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Learn It: Swiss Darning

Mar 31, 2014

Our glass darning egg
We have a lot of treasured needlework items from our grandparents, and one of them is a glass darning egg. I display it in my craft room. It's just beautiful; I love the blue glass.

A darning egg is a time-honored tool that provides a smooth, solid surface for darning, reinforcing seams, or grafting together the final toe stitches of nearly complete socks.

These tools might be thought of as obsolete, but they're as useful today as they ever were in the past. Learning to darn socks is an important skill that'll help you prolong the life of your knit socks. I've used our glass darning egg while grafting toes, and it works like a charm

Here's one method to use when you notice that the heels or toes of your socks are getting thin. Better to catch the thin area before it becomes an actual hole!

Swiss Darning

For repairing garments when the fabric is still intact, but worn, Swiss darning is the ideal technique. Following the path of the knitted yam with a blunt tapestry needle threaded with yarn, you reinforce the fabric invisibly. The technique may also be used to add different colored stitches to plain knitting. Using a blunt needle enables you to move in and out of the stitches easily without catching or splitting yarns.

1. Fabric that is worn but still intact can be repaired with Swiss darning.

2. Bring tapestry needle from back to front at base of the V of the stitch to be covered. Insert yarn needle from right to left under both hops of the stitch in the row above.

3. Insert tapestry needle through the base of the V again and bring it through the base of the V of the next stitch to be covered.

Pretty neat darning technique, right?


Bockleton Socks
by Rachel Coopey

The Knitting Daily Shop has a beautiful collection of handknit sock patterns, and we've also got a free eBook, Knitting Socks with Knitting Daily: 7 Free Sock Knitting Patterns. Here's to sock knitting!


P.S. What's your favorite method of darning socks? Share it with us in the comments!

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Bockleton Socks

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lbrincefield wrote
on Apr 5, 2014 10:45 PM

An easy "darning egg" is to use a plastic Easter egg to work over!

lbwestphilly wrote
on Apr 5, 2014 2:15 PM

I just looked up "darning egg" on eBay and there are a lot for sale. Most are made of wood, but I did see one glass one.

lbwestphilly wrote
on Apr 5, 2014 2:14 PM

I just looked up "darning egg" on eBay and there are a lot for sale. Most are made of wood, but I did see one glass one.

kushami wrote
on Apr 1, 2014 7:19 PM

Tom of Holland has been doing interesting darning projects, some invisible and some highly visible. Check out his blog for inspiration:

Cindy Weaver wrote
on Apr 1, 2014 12:52 PM

I learned to darn socks a looong time ago. I was taught to use a ladle because, I suppose, the person teaching me did not have a darning egg. The method also works for repairing holes in sweat pants, sweaters or other knits, too. On a recent antique store foray, a booth had a bin of wooden darning eggs. I may go back and get one, it would likely be easier to use than a ladle.

on Apr 1, 2014 1:24 AM

I was smiling at the name  "Swiss Darning". My classmates from the textile craft college and other teacher friends here in Switzerland will be smiling too, when I tell them. To learn to darn knitware like this used to be tought in School. Much has changed since...!

OrchidFire has brouhgt in a good idea, to span thread over the hole. We learnd to stich a knitted pattern in the vertically spaned threads. Though when well done no one could tell, it is darned. But overstitching is so much easier.

nannylmh wrote
on Apr 1, 2014 12:18 AM

I would love to  have such a lovely darning egg.  Where cab I get one?

bhc1101 wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 10:45 PM

I too am wondering about obtaining the beautiful blue darning egg. I broke mine in my last move 30 years ago! I still miss it. A treasure from my youth.

deveneys wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 9:26 PM

I'm wondering just where in the world I can get me one of those 'beautiful darning egg's'??!  Anyone have one for sale?  I LOVE all of that older sewing stuff!  How I wished I'd saved some of my grandmother's and her mothers!  They were all great craft persons ... I guess in their day, you almost had to be!  Interesting!

kwilsonrob wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 5:58 PM

Thanks, OrchidFire...  I wondered about doing that, but I haven't tried ... thought there might be an easier way!  I do have the yarn, which is helpful.  I've darned socks before, and I'm pretty patient, so I'll give it a go.  Thanks again.

on Mar 31, 2014 4:12 PM

We learned this technique in Home Ec.  You can also use a light bulb.

OrchidFire81 wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 11:17 AM

@kwilsonrob:  Of course you can darn a sock with a hole, it just takes more of a "weaving" vs knitting technique.  Put the darning egg or mushroom in the sock with the hole in the middle.  Using like colored yarn (I always save some back from each pair of socks I knit in my darning bag) and a blunt tapestry needle, start by loosely bringing yarn from the bottom of the hole to the top.  Anchor the yarn in a part of the sock that is whole.  Make a whole bunch of vertical strands of yarn to cover the hole.  Do not pull tight.  Once the hole is totally covered with vertical strands, weave lots of horizontal srands through the vertical strands.  Do this until the hole is covered.  Weave in and loose ends.  Your sock is now darned!

Sankedoodle wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 11:13 AM

My favorite method of darning socks is to throw them in the garbage and buy new ones.

kwilsonrob wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 9:18 AM

Is there any way to darn a sock with a hole worn through???  There's no fabric left to start with...

Jill wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 9:08 AM

My favorite way of darning socks?  Give them to my mother-in-law!  She loves to darn socks.

limbyl wrote
on Mar 31, 2014 8:40 AM

If you don't have a darning egg try using an old lightbulb instead.

on Mar 31, 2014 8:10 AM

I live in Argentina, the land of mate tea, and I use a mate-drinking gourd to do my darning. I t also provides a hard, smooth surface to work on your stitches, and you can stick a finger into it so it is very comfortable to work with!