Darning Socks

Reader Contribution by Bethann Weick
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My favorite pair of socks boast three shades of grey in a simple pattern. However, if you had happened to take a closer look, you’d notice that the heels and toes are more akin to a patchwork quilt with hand-woven circles of white and black wool. Another winter has taken it’s toll: I’ve seen that yet another hole has appeared in the heel of my left sock. Eventually I’ll have to recycle these altogether. Not today, though!

No. Instead, I climb to the loft and open the wicker basket which sits to the side of the ladder. Passed from my grandmother to my mother to me, it holds letters from Ryan, an old timepiece, a special shell, and my darning supplies. Which don’t amount to much, mind you. A wooden darning egg (though a tennis ball or other similarly shaped household object can work just as well), a needle, and scraps of yarn saved from various projects. The stretchy white wool I’ve been using lately are the few-foot lengths cut from a hat that a visiting friend was knitting for her mother. Her scraps met another purpose in my darning.

And I suppose that is a large reason why I like darning so much. Be it sweaters, socks or what have you, the process of darning is simple to learn, quick to do, and infuses something old with a fresh breath of longevity.

Once you’ve walked your heel (or toes) through your socks, darning allows you to erase the hole by weaving a patch into existence. Maintain your material taut while you do so, and your result will be a tight weave ready to take another few months of treading. Instructions are easy to find – they are often included in basic knitting or crocheting books; there are also abundant websites easily found on the Internet.

Rather than write my way step-by-step through the process, I’d rather do my part to convince you of darning’s merit! By extending the useful life of simple and necessary clothes, darning enables you to minimize waste and unnecessary consumption. This simple act promotes re-use and simple economics by reducing needs. Alongside the spirit of conservation, self-sufficiency and independence are encouraged.

While undoubtedly a simple act, and while appearing to be of little consequence, I dare you to darn! In doing so, the very socks and sweaters that you don become banners for traditional skills. Hole by hole, empowerment is woven with creativity by resolving simple needs with simple means.

Spring is here! Time to prune your fruit trees, berry bushes, and ornamental shrubs! Time to design your garden! Time to purchase new nursery stock! Contact Beth via b.a.weick@gmail.com for your garden and orchard needs.