How to Mend Socks, Part One: Swiss Darning

by | Jun 23, 2021 | Mending, Sustainability

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.

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