Monday, September 21, 2009

Darn it!

Can you have such a thing as too many sock knitting books?
Clearly not, as I bought this one on the weekend!
When it first came out, I thought I could probably do without it...but then I had a look through a copy and realised I was wrong! So the instant I saw it at Sew and Tell in Berry (sorry, everyone, last copy...but they'll order more!) I pounced! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

But you know what has just struck me about my sock knitting books? None of them (as far as I can recall, I haven't checked again today) have any instructions about what to do about this:
Yes, that's right, it's a hole! In the heel of the first pair of socks I ever knit! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
I learnt so much from those socks - how to knit with what felt like a porcupine in my hands, the value of negative ease (these socks were knit with 8ply/dk yarn, using 4mm sticks - as per the pattern!), about ladders (which I still get - but which I know how to avoid), about trusting the heel turn instructions (I still remember my confusion and fear, and the valuable advice I read about heel turning: "just do it, it will work!") and the satisfaction which comes from knitting such a practical item which is well-loved by the wearer, husby. I think these are still his favourite socks.
As to the hole...well, lucky I have one of these:
Now I just have to work out how to use it. Any tips or links to tutorials gratefully received!


Bells said...

it was on my to do list to figure out how to use mine soon too!

I'll do a post about mine this week and see what we can come up with!

Jan said...

Place mushroom or whatever in sock and stretch loosely the holey part over it. In other words, not really tightly.

Buy hank of darning wool from Fossey's, (channelling my long gone grandmother here!) and chose strand closest in colour to your sock. Thread darning needle and run a line of running stitches all around the hole in the knitting that is still good. Place yarn across hole starting at one edge, take a small stitch on other side and repeat coming back across hole. Do this till there are many parallel strands covering the hole. Turn sock 90 degrees and weave needle under and over these threads to other side. Take small stitch and come back, alternating the weaving. Keep close threads. Finish off when hole is covered.

I can still hear my grandmother teaching me but it's something I haven't done for a while. Still, if Doni can give her Nan's scone recipe, here's another skill to revive. Incidentally, I do the same as she does for scones, right down to the teatowel and colander.

Make sure the wool you choose matches the thickness of sock or you will have a lumpy darn which will hurt.

If the hole is small, you can try a new skill, needlefelting over it.

Fossey's was a small sort of department store, mostly in country towns but darning wool came in small skeins of related colours, like embroidery thread. One lot was darks and greys, another group had reds/greens etc in it.

When all is finished, sit back and admire and be glad a large amount of sockwool now is longer wearing than grandma's generation had.

Darning instructions are on the net at various sites. I think one is at Frugalhaus.

Paisley said...

What Jan said above is pretty much how I darn my socks. The only thing I would add is that I darn socks while they're inside out. This always seems to end up being a bit neater.
Also, instead of looking for darning wool at Fosseys (or Target Country as they all got re-badged to), I keep an old coffee jar full of snippets of sock yarn from when I originally knit them - anything that's about 30cm or longer gets kept for such needful occasions as holes-in-socks-requiring-darning.

dr k said...

i am an advoate of the yarn harlot method of darning socks myself, which is hold them over a garbage bin, say darn it and drop them in. i still am not entirely clear on what the mushroom is either. bells? and you know i nearly tackled you for that book....

Jan said...

Dr K. The mushroom allows a bit of tension so the hole can be seen and is easily fixed. I've seen darning eggs as well and my Mum had a spotty clam shell about as big as a fist for the same purpose.

MadMad said...

Those were your first?! But I remember them! Wow. I, too, have a couple pair of socks with holes in the bottom of the heel awaiting repairs... since last winter! It's just there are so many new things to knit, that re-doing an old one takes some coaxing. Still, though, winter is coming and maybe that will be incentive enough. I'll be curious to see how you end up doing it, too!

Caffeine Girl said...

I've wondered when I'll feel that I need to darn a beloved hand-knit sock. Jan's instructions are wonderful, but I'm such a lousy seamstress that I'm hoping none of my socks will develop holes.

Please let us know how the darning goes!

sue said...

I have to say that I own about 6 of those books you have up there so perhaps I have a problem with sock knitting books too! I am actually knitting the 2nd to a pair that I started at least a year ago now, luckily I hadnt done the foot part as my daughter has grown quite a bit in the last year. Happy darning!

Sarah said...

Oh I love the darning mushroom - coupled with the excellent instructions above I can see those socks are going to make it through this emergency just fine!

kgirl said...

too many sock books? you are seriously joking, right??


and the yarn mushie - just make a "web" (ie warp and weft) then weave between to mend the gap, I think? good luck!

2paw said...

I found a video on The YouTube that demonstrated what to do ages ago. Am no help in finding it now though. I remember those socks too, very sad about the hole.
One can never have too many books!!!! It's the Law.

Alwen said...

I never darn holes - I just take some yarn and graft/Kitchener over the thin spots.

Now where did I see really good diagrams for doing that? It was either Mary Thomas or Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework!

Tracey Carsto said...

You can never have too many sock books, (says the woman who has all of the same books as you). :)

I used the following url to teach myself how to darn socks:

Hope that helps. :)

Kate said...

That thing looks like some kind of torture device! Or maybe like a predecessor to the brass knuckles.

stitchbliss said...

I like this video on u tube

Momo4ever.Com said...

What is that mushroom thingy?? Hehehe. I've knitted quite a few pairs of socks over the years and I'm never used to knitting with dpns. They're just too complicated for me!!! :)

Donna Lee said...

At one time, I had a darning egg which is used the same way. You stretch the holey part of the sock over it and then repair the hole (Jan did a good description). You can also use a lightbulb in a pinch but it has to be an old fashioned one, not these power saver swirly ones.

TinkingBell said...

I use the remains of the sock yarn I knitted it from - so don't use all your leftovers making mitred squares for blankets!

But yes - follow the instructions above.

The first socks I ever knitted (out of bright yellow patonyle gave up the ghost a while back - but there was more darn than heel by then - I keeping them to make sock monsters from!

knitting sprouts said...

aren't they great instructions? I remember visiting my Auntie who worked at Fosseys in Parkes as a 17 year old!

amy said...

Personally, I think I'd darn my socks by sending them to Jan. I have soooooo many pairs of holey socks. Last winter was so cold, and I had wool socks on everyday. I walked through way too many pairs. And like MadMad, repairing them holds no appeal when there are so many other thing to knit, and, in my case, so little crafting time!! On the other hand (foot?), I am woefully short on wool socks for this winter.

Anonymous said...

I have several pairs of socks needing attention, too, but mine suffer more in the toe area than the heel, which means it's easier to just rip back a little way and reknit the toe (I knew there was a reason why I switched allegiance to the Top-Down team!).

As for darning, I found this video tutorial just yesterday - serendipitous, what?

That darning mushie looks suspiciously like my own Spinning Woodie one.

Anonymous said...

And when you have the hole nicely centred over the mushroom, not too stretched, wrap a (wide) rubber band around the sock and 'neck' of the mushroom. Saves the left hand from getting cramps. Can you tell I have darned a LOT of socks in my time?

I have three mushrooms, two of them family antiques, the new one Huon Pine (drool!).

If you have trouble finding darning yarn, let me know your snail mail addy, and I will send you some of my jealously-hoarded stock - the sock is a dark grey, is it not?

Gae, in Callala Bay

kim said...

I admire how you and Bells are willing to tackle darning. I would just consider the item done for. I look forward to seeing how you solve this one.