Sock repair options

My friend’s brother lost his home in the Santiam Canyon wildfire last fall. He did save these socks, which his wife knit for him. She passed away earlier last year, I think. I want to mend these socks for him, so he can continue to wear them, as a remembrance.

I plan to use duplicate stitch to reinforce the intact heel on the left. My options for the blown out heel on the right? Either darning/weaving, or knitting a patch, per Google search. I’d much rather knit than weave, so a knitted patch will be my first attempt. I found instructions for duplicate stitch, darning/weaving, and a knitted patch on this website from the Woolery.

I found a reasonably good yarn match in my leftovers bin. Now I have to resolve to some knitting on tiny needles, which is not my favorite thing! But worth it for a mitzvah, right?

Have you repaired socks before? I’ve repaired socks using duplicate stitch before the yarn gave way, but not after as big a hole as this one. Any advice appreciated!

19 responses to “Sock repair options

  1. I have only ever done the darning method. I even have my grandmother’s wooden darning egg, though I tend to just use my hand inside, rather than hunting for the egg. Though I do think having the hard surface inside would mean less pricking of my fingers-lol!!

  2. To repair big holes like that, my favorite method is to knit the hole back up row by row. You start with the bottom, and the top row gets grafted to the top row above the hole. Make sure you have clean edges (whole, strong stitches all around)!

  3. I have no advice to offer (as I have yet to ever actually knit a sock), but I do want to pass along words of encouragement and to send my acknowledgment of this selfless act. I’m sure however the sock repair turns out, this gentleman will be forever grateful that he gets to continue to feel his wife’s warm touch on his feet.

  4. Jacqueline Lydston

    I have usually gotten to socks sooner than this and been able to duplicate stitch but I did fix a hole in the armpit of my son’s sweater. I used dpn’s to pick up stitches about an inch and a half below the hole, going 4 sts on either side too. Then I knit a patch, knitting the first and last stitches of every row together with the corresponding stitch in the sweater below. When I’d gotten a patch that was about an inch longer than the hole I picked up the stitches along the corresponding part of the sweater underneath and did a 3-needle bind off. Hope that makes sense! I’ll see if I can find the YouTube video(s) I looked at.

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    • This makes perfect sense, and is described in the linked post I found. The only difference is kitchener stitch at the top, instead of 3NBO (I’m a big fan of 3NBO because I always have to look up kitchener! I can do it if needed, though.

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  5. You are a friend in need, Michele ! – what a super thing to do.
    Goodonyermateyeraripper.

  6. Stephanie Pearl McPhee has a fairly decent video on sock repair on her new blog. Its on Patreon so you have to pay $6 to get her whole series

  7. Maybe a Cat Bordhi heel &/or Afterthought Heel? Probably the best option for a hole that large.

    I knit bed socks for hubby for Christmas. As he’s gotten older, his feet get cold at night. I knit one pair cuff down & second pair toe up & knit a version of Afterthought heel in both. Could be just the ticket for, basically, a new heel.

  8. japrice@cruzio.com

    Hi Michelle,

    There is a great Craftsy class on reweaving that helped me when I accidentally cut one stitch on my sweater as I was weaving in ends. I only had one row to repair but it came out beautifully and was really not difficult! She demonstrated how to reweave a larger hole too. Her technique is not making a patch or darning – it really is reweaving.

    You probably have to buy the class or get a one month subscription at least (I’m a subscriber) but honestly, it is worth it. There is even a section on fair isle (I didn’t watch that part so I can’t comment on it).

    Here is a link: https://www.craftsy.com/class/darn-it-how-to-repair-your-knitting/

    Hope that helps! Let us know how you make out. I enjoy your newsy newsletters!

    Jennifer Price

  9. Nancy Williamson

    I took an excellent class from Sivia Harding on mending knits. I’m sure you know her and can find her as she’s also a Portland, OR, knit designer and teacher.

  10. Hi Michele,
    What a lovely thing, to repair these socks for your friend. a mitzvah indeed.
    I don’t know anything about duplicate stitch, but I have done knitted patches for holey heels, as I wear out heels regularly. I pick up live stitches from the edge of the hole to start the patch, and as I knit, I pick up stitches on the side edges, knitting them together with first and last stitches on each row. Hardest part is making sure that the ragged edges are secured first, as there are always loose or runaway threads. good luck!

  11. I don’t have any specific advice, but want to commend you for doing such a wonderful thing for your friend!

  12. What a wonderful gesture. No matter what you decide to do, these socks will be loved!

  13. Pingback: Sock repair: Knitted patch | PDXKnitterati

  14. I’ve done some darning on things like my favorite old wool vest and my husband’s sock-slippers. I like the visible mending route which I discovered through reading TomofHolland’s blog (https://tomofholland.com/tag/visiblemending/). Also, Katrinkles.com has a very clever and useful darning loom that I’ve used a couple of times. It helps a LOT, IMO.

  15. I tried darning once and hated it, so for toes, I usually just rip them out (often far enough back to also rip out past whatever part of the bottom of the foot is also starting to wear out) and re-knit them. We’re starting to amass a real collection of franken-socks over here as a result.

    For heels, I’ve been trying to catch them with duplicate stitch before they get too far lately, but when necessary, I’ve gone with a knitted patch, joining with an existing stitch at each side as I go.

    • Good point; if the hole is in the toe area, I’d rip it out and redo it, too. No awkward lumpiness! But for a heel, duplicate stitch or a knitted patch is the way to go. I don’t want to re-knit the whole foot!

      If it was an afterthought heel, I could see removing it and knitting a new one, but this was a mystery to me, and I didn’t want to lose that much precious fabric from the original knitter’s work.

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