Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Darning; a how to

First of all, I'd like to thank you for your brilliant suggestions for my style statement!  As I read them I just thought, well, how nice everyone was ... thankyou all for "getting" me.  It's really hard to assess yourself and sometimes you need friends to chip in with an outside viewpoint, which is often so much truer than one's own jaded viewpoint.  My mother rang me this morning to say how she thought all your comments were so lovely and all valid... so thankyou again!  I think they're all wonderful and I'm adopting all of them.
Today I'm doing a little tutorial on darning.  I'm well aware there are a lot of people who think I'm absolutely crazy for knitting my own socks, how do I know this?  because this fact elicits gales of laughter if one of my friends lets it slip at some gathering, and someone there will always insist on me lifting a jeans leg to expose a sock to prove it.  But I like knitting, and I've gone off knitting cardigans and jumpers, I've got plenty of scarves now, and I find socks easy as well as useful, so there it is.
I made my first pair of socks about five years ago and I recently had to darn a hole in the toe of one of these so I took a few progress photos to illustrate how this traditional old method works.
I'm good at darning (don't laugh)  I used to help out in my sons' school uniform shop and once a boarder brought in his wool blazer with a hole in it and it was passed on to me as they knew I was a seamstress... when I had finished it (if I say so myself I'd done a pretty good job using a very fine wool thread so the darned hole was almost indistinguishable from the fabric around it) for the next week it was passed around to show other mothers who came in and who marvelled at it, until the boy came back in to pick it up.  I was a little embarrassed but inwardly kinda chuffed at the attention it got...
So I'm not using a fine wool thread to darn this sock here today, but a much thicker sock wool and in a contrasting colour so it will definitely not be indistinguishable from the sock but this won't matter, you'll see why later...  This is what you will need... a darning "mushroom" (these probably have a proper name but I've always called them mushrooms because that's what they look like), wool thread, scissors, needle and your hole-y sock.
Run your thread in a running stitch adjacent to the hole and in an upper corner to secure the end in the fabric...
Take the thread through the opposite edge of the hole with a few running stitches, turn, place a few running stitches going back to the hole, then lay the thread back across the hole, do a few running stitches into the opposite edge, and so on.  What you are creating here is a warp of parallel threads all secured as well as possible in the edges of the hole.
Now, using the same method of securing the thread at the edges, weave the thread up and down across and through through the lines you just laid out.  When you come back down next to each woven line, weave down and up in the opposite way.  With each "pass", secure the thread with a couple of running stitches in the edges of the hole.  This helps stabilise the broken and loose threads into each other, the body of the fabric, and the new woven patch all together.
And voila.  Not an invisible patch, but here I am modelling the final darned sock.  Oh, you can't see it?  Well, this is why perfection in darning one's winter socks is not strictly necessary...

Skirt; my own design, charcoal jersey knit
Top and cardigan; Country Road
Scarf; my own design, black wool
Leggings; Metalicus
Boots; Andrea and Joen, from Uggies


  1. I think it's neat that you knit your own socks and especially neat that you darn them. I view it as a necessity because it would be a shame to have to throw away socks that you've knitted all because of a little hole. Thanks so much for showing us how it's done. I feel like I could do this now. I've seen some of those darning mushrooms at the antique store. I'll have to pick one up.


  2. Those tights are so funky, they make the outfit pop. Might have to go find myself a pair...


  3. That outfit you're wearing is wonderful. And is that your kitchen? How lovely.. and how totally without clutter! :-D I sometimes try to get my house or even only the ktichen to look like that, but within minutes all kinds of people (or leprechauns) put 'stuff' on various places. It's a mystery.

    By the way, I love that you knit your own socks. I would love to do the same thing, but unfortunately am still knitting on my first scarf (I started it months ago, go figure), so I guess that plan has to wait a little more :-)

  4. I love the photo of you modeling the darned sock. He he! will have to take a photo in my kitchen at some point. :)

  5. I love what you are wearing in this photo.

  6. Thanks so much for this tutorial! Now all I have to do is get a darning mushroom... Hmmmm...

  7. This is so serendipitious! I found a whole in my favourite pair of handknitted socks this week and I've been steeling myself up to fix it. The photos are so helpful, thank you!

    By the way, I believe you might be able to use a light bulb as a darning mushroom. It should be about the same size and shape, I think. I'll find out later today!

  8. Hi, thanks for your comments!
    Claire, I would be careful about using a light-bulb to help darn your socks! The glass might not hold up to the task... it occurred to me if you can't get hold of a darning mushroom you could try a small one of those pre-turned decorative wooden "balls" from hardware stores or wood suppliers that are designed to decorate the tops of fenceposts, bedposts and staircase balustradings...

  9. A very late comment, but knitters often use "darning eggs," which look like a wooden egg with a handle. I've heard of people successfully using light bulbs.