Hartford on

Hi, B.,
I usually use embroidery thread to cover the hole without bringing the edges together. It's hard to match the color of some socks, but who's going to see it?
Best,
L.

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I.B.

answers from Barnstable on

B.
there is an old fashioned device called a darning egg, i think
its wooden and shaped like an egg with a stick attached. you turn the sock inside out and put the egg in and you darn!!!
you might be able to find an egg at a sewing store or on ebay
i have and use my great grandmums!!!!
bst
i

1 mom found this helpful
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K.M.

answers from Boston on

Darning is just like reknitting. In those "old" days they had a wooden ball in their basket, and you put the sock over the ball and stretch it so you can see the stitches. After that, just like picking up a dropped stitch on a sweater, you needle through the loop of the stitch on one side, and then through the loop on the other side and "knit" the sock back together.

D.B.

answers from Boston on

You really want a darning egg, which is a piece of wood shaped like an egg, with a handle on it. You insert it in the sock so that the hole is flat against a curved section of the egg. If you don't have a darning egg (I do but hardly anyone does!) you can get them at sewing supply stores/fabric stores sometimes, or you can use anything else you have that is round and smooth but lets you hold on to it. For example, a tennis ball wouldn't work because you'll wind up sewing the sock to the fuzz on the ball! Some people have those "Ped Egg" pedicure things - you could probably use the smooth side of it.

Then you should use darning cotton which is usually several strands of thread together - you sew in several directions, catching the loose edges of the torn sock and essentially making a patch that subsitutes for any missing threads. The trick is not to leave a bump that will irritate the foot.

Good for you for recycling! If you can save a good, it makes a good duster slipped over one hand though!

E.T.

answers from Boston on

Hi B., Actually, I still have my "darning wood" (can't remember the correct term for this) - it is wooden with a handle coming off an oval-shaped 'ball' which you insert into the heel of the sock (or toe, if that's where the hole is). Holding that in place with one hand, you just "weave" the ends of the hole together using a large needle threaded with darning thread of the correct color. They may still sell darning thread -- if not, any thinner yarn made of washable 'wool' should work fine. I haven't darned any socks in years but probably would if my husband gets a hole in his new "Smart Sox". Thanks for reminding me to do this instead of throwing out an expensive pair of sox. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at ###-###-#### or [email protected]____.com E. Taft

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N.G.

answers from Boston on

The main idea is to create a "patch". First chose your materials right and get comfortable. The main idea is to make a circle all around the hole. You have to pick up all the loops, which are lose. So you can make a stitching all around and the pick up the loops. The next step is to create a "patch". It will consist of vertical and horizontal lines ... Well I think nowadays google.com can help anything. There are even videos on the subject. You should google "darn socks how to" and voila! the world of answers...

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M.D.

answers from Boston on

Hi, I don't know how to darn socks, or even knit a scarf for that matter. Your request got my attention because I have my grandmother's old sewing basket, maybe it was my great-grandmother's. It contains 2 wooden balls for darning socks. I Used to play with them and all the saved buttons when I was little. You Brought Back a good memory, Thank you and good luck, my socks always get hole sin the toes!

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M.B.

answers from Lewiston on

Yes. You can take a lightbulb and put it in the heel to help keep the appropriate shape and then take some kind of yarn and thread onto a needle specifically for yarn. You can get these at craft/knitting stores. I've only mended them when there are still some threads left that I can weave in and out of . If they're totally gone I'm not sure what to tell you. Otherwise, you take your thread and begin to weave in and out of the remaining threads not pulling too tight. Do this in both directions until you feel satisfied you've done enough.

Hope that helps!

M.

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T.A.

answers from Providence on

I believe darning socks was much easier when socks were homemade to begin with. I'm afraid I can't be much help about darning. However, I think your resolution to stop throwing things away is very inspiring. Perhaps if all of us mom's starting sharing our "saving efforts" we could make a great change in the world. My latest effort is trying to use plastic containers instead of Ziploc bags for leftovers and lunches.

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L.L.

answers from Portland on

Oh I have darned countless socks in my 64 years.
There is a little device called a darning egg that you should be able to get in a crafts/yarn shop.
And you need darning needles. They are thick and blunt with a rather large eye.
If not you can improvise. Something that will slip into the sock and hold it in one place while you work on it, preferably rounded somewhat on the part that will go into the wounded sock.
Dont suppose it matters what color yarn you use but we used to try to match sock as closely as possible. There are darning yarns, they run a bit smaller than the wool most socks are knit from. Is best to use them so you dont have a lumpy mend.
So, insert your egg or device. Clasp the sock below it but not stretching the sock.
Use a running stitch around the hole, not too tightly or loosely. Dont knot the yarn but weave the starter into the sock near the hole. And all goes much easier if you do the running stitches in a rectangular shape rather than round.
Now, same as weaving...go back and forth with the yarn, either vertically or horizontally first, doesnt matter...these are your weaving strands and they need to be quite close together.
When you have "used up " the running stitches, then you switch and weave the next step which will run at right angles to the initial lines of yarn.
Again, do not weave too tightly or loosely with these.
When you have completed this weaving, none of the running stitched should be visible.
Best not to knot it off as it makes a wee lump in the sock.
Best to weave the loose end in with length and back and forth so the sock lays smooth.
My mother in law used to say the ugliest patch is prettier than the most beautiful of holes.
If you get stuck, email me.
Best wishes and God bless.
Grandmother Lowell

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