Darn it? Darn right!   Leave a comment

My grandmother Anna taught me how to darn.  When I was growing up she would fly down from Seattle once a year, and one of the things we would do would be to gather all our socks that were worn or had holes in the toes and/or heels, and she would darn them for us.  When I got older I would watch her and I finally asked her to show me how to do it myself.

Ever have a sock that is perfectly good…. EXCEPT for that annoying hole?  Does your big toe poke holes in your socks like mine does?  Making a perfectly good pair of socks unwearable because the part of your foot sticking from the hole rubs against the inside of your shoe?  Worry no more.  I’m going to show you how to darn.

First, the tools.  I use a straight needle because that’s the way I learned, but you can also buy a bent darning needle.  They don’t make darning thread anymore (at least I can’t find it) so I use embroidery thread.  You’ll want to separate the strands into three, and flatten them.  Embroidery thread comes in six strands that are twisted together – gently pull apart and flatten the three threads you’ll be using.  You will of course want to choose a color that is the same or close to your sock color.  Unless of course you want to create some great contrast.  If so – have at it.  You also need a darning tool.  These come in eggs, mushrooms, and gourds.  I like the gourd – my grandmother gave it to me.  It is rounded, has a handle, but is also flat on one side – that’s the side you darn on.

Darning gourd

Darning gourd

Next, get your sock(s).

Hole-y sock

Hole-y sock


Pull the sock over the darning tool.  If you don’t have a darning tool….. you will need to find something hard with a flat surface to pull your sock over.  It is important that your sock has something hard on the other side when you are darning, and you need to be able to pull your darning point tight and hold it while you darn. 

Sock on darning gourd

Sock on darning gourd

Thread your needle.  Do NOT tie a knot at the end of the thread.  Why not?  Because what you are going to sew will be pressing against your foot and shoe.  Do you want to be pressing against a knot?  I didn’t think so.  What you are going to do is create a weave pattern with your stitching.  You will stitch in a row in one direction over the hole, then stitch in a row in the other direction, weaving your thread through.  #  like that.

You want to start your stitches a quarter inch or so outside the edge of the hole.  For the first stitch, leave about a half inch or less of thread sticking up.  You will fold that over and sew over and under those loose threads, weaving them into your stitching, as you move across the hole with your first set of stitches.  With the tip of your needle, pick up a few threads, move forward, pick up some more, dipping your needle point up and down.  Start to one side of the hole, moving across the hole to the other side.  About a quarter inch on each side.  Now turn and go back the other way, so your threads are next to each other. 

The weaving is important, as is picking up part of the edge of the hole (so it smoothes out and becomes part of the new covered hole).  Go slow.  Sometimes you may have to weave a bit, pull your needle through, and then continue.  An experienced darner can weave in and out in one smooth motion before pulling the needle, but don’t worry if you have to do it more than once. 

Weave and move in and out through the sock fabric and across the hole.  Your hole should now be covered with threads in one direction, with your loose threads you had at the very beginning woven in with those threads.  Now turn your sock (or darning tool) and start back the same way, doing the same weaving, in and out thing with your needle.  Now you are also picking up pieces of your first set of threads as you weave.

Partially done

Partially done

I know my pictures aren’t the best – my camera does not do close-ups very well, and I’m working with a white sock and white thread.  Squint.  Now – do you see it? 

When you get to the end and are satisfied with your weaving, weave your needle along the side, back and forth a bit, turning and going back another way, about a half inch or so, and then cut your thread.  You are done!  You can now wear your sock for a long time to come.  Wear it, wash it – you’ll forget there was ever a hole there.  Sometimes a darned hole will not last long, but I’ve found they usually last a very long time indeed.  You can also use this same technique on a worn heel on a sock.  With a worn heel you usually have some existing threads to work with and weave through.  In that sense it is easier to do a heel, but heels are also larger and so they are harder to work with.  Here is my finished product.  I used my thumb to point to the place the hole used to be, since it is had to see in this picture.  Happy darning!

Darned sock

Darned sock

Posted October 8, 2010 by Maureen in DIY

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