How to Mend Socks, Part One: Swiss Darning

23 June 2021
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Sponsored in part by:

Ad description: Cover of the book Sheep, Shepherd & Land, and the words, "THE book about Canadian Wool, by Anna Hunter. Photos by Christel Lanthier. Buy now."

Ad description: The words, "The socks you knit won't last forever, but you can make them last for years and years. Shop now." Also featuring the cover image of the Sock Mending Guide.

This is the first in a three-part series that also covers how to do stocking darning and Scottish darning.

I value the time it takes me to knit my socks, so I don’t throw them out when they wear out. It’s just not sustainable to throw away all those knitting hours plus the materials to make the socks. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I eagerly await the holes, but I feel great satisfaction when I extend the life of my socks.

While this tutorial is focused on repairing handknit socks, the technique may also be performed on factory-made socks and sweaters, and you don’t need knitting knowledge to do it.

image description: a pile of handknit socks, with evident mends

Tools for Mending

Yarn: Choose a yarn that’s the same weight and of a similar fibre content as the original yarn. When mending socks, a wool blend with nylon, mohair or silk adds strength. A multi-plied yarn with a tight twist will be much more durable than a loosely spun, single-ply yarn.

Blunt-tipped yarn needle with a large eye: The blunt tip helps avoid split stitches. Look for a needle with a large enough eye to thread your yarn, yet fine enough to go under your stitches without difficulty.

Darning egg (or similar): A darning egg or mushroom is a tool created specially for mending, but you could also use an orange, a lightbulb, or a smooth rock. Any smooth form with a flat or rounded surface that can fit inside your sock is useful to have as a surface to work against so you don’t sew both sides of your socks together. In a pinch, I’ve used my cell phone and found it really handy when the screen lit up.

Scissors: Small, sharp scissors or snips.

Locking stitch markers (optional): Stitch markers may be used like tiny stitch holders to keep live stitches from unravelling.

image: the tools for mending - a pair of scissors, a wooden darning egg, locking stitch markers, darning needles and some short lengths of yarn, arranged on a flat surface

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All images by Holli Yeoh.

Copyright © Holli Yeoh except as indicated.

About Holli Yeoh

Holli feels strongly about fine craftsmanship, believing that while there’s more than one right way to do things, it’s important to do it right! To this end, she teaches skills that enable knitters to feel justified pride in their finished projects, while accommodating different knitting styles and preferences. Students leave her workshops with an arsenal of valuable techniques, deep understanding of the choices to be made in knitting, and new confidence. Find her patterns on Ravelry, LoveCrafts, Makerist, and Payhip, and follow her work on Instagram at @holliyeoh and her website at holliyeoh.com.

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