Wednesday, April 26, 2006

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  • Darn It! Part II

    Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unpardonable. - Proverbial

    Refer to yesterday's post for a scintillating discussion on the whys of sock darning. Today we present the wherefores.

    Recall our favorite wool socks from yesterday. These are definitely favorite socks, and, in the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that they've been darned before and they'll be darned again. At this point, the heels are almost entirely darned. So it goes. I. Love. These. Socks. And today, they will allow us to demonstrate two things: a thinning heel on sock #1 and an actual factual hole on sock #2.

    An Important Note: Always darn a larger area than is actually affected. The darned area is thicker and stronger than the surrounding fabric. Your next holes will be right next to the area you've already darned. Trust me.

    Let's start with the thinning heel. This is simple to fix. If I had leftovers of the same yarn, I'd have used it. Instead, we're developing a lovely patchwork here. While you can reinforce thinning sections from the wrong side by weaving back and forth or duplicate stitching, I like the look on this pair. Adds to the charm. Plus, who's looking at the bottom of my feet? So from the right side, I duplicate stitched over the entire heel area, weaving in the ends at the end. It looked a little lumpy bumpy in such a thick yarn, but smoothed right out after being washed. Who doesn't want a nice padded heel on their thick woolen socks? And here's where I left them. The odd shape has to do with the important note above - I had previously reinforced some of this heel from the wrong side, and now my weakened and thinned areas surround that stronger area.So, what about the actual holes? You know, that moment of epiphany when I stepped from a carpet onto the cold kitchen tile and realized that there were, in fact, holes in the bottom of my socks. Right under my heel. Brrr . . . See that big, gaping hole? I used the traditional method of darning by taking my yarn and using a running stitch to sew a square around the hole, making sure that the square was entirely on stable stitches. I sew through half of each stable stitch (see above photo), which makes the weaving easier later. (Notice that the hole was bigger at the top, so my square encompassed more "good" stitches at the bottom.) Then I simply created a simple weave inside the square. First, do all the vertical ones, then the horizontal, or vice versa. Knitter's choice.

    More knitter's discretion: You'll notice that there are places of "good" stitches where I'm merrily weaving in and out of actual knitting, and other places where there are long strands flapping across the gap. That's the point, because that's where the weaving will keep your feet warm. I often "short-row' my weaving over the hole to make it as thick as humanly possible, but there is a downside to that. It's a little lumpy when first done, but it smoothes out as soon as you walk on it, and then I couldn't even feel the difference between the darned and knit areas.

    Here are some great tutorials on the web on darning socks - way more complete than my show-and-tell:
    1. "If the sock was worth knitting, it's worth darning." All duplicate stitch method, no weaving, but good stuff here. Good photos.
    2. This is how I do it, but read "yarn" where they say "thread." No photos.
    3. Another description of how I do it. No photos.
    4. Not a tutorial, but a comment on how not darning our socks means the downfall of society.
    5. The most recent Knitty tells you all about knitwear repair.

    I have a small collection of darning eggs (these things are fun to search for, hard to find - anyone know where to get any nice ones?), but unfortunately they are in storage for the moment. The darning eggs facilitate this process in two ways:
    1. They conveniently hold the fabric you're working on away from the other fabric and make it easier to stitch.
    2. It makes me feel as if I am living in colonial times. Hey- I take my thrills where I can get them.


    Blogger Lynda said...

    Love it - THANKS! I never knew how to properly darn socks... and it's true, if they were worth knitting, they're worth darning.

    Now, need to get a darning egg.

    4/26/2006 8:30 AM  
    Blogger Anneliese Kelly said...

    I dig your thrills.

    4/26/2006 8:45 AM  
    Blogger Elizabeth said...

    Very good instructions - any advice on preventing holes/thinning (Rogaine for socks?) during the knitting process? Or is this where reinforcing thread is used - and what do you use for reinforcing thread if it hasn't been included with the yarn?

    One last question - when is the tent sale at WEBS?

    4/26/2006 8:51 AM  
    Blogger Stephanie said...

    Thanks. Now I know where to begin with the whole darning process. And look at how nice those pictures turned out.

    4/26/2006 9:33 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow, thanks so much for the lesson (and photos)! I'm sure I will need to darn socks at some point, so this will DEFINITELY come in handy!

    4/26/2006 9:48 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hmm, this darning thing is a whole world I didn't even know existed. I think I knew the basic duplicate stitch method, but the weaving part is new to me. I hope my socks last long enough that I don't have to try this method out too soon!

    I used to wish I lived in Colonial Times. Or at least in whatever era they wore those full lacy petticoats. My entire child was one pathetic longing for a petticoat. But I digress.

    4/26/2006 10:03 AM  
    Blogger Wendy said...

    Darning egg? That does not sound NewCaliLifestyle to me . . .

    4/26/2006 12:37 PM  
    Blogger Carrie K said...

    Ah, that's how it's done! Weaving and duplicate stitch. Thanks for the tutorial, Theresa! I love feeling like I live in Colonial times while surrounded with modern conveniences.

    4/26/2006 2:13 PM  
    Blogger Anneliese Kelly said...

    I used to wish I were Amish, as that was (I felt) the closest I could get to real time-travel. I suppose being a Pennsylvanian, the Amish are more frequently on the brain. I remember shucking corn for my mom in the summer and dreaming of those little white-topped buggies.

    But no petticoats there, alas.

    4/26/2006 2:42 PM  
    Blogger Chris said...

    Great tutorial and links! Do you have a seam roll to facilitate seaming, too?

    4/26/2006 5:02 PM  
    Blogger cindy said...

    Great info on darning socks and great links!

    4/26/2006 6:57 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the tutorial! How diligent you are in fixing your socks. Right you do! My sincerest appologies for not being able to ship your socks in time. It won't take long though, they are almost finished but have to travel a long distance. Just wanted to let you know.

    4/27/2006 1:41 AM  
    Blogger Jenna said...

    Hello, bookmark! This was awesome and clear and your pictures are SO helpful. Thank you!

    4/27/2006 8:31 AM  
    Blogger emy said...

    The darning egg sounds interesting -- i have never seen one in real life!

    4/28/2006 11:25 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." And boy was I ready for this tutorial! Thanks for being a great teacher!

    4/28/2006 4:18 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I just darned about a dozen socks, with my newly purchased darning eggs. Check this this site: He sells custom made knitting tools, and some of the prettiest darning eggs I've ever seen.

    4/29/2006 2:32 PM  
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