sock repair

Repairing a hand-knit sock with a knit-in-place patch

Counteracting a throw-away society

Considering the time and expense of making hand-knit socks, it is well worth the effort to repair them if you eventually wear through a hole. You say you don’t know how to darn a sock? Let me help with these photos and brief explanation of steps for the method I use to to repair a sock with a knit-in-place patch.

Although I usually get years of wear from my hand-knit socks, I am especially hard on the toes of socks because I have such a difficult time keeping my toenails short enough. But eventually, the inevitable happens (the pair of socks I photographed below to show are over 10 years old) and the yarn will wear thin and develop a hole.

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I could remove the toe area totally, and re-knit it. But I am going to show you how to darn this sock with a knit-in-place patch. This method is handy to know, because it also works well for repairing socks with wear areas in other places like the ball of the foot and heel.

Note: In the photos below, the socks from the pair I am repairing are slightly different (this is one of those self-patterning yarns that was popular in the early 90′s). I wanted to get the best photo for each major step in the process, and so sometimes the photo was of one of the socks, and sometimes the other.

Making a knit-in-place patch

1. Place a darning egg in the sock.

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Don’t have a fancy sock darning egg? An old-fashioned incandescent light bulb works, too. (The light bulb doesn’t even have to work any longer, so think of this as another way of using something that you might otherwise throw away, lol.)

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2. Onto a short double-point knitting needle in same size as used to knit the sock, pick up the loops of stitches in an undamaged row below the hole.

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Remove the darning egg temporarily.

3. Using yarn in a similar weight as the sock, knit across the row of stitches on the needle, then purl back across the row. If you happen to have some of the original yarn leftover from making the sock, all the better. But if you are like me, you won’t be able to find it after 10 years or so, lol. A yarn in a coordinating color, or even a bright contrasting color, is fine to use. The patch is likely not going to be seen when worn anyway, and if it is, a bright-colored patch could be quite fun. The important thing is that you want the yarn used for the repair patch to be a comparable weight (and of course sturdy enough so that it holds up to wear for another 10 years or so again <g>).

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4. Now you want to continue to knit back and forth to make a square or rectangular patch to cover the hole. At the same time, attach the patch to the original sock at the beginning and end of each knit row as follows:

k2tog the first stitch of the row with a stitch loop of the original sock 2 rows above, k until one st remains in row, ssk the last stitch of the row with a stitch loop of the original sock 2 rows above.

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Tip: If you have difficulty picking up the stitch loop of the original sock to incorporate into the k2tog/ssk attachment at either end, you can use a crochet hook to assist pulling the loop onto the knitting needle.

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5. Continue knitting back and forth on the patch until it covers and hole entirely and you have completed a purl row. Cut yarn, leaving a long enough tail to graft the stitches of the patch to the original sock.

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6. Insert darning egg into the sock again. This will give a good foundation for grafting the stitches and assure that you don’t catch any of the underside of the sock when sewing.

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7. Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn tail and begin grafting the undamaged row of stitches above the hole to the live stitches on the knitting needle.

IMG_1281Continue grafting until all live stitches have been removed from the knitting needle and are now attached to the sock.

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8. Remove darning egg. Bring yarn ends to inside of sock. Turn sock inside out. Insert darning egg into the sock again temporarily, and weave in yarn ends invisibly. (I always like to insert a darning egg for weaving in ends on toes of socks, so I don’t mistakenly catch the underside layer of the sock! — you probably don’t need to ask me why, lol)

The repaired sock with the completed patch

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I’ve already been wearing these socks for 4 months and they are holding up great. It makes me feel good about giving new life to an old friend (my socks, that is).

Written by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer - Visit Website

22 thoughts on “Repairing a hand-knit sock with a knit-in-place patch”

  1. Well, I pinned this on Pinterest the other day and tried it out today – it worked so well I repaired a second pair right away – they look so nice that I will use this method with all my socks now. Thanks for the explanation!

  2. I’ve got a pair of wool knee high socks from when I did cross-country style skiing, that have very thin spots on the heels. This method will let me rejuvenate them

  3. I’ve saved this tutorial in Word, but I’ve put a double-strikethrough on the word SOCK in the title. It’s a technique that can serve as well for ANY hand-knit item. I’m sorry I didn’t know how to do it when I retrieved the torn blanket I’d given my mother-in-law decades ago. It would have looked much better than the knitted patches I whip-stitched over the holes, even done in a contrasting colour.

  4. Oh my gosh! You just cant believe how many pairs of socks that I have made for my family have holes. I have put them away until I could figure out how to repair them….Wow, Thank you Jackie for this toturial!!!!

  5. This is ingenious!! I never would have thought of it myself, but it’s totally logical. Thanks for sharing our expertise.

  6. what exactly do you mean by grafting the stitches on the sock with the ones on the needle? are we knitting them together?

  7. My mother taught me how to weave darn socks, but that was too thin to last long enough to cover the.time it took to do so. So, the last couple of years, I have just made a garter stitch patch of yarn to patch store bought socks which lasted well…BUT your skilled solution for knitting the patch on so makes sense that I’m surprised that it’s not more well known. Thanks so much!

  8. Wow; that’s exactly where the Mister around here wears through his handknit socks. I’m so happy to have this tutorial to repair his favorites! Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  9. thanks for the great tutorial, Jackie! I have a pretty good collection that need this treatment, though many have a heel, rather than a toe problem :-)

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