Because Just Knitting Them Isn’t Enough
Published On: January 20, 2010

You have to darn them too…

I mentioned the other day that three pairs of socks had worn thin in the heels.  I considered just chucking them, but The Boy professed a fondness for his, and I (grudgingly) acknowledged that it was far less work to darn them than to make new pairs.  It’s true it was less work, but it wasn’t exactly a quick process.  Let’s have a little before and after.

First, the damaged sock:


You can click on the picture to see an alarmingly massive version of it if you really care.  The sock is stretched over the bottom of a vitamin bottle, which made a perfectly-sized if rather noisy darning egg.  You can see that the fabric is generally quite thin and that there is a spot (a little to the right of center) where the strands between the stitches are almost totally gone.  There wasn’t an actual hole just yet, but there would have been if I’d worn them another few times.

You can also see that I used to twist my stitches when I worked in the round.  Notice that the stitches in the heel turn (up at the top) are untwisted and the stitches in the rest of the foot are twisted.  I won’t tell you how long I did this, all the while thinking ‘huh…those two bits look different…oh well’ and carrying blindly on.  It’s a bit embarrassing really.  However, this does bring up a small point.  I’ve often seen people suggest that working twisted stitches on the heel of a sock will result in a sturdier fabric.  My experience would seem to indicate otherwise.  The fabric of the twisted section is far more worn than the fabric of the untwisted section.  This has been the case in all of the socks I made in this fashion.  I would not recommend using twisted stitches in high-wear areas.

And now for the (partially) repaired sock:


Again, a giant version awaits your click.  This shows my progress about 2/3 of the way through.  It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t need to be.  I ended up working about 6 more rows of darning before I decided I had gone far enough.  I snipped off the ends close to the sock and didn’t bother to weave them in.  After a wash or two they’ll just sort of disappear.

The final verdict?  Ehh…mixed.  It looks ok, and it definitely thickened up the heel.  The socks will certainly last much longer now.  On the other hand, the process is fiddly and slow, and the darned spot feels just a tiny bit different under foot.  I’m thinking that may go away after a few wearings, in which case I’ll elevate the verdict to moderate success.  It just felt more like a chore than like something fun, and knitting is supposed to be fun.

I think in future I’ll hold a strand of the wooly nylon along with my yarn when I knit the heel.  The stuff I ordered came, and it seems like an interesting product.  It’s quite thin, but strong enough that I can’t break it no matter how hard I pull on it.  I may also try running it through the soles of my existing socks to see if it makes a difference.  I’ll report back as I experiment with it, but it seems promising so far.

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