One mantra that guides my life is “make do and mend”. Darning socks used to be a common activity and now, it is much more common to toss a pair of socks out or at best, use holey socks as a rag. I’d like to show you how to darn and help you extend the life of your socks.
You don’t need a sock darner but if you come across one either in Grandmother’s sewing basket or in a thrift shop, snap it up. They are very handy indeed. If you don’t have a darner, you can use your hand (which is what I usually do) or a tennis ball. You need a darning needle or any needle that has an eye large enough to fit your chosen yarn through.
I purchased one skein of sock yarn from my local thrift shop and it has met all my darning needs. You might feel tempted to find a yarn that matches your worn socks but that’s something I don’t worry about. Sock yarn is skinnier than many other yarns and most importantly it has a lot of spring and stretch, which you obviously want in a sock.
Thread your needle and knot your end. I then stitch a running stitch (up, down, up, down) in columns (top to bottom of the worn area) and then rows (horizontal) attempting to keep stitches relatively even. I usually make stitches that are a quarter of an inch in length or shorter, and each row and column between a quarter and an eighth of an inch apart. Bear in mind that your sock will be stretch over your foot and the stitches will be stretched accordingly. The goal is to add integrity to the work area with the sock yarn and to bring together any hole edges that may exist. Because you are simply mending (rather than painting the Sistine Chapel) you should allow yourself room for imperfections and feel okay going back to add one more small row if your original rows were a bit too far apart, for example.
Darning may require you to try your sock on a time or two during the darning process, and that’s okay too. Sometimes sewists and crafters get hung up on perfection and this activity is a good exercise in accepting imperfection.
Here’s a video of me doing the above process. Enjoy, Wildflowers!