The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Learning how to darn

Darned socks

"You won't run around in socked feet once you have to darn your own," predicted the friend of the family who was teaching the high-school me to sew.  But I never did have to darn my own socks because I prefer to go barefoot most of the time, which makes socks last ages.

Darning water bottle

But I finally wore big holes in the heels of the three pairs of soft, warm socks I've been wearing nonstop for the last two years, and I wasn't willing to let them go.  Time to learn to darn, darn it!


This isn't a darning tutorial --- if you want an excellent one, watch this video.  But I was happy to find that darning isn't rocket science.  I turned a sock inside out, slid it over my water bottle (since the darning egg is being used as a nest egg in the chicken coop), threaded a thick needle with thin yarn (thanks, Mom!), and got to work.  The idea seems to be to create a woven pattern across the hole (or incipient hole), so you make running stitches in one direction, then turn the sock ninety degrees and repeat in the other direction.  (That video will make my scanty description make much more sense.)  All told, it took about half an hour per sock to make the hole go away.

Darned heel

The test came when I donned my socks and took them for a walk.  Would the heel feel lumpy and rub?  Nope, in fact the darned area felt warm and perfect, just like the heel of a sock should.  Success!  Two pairs down and one to go....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Cool! I've always wanted to learn to darn, and you make it sound simple. I'm bookmarking this so I can watch the tutorial the next time a beloved sock needs repair. :-)
Comment by Michelle Sun Jan 5 09:48:07 2014
This reminds me of my Granny! On top of getting nearly all her clothes from thrift stores and yard sales, she'd also extend the life of them with repairs such as these. I don't believe a more frugal woman ever drew breath. Thanks for the link to the tutorial!
Comment by Marc M Sun Jan 5 17:06:26 2014
Well, now I have to learn to darn. It's been lingering in the back of my mind for years. And I will totally use the water bottle in the sock.
Comment by Brandy Mon Jan 6 06:50:22 2014

Glad to tweak people's interest!

Brandy --- I was actually just thinking of you in relation to this post this morning. "I really should write an ebook about basic mending techniques," I thought, "But I'd want to team up with someone who's more of a seamstress than I am, like Brandy."

If you do use the water bottle, don't do what I did and use it full, then accidentally unscrew the lid partway through....

Comment by anna Mon Jan 6 11:09:47 2014
I'm going to have to try this on some socks. I never blow mine out but some one else always does... Good project for this frigid weather.
Comment by Andrea Mon Jan 6 15:01:54 2014
Ha! I have these exact same socks and wear them constantly too. I am trying to be better about not running around in sock feet.... But if I do wear a hole, the tutorial should be a good place to start.
Comment by Deb Tue Jan 7 01:50:28 2014

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