Socks to Go the Distance


For me, July means socks, spinning, and the Tour de France. I plan to watch the Tour while spinning my own self-striping sock yarn, inspired by the striping yarns from the summer issue of Sockupied. (Yes, I also bought some of the lovely self-striping yarns from the review, but I still want to make my own.)

To appreciate the work that goes into making a self-striping yarn, I plan to spin some myself.

When I finish any pair of socks I imagine it lasting forever. There may be no socks that I want to keep from wearing out as much as handspun socks: after spinning the yarn and knitting the socks I want to keep them for years to come. Here are my tips for long-lasting socks.

Call in reinforcements.

When you think of reinforcing socks, you probably think first of carrying along another yarn. Another strand of wool or nylon in the heel can help strengthen the heel or toe (and add a nice bit of color, too).

A variety of thin yarns can be carried along with sock yarn for reinforcement; we reviewed five different options in the Fall 2012 issue of Sockupied.

Reinforcement threads are a little more difficult to use for just one part of the sock when it’s worked in the round. My socks wear out first at the ball of the foot, but I don’t want to carry an extra thread all the way around the instep.

Even when I can’t use reinforcing thread, I can use reinforcing stitches. You’re probably familiar with the slip-stitch patterns such as Eye of Partridge that strengthen the flap of a sock. There are other ways to reinforce specific areas of a sock. Working twisted stitches or using a smaller needle in just the at-risk area will help it stand up to wear.

The twisted stitches on the heel of Judy Alexander’s Simply Elegant Cable Socks help the socks resist wear.

Darn it!

Eunny Jang showed me two different darning methods, including a simple technique my Dad first taught me when I was little to darn socks. (His thrift still prevails: He turns cuffs and collars on his shirts and mends his own jeans, too!) To help you learn one method for sock darning, here’s an excerpt from Eunny’s article that will show you how.

1. Contain the hole. With a running stitch, outline a square area around the hole. Note: To show the repair over the hole as clearly as possible, the rows between the box and hole have been omitted from the illustrations. Make sure your repair box leaves at least three or four whole stitches or rows between it and the hole. You’ll work your repair over all these stitches, making sure that the new fabric is firmly anchored in the old.

2. Weave across rows. Beginning at the lower right corner of the box, weave in and out of each whole stitch across a row of knitting. When you reach the left side of the box, bring the needle out half a row above the previous strand and return to the right side in the same way. Leave long strands across the hole, making sure not to draw the yarn too tightly.

3. Weave up and down. Beginning at an upper corner of the box, weave in and out down a column of knitting. When you reach the bottom, bring the needle over half a stitch and return to the top in the same way. When you reach the hole, work a simple weave—over one strand, under one strand—across the strands stretched  across it. Make sure the next pass of yarn moves through the strands in the opposite way—that is, under a strand that it went over on the last pass, and vice-versa. Weave in your tails.

You can find a video demonstration along with the reweaving technique, also called Swiss darning, in the Fall 2011 issue of Sockupied.





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