My on going quest for indestructible socks

So I really do mean it when I say I mend my socks.

Every time I take them off, I check for thin spots.  If there’s just a little thin spot, I’ll wash them first and then mend them.  If there’s an actual hole, I’ll fix them before I wash them because washing them with a hole can make the hole bigger (which is maybe gross? but whatever…it’s just socks…you can wash your hands after).

I strongly prefer catching it while it’s just a thin spot because then you can just duplicate stitch over it.  (This is the bit where I am extremely mean and say that if you want info on exactly how to do that, your best bet is going to be to google ‘duplicate stitch’ and you’ll find zillions of tutorials on it…I’m totally just showing off ‘hey, I mended these’ not at all doing ‘hey, here is step by step exactly how you do it’ because it is not that sort of week, and other folks have already done that way better than I ever will.)

A few minutes work and it’s all better.  I have socks that are nine years old and still going strong, but an awful lot of them have the odd patch here and there.  Totally worth it to keep them in the rotation for another few years.

So what do you think…will you mend yours?  Or would you rather just knit a new pair?

Darn

So The Boy knocked on my office door, brow furrowed, injured socks in hand.  Now these socks are old…like nearly ten years old.  And they’ve already been mended once.  But they are still in surprisingly good shape, and I’d much rather darn them than knit a whole new pair.  So I fixed them.

For a hole like this I need a couple of locking stitch markers (I use these, love them to bits) and a tiny crochet hook (I have this set, which comes in handy more than you might think for someone who doesn’t crochet) and some yarn (the orange shade from a Frabjulous Fibers color morph on Cheshire Cat in the Yellow to Fuchsia colorway…I had a bit leftover from the cover piece from Curls 3 and it’s what I used on the previous mend so I knew it was a good match), and a darning needle.

I always start by grabbing any dangling stitches and securing them with a locking stitch marker (one per stitch) to keep things from getting any worse while I work (you can see another example of that here).  In this case, there were three that needed to be held in place.

Then, one by one, I use the crochet hook to work those stitches as far back in as much as I can (this is very much like running a dropped stitch back up as you knit).  It won’t fix everything, but it is a good start.

Then I pull off a length of yarn and start duplicate stitching.  I like to make sure I am at least two full rows below the hole and two full stitches to either side of the hole (more is fine, especially if the fabric is thin).  I just leave the stitch markers in place as I work as they help me rebuild the missing fabric.  I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, because every repair is a little different.  But with practice, you get a feel for how the yarn travels and you can repair fairly large areas of missing fabric (this is a tiny bit of missing fabric, like two stitches).

There it is all done!  It’s not invisible, but it will be a bit less noticeable after this is washed and worn a few more times.

And just in case you’re curious, here’s how the mend from over a year ago is holding up.

Totally worth the time to fix it!

Mending

So for a good solid year after I broke my leg, I either had to wear this oh-so-stylish compression brace or my ankle was puffy enough that knit socks were tricky to wear.  Which is Something Of A Disappointment if, say, you have a giant basket of hand knit socks that you love dearly and wear constantly.

But…just lately…the ankle has started behaving itself, and I’m back in my socks.  These are particularly stretchy and so were one of the first ones back in rotation.  I noticed they had a tiny little bit of a thin spot on one of the heels, so I patched it up before it went back in the basket this time.

I’m a firm believer in mending my socks.  They take an age to knit, I’m not throwing them away before I absolutely have to.  These are nine years old, and there’s no reason they can’t last many more years with just a bit of attention.  Before you ask, I have a lot of socks so each one only gets worn once every few weeks at most (I try and enforce even wear by waiting until they’re all dirty and doing one giant load of sock laundry rather than just wearing the same five socks over and over), and I’m picky about my sock yarn, and I knit socks with a seriously tight fabric…that’s how I have nine year old socks.

So how about you, any old socks in your sock basket?  Do you mend your socks?  Or is that taking things a bit too far?

More “avoiding shopping” than “mending”

So have I mentioned that I really really really hate shopping?  And how I hate clothes shopping most of all?  I work for myself, from home, in the middle of nowhere, and yes I work in my pajamas like 98% of the time.  And by pajamas, I mostly mean ‘things that were once proper clothes but got worn enough that I can’t bring myself to wear them in public anymore, but also can’t throw away because they’re soft and cozy.  And because even that is not enough shopping avoidance, I actually will mend them when they start to come apart.

This is a cotton sweater I got at TJ Maxx probably seven years ago.  I wore it as real clothes as long as I could bring myself to, but like all cotton sweaters, it eventually got too fuzzy to show its face in public.  So it became a pj sweater (it’s Maine, of course I have pj sweaters) and it’s been happily in the rotation for quite some time.  But alas, the hem got torn.  No idea how it happened, but the tear was growing, and I wanted to stop it before it got any worse.

Now you know my philosphy on mending is “it’s going to show anyway, so why not flaunt it.”  So I reached right past all the purple yarn in my stash and went for a nice pond scummy green.

Five minutes of (shockingly wobbly) stitching later, and it’s stabilized.  Not invisible. Not hugely tidy. Not at all subtle.  But stabilized, and cheerful and ready to be worn a zillion more times.  All so I can avoid shopping just a little while longer.

Alright, let’s fix them

Back in early August, The Boy got a pair of the spiffy Allbirds shoes (the ones made of wool!) to wear as slippers.  He likes them and has worn them around the house for the last few months.  However, come the end of December, it became clear there was a problem.  The lining of the shoes had worn through over his big toes, and the outer layer of fabric was starting to get thin.  If we didn’t do something, there would soon be a hole.

We didn’t really want to buy new ones (especially if they only last 5 months…), and they were in otherwise good shape, so I thought I’d see if I could fix them.

Needle felting seemed like the best bet.  I had the wool on hand (I also had some less colorful wool in the stash, but The Boy liked these…please don’t write to me and tell me I’m a monster for putting something colorful on a guy’s shoes — it will annoy me, and it won’t change the shoes).  I bought a felting needle and some foam and started experimenting.

I started by cutting the foam down to fit in the shoe so I’d have a firm backing behind the fabric to stab into.  Then I pulled off a tuft of the yellow wool, set it over the thin spot, and started stabbing.

It stuck just fine (which makes sense…wool sticks to wool).  I kept building up the yellow, making it thickest where the hole was, and then added on some orange, again making it thickest where the existing fabric had worn thin.  A little bit of purple finished it out.

When I pulled out the foam and put my hand in, I could totally feel where the wool and poked through and reinforced the whole area.  I suspect it will continue to felt down and tighten up as they’re worn over the next few weeks.  I’ll report back later in the year and let you know how its holding up.

I think this will solve the problem.  The worn spot is much thicker and sturdier now, and it seems like the patch will hold.  I won’t know for sure until they get some more wear on them, and I’m a little bugged that the shoes needed a repair after less than six months, but with any luck, this should make them last a lot longer!

UPDATE: Alas, the patch totally didn’t hold, at least not for long.  There just isn’t enough room in those shoes for those toes, and it keeps wearing through.  If Allbirds changes their shape, maybe they’d work.  But until then, they’re not a good fit for these feet.