Darn it all

Winter sock drawer

I finally ran out of both clean wool socks and clean wool sweaters yesterday and did a long-overdue load of wool. I wash all my woolens in the machine. I use the wool cycle and cold water with regular detergent and extra fabric softener, and no spin, then I run a separate extra-fast drain and spin cycle. The gentle wool cycle spin is just too weak to get all the water out. Then I tumble socks, long underwear and most store-bought sweaters on extra low, and dry my hand-knit sweaters and accessories flat.

When I did laundry yesterday, I discovered I had over 3 dozen pair of wool socks! Since I had nearly every sock I own in the load, I went ahead and did a little annual inspection (I say annual, but this is the first time I’ve done it–but it seems like a good annual plan, don’t you think?). I pulled out all of the pairs with worn spots or holes (the store-bought socks tend to wear down to the nylon in the blend so they look like wool socks with little spots of pantyhose here and there) to darn later. My sock drawer has all the sound pairs, and the holey rejects went into a big bowl.

Then I spent 20 minutes on etsy dithering over a darning egg. Last time I darned socks, I used the bottom of the remote control as an egg, but I kept accidentally changing channels. When I saw that there were many darners on offer on etsy for under $10 shipped, I decided to invest in a proper tool. I almost selected a set of 2 (one dark for light socks and one light for dark socks) or a great double-sided plastic one, but I finally settled on this one because 1) I really liked its shape and the wood grain on the underside and 2) I’m a bull in a china shop & I don’t trust myself with plastic and 3) it was cheap, and I’m really minding my pennies.

Here are some darners from etsy, most of them under $10 (plus one gorgeous pricier one). [Note: this is from my etsy favorites list, so if you’re looking at this in the future, it may not be darners anymore.] If you search etsy, here’s a good search. It’s “darner -dragonfly -pottery” (just darners brings up a lot of darner dragonfly stuff and pottery), with category exclusions removed (if you do a fresh search from the etsy home page, don’t forget to check the vintage & supplies options, where the bargains are–the default is handmade).

I’m going to make up a little darning tutorial in February, trying out a could of different methods from an old book I have. Here’s a method I tried out from memory a couple weeks ago, but when I write the tutorial, I’ll do it up properly. Even from memory (not quite right–sort of a hybrid between a woven darn and this), it was a pretty satisfying, attractive darn.

Old-fashioned darning method

7 Replies to “Darn it all”

  1. Love your blog – and your life. We yearned for a nontraditional living situation, but never actually pulled it off. Now we’re in our 60’s and live on our farm.

    Anyway, have you thought about using some wool fiber and needle felting it in the holes to fill them in with no darning? I have a friend that did this and it worked great for her.

  2. Oh, a darning tutorial would be very much appreciated. I am sorry to say that I’ve only ever learned a woven darn, and I’ve been hesitant to use it on my ever growing pile of holey and handmade socks.

    Concerning darners, I’ve always used a spent light bulb. You just have to make sure you don’t sit on it. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

  3. I recognize one of your socks as the same yarn I used for a sock I made recent and it made me feel cool :D Do you wash your 100% wool in the washing machine? I always hand wash because I’m afraid of the felting boogey man.

  4. I know how to darn – and I actually do it from time to time – but I had never heard of a darning egg until now. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I do seem to remember something resembling the mushroom shaped thingy (in the middle on the right) but had completely escaped me until I saw the pictures on your lovely blog.

  5. The remote control used to by my choice for “re-jiggering” (aka adjusting) the kitchener stitch on my socks. The shape is great but accidental channel changing is a problem.

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