How to Darn Socks, Sweaters, & More

A knit sweater with several holes getting darned

Nobody wants holey socks, yet I’m willing to guess you’ve worn them at least once. You know the feeling of cold toes or chilled heels, maybe debated whether it was better to leave your shoes on to prevent anyone from seeing your toes stick through those holes.

The good news is, darning your socks (or other knitted clothing item) is much easier than you might think.

Why Darn Socks?

Why would you darn a sock? If it’s a Darn Tough sock, should it develop a hole, you can exchange for a brand new one under the Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee, so why mend it? A few reasons come to mind:

  • It’s your favorite sock.
  • It’s your lucky sock.
  • Patches look cool.
  • You are thrifty (and possibly cool).
  • Choosing to be sustainable by not throwing out socks (definitely cool).

If your sock isn’t a Darn Tough sock, all the more reason to darn it.

Whatever your reason, darning your socks is surprisingly simple, and the same technique can be used to fix holes on other knitted items, like sweaters. I actually didn't have any socks that needed darning when I was putting this post together, so I used a sweater for the below examples.

Without further ado, here’s instructions on how to darn a sock.

How to Darn Socks

Step 1

Get the sock, sweater, blanket, or other knit object which has a hole. I recommend washing the item first, since you will be handling it a great deal.

Select a thread that is similar in weight to the sock. Weight refers to how fine or thick the yarn is, and you want your thread to match what's already in the sock. You can choose to match the sock color or make a statement by choosing a contrasting color. Cause patches are cool.

Select a needle with a large enough opening to pass the thread through.

Step 2

Place sock on a darning tool such as a darning mushroom or darning egg.  If you don’t have one and do not want to purchase one, you could use a jar, tennis ball, or anything rounded.

Place a rubber band or hair tie (or tie a cord) to secure the sock in place on your darning tool. Thread your needle with about 20” of yarn and knot the end.

A sweater waiting to be darned with scissors, thread, and darning mushrooms at hand

Step 3

Starting at the top right of the hole, insert your needle between 1/4” and 3/8” above the hole. Pull the thread from the wrong side to the front so the knot is on the inside of the sock.

Insert your needle at the bottom right of the hole, between ¼” and 3/8” below the edge of the hole, catching a small section before bringing the needle back to the front. Pull the thread through, so it creates a long stitch crossing the hole.

Step 4

Long stitches going back and forth across the hole to be darned on the sweater or sock

Repeat Step 3, but this time you’ll be inserting your needle at the top right of the hole, about 1/8” from the last stitch. Continue to make these long stitches about an eighth inch apart until the hole is covered.

Cut off the excess thread, leaving a long enough tail to weave to the inside and knot afterwards, at least 2-3 inches.

Step 5

To make the mend strong, I create a “weave” which is perpendicular to the long stitches you just created. The thread can be the same color you’ve been using or a contrasting color, which creates a fun pattern when complete.

A hole with the beginning of the weave partially begun, so the thread goes over and under the previous stitches

To create the weave, turn the sock so that the stitches you just made are vertical. Beginning at the upper right, weave the needle over and under each strand and pull thread through, leaving a tail long enough to secure later.

Step 6

Grab a small pick of the sock at the side edge with the needle, then begin weaving in the opposite direction making sure the under and over stitches are reversed from the row above it.

The sweater hole completely covered by a weave of stitches

Continue until the square is covered.

Step 7

Cut off excess thread, again leaving at least a 2-3 inch tail. Remove the sock from your darning tool. 

Feed the thread tails to the inside (wrong side) of the sock, make a couple of small stitches, then tie a knot and trim the tails.

You can iron your new “patch” to get a smooth appearance and feel.

Sock On!

There you have it, one freshly darned sock, ready to keep wearing. At some point, that favorite sock may no longer be darn-able, but if it’s a Darn Tough sock, you can always get a replacement pair under our warranty.

About the Author

Lyn Feinson is Darn Tough's VP of Product Design, Development, and Quality. She is the proud mother to Ben Feinson, the ultra runner featured in previous Darn Tough blogs, and two amazing daughters Alex and Lily who inspire kids and peers in their daily pursuits. When not working with THE most amazing team at Darn Tough Vermont, Lyn can be found sewing, crocheting, painting, reading, hiking, walking Remy (the family dog), and taking pictures to inspire these activities.