Home » Socks » To Darn or Not to Darn …

To Darn or Not to Darn …

… that is indeed the question!

It must be the season (or rather, the beginning of the season) for I have made a list of all household chores I would like to be done until Christmas / New Year’s Eve.

The list contains a number of delightful tasks I was able to ignore happily during the last couple of weeks or months, such as:

  • clean the fridge completely
  • clean all the windows (we got to 50% this summer, shame on us!)
  • sort out the big bookshelf in the living room (stuff has been settling on a shelf since we moved in last year)
  • clean out postcards / creative stuff (because this is very important and the New Year cannot start otherwise!!)
  • clean the top of the shelves and cupboards (otherwise, Christmas won’t come. Also, I won’t get another chance to break my neck by falling off a high stepladder (oh, wait. There is the “clean all the windows” task …))
  • ย wash down all the doors (this at last is manageable and can be done in a day)
  • sort out the broom closet (again … very important)
  • darn all the socks.

Wait a minute … Darn all the socks?

What socks?

Oh. These socks.

It might be worth noting that I am still battling that stupid cold (yes, we’re going into the third week, I think …) and yesterday morning was so bad that I didn’t do much else than sit down and knit (with a very bad conscience, as I wanted to work on my dissertation. Also, I’m so behind on French …).

Be that as it may, but my cold-befuddled mind is probably the only reliable reason why I unearthed all the pairs of socks from my wardrobe that need mending.


(Yes, there are 14 pairs in that picture).

To defend myself, I can only say that 12 of these 14 pairs are very old. They were all knit by my gran and I got most of them during my teenager years. Except for the two pairs in the top row on the right, my gran has knit them all.

Now, I don’t know about your socks, but I cannot agree with Elizabeth Zimmermann that socks wear primarily out at the heel. The heel is fine, in all those pairs. The problem lies either in the toe:


(This was my first pair! *sniffels* I knit them while watching Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic and these were the socks my gran taught me to knit and my grandfather almost died laughing during the process, because my grandmother and me fought about three catfights until I had managed to cast on – favourite quote:
Gran (pulls herself together): And now you knit 1, purl 1 until I tell you to stop.
Me: (with faked coolness): Okay. So how do you purl?
Gran: (Internal screaming))


Most of the holes appear at the toe decreases, or at the very end of the toe.

Another problem with most of the socks is that the sole is worn very thin.




I still want to finish my testknit sock this month, because I want to hand it into the HPKCHC challenge. But I put the socks next to my WIP basket, and I cannot decide:

Should I darn them Yarn-Harlot-Style (exclaiming “Darn!” and throwing them in the trash) or should I sit down and reknit the feet parts of 14 pairs of socks, chanting Queen’s I’m going slightly maaaad all the while?

To darn or not to darn … That is indeed the question …

7 thoughts on “To Darn or Not to Darn …

  1. Well that’s quite a list I’m not envious of! I hope you manage to get (most of) it done by your set deadline. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

    As for socks, that’s a tricky question. I don’t have handknit pairs this old, so I can only imagine the sentiment that’s attached to it. Toeholes are easy enough to fix, but to reknit entire soles? Ouch. Part of me thinks it might be better to throw out a pair after you knit a new one, perhaps in a same style/similar colorway. At some point you’ll be knitting enough to make a new pair, and we have to let go of old things every now and then, right?

    • Thank you so much for the luck-wishing! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Truth be told, I’m not quite sure whether I will make it through ALL of this, but it’s a good thing to have it on the list – if all else fails, I’ll do the big stuff in 2016. what I DO want to do this year, is clean the fridge one more time and wash down the doors – these are sensible cores, I presume.

      You are absolutely right about the necessity of letting go! I am a bit of a packrat, although I can reduce stuff (and then I throw out bag after bag after bag). I think I can at least mend the socks that only have holes in the toe. For the others … We’ll see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you so, so much for your insight! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Like Sanne, I think there is a sentimental value attached to the socks. 14 pairs is quite an undertaking! Maybe one a month? I have been known to darn very large swathes of my socks because like you, my older ones have almost worn through on the sole. There comes a point when you have to do the inevitable and throw them away… in your case, I might put them in a plastic bag and just keep them, because you know, they were from your gran!

    • One a month would be a really good rate, I agree with you (it also makes everything more manageable; also, it’s not as if I had to go barefoot anywhere). I will definitely keep the really old ones, I think, too – and a plastic bag doesn’t take up so much space. ๐Ÿ™‚ Their antique and therefore allowed to have a thin sole. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you so much!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I am wrestling with this very question at the moment, though I have far fewer pairs to contend with. It sounds like you need a triage system: Do the easiest ones first. Any pairs that only need toe-mending, for example, will be straightforward and relatively quick. Once those are done, I think you need to take a step back.

    How many pairs of socks do you realistically need? You’ve knit quite a few for yourself over the years after all. If there are some pairs that you know are too far gone to mend (some things seem to just live at the bottom of the pile, you know?) you need to decide why you’re keeping them. If it’s for sentimental, then I say take them out of your mending pile and tuck them away somewhere safe; if it’s out of guilt or the sense you’re obliged to mend them, I say throw them out! Mending is work, yes, but it shouldn’t be torture. Mend what you can, keep what you love, and get rid of the rest. Haha.

    • Hey, it’s so good to see you!! ๐Ÿ™‚ *happydance*

      I will look up your method for mending again, because I thought that very neat and quick as well – the socks with holes in the toes will be done first, I agree (my biggest pet peeve about this is that I haven’t got any more yarn from my first pair of socks, but then, darned items have their own charm, I think).

      thank you so much for your wise words about rethinking whether I really need to mend every single sock. I don’t, of course. I have absolutely no idea how many finished pairs I have, but I want to make more and more and more … A big part of the great number of socks is that I am a bit too chicken to knit sweaters, I admit that. I think I will follow your advice and mend what I want to and throw out what I don’t really need and don’t really love anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I have about three pair that need to be fixed due to holes in the sole. Holes in t the soul, good poem title? I digress, I like to do a knitted patch instead of darning, I find it goes quicker. I always fix my socks, and if I had any that my Gran had made, I would certainly save them. (Said the women who cut HER grandmother’s silk shirt up to make bias binding.)

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