Darn It! Part III
even if just darning holes in my socks.
Fortunately, all my socks are currently mended,
and I'm able to concentrate on fiction.
I know, I know, while the flitgirl is channeling the Amish, Rachel is dreaming of petticoats, and Amanda is trying to teach her husband the finer points of Laura Ingalls Wilder's biography, the rest of you are scratching your heads thinking - Sheesh! Is she really going to talk about darning again? Originally, this was going to be a two-part series, but there were two compelling reasons to extend our fun. (Yes, I said, fun.)
Inquiring minds want to know if there is "Rogaine for socks." A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I knew Elizabeth was a smart woman.
Before we talk about preventing holes and thinning, we must all look deep into our souls and face The Cold Hard Truth: 100% wool socks wear out faster than wool-nylon blends. I know, I know. I could hardly bear it when I first realized. I buy Fair Trade coffee; I have a National Parks Pass; I handwash my socks. Clearly I want what is best for the world. But I have a lot of experience at this. My Regia socks that I've been wearing weekly for five years look brand new. My Koigu socks that I've been wearing less-than-weekly for three years, well, see the photo below. I've made 95 pairs of socks, people. Take my word for it.
The Step-by-Step Plan for Preventive Sock Knitting
- If you never want to get holes in handknit socks, don't knit socks.
- If you want to knit socks and reduce holes, buy sock yarn with 10-25% nylon (polyamid) content.
- If you insist upon 100% wool socks (and don't we all?):
- You could practice watchful waiting and perform duplicate stitch reinforcing at the first sign of thinning stitches.
- You could reinforce the heavy wear parts of the sock during/after knitting:
- by using reinforcing thread such as Wooly Nylon (sold at sewing stores) or leftover from other socks (it comes with Blauband and JaWoll sock brands); I've also heard of people using sewing thread, although I've never tried it
- by using the same yarn and weaving it through the purl bumps on the wrong side of the heavy wear spots
- Since we're speaking of reinforcing thread: People recommend using it while you knit the heels and toes. Well, I wear out all my socks at the ball of the foot and under the heel. Not so helpful for me.
- An alternative to reinforcing thread: You know our friend heel stitch? (sl 1, k1, purl back; Eye of Partridge would also work just fine) I've done that along the entire sole of the foot to reinforce it. Works great, although you may need to make the foot a little longer, since this shortens it. It's also a bit bulky. I recommend it for hiking socks.
- For all socks, gauge is crucial. More stitches per inch equals more yarn per inch. Automatic reinforcement if you go down a needle size.
- For all socks, knitting a correctly sized sock is critical. Too small, your toes will poke holes in them. Too big, they will move around in your shoes and create friction. Which is bad, because friction makes holes. Experiment. Find a great heel, a great toe, a perfect length, the perfect number of stitches on your favorite needles. This will help keep your socks in good shape.
Second, check out the darning on the Koigu sock: Big hole. Small yarn. But for my only pair of Koigu socks, totally worth it. This is a work of darning art.