Making do – Darning socks

This is a story about a pair of socks, hand knitted by me (of course), from hand spun alpaca and sheep wool (of course), but beyond that they have a story. When I was working at the first school I ever worked at, we had a tradition of taking the students to the local agricultural show as an excursion every year. Involving an hour on a bus and a windy trip up the mountains to the local population centre (and back at the end of the day). Every year I indulged myself with a little bag of alpaca fleece to spin from the stall at the show while the kids toured the petting zoo. One year they were watching a demonstration of merino shearing while I snuck off to get my little bag of softness for the year and when I got back, they had somehow talked the shearer into giving them a bag of the finest merino shoulder fleece I have ever seen. They presented this bag to me as a present and I was so touched at the thoughtfulness of children in general (and those ones in particular). So I went home with a bag of chocolate brown alpaca and a bag of pure white merino to spin that year as well as a warm glow of thankfulness.

That yarn became my spotted quoll socks in very short order and I have enjoyed wearing them ever since (for about 8 years so far). They have recently developed a very large hole, due to being chewed by a puppy I suspect (not mentioning any names here… Melvin). So I briefly considered retiring them to the compost, then decided to try my hand at darning…

I found this great tutorial and my visible mending adventure begins.

I need something to stretch the sock over to hold everything taunt and flat for darning. Usually people use a darning mushroom or egg, but I found a little plastic container that should fit inside the sock.

The container fit inside the sock and I put an elastic band around it to hold the sock tight. Then I found a darning needle (they have a flat bit at the pointy end and are usually fairly large) and some silk yarn. I decided against trying to match the wool as that wool is long gone and I want to be able to see what I have done when I have finished.

To begin with I made running stitches around the hole, which was very large, in a spiral pattern to stabilise the fabric before I began to actually darn.

Then I began to go backwards and forwards over the hole making a little stitch at each side of the hole to form a kind of warp I could weave a weft through.

Finally I wove backwards and forwards through the warp I created, anchored the weft with a stitch at each side each time I wove over and under the warp.

I kept doing this until there was a dense piece of fabric over the hole and anchored to the fabric of the sock. I finished off by turning the sock inside out and weaving the ends in around the inside of the hole.

It looks obvious, but it forms part of the story of these socks. These socks that remind me that kindness and generosity are part of us, part of what makes us human. Doing things to make others happy comes naturally to us all, and is something that should be encouraged and guided, these socks remind me of that (and they remind me not to leave my socks where puppies can reach them).

I wonder what other things I can mend?

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