Friday, November 20, 2015

DIY Darning Tool

DIY, outdoor, clothing, gear, sock, darning, repair, wool, mushroom, egg, needles

As a winter hiker and ice climber my favorite socks to wear are wool and wool blends. But well-worn wool socks do wear out! If there are holes in your wool socks, don't throw them out! Instead, repair them by "Darning". Since I started buying wool socks, I've added the following mending tools to my repair kit.

Yarn Darning Needles
Usually come in a pack and can be found at most sewing stores

100% Wool Yarn
Usually you use the same color as your socks. I just keep one skein of black on hand to use for all repairs. I don't mind the different/contrasting colors as most my socks are dark brown or black anyways. I haven't found any 100% Wool yarns at Joann's Fabric & Crafts stores or Hobby Lobby. I found my 100% wool yarn at my local quilting shop Red Barn Sewing & Yarn Center. They cater to mostly quilters but also have a few yarns and supplies for crochet and knitting. You  can also find wool blends at Michael’s Craft Stores, but I highly recommend 100% wool yarn.

Wooden Darning Tool
Darning Eggs (or Mushrooms ) is a hard round object inserted into a sock to mend and repair holes. I haven’t had much luck finding these in my local sewing stores, and I really didn’t want to order one online. So I made my own using two pieces of wood and a dowel screw. I have heard that you can also use a light bulb, but you must be very careful as it's glass and can break.

So here’s how I made my own Darning Tool - I got my wooden pieces from the A.C. Moore Arts & Craft store. Dowel screws were from Home Depot. And I used my husband’s table vice, Vice Grip Locking Pliers, Drill, drill bit and a clean cotton rag.

I used a 2¼ inch wooden doll head – this already has a hole in it: $2.19. When choosing a doll head, make certain it’s smooth. Sometimes the grain marks can be rough and this will snag your wool sock.

One small wooden 4 inch bowling pin: $1.19

One package of 4 dowel screws (¼ x 1½ inches) from Home Depot, but you only need one screw. $1.18 for a package of 4.

I attached the vice grip locking pliers to the middle of the dowel screw, then screwed the wooden head onto the dowel screw – be careful not to use too much pressure or you will flatten the threads.

I had to drill a hole in the wooden bowling pin since it didn’t already have a hole in it. I wrapped a clean rag around the bowling pin before putting it into a table vice – this prevented it from getting marked up from the vice. I marked the center of the bottom of the bowling pin using a pencil. Then using a 5/32 drill bit, I drilled a hole into the bottom of the bowling pin making certain it’s just as long as the remaining dowel screw sticking out of the doll head. Then I had my strong husband attach the doll head onto the bowling pin.

Walla!! Darning Tool for $3.68! 

Here's an excellent video on YouTube to demonstrate "How To Darn A Sock".

My Sewing History
I spent many years sewing my own clothes….that’s what you did after your mom sent you to sewing lessons for the summer when you’re 14 years old. Over the years I handmade Halloween costumes for my daughters as well as prom dresses and figure skating costumes complete with beadwork all done by hand. Living just 12 miles from Malden Mills, I outfitted my family with handmade polar fleece jackets, pullovers, hats, mittens and pants. We still use polar fleece blankets that I had made years ago! And I even had a small biz selling Polar Fleece Skatewear to figure skating teams – I contracted a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire do to all the sewing in order for me to focus on the sales end of the business. I stopped sewing for several years but now am back at it again. This time for making my own outdoor gear to be used while out climbing and hiking!