Once I was knitting a sock on the bus, and some guy said to his companion, in a low, but not-that-low voice, “Why would you knit something like socks? You’re just gonna get holes in ’em.” He couldn’t understand why somebody would work so hard on something that was going to get thrown away. Sometimes I dye the wool and spin the yarn too, much more time spent, but these are my warmest socks in the cold cold winter. I could probably buy something as warm at the big box store, but I haven’t. Who am I to say why anybody does the things they do. Including me. If I were going to sit and spend time figuring out why I did something, I’d probably focus on one of the big things I screwed up in my life, not why I knit a sock (or twenty of them). Onward!
My latest method of sock hole repair: In the photo above on the leftmost sock heel you can see what I used to do to fix holes- use yarn to weave a patch over the hole. This stops the hole from spreading, but isn’t very comfortable to walk on, and at least with my socks, doesn’t seem to last very long. I have a wooden floor and a wooden deck, some sock tearing does occur on a regular basis. (It also could be that I’m not doing it right, but in any case – end result, not makin’ me happy.)
All of the socks to the right of that one show what I’ve been trying lately, sewing felt on the heels or entire bottoms. The felt seems to be a little harder to tear holes in, and it holds up well in the dryer, (for those socks made of acrylic that get thrown in there). What I’m calling felt is the stuff you get in the fabric section in one foot squares for a pretty cheap price, I’m not actually sure if its real wool felt or a synthetic creation, but no matter, that’s what I’m using. I’ve tried putting a piece on the top and the bottom side of the hole, and this stops unraveling the best, but I’ve also tried one pair where I just put the felt on the bottom outside and nothing on the inside. This still seems to be holding up so far, though I don’t expect it to last as long as double sided where all unraveling is encased. This single layered sock was sewn on a machine and that may help greatly. The rightmost sock below has a row of zigzag across it, that is the single layer sock and there was a hole in the heel – going across provided extra yarn sealing. The ones I sew by hand might not hold up as well, because I never get as many stitches that way, but it can be really hard to get the toe end under the machine if the sock is really thick, so it has to be done sometimes. Below you can see how few hand stitches I do, and machine sewn zigzag stitch on the edges of some.
I’m not sewing these the “right” way, I’m doing it the quickest and easiest way. Which is to say I’m not tucking the ends of the cloth under and then sewing, I’m just sewing around the cut edges. Why? Because its not that easy, especially if your trying to shove a thick sock and 2 pieces of felt under the machine. Folding the two pieces under as well just wouldn’t fit, and with felt would probably make a thick uncomfortable ridge to walk on. You can probably fit it if you take the foot off of your machine, but I seem to get a tangled thread mess when I try that, so I haven’t done it that way. I tried cotton when I ran out of felt, that is the second to leftmost sock. Enough time hasn’t passed to see how well that holds up yet.
I like the extra padding under the feet, much more cushy! Also, they’re even warmer! The only down sides I’ve seen so far are that it might not be all that cute of a sock anymore, (if you care about that), that it probably won’t fit in your shoe, and that wool socks with 2 extra felt layers need help to dry since they can’t go in the dryer. Help such as spending a night or two over a heating vent, or out in the sun on a fairly hot day. I’ve thrown the felted acrylic ones in the dryer with no problem.
I like the felt bottoms so much, I might plan to use felt as the bottom from now on, and stop knitting bottoms on my socks, just attaching a knit top. I’ll have to see about it.
Hope this helps someone else save their handknit socks.