Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Something About Sock Darning

This sewing basket was an out-of-the-blue gift from my sister J. who lives in a town filled with antique and vintage shops. This was a little something she picked up during one of her treasure hunting weekends. The basket is in pretty good shape, giving away its not-so-old age.

Interior is still nicely intact.

One of the things that I really like in the basket are the green wooden darning tool, and various wool threads. This is the one sewing gadget I do not own. I have never given the task of darning socks much thought. But with the new tools at my disposal, I thought "why not?" I certainly have quite a few pairs of socks with holes.

Commercial sock thread is much thinner than what we use for hand-knitted socks. It makes more sense to darn handmade socks, but not so much for ordinary RTW ones. I wear primarily SmartWool socks, and the non-hiking versions wear down quickly in the heel and toe areas. They are also on the expensive side ($12-30+ a pair), and for the price, I feel like they should last longer. A couple years back, I wrote an email to SmartWool about purchasing darning thread from them. I knew it was a long shot, because if their customers started repairing their socks, it might eat into their sales revenue right? Of course they said "sorry, we can't help you."

Bundled with my vintage sewing basket are several types of darning thread...all are too thick for a perfect match for SmartWool socks, but doable.

I don't think they are manufactured in great volume anymore, but I did find a couple of brands. I cannot guarantee the thickness since I haven't actually purchased them myself. I would love to get opinions from others who have. Of course, you can pick up some vintage packs on Etsy and Ebay. Here are the brands I found that still manufacture darning thread:
  • Schoeller and Stahl 75% wool, 25% polyamide
  • Fortissma 75% wool, 25% nylon
After trying out my darning tool on two pairs of socks, I found that some methods work better than others depending upon the shape of the hole. All over the internet, everyone has their own opinion on how it should be done. Here is a picture of one that I like. I didn't do my first few exactly like this though.

You can get these instructions HERE from loveyourclothes website.
Using a weaving technique creates a fresh yarn patch in the worned area of the sock. It also eliminates "some" of the bulk (not all) that I hate when I run into thick seam lines in socks, especially in the toe area. Here are my darning attempts...

Multiple holes in the heel area.
I started from the base and closed the first small hole before continuing to the big one.
All done...and the thread matched pretty well.
Multiple holes in the toe area. 
All done, and maybe a couple more months of wear.
Mending something that I really love to wear was very emotionally satisfying. I am not a fan of alterations or repair...but something about socks feel very different. I hope others will consider doing it too.  Happy sock darning!