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How to Darn a Sock

Darning socks is something I’ve done since I was a kid.  This was yet another weird thing I did that my mother thought was hilarious.

I understand there aren’t many of you that want to know how to darn a sock, but if you have a favourite pair and particularly long toenails, it’s something that might interest you.

Most of the sock darning in this household is done on my boyfriend’s socks.  He has an unexplainable attachment to his favourite socks.  They’re like blankies for his feet.

So in an effort to get even closer to my childhood dream of becoming a scullery maid, I darn his socks.

You’ll need:

Thread in a colour similar to the sock

A tennis ball, light bulb or any other round object

A needle

A Sock with a hole in it

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Place your sock over a tennis ball or lightbulb

(you can also just stick your hand inside the sock if you prefer)

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Thread your needle

(I am using white thread just to make it easier for you to see what I’m doing in the pictures)


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Tie a knot in the end of your thread then insert needle on the inside of sock.

(this way your knot will be on the inside of the sock)

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Pull your thread through, leaving the knot on the inside of the sock.

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With your needle, pick up one single stitch at the edge of the right side of your hole.


 

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Pull your thread all the way through, without pulling it tight.

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Insert your needle under a single thread to the left of the hole.

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Pull your thread through without pulling it tight.  You’re creating a criss cross pattern on TOP of the sock.


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Continue this pattern moving from left to right.

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Once you get to the top of the hole, gradually move your stitches closer together.

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Gently start to pull the thread.  This will close up the hole.


 


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Insert needle back into the spot it last came out, picking up a thread or two.

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Pull the thread almost all the way through, leaving a small loop at the end.

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Bring your needle back around and stick it  into the loop.

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Pull the thread tight to create a knot.

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Insert your needle at the top of the repair and let it come out about halfway down.

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Pull the thread all the way through.

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Snip the tail end of the thread off close to the sock with scissors.

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Done!

(remember you can see the seam on this sock because I used white thread to make it easier for you to see … use the appropriate coloured thread and it’ll be invisible)

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Now here’s the funny part.  These socks are so worn out … I’ve decided to finally chuck ‘em.  By the time you read this post, they’ll be gone.

Speaking of which, I just remembered it’s garbage night. A scullery maid’s work is never done. Darn it.


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69 Comments | Filed Under: Everything Else |

69 Responses to How to Darn a Sock

  1. Shannon says:

    I fixed my fiance’s boxer briefs this way a couple of weeks ago. The hole was right in the crack region & I noticed yesterday morning now it kind of looks like he has a girly pinch pleat on his bum like a pair of women’s panties.

    I should have just chucked them. When I mentioned that they looked like panties now he pulled them up as high as they would go & walked abound on tippy toes singing material girl for 15 minutes.

    I am never fixing anything for him again.

    • Karen says:

      That Material Girl thing made me laugh out loud!

      • Shannon says:

        I am glad someone got a laugh out of it. He only stopped when I threatened to tell his mother. I can never un-see it.

        • DzynByJules says:

          That is sooooo funny! A pucker-pantie! My husband would so totally do what yours did! I can just picture it now! Thanks Shannon, I can’t get those lyrics out of my head now, nor the image of a full-frontal wedgie!!
          Karen, I didn’t know there was an art to darning socks, but you’ve mastered it! Even using white thread, it’s nearly invisible. You even make darning socks cool! {{{skipping off to find hubby’s blown out boxers while humming ~~~MATERIAL~~~}}}
          Jules
          P.S. (Glad you liked my Beer Ottoman!)

        • ben franklin says:

          Sounds like you two got a marriage made in heaven alright. Are you still together or did he do something else supid and you just jumped out of the car and ran? Ha ha

      • Patricia says:

        Wiping tears from my eyes, head back and hands on my tum! Oh, this is why we stay married. Thanks for the morning laugh, now I need headache relief. :)

    • walt says:

      LOL!!!!!!! TO FUNNY. I WOULD DO THE SAME THING!!!!!! If my wife would sew anything. Thanks for teaching me how to cook and sew Granny R.I.P.

  2. ann says:

    I thought I was the only one! not only am I a darner….I have an ancient wooden tool that is intended to act as the tennis ball to support the material whilst one darns. Unlike you, however, my life goal has never been to be a scullery maid – I’m Spinster all the way.

    The last time I had my business cards made up, I tried to get an additional set with an image of a rocking chair, my name beneath it and the words “Spinster” below that – but the woman in the shop would NOT do it for me! she said it would be unlucky…..little did she know that Spinster ship had already sailed – I own an ancient wooden darning tool for Christ’s sake…..

  3. JennyM says:

    “Darn it.” Ha!

  4. amyjk says:

    did someone teach you how to do this or did you just figure it out? and what about the loose thread ends of the sock that started the hole in the first place– how do you keep it from continuing to unravel in spite of the open area you closed?

    • Karen says:

      Amy – My mother taught me how to sew, but this particular method is something I learned while knitting. This is the method used to join sweater pieces together. (sleeve to body, sewing sleeve together etc.) It’s almost impossible to find the dropped thread in a sock. I’ve darned a lot of socks and I’ve never had a problem with the socks continuing to run after I’ve fixed them. You may *however* end up with another hole somewhere else down the road!

  5. Liz says:

    My husband is so picky and so particular about his socks that I have to make sure the first knot is on the outside of the sock. He can’t stand to feel the tiniest rough spot on the inside of his sock. But my husband also has “Left footed and right footed socks”. He can hold a sock up and tell you if it’s a left or right footed sock. He said you must remain consistant with which foot the sock goes on or it stretches out weird. Can you say OCD? For his birthday, his sister sent him two pairs of I believe it was Nike socks that had L and R sewn onto the socks so he would always know which foot they went on and so he could easily match up a pair of socks.

    • Karen says:

      Liz! I just used a regular rolled knot on the inside of the sock so it’s very tiny. But if your boyfriend is truly insane, take a look at Wendi’s video on how to knot thread without using a knot! The video’s a bit long because she’s just learning imovie, but the embroidery technique for invisible knots is good! http://modernmaam.wordpress.com/?s=knotless

  6. mary says:

    um, I used to darn woolen socks… there was more of a weave to the darning, though… I haven’t darned a sock in quite a while now. Do you know of Gold Toes? I found them on a trip to Buffalo and I love them… having gone through about a billion pairs of socks in my life, these are a life saver!!!

    • Pam'a says:

      Seconded. Gold Toe socks are the Holy Grail of sockdom! (Well, except maybe Smart Wool. That’s all the hubby will wear since he got a pair a few Christmases ago.)

      But I still favor Gold Toes. They last like iron, and NEVER fall down.

  7. sera says:

    This is great because my husband has all but completely switched to wool socks, even in the summer. He never gets athlete’s foot anymore – hooray! But those Smart Wool socks are darn (!) expensive. I would hate to throw them out just because of a little hole. My step-dad has also been known to darn his socks and then do a little reweaving so that the thin spots thicken up. Of course he does this with $1 polyester walmart socks but whatever floats his boat.

  8. Kate says:

    Hey Ann,

    My mother has one of those wooden tools — it’s called a darning egg — and she tried her hardest to teach me to darn socks, but I was too intrigued by the darning egg to pay any attention to the stitching lesson.

  9. Kate S says:

    Darn it.
    heh
    You make me laugh Karen,

    -Kate

  10. giggle says:

    Oh m gosh, I am still laughing over this especially the first comment from Shannon. as my day proceeds I find myself giggling all over again. I needed this in my life.
    I am so glad I got tuned into you! Go gal go!

  11. nicole says:

    thank you for this, while living in finland for the past four years i seem to be running out of socks. they go quick since no shoes are allowed in the house and when you go visit family friends you dont want to wear a pair of your favorite socks with a hole :P
    kiittos :)

  12. Zina says:

    Ah, the darning of the socks. A true darn involves taking tiny little stitches all around the hole to stabilize it, and then running threads as if warping a loom and then weaving a new fabric through it, which is when you *really* need the darning egg or mushroom, so you can tension the new fabric correctly. You can even buy darning yarn specifically made for darning socks.

    http://www.hjsstudio.com/darn.html

    Personally, i think it’s easier just to buy or knit new socks…

    • Karen says:

      Hah! O.K. Even I wouldn’t go to that much effort to darn my boyfriend’s socks. I’ve done similar work on other fabrics but … not a sock. Nope. Not gonna do it. Good technique though!

      • Zina says:

        Me neither. I was going to learn to knit socks, but ran out of steam. I even bought all kinds of supplies for knitting socks. Then realized it all sounded awfully…titchy. Fussy. And it was just socks, you know?

        They tell me that there’s nothing that’s quite as comfortable as a sock made just for your foot, though. So someday I might do a pair just to have done a pair.

        Prolly I won’t ever darn them, though.

        • Amy says:

          The thing about the weaving technique is that is prevents the “pinching” mentioned above. Because you’re basically weaving a tiny patch of new material over the old, which replaces the worn-away fabric. The existing fabric doesn’t have to stretch to make up for the lack of area. This also works for socks that have gotten thin but haven’t reached the point of holes.. you know what I mean, it looks like a net. Darning can replace the whole area.

          The technique you describe, as some people have noted, is not technically darning, it’s just… mending. However, I have had good luck– especially with stretch socks — combining the two techniques. You stablize the hole by stitching around it, do the first weave like you show, and draw it snug but not enough to warp the knit of the rest of the fabric. Then you weave across the new threads, and if I am full of zeal I also go over it diagonally.

          That usually covers one half-hour TV show.

    • Mark Maguire says:

      Interesting – Yes I learnt to darn socks as a child. It did indeed involve using a darning mushroom (it had a a handle which was more of a nuisance, so it was used without handle).
      The task involved stabilising the hole if necessary, but then building a warp and weave to fill the hole, AND to reinforce thin areas such as that visible to the lower right of Karen’s repair. It is much better to catch the hole before any threads actually break – so the repair is a ‘reinforcing weave’.
      Tend to agree – socks are so cheap now its not worth darning them, plus modern socks are so much more durable and seem to suddenly wear out all over.
      Cardigan/jumpers/jerseys on the other hand, are expensive. I still darn holes in these – especially the elbows

  13. Teresa says:

    Makes me want to clip my toenails.

  14. Leslie says:

    I wish I would have read this before I threw out my favorite pair of grey knee socks.

  15. Ryan says:

    I’ve always loved darning socks too! It makes me feel very Little House on the Prairie. My fiance is always getting holes in his socks AND he never buys new clothes! I also enjoy patching his jeans in a very sloppy way so it looks like they’re patched. He doesn’t mind/notice that I’m slowly turning him into one of my rag dolls. We’re a match made in heaven.

  16. emily says:

    Crap! I have been doing a REALLY bad job of this for so long. I put some woollen cardigans in the dryer to try shrinking them a size. They came out with gaping holes in them, I sewed them, badly.
    I might have to try again, with the instructions this time.

  17. Paige P. says:

    Loved reading all your posts. Just before finding this, my husband came in with a pitiful look on his face holding a sock with two hands saying, “I have a hole in my sock!” Whining like a little child. But the Pucker Panties story did make me laugh.

  18. ian michael says:

    this is great, since my dog loves my socks and try as i can to keep them out of her reach, i’m guaranteed to find holes in my socks more often throughout my life. and i’m cheap, so i’d rather fix them!

  19. Amy says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Nice to see how others darn. & I do use the same darning wooden tool my mother used when she was a girl : )

  20. Catherine says:

    Thanks! Just fixed my daughter’s tights! I am sure I will use this easy and very effective technique again soon!

  21. Catherine says:

    Thanks! I just mended my daughter’s tights. . .i have a feeling I will be using this easy and effective technique again soon!

  22. Denise Leavens says:

    Thank you so much, Karen. I couldn’t clip my toenail on my broken toe for a week. Now that it is sock season, I am getting a hole in my favorite socks. I just finished my first darned sock and I am thrilled! I will now be searching the local vintage stores for a wooden darning egg (that I can afford.)

  23. Lauri says:

    Thanks for this info. Do you know how to replace a worn out heel?

    • Karen says:

      Lauri – I think once the entire heel is gone it might be time for a new sock. :( Fixing a heel properly would be a huge amount of work. Basically you’d need to reknit or reweave new fabric into the sock. My best suggestion is to find a pair with a worn out toe but good heel, and wear them both at the same time. ;) ~ karen!

  24. Sue R. says:

    I knew there must be a very specific trick to it. This is just what I was looking for and it worked great! Thanks!

  25. Naomi says:

    Thanks for this post. I just bought a pair of leggings and got a hole in the toe the first time I wore them. Rather than chuck them, I googled how to darn socks, and found this fantastic blog! Great concept – I’ll be back often.

    Oh, and I think I remember seeing an article about this in the Spectator. If that was you, we live in the same town. :)

  26. Beth says:

    No need to search vintage stores for a darning egg. The first photo on Google’s images for maracas looks exactly like my Grandma Lillian’s regular size -and also a smaller size- darning egg. The smooth, rounded shape allows you to hold your work with an absence of tension on the sock, ie, not distorting the hole, while you are creating new material with the weaving technique described by Zina above. Personally, I would end up catching the fuzz of a tennis ball with my needle.

  27. Jim Zevely says:

    This is the best “how to” description I’ve ever seen. Good description and good photos. I can do this! Saving the very dear English moreno wool socks I bought. Should have gone to Jos. Bank for tougher stuff. Thanks to you I can keep the weaklings going for a bit longer. And I’ll pay more attention to my toe nails. Without care they punch through REI hiking socks given enough disrespect.

    • Karen says:

      Jim – Glad to be of help. I just looked down at my socks tonight at saw a toenail poking through. :( Cheap socks though. Have you ever had cashmere socks? They’re a thing of beauty. ~ karen!

  28. Jim says:

    Men, clipping your toenails regularly = less darning for your other half. I just threw away a pair of his socks that were more darning than sock.

  29. Pete says:

    A friend recommended an older type light bulb instead of the wooden egg. Worked great. Thanks for the technique

  30. Mark says:

    I just finished two pairs I have been without for at least 6 months. I have done small sewing repairs in the past but was putting this off because I was intimidated just with the thought of it and huge lump in my socks. This is by far the best instruction on how to darn. Now I can wait to do my washing for two more days. Yeah!

  31. Elaine says:

    Thanks for the instructions – I just darned two socks using a Meyer lemon as my darning egg (we have a lemon tree and I recently harvested a bucketful). Now my socks are fixed and they smell nice too ;-)

  32. Edward says:

    I used a baseball, but regardless of the sphere, your image tutorial helped. I also darned two holes in some merino wool socks. Thank you!

  33. MTM says:

    Greetings!

    I spent big money on MILSPEC Tropical Socks, because of “foot rot” issues that defy medical treatment, and there was no way in hell I was going to let them die an early death… For the life of me, I couldn’t find a damn tennis ball, but found three Baseballs at the Park. One came home. It now resides in my sock drawer.
    THANK YOU for your simple instructions!!

    MTM

  34. deb says:

    would any of you consider doing this a business? know anywhere I can send mine?…a good pair of socks are expensive, I hike a lot and the smart wool? heels die in a season but the socks are great…I just did my laundry and could send 6 pairs…post it on the hiking sites (I will) and pinterest…we pay to have our laundry done, shirts ironed, oil changed, and knives sharpened….don’t undersell yourself…ask for a FEDEX pre-paid return label, set up with PayPal, do a quick good looking funny website….any leads would love them, thanks

  35. Beverly says:

    A small girl I used a ‘darner ‘- my mother taught me – I enjoyed this task – darned 7 siblings socks and my own – It was made of wood -egg shape with wooden handle – I miss it very much – don’t know where to find one these days -

  36. Julia Shawhan says:

    I just fixed my brand new Dr. Who sock, which I received for Mother’s Day and promptly tore a hole in. Neither cheap nor easy to replace! Thanks for the very clear photos. And I got to use this darning egg that I have had as a knicknack for many years!

  37. Dean says:

    Hmmm… I wonder if I can repair my thermal undies the same way.. these things are really expensive and I have torn the arse out. I am all for recycling things and almost never throw anything out. I prefer to try to repair something before I bin it..

  38. Pingback: Darning socks in a culture of waste | The New Authors Fellowship

  39. Barry says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for your easy to understand instructions and pics and for sharing. I just repaired a hole in my daughters favourite pj pants!

    Kind regards
    Barry

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