The Lost Art of Darning Socks (Tutorial)
In this post, I am teaching you a simple and easy technique to darn your socks instead of throwing them out when they have holes in them.
When was the last time you thought about darning your socks?
Have you wondered if it’s worth fixing holes in socks?
Well, let me tell you this: if you buy a pair of wonderful 100% sheep wool socks that cost you a penny, you probably want to keep them. And so you should!
Not too long ago, that is what people did. They fixed what was broken. They couldn’t afford to buy new all the time.
Especially clothes. Holes would be mended. Our grandparents and great-grandparents tried to get as much life out of their clothes as possible.
I like to invest in items that are well-made and that last. Thus, I bought this pair of 100% sheep wool socks in Austria last summer (here’s a similar pair). They have a beautiful, heavy quality. I love the fact that they even retain a bit of the lanolin. Lanolin is the natural wool wax. It gives the socks that heavy weight. I often talk about why I love wool so much.
Now, I love them so much that I wear them all the time. In this 1910 home, the floors tend to get cold in the winter. These socks, though, keep my feet warm and cozy.
And all of a sudden, I found a hole in one of my socks.
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Since I spent a bit of money on them AND love them so much, I want to fix them.
Enter the lost art of darning socks. When my husband had first heard of that, he looked at me and said: “What??? Darn your socks???”
Darning is “the skill or activity of mending a hole in knitted material by interweaving yarn” (Wikipedia).
I have some old handicraft books. One is from 1912 and has a whole chapter on darning.
The other one is a replica of a 1913 book that also has some instructions and pictures of darning socks at the end of the chapter on how to knit your own socks.
What you need:
Let me show you how simple and easy it is to actually darn your socks.
All you need is a darning needle and either a darning egg or a darning mushroom. And some yarn. If you live near a yarn store or fabric store, they might have them.
Otherwise, you can find your darning needle and your darning egg or darning mushroom online.
Or you are lucky to have someone in your family who makes a darning egg. Just like my sons who each made one in woodworking class at their school. It is just amazing how soft they are to the touch. But I digress ….
The simple method to darn your socks:
Find a yarn that is close in color to your socks. If you knitted them, you might have some leftover yarn. Simply for that reason, it is actually a good idea to keep some yarn. I went to my favorite yarn store and found some 100% wool yarn.
Next, you’ll thread that into your darning needle. You’ll notice that the darning needle has a bigger eye-of-the-needle to accommodate thicker yarns.
Then you take your darning egg or darning mushroom and put it inside your socks right underneath the hole. It gives the sock a bit of tension and allows you to mend that hole without getting other parts of your sock tangled in – if that makes sense.
You’ll want to make sure to start well on the outside of the hole so that it doesn’t unravel more. This will give your darned piece more durability.
In a simple “weaving” pattern you basically just go up and down in one direction with the yarn pretty close.
Once you’re done, you’ll go perpendicular to your first rows, weaving the thread over and under your first rows.
At this point, you can also catch some pieces/stitches that are sticking up and “tuck” them in. This will give your darned sock a flatter, more even appearance.
When you’re done, you simply cut the yarn and either put a knot on it or just leave it on the inside (that is what I do and it has always worked for me).
Loving your finished socks
Depending on what color and type of yarn you have used, the darned hole may or may not be so obvious.
But in most cases, your holes will be in the heel or around the toes and not so visible.
A darned socks can also be a beautiful testament to a sustainable lifestyle. A lifestyle in which you repair and fix instead of throwing out.
The Japanese have a word for that: Kintsukuroi (golden repair) is the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
I like to think of my darned socks (and we have quite a few) as golden repairs.
Some people even consider mending clothes as an act of rebellion (https://thephoenixgreenstore.org/2019/11/26/mending-clothes-as-an-act-of-rebellion/?fbclid=IwAR16VzpiS571V0f7Hu68Lf8ewOC0CT5oThyc0zjxaMbjn4xqPDrz9Xy5Spw).
I make my own socks and I have started to darn the ones I made 8 years ago. I have a darning egg that I got from Knit Picks that has a handle on it like the mushroom style. I do like your egg though, it’s much bigger than mine. Your video is spot on where darning is concerned but I would have spaced my lines of yarn much narrower to get a firmer fabric. It lasts longer. Thanks for introducing everyone to the art of darning!
Nice! I am so glad you found this helpful ~ Anja
I enjoy darning socks, I actually have a darning egg with a handle like the mushroom one. Yes, wool socks are expensive and should be darned. Great tutorial!
That’s so awesome and yeah for darning socks 🙂
Great job! I had never seen this done. What a helpful video, thanks!
I am so glad you enjoyed this; thank you so much!
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