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When Darning isn't Enough

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You know your husband loves his socks when he wears them a lot and he doesn't notice that they have suffered an incredible trauma.  Of course, you also know you are a crazy sock knitter, when you find yourself looking at your husband's socks at the dinner table, thinking that one of his socks looks different from the other and then asking him to show you the bottom of his feet and finally demanding that he remove his sock immediately while you consider repair options.

20081116_SockRepair1.jpgThis is the toe of one of John's "Mudslide" socks.  These socks are made of STR Heavyweight, and when it gets cold, John reaches for these socks first (at least that is what he tells me... but he is a wise man and he has learned to flatter his sock knitter every now and again if he wants new socks),  I spent a while evaluating that hole and decided it was just too far gone for simple darning.  More drastic measures would have to be taken to repair this pair of over loved foot warmers.

The first thing I did was determine the region over which the weak yarn was located.  Around the edges of the hole, there was significant wear, so I decided I would make sure that my replacement job repaired as much damage as possible.  After I identified what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to go, I put a set of needles in the first row of stitches that I wanted to keep below the hole.

20081116_SockRepair2.jpgThen I repeated the process above the hole and worn area.  If you pick up the right hand side of the "V" in the knit stitch, you'll get the stitches seated correctly on the needles.

Since there was already a hole, I didn't worry about snipping yarn, I just unravelled from the hole down to the bottom needles and up to the top needles.

20081116_SockRepair3.jpgThis left the toe on the top needles and the rest of the sock topped by the needles that had been below the hole.   I joined some yarn I had remaining from the project (this is the reason that it is always good to keep a little yarn in reserve if you can) and knit back the rows that I had taken out.  When I got to the point where I needed to join the toe, I grafted the toe onto the rest of the sock using Kitchener Stitch.  What you see here is the sock just before I started grafting.

20081116_SockRepair4.jpgI didn't photograph the grafting part (if you'd like grafting instructions there are good instructions in both Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook and the Vogue Knitting book as well as the Knitter's Companion) but this picture shows the result of my labor.  The only really obvious sign of the repair work is that the new yarn is a bit more vivid than the old yarn, which is not surprising given that these socks have been through the wash quite a few times.

20081116_SockRepair5.jpgThe color (and pooling) differences are a bit more obvious when you see the whole sock.  Fortunately, since the repair is in the toe, and it wasn't too obvious, it won't be noticeable to the "sock police" who apparently inspect men's socks for their uniform drabness and conformity to a very limited set of colors, textures and styles.   And because of that, it was happily accepted back into John's sock drawer, along with its mate.  The mate will likely need a similar repair in the future (hopefully I have enough left over yarn for that when it happens) but for now they can be pressed back into foot warming service as Chicago proceeds to welcome the arrival of winter.

I know some folks don't bother with sock repair, and normally I'm in that category, but in this case, it was definitely easier to repair than to knit a whole new pair of socks.  And it always makes me happy to see John smile when he knows I've done something special for him to help him hold onto something in his warddrobe that he really likes.

What we do for our menfolk and their beloved socks...

Excellent job! So satisfying to see the socks rstored to their former glory too. :-)

I would NEVER have thought of repairing socks that way. HOW smart!!! BTW, Lucy Neatby has some very helpful video footage and descriptions of the infamous Kitchener Grafting process!
Glad your hubby has happy feet.

That's a great idea. I just darned some holes in my hubby's cascade 220 house socks, but this would have worked better!

I don't think I could handle darning a heel, but yeah that was a nice fixing job you did, and I think that sort of thing always feels like a nice accomplishment.

In fact, I did feel very good about making something old new again and giving John back something that he enjoyed. My husband definitely likes the "old friends" in his wardrobe.

I don't usually mend socks, but if the husband let me knit some for him, I bet I would start! Man-sized socks are usually too boring and too large for me to want to knit again. :)

Amen to that, Sister! John is a very worthy and appreciative recipient, but once I'm done with a pair, I rarely want to knit the whole darn thing again -- and he doesn't even have really big feet!

Wow, you are a good woman. I probably would've thrown those out or something. I need to remember this post the next time we wear through our handknit socks.

Throwing out would have meant knitting another pair of big socks (and it would have hurt me to discard the second sock that is still in good shape). The nice thing about this pair of socks is that it was knit with relatively big yarn, so the repair work took me a couple of hours. Definitely much less time than it would to knit a new pair.

That said, the fact that he wears these all the time, made it clear that he needs to have a few more pairs to throw into his rotation to help ease the stress on this poor pair!

Wow. That was an amazing repair job. I'm not sure I would have thought of that. It's sort of the ultimate in steeking, isn't it?

Easier, I think, since there's no sewing required and no free yarn ends to worry about!

That's a good idea. I have a pair of my hubby's socks from more than a year ago waiting for me to do the repair.

I was not inclined to repair them, but unwilling to just throw them out because he let the kitty snag them while he was wearing them. He's a bit more careful with his knits now, so it is a good time to do the repair!

Chuckle. The discovery of this hole did prompt a somewhat long discussion on why hand knit socks earned a bit more respect and early inspection than cotton store socks (at least if he wanted them to last and to get more of them). While it's hard for me to knit him anything else, he is very receptive and appreciative of socks, so I'm willing to do repair work even if he doesn't notice right away because it's clear to me that the socks are being "loved to death" rather than abused.

I've had some socks that have been sitting in a basket for literally years waiting to be repaired. Maybe I'll give your repair method a try since I actually like doing Kitchener from some odd reason. It would be very satisfying to get those mended.

ah yes, the sock police are apparently very good at tracking down any man who detours from uniform drabness. nice work on the repair.

I have had a long running battle with these sock police. The other reason that these socks were so important to repair is that they were the first time that the sock police relented just enough to let John have some noticeable "striping" in his socks.

Great job. I love fixing complicated knitting disasters.

Nice Job! I'm going to have to keep that in mind. I recently took a Cat Bordhi workshop, and she mentioned knitting twisted stitches where the socks where out for you the most, because they are more durable. I thought that was genius.

What a clever idea. I will have to add that to the list of things I try for John's next pair of socks!

Great tip.

And thanks, Theresa, for a great little tutorial.

Very nicely done.

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