The Care and Feeding of Handknit Socks

By Ann Shayne
July 7, 2020

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  • I knit socks for my SO, always from a wool/nylon blend. He is REALLY hard on them (walks around in them without shoes and machine washes them in HOT water), but in the 15 years of socks he possesses, amazingly, only once has one ever developed a hole. Because the holey pair was at least 10 years old, we gave them a decent burial and I knit him another pair. Mending is not my forte.

  • Every week when I put my socks away Mari Kondo style (folding to preserve the cuffs and also the drawer looks so great that way) I check the socks, I like to try and catch wear points before they bust open and duplicate stitch in a contrasting yarn. Otherwise its a woven visible mend, usually where the toe wears through.

    • Same, but my wear point is almost always heels.

      • Same here, my weak spot if the heel. I have recently been using a little wooly nylon along with the yarn to mend. Hoping it will last even better, time will tell.

  • Yes, I mend. I don’t enjoy it, but I do love the feeling of having made something useable again. I am trying to train myself to see that when I am given back socks I have knitted because they need fixing, it is one of the highest compliments I could get. “You made me something and I’ve worn it so much that it has a hole, but I want to be able to wear it again, so please can you help?”
    I usually put off the task until my sock hospital is overflowing. Then I duplicate stitch thin spots, reknit toes, knit patches for bigger holes, do a sort of reknitting/patching hybrid. It’s not always the most beautiful, but whatever it takes to get the job done.
    I draw the line at mending previously mended areas though. That’s when I hand over a new pair to replace the old thoroughly worn out ones.

    • What you do sounds exactly like what I do. I dislike doing it, but also like to keep my handknits wearable as long as possible. I have re-mended holes in socks that are particular favorites, though, although they are never quite as good as new…

  • I do repair socks. I usually re knit heel turns (never have to reknit a heel flap yet) or toes and reinforce with duplicate stitch those kind of flaps of the sides of the toe, for where the stitches change direction, there is usually laddering and yarn starts to wear rapidly. I have yet to learn to mend invisibly.

  • I mend socks using my grandma’s old darling mushroom, which is 100+ years old. I use duplicate stitch where I can otherwise I weave the hole closed. Like others, not a task I relish, but a fantastic sense of achievement when it’s done. I use the same yarn if possible otherwise go for a similar colour

    • Yes!

      • In all the years I have been making socks, Have had only 1 pair that wore the toe, and that was in one of the first I made (20+ years ago). It wore through just this past winter. Haven’t done anything with it yet.

    • I do the same with an old wooden mushroom or an old lightbulb.

  • Depending on the yarn I will felt the socks and pass them on to kids. If I catch a problem early duplicate stitch is super easy. Otherwise I take my darning ball out. This past Christmas a relative gave me several pairs of socks I knitted over the years to repair that were too far gone. I showed her how to cut off the foot and make wrist warmers. I showed her the duplicate stitch and had her practice on the wrist warmer. I smiled as I passed the socks back to her.

  • Darning! I learned it from my auntie Nicolette and she gave me a darling darningtool named paddestoel (mushroom)

  • Yes! I do indeed mend my socks – in fact, several pairs have been mended (and over-mended) many times. I use a technique shown by jackie e-s on her blog “Taking Time to Smell the Roses” for a knit -in-place patch. I believe that she has also made a YouTube video showing the process. It creates a sturdy patch, and being a proponent of visible mending, I often use a contrasting color yarn.

    • Just checked Jackie’s blog. I like this technique! Will give it a try.

      • Yes! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lynn, That is my favorite way to mend holes in socks.

    • Just read this! Thank you for turning me on to it.

  • I have never repaired my hand knit socks but these comments are making me rethink that and be more open to fixing holey socks.

  • When I saw how you needle felted your steeks, I thought why can’t I do that with socks? So I take some roving, and needle felt it over the worn spots. So far, so good!

    • Love this idea!

    • What a great idea! I did my first steek this way & I have plenty of fiber since I’m a spinner. I’m going to try this.

      • What a great idea! I will try it on the next wear spot.

    • Yes to felting a patch! I make my husband’s socks out of 100% worsted wt wool (he wears boots all the time), and this winter I decided to try this method. I don’t have roving, so I knit a small patch with a provisional cast-on and no bind-off, then just needle-felt it into place. It’s much easier than darning because his socks tend to get a little felted anyway.

  • I knit one pair of socks that was 100% wool, no nylon, fingering yarn. Got holes on the heels pretty quickly. I mended one by making a teeny tiny patch of knitted wool and needle felting it into the sock. It worked fairly well. The other sock needs the same treatment but I may just cut my losses, unravel both, and repurpose the useable yarn. I haven’t had any holes with socks made with a wool /nylon blend. Learned my lesson about choosing yarn for socks.

  • When my socks wear out, it’s always in the toe, so I have re-knit the toes of some of my socks (I just hate doing it, for some reason). I have tried to repair the holes in other ways — darning or weaving — but the results have not been wearable. I could use a course in darning.

  • I’ve never had a hole in any of the several dozen pairs of socks I’ve knit. However, some have worn thin in the area behind the toes (ball of the foot.) I tried to mend one pair, but the area was too large and it didn’t work out well.

  • I check my husband’s socks every week when they are washed to see if there are new thin spots or holes. More often than not, his feet make holes on the bottom of the heel rather than making thin spots (go figure)! A couple of years ago I took a class on making afterthought heels and my husband decided it was is favorite heel ever. I’ve been replacing the afterthought heels when I find the holes. I usually make the heels a different color when I knit the socks to make it easier to replace them.

    For the socks without afterthought heels, I’ve either used duplicate stitch to strengthen the thin spots or knit a little square patch big enough to cover the hole. Fruity Knitting has a nice video demonstrating both techniques. The Yarn Harlot also has a video on her Patreon site demonstrating the same methods using slightly different techniques. These videos are worth watching just to listen to the soothing voices!

    • This, all of this. What is it with our menfolk wearing out that spot under the ball of their heel?? I too am fond of ripping back and working an afterthought heel and darning the open spots. I wish I was attentive enough to check his socks every week, I might have smaller holes to darn.

  • I wait to mend socks until I have a bunch of them to do. I have a darning egg and I use weaving to close the hole. I will use whatever sock yarn I have available. The small amount of yarn left after knitting my socks goes into my darning basket, waiting patiently to be used.

    • I usually mend in batches; keeping yarn leftovers and holey socks together in a basket is a great idea!

  • Yes, I definitely darn socks. It’s something of a necessity, because all our socks are handknit.
    My darning is traditional in style, visible from choice. Some of my husband’s socks have darns upon previous darns, because they are favourites.
    I don’t have any special techniques, just old-fashioned darning with a darning mushroom and a good long needle with a sharp point.
    To learn darning, I recommend a book called ‘Mend It! – a complete guide to clothes repair’ by Maureen Goldsworthy.

  • I use duplicate stitch and I re-knit heels and toes when necessary, but I wait until the mending basket is too full to ignore. Or until someone says, “Hey, where are my favorite socks you were going to fix last winter/spring/five years ago?” But like many chores, mending creates its own momentum, and once I start, I settle right in. Mending a sock is still quicker than knitting one, so it’s definitely a satisfying endeavor. Also, if you wait long enough to do the mending, it’s like having a whole new pair of socks!

    • Nope. I would but I gift all my socks. When gifted, the recipient is the instructions on how to launder the socks as well as what to do when they show signs of wear, “Return for mending.” Alas, none of them have. That has not impeded my love of sock knitting, however. I do have a huge supply of little balls of leftover yarn that I can’t bear to throw away just in case a sock should get returned.

  • I haven’t had occasion to mend my socks. But I’m sure if it is a favorite pair, I will attempt mending. I have no idea how to darn a sock (regretfully, something I never learned from my Mom) so it will probably be another method.

  • I save the leftover ends of sock yarn to match, if possible. I have my grandmother’s old darning egg, and do duplicate stitch. Different family members wear out their socks in different places. My husband’s socks wear on the bottom of the heel, and that’s hard to patch. Lately, he’s been wearing store-bought socks for everyday, and saving the handknits for “best”!

  • If caught early I duplicate stitch over the thin spots. My daughter wears hers as house socks and sends them back to me when there are huge holes. I have reknit soles and sewn them on, unraveled past the holes and reknit the foot, and knit patches by picking up stitches above the hole and sewing the patch on by picking up side stitches as I go along and sewing on the live stitches at the end on the patch.

  • If you catch it in time, I darn or stitch to mend. If it is larger, I pick up stitches a few rows up, and knit a patch on to the sock.

  • Darning works better for me when it is caught early. I also like to reknit toes and ( after thought) heels, though both are often made difficult by felting of the yarn from wear. When the sock foot is too far gone but the leg/cuff is in good shape, I cut off the foot and pickup the live stitches. Then I knit them into mitts or mittens or even add a new sock foot. Of course, the original yarn needs to be something special!

  • Only my son has the temerity to bring back socks that have developed holes. I use a beautiful darning egg I found at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival. I pick up stitches at the bottom and sides of the hole on single pointed needles. Then I knit a patch, knitting together a stitch from each side needle on each row. Finally, I pick up stitches across the top of the hole on a fourth needle and Kitchener the patch to the sock. Not a process for a mindless knitting day!

    • This is how I mend socks too. I have a basket where I store leftover yarn and I can usually find the matching yarn

    • I took a screenshot of your comment, it sounds genius!

    • I have a bag of handknit socks that I was wondering how to fix or whether I would just have to frog and reclaim the yarn anew. I really like this idea. Seems worthy of a holey holy handknit.

      If I ever get one that cannot be recycled, mended or patched, I think it proper to burn it, like they do with old flags.

  • Yup! I do it old-school, with a darning mushroom, and I weave a square over the hole. I even darn store-bought socks if they’re wool. And sweaters (damn moths!).

    • Me too, everything you said.

  • I have really enjoyed reading the wonderful comments this morning from everyone. The only thing I have to add is that my mom taught me to darn my daddy’s socks with weaving when I was about ten. We did not have a mushroom or darning egg, we used a light bulb!

  • I say, “darn it, darn it, darn it!” And put the socks in a special plastic bin and knit another pair!

    • Yes!

  • I learned how to weave hole repairs using an wooden egg. Since i wear out out the socks under the heel and under the ball of the foot I have been using weaving to repair thin spots and holes. I duplicate stitch to bring edges more closely together.

  • Yarn Harlot has a one hour video on mending socks. Holes on the leg, the heel, and the ribbing. Available to her Patreon subscribers only. She will also tell you whether your hole was due to a moth or powder posr beetle, and how to tell the difference.

  • Of course I do them all!! It really depends on the sock, the owner of the sock, and the yarn. I’ve learned that we all wear out our socks differently. I’m hard on feels and under my big left toe, so if the socks are for me, I’ll reinforce the knitting in those areas
    If they are my husbands wool hunting socks, and after I remind him that small new holes are easier to repair than one the size of a tennis ball… I’ll patch, but I think I’ll try the needle felting trick next time he forgets to remember

  • I tend to poke holes through my toes, in spite of reinforcement. If the rest of the sock is in good shape I’ll stitch the hole shut. I’ve tried darning and felting worn spots, but I find the sock loses its stretch there and no longer fits as well. In one of her books, I forget which, EZ has a sock pattern where the sole is knitted first, then the rest of the sock is added, which lets you pull off and reknit just the sole. That would be handy if the bottoms wore out.

    • Ok, it’s the first pattern in Knitting Around, and you do the sole last. But the sole is removable. She calls them moccasin socks.

  • Today’s topic reminds me of an Arlo and Janis comic strip from over 20 years ago. Arlo presents Janis with several socks, tells her they have holes in them, and asks her if she will darn them. She says yes, takes them, walks over to the waste basket, says, “Darn,” then tosses them in. As always, I get much valuable knitting knowledge from the knitters who comment as well as the professionals who write columns here — and I often use it.

    If Wendy Knits sees this, I’d like to thank her for her hacking tip to knit two rows before joining in the round — wow, how easy was that. I struggled, all thumbs, joining 5 stitches on 3 needles each (size 3) before using her tip. When I knit two rows first, it was ‘easy peasy.”

  • I am the very lucky friend of a lifelong knitter – one who has knitted socks for me for no less than 30+ years. Some of my favorites are the first ones she knit for me. When she mails the finished socks to me (we live hours away from each other) … she always includes a bit of the loose yarn. I save said yarn from all the socks in a small basket on my bedroom dresser. When a small hole or worn sole appears, I go to the basket and find the matching yarn … and darn away! Because my friend is a seasoned “sock charmer” I have only needed those extra yards once or twice in 30+ years. BUT I know exactly where’d they are if I do need them!

  • I darn socks (and mittens and gloves) until the darning almost takes over. My preference is to use duplicate stitch before an actual hole forms. However, if there is a hole, I know how to fill it in with a sort of weaving or creating new knitting. I know how to make a knitted patch, but save that for things like sweater elbows. I darn my socks so lovingly that I am sometimes sad that I don’t need to dip into my ample store of hand knit socks for a new pair. I use whatever sock yarn is on hand to darn and it always is a contrast. Some people are more impressed that I can darn than they am that I can knit!

  • I have darned several pairs of socks. I used duplicate stitch over thread bare parts and Cookie A.’s repairing sock tutorial for holes. I recently purchased Katrinkle’s Darning Loom to try but currently I don’t have any holey socks to try it out on.

  • When my son was maybe in the 6th grade, I bribed him to go to the Mass. Sheep and Wool Fair when no one else was available. His go-to attitude was I don’t want to be here so no one will enjoy this! For cash to be paid after the fair, he would go and have a good time. And it was wonderful to laugh and wander and watch the dog trials and the sheep shearing with him for what is still the only time. And in one of the booths, I found a skein of sock year, the color was Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Red. (I know, right? Who could resist?!) He agreed he would wear the socks if I knit them.

    I did knit then, maybe 9 years later, and this last winter he wore them every day at home to keep his feet warm until he wore huge holes in the heels and the toes. Which brings us to your question!

    I am now ripping out his man-sized socks; I anticipate 2 larger, 2 smaller balls once I’m through. And then, I will knit a new pair for me, probably with a second yarn for toes and heals. Does this qualify as repairs? Whatever! I will have Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Red socks with a great story attached!

  • I knit my husband a pair of sleeping socks every year for Christmas. Although he only wears them to bed, he wears out the heels as if he were running a marathon in them. (The children’s book “The Seven Dancing Princesses” comes readily to mind.) Reinforcing thread only wears them out quicker. (What the heck is he doing in his sleep?) Darning is slow, but quicker than knitting new socks. By the time he presents them for mending, the heel is usually completely gone, so most of my darning involves a loose-ish lattice technique using embroidery floss and then a layer of swiss darning on top of that.

    • Oh, and of course I use a darning egg. How on earth could you darn socks without one? I foolishly gave away the one my grandmother gave me in my pre-sock-knitting days, but I found a lovely replacement one on Etsy.

    • You said embroidery floss, but I pictured dental floss, and thought “That would be really sturdy!” LOL

  • Yes, I mend either duplicate or weaving which ever will cover the hole. I wear out my socks on the bottom of my heel so weaving usually is the better choice.

  • Yes I have mended the toe of socks that have holes in the tow.

  • I do indeed darn socks. My secret is an LED lightbulb as a darning egg. They are plastic so no risk of breaking, and sometimes when I want to check my work on a tricky spot I shine my phones torch through the bulb to illuminate the stitches 🙂

  • I darned some Icelandic wool socks. They weren’t knitted by me, but they are hand made. I used duplicate stitch to patch up some thin spots.

  • I don’t repare, however I felt them and either make sock puppets to donate to school or felt them and use for dusting, also you can cut out shapes and use for embellishments. Waste not want not.

  • I actually recently mended a sock I had made for my nephew a few years ago. I searched on YouTube and followed instructions to knit a patch onto the hole. It worked well. I used a different color yarn than the original socks so it made a “design element”!

  • I have darned and / or mended several pair of my hand knit socks. One time, I ripped the middle of the sole out on a rough patch in our 100 yr old wooden floor (grrrrr). I don’t think I really have any special technique. I do roughly follow the instructions that Hunter Hammersen put in a blog post a few years back as a starting spot.

  • I hold holey socks over a wastebasket, accidentally let go, and then say “Oh, DARN!”

    Seriously? My hand-knit socks generally last about five years. I don’t feel that my darning/mending skills would be up to creating a patch that would perform well in actual use — let alone what it might look like! So no Frankensocks for me.

    I’ve usually got $20 – $25 invested in a pair. I generally wear socks 9 months a year (or 36 weeks), so in five years, I might wear a particular pair 180 times. And $25.00 divided by 180 wearings is just shy of 14 cents per wearing. That’s good enough for me.

    Oh, DARN!!!

  • I haven’t needed to mend any socks yet; my husband has a couple of pairs about 3 years old that haven’t worn through, somehow miraculously. However! He did put a hole in his newest pair by snagging/breaking threads so I will have to learn how to darn or repair… I’m just not looking forward to it

  • Another question: do you use sock blockers or lay them flat to dry? I’ve wondered about sock blockers. Seems to me they would speed up drying but stretch out the ribbing. But what do I know. I’ve only ever knit one pair of socks.

  • I have only made few pair of socks. I’m slow at it. Probably because I have so many other things going on. I love love the ones I have made. I love wearing them. My skills are getting better at making them. I wish I was as skilled at knitting like all of you. I learned how to crochet when in was about 11 ??? I taught myself how to knit years ago. Didn’t do as much knitting but been knitting more this past year. Just keep working at it. Just takes doing it and learning. Thank you so much for all your ideas. God bless and be safe.

  • I have darned socks using a light bulb egg, and I really didn’t get the same joy as when I knit the socks in the first place, SO Only HANDKNIT socks get repairs. If I have matching yarn, double stiching or knit patching like the method mentioned here by someone else using picked up stitches around the worn spot are the chosen methods. If I don’t have matching yarn and still really really want to repair, I would probably replace toes and heels in a contrasting color, but its never gone that far before. Usually by that point, I’m frogging and recycling the yarn.

    Because I hate repairing socks, even beloved handknit ones, I carry and extra yarn strand through while I knit toes and heels, lengthening the useful lives from the start and adding some extra cush.

  • Yes I mend socks. I pick up stitches from good strong existing stitches. I knit a square patch, picking up a strong stitch to knit with the last stitch of each row. A three needle bind off completes the patch. The first time the patched sock is put on the square addition feels noticeable but even five minutes wearing blends the new patch into the feel of the old sock.

  • I darn my socks as needed. My favorites that are alot of years old have alot of darning on them. No special technique but I use my grandma’s wooden darning egg which is cool.

  • Yes, I darn/repair hand knit socks. I use a darning egg for woven mends, sometimes attach a new flap (thank you, Tom of Holland), have also cut off and re-knit the heel and foot as the leg part was fine. I like visible mending so I can see what I am doing.

  • Well, I am definitely in the minority here. I’m almost ashamed (but not) to say that I tossed a pair earlier this year because it seemed like too much fiddling to repair them. Next time I will not be so cavalier and will take on the challenge with all the great ideas everyone has. Thanks, once again, for all the inspiration!

  • Of course i mend my socks! my beloved handknit socks. they wear out under the foot, just after the heel. i am not a good darner, but darn i do, with the same yarn as the sock is knitted from, and a long darning needle, first vertically, then horizontally.

  • I have unraveled and re-knit a toe with leftover yarn.

  • I darn or duplicate stitch handknit socks and sometimes commercially made socks. If I have leftovers from the original yarn, I use it. Otherwise I just use whatever weight yarn seems to work best.

  • I mend my socks when needed. I rather like darning, and when it felts up, it wears well. I would reknit the entire foot or toe if needed, as cuffs don’t usually wear, but my eyes aren’t good enough to pick up the tiny stitches to do so.

  • I recently did a repair by picking up stitches in the intact area then knit until the piece was bigger than the hole. Then I sewed the piece down so the damaged area was covered.I’m hoping this works.
    In the past I’ve loosely sewn over the damage in one direction then wove those stitches in the perpendicular direction. It’s not pretty but it has worked.

  • Great question- I’m about to take on darning socks and was wondering about the best method

  • After spending hours and hours getting to know my beloved socks, stitch by stitch, they are Like FAMILY! So, when they voice their opinion that they feel repairs or an upgrade is needed, I fly to their rescue! And… by adding a second thread to the heels and toes when they are coming to life, sometimes in a contrasting color, they live longer on my feet.

  • I’ve been knitting socks for over 15 years and I have multiple pairs that are 10 years old or more. Right now I’ve got a few pair of older socks set aside to mend that are older than that. I plan to follow Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s mending plan. I hope it works because these are nice socks. All have holes at the bottom of the heel, so I will pick up around that area and reknit it. BTW, I toss my socks into cold water wash with everything else and into the dryer on low. They’ve held up great.

  • I got a lot of practice mending two pairs of terribly chewed socks for my sister using Swiss darning/duplicate stitch. It’s fiddly, but I have to say the results looked so much better than just sort of stitching over it. If you are having to recreate significant portions (several rows) of fabric, I strongly recommend a DPN to help hold the new loops you are creating. And, it is totally possible to do this even with ribbing!

  • I have mended socks, almost always the toe. I usually fake it or use duplicate stitch. I also fold them Marie Kondo style.

  • i knit a patch on the few old sox that get holes. the few sox i make for others, i use the reinforcing stitches on the heel turns and toe soles.

  • I darn my socks. Usually with whatever colour of sock yarn is at hand. The _major_ repairs I’ve done have been to cut the worn out/overly darned toes off, pick up the stitches, and reknit the toes.

    I have been crazy enough to unravel a couple pairs of socks and reknit the whole thing, one just plain didn’t fit, and it was yarn that was bought by a friend, and it was hand-dyed. The other a mouse ate part of the sock, and it was the first pair I had ever knit.

    My parents grew up during the Depression, so I’m used to fixing things if at all possible.

  • Many years ago I had to miss a family ski trip to stay home and take care of our dog. He needed me, and that was that. I asked everyone to give me their hand knitted socks that needed repair and found myself staring down a stack about 15 inches high. I had the Twin Peaks boxed set, a darning egg, tapestry needle, various yarns, and a dog wearing a cone of shame. It was a great week.

  • I just purchased a little sock mending kit and am really looking forward to using it. I’m addition to mending, I also really like de-pilling the bottom of my socks too.

  • Well sure. I hold the sock needing repair up and say sternly “darn sock!”

  • I don’t darn but I do repair. My husband wears out the sole under the ball of his foot so I cut just above the hole, and reknit it from there to the end of the toe, (I only knit cuff down) not always in the same yarn but I guess it’s the least visible part. However I warn him not to take his shoes off in publice when there’s a really psychodelic mix of colours!!

  • My favorite worsted weight, 20+ yo purple Peace Fleece “wear with boots or as house slippers” socks had such big holes at the heels and toes that I finally had to contemplate tossing them. Then I found the long lost extra skein of purple Peace Fleece, snipped a stitch and unraveled the feet, joined the new sk to the live cuff stitches and reknit the feet so my beloved socks are new again. (And yes, I washed and wound the salvageable yarn from the frayed feet into several little balls- as one does, amiright?- to duplicate stitch worn spots so this doesn’t happen again! ) I’ve removed my husband’s 2 oldest pairs of handknit socks from his drawer so that I can duplicate stitch a few very worn spots on the heels and ball of the foot before they become holes. Lesson learned!

  • I started darning when I got a Katrinkles Darning Loom, which makes patching up the holes in my heels a lot more fun.

  • Although I own a lovely wooden darning egg, I have no darning abilities. I wish I could pay someone to darn all of my hand-knit socks! I still have the original yarn and everything.

    (No, seriously. If you darn for pay, plz hit me up. I have cash and socks.)

  • I actually took a class in sock darning at a knitting retreat. We learned using an empty water bottle. When my MIL heard that I was actually darning socks, she shook her head, but gave me her mother’s well used darning egg. I usually wear out the ball of my foot before any wear shows in the heel. I think that darning makes a nice flat repair that does not hurt the feet. I will admit that many of my socks have found their way into the dryer, but I do try to just dry them flat.

  • I darn/fix socks, because, you know, after all the time, um ‘love’, that went into knitting them I am not about to let a hole be their demise. And I’ve lately taken to the premise that the darn should me neat, but visible, so I don’t always match the yarn…and the fact that I can’t find the remains of the original yarn has nothing to do with it. 🙂

  • I love darning my socks. I’ve darned and mended lots of them, even the machine made ones.
    However… I have some socks that I made earlier on in my sock knitting journey that fit terrible. and/or the yarn is scratchy. other than making like 14 draft snakes, I’m not sure what to do with these. I don’t want to just toss them or relegate them to rags, but they’re not good enough to reknit in any way…

  • I don’t think I’ve ever darned any of my hand knitted socks – even the ones my sons wear a lot have all held up pretty well. But, my son had an expensive pair of wool socks we had bought for skiing. He sat around a fire pit – had his feet propped up – and actually burned a hole in the sole of the foot before he noticed what was going on. Anyway, I used some extra sock yarn and just picked up stitches around the sides of the hole as I knitted a patch. It worked great and has lasted a long time. Nobody sees it on the bottom of the foot, but I think the cute stripes give it a little flair as well!

  • When I was very young and learning to darn socks, I swore I would never do it when I was old enough to purchase my own socks. Once I started knitting socks 20 years ago, that changed my mind. Luckily for me, I have yet to wear a hole in any of the 115 or so pairs knit for me. As for those socks I now only knit as gifts, the recipients are on their own if holes are made.

  • Yes, I do mend my socks. I cut out the section with the hole, pick up stitches, reknit it and then graft the reknit part to the sock. I tried mending but it just looks too messy and can be uncomfortable to wear. While the color of the sock has usually faded compared to the repair, it feels like new when I am done.

  • I do mend my own socks. It’s a lot faster to mend than to make new. I like the crazy colors on top of each other too, so I do mend over the mends as well. This may have something to do with the fact that I don’t really make socks for the rest of my family?

  • I just recently had a mending spree of some socks using a variety of techniques because every pair seemed different breakdown. However I also just completed a Memory Blanket using the many small ends of the multiple socks and this was far more enjoyable and memory producing than darning.

  • Yes!

  • Yes, I darn the toes and heels of my socks, albeit reluctantly. If the rest of the fabric is still good, I can’t stand to throw them out. According to Ravelry, I’m still wearing socks made in 2010, that have been worn once a week, washed in hot water on top-loader hand-wash setting with Pine-Sol and detergent (the only way I’ve been able to stop recurrent bouts of athlete’s foot), and air-dried. Some are now getting at little thin in places.

    I try to get to it whilst I can still duplicate stitch over the threadbare areas, but I do also use my darning egg or mushroom when necessary.

  • First of all what’s wrong with me: all my socks get holes in them. Some of you are superhuman!
    I have made socks for three or four others and they enshrined them in a drawer so I just knit them (dozens) for my own self and wait for the holes to appear. My feet must be like sandpaper and the clogs I wear may be too tight, who knows but I’m really hard on them.
    I use handspun (all kinds of fiber) and commercial yarn and pounce when the stitches start thinning in the predictable wear zones.
    If just thinning from abrasion, I duplicate stitch.
    If a hole or two or three I darn using an old baseball as the “egg.” (One son played professional baseball so I have a nice supply.)
    If a full on blowout happens, i pick up stitches and knit some areas.
    Some of them are more darned than knitted just before they are retired. Then they become dusting cloths. I don’t think I have ever thrown a pair out.
    LOVE the felted patch idea so I’ll give that that a try.

  • Hi Ann,
    Yes, I usually do mend my handknit socks, especially hiking socks – the heavy wool, winter boots, keep-feet-warm-even-after-stepping-ankle-deep-into-icy-slush. I was lucky enough to have watched a great aunt darn socks. I didn’t knit & she didn’t teach me, but it was fascinating to watch her work. I remember thinking her darning egg was the coolest tool I had ever seen. I learned to darn socks as a kid; I learned to knit in my 30s.

    Ages ago, during a business trip to Bonn, Germany, I had found cards of wool/nylon thread in a LYS – a much-needed mental health break during a work week of 14 hour days. This thread was specifically for darning/reinforcing toes & heels. They stocked red, black, navy blue, two shades of gray, dark green & red (!). I bought two cards of each color. Years later, I found similar stuff in a LYS in the States.

    I’ve been knitting it into toes & heels ever since, but the Spouse & Primary Beneficiary of wool hiking socks, still manages to wear out the heels. I darn ’em with a combination of the original wool + reinforcing thread. It’s time well spent. Two pair = one movie.

    Looking forward to reading the survey results.

    Happy New MDK home!


    • I darn the socks I’ve made for my husband. Usually the holes or thin spots are al the heel, sometimes also ball of foot. I used to use very soft MCN yarn to make his socks, and those are lovely to wear but lately I’ve been considering durability by upping the nylon content and (mostly) avoiding cashmere. I don’t have any special tools and I’m not that good at it. I pick up stitches and knit over the hole if it’s large, or weave if it’s small. I try to use the same yarn the sock was made with, but it really hardly matters because the colors have usually faded a lot by the time repairs are needed, so it doesn’t match anyway.

  • Yes, I darn them using a repurposed wooden ornament shaped like a darner’s egg. I treat it like a knitting project since it’s not that often I get a request for a hole repair. Always a fun challenge for me.

  • Darned right! I darn them. Matching the wool has become irrelevant. It seems my socks look like a cross between sashiko and basket weaving in the toes and heels. They are made from wool from our sheep that is spun at a local mill with no nylon, just the wool and sometimes an alpaca’s fleece added. Every couple of hand washings one sock or another needs some attention. It is a great weekend morning, slow kind of activity. I guess someday they will get added to the wool art projects where old sweaters and scarves sometimes end up, or in an outdoor cat basket for the kitty.

  • Way back in my beginning of my knitting life, I was told to hold the offending sock over the garbage can, say “Oh Darn” and drop the holey sock in. Walk away, knit more socks. I have felted more socks than I care to admit. Makes great covers for golf clubs and holiday ornaments. I do have my husbands Grandmothers darning egg and I took a class in mending long ago. Rather bad at it as I recall.

  • i often mend or darn my socks, and sometimes mend the commercial Smartwool socks that I wear to work. I have a darning egg that was my grandmother’s and use that for heels and toes.
    My hand knit socks wear out at the bottom of the heel, right at the short row part. I often continue the heal stitch around the short rows to help the socks to last longer.

    • *heel* stitch oops!

  • Oh yes, heel bottoms. But i usually now do it in odd designs and colors. Else i would be too bored.

  • I darn socks if the holes are small, but if there is clearly a yarn issue and the heel is suddenly giving away, I just reknit parts. by snipping a stitch and picking up the stitches and if necessary kitchener every thing back in place. I was taught how to darn and do yarn overs in elementary school, can not say that it is my favorite. Probably age related (73). You are not throwing something out that can be mended, and for sure not a beautiful, lovable handmade sock.

  • I darn them if there is a small hole in the toes. My husband is the only one in the household that goes through the toes of a sock. I check on a regular base. For myself it is the heels that sporadically become thinner. And that is for the older socks I made. Nowadays I try to do slip stitch heels to prevent that problem. I reknit the heels, and even bigger parts of the foot. And kitchener parts back together.Once I used a bad plain sock yarn and the whole sock was fine, but the heel and toes needed replacement. Reknitting was the only solution. Darning is a skill that was taught to me in elementary school in the Netherlands. I am talking here as a 73 year old . Duplicate stitches were part of that also. It was never my favorite thing. But it comes in handy. I have a hard time to discard older socks. If they still have some life in them, I repair, otherwise they become sock puppets.

  • I’ll darn a small hole, but it’s usually the heels and bottoms of the feet that wear out. If the legs are still in good shape I’ll cut the heel and foot off, pick up the stitches around the bottom of the leg and reknit the second half of the sock. Since I like the legs long on my socks, it puts another pair of socks back into the rotation in half the time.

  • As I have pokey toes, I have chopped off the toe, picked up the stitches and knitted a new toe on a few pairs of socks. If I catch the thinning area in time duplicate stitch is quicker. If I don’t feel like repairing, I make toys, add arms and legs, it gives me a bit of fun. I’ve made wrist warmers and used them to tuck fibre into while I’m spinning. I’ve used the unworn out leg to wrap a soap in for the shower. It’s a bit of repair or repurpose

  • I have recently found a video of stephanie pearl mcphee about sock repairs that sounds good. I have one of my daughters to try this with.

  • I do repair socks! Not entirely by choice. I gave a pair to my mother a few years ago, and her toenail eventually cut through the end. So she mailed them back to me with a request for repair. I dutifully learned to how to darn socks (traditional weaving method) and sent them back.

    A year later, she sent them back to me for another repair. I darned them again. It struck me as ironic that my mother, a much better sewer than I, kept mailing them back to me for what’s essentially a sewing-based repair. I have considered sending her the remains of my spare yarn along with instructions for darning.

    Later I took a class with Stephanie Pearl McPhee where I learned how to rebuild knit stitches to repair a hole. I prefer the way that looks, so that’s now my preferred method of sock repair.

    • I have recently watched a video class with Stephanie Pearl Mcphee.This has become my method of repair work.I have only had one sock to be repaired.This class was wonderful.

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