Sock Surgery

Normally, hand knitted socks last a very long time. That having been said, some people are harder on their socks than others.

Toes and heels can wear out.

Sometimes you catch them on something and it’s just sharp enough that you end up with a hole. But you don’t have to throw them out. If you catch it right away it’s a quick fix… but if you leave it then you may need to do some sock surgery.

My step-son was home for the summer and a week before he was scheduled to head back to University, I noticed that he was wearing a pair of socks I knit him but there were big holes in them. After making a mental note to buy him a pedicure tool kit for Christmas, I pulled out my leftover yarns to find what I needed to perform surgery on his socks. As I repaired them I took photos and thought I would share with you what I did. I only took photos of one pair, though.

I did a toe replacement and a leg portion replacement on them.

There are other ways to do these repairs. I could have darned them. I am not crazy about how the darned portion of a sock feels on my foot. I could have done a spot reconstruction. That’s fiddly and I wasn’t feeling like I had patience enough to do that. I don’t do it often enough to not have to really think about it. I wasn’t interested in making my head hurt over it. I figured it would be more pleasant to use the method that I am going to show you today.

On the leg of the sock:

I picked up all the stitches around the entire sock above and below the damage. Always pick up the right leg of the knit stitch as you go. Because it’s the leg, it didn’t really matter where I started my row.


I counted the number of rows that would be removed in the process and wrote that information down so I wouldn’t forget.

I cut away the damaged fabric in between, making sure that I didn’t cut too close to the stitches on the needles.


Next I unraveled the unwanted yarn to expose the live stitches on my needles. As I did this I was able to see a couple spots where I accidentally grabbed a stitch from a row above or below. So I really took my time on unraveling the last row so I wouldn’t accidentally drop stitches. I had an extra dpn on hand so I could make sure that the stitches were all picked up correctly as I went.

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I used a Russian Join (see below) to join my ball of yarn.

I knitted one less row than what I needed and then lined up the needles with each other and joined the two pieces using Kitchener Stitch. (This created the last row.)

The Russian Join:

Thread one yarn end onto a needle that is fine enough for your yarn (see the photo). I like using a sharp needle for this but you may prefer something blunt. Lay the yarn you want to join it to across your working yarn. Thread the needle between the plies of the yarn that the needle is threaded on just past where you laid the other yarn across. You should be creating a loop around the other yarn.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.


Pull the needle through so the loop snugs up around your other piece of yarn. You’ll need to decide whether you’ve gone through enough that it will hold once it is knitted into the work. Adjust accordingly and then clip off the excess yarn. Be careful that you are cutting off the tail and NOT the working yarn! That would be annoying.

Thread the other piece of yarn you are joining onto the needle. Thread it through itself  just past where the other join was made: like you did with the first end.

Trim the excess yarn. You just completed a Russian Join. Congratulations!

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On the toe of the Sock:

I picked up the stitches all around the sock just below where the damage was.

I counted the rows and made a note of the decrease pattern. (If you followed a pattern, you could pull out the pattern to check how the toe was decreased; I made this sock up without using a pattern.) I wrote the information down so I wouldn’t forget.

When you pick up the stitches on the toe, be sure that you look carefully at where the decreases are done. Make sure that the first stitch you pick up is the beginning of the row. This way you can do your decreases the way you normally would when originally knitting a sock. If you pick up from the wrong spot it could create a wobble in the force… I mean a wobble in your sock. You don’t want that. You would feel it when you wear them.

I trimmed away the damaged portion of the toe and frogged away the extra rows beyond the needle. Take your time with this step.

I re-knitted the toe to match the other sock. (It looks a little bit crooked because I didn’t take the time to block it.)

toe repair 07

I didn’t take photos of the other socks I repaired. I replaced the toes on them. I couldn’t find the leftover yarn from this pair, so I chose leftover yarn in  a solid colour that matched them.

Because of that, I replaced both toes so they would match.

The only thing I did differently was that I put both socks onto two circular needles so that I could knit them in tandem. The nice thing about this was that I was able to do the same step on each sock and didn’t have to worry about matching a toe that was already done.

Oh and another thing.

The pair that I don’t have photos of was made up in Diamond Select Footsie yarn. When I first did them up they felt just a little bit coarse. Since then my step-son has washed them and dried them relentlessly in the washer and drier many, many, many and many more times. They didn’t shrink. They did not pill but they got ever so slightly fuzzy. Best of all, they became super soft and cuddly.  🙂

That was new information to me.

It makes me a lot more excited about promoting that particular yarn. Those socks are now like loving mama hugs for his feet. How cool is that?

Well I hope that this information is useful and easy to understand.

Happy Knitting!



Over the long weekend we completely rearranged the store. If you have been here before, you won’t recognize it!

Isn’t it funny how when you imagine rearranging,

it all seems so straightforward and seamless in your mind?

And then you get started. Because the stuff is all switching places, you have to move a bunch of things to make some space to move the other things into before you can then move the first stuff to where it’s supposed to go.

Yup, then that perfect plan you have imagined in your mind’s eye? Well it turns out that the laws of physics prevent that from existing without employing some sort of inter-dimensional parallel universe… well at least that’s what happens to me. My step-son and I spent well over an hour trying to arrange the thread cabinets before we finally abandoned the original vision and put them somewhere completely different.

My sewing department was so cramped that it was frustrating and stressful to work. We now have a large area where my many industrial sewing machines have room for me to work comfortably. I didn’t realize how cramped it really was until after the move. It’s such a relief now that it’s basically done. It will take a while just to get used to the new work flow. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it for a while to make it nice and efficient.

The yarn and notions displays are a bit more compact, but still roomy enough that several people can be browsing without being in each others’ way. The new area made it a lot easier to group all the craft supplies together; the knitting tools; the crochet tools and the yarn as well. It’s actually easier to find what you’re looking for now. I’m still hoping to come up with a better way to display the patterns.

We set up a separate table for me to work at so that the old cutting table is available all the time for cutting yard-goods for customers. We also have an incoming counter for doing up work orders for jobs and a separate check-out counter for handling sales and out-going work. Best of all, Irene and I are no longer tripping over each other. YAY!

Of course, it wasn’t actually on my radar to do all that on the long weekend. I was expecting to be sewing; I’m a little behind with that now. We definitely needed the entire long weekend to manage it. Even with me, my sweetheart and his grown son we had to put in very long days to have it mostly done in time to open on Tuesday. Then, on Tuesday I was vacuuming and dusting and cleaning in general for most of the day. Wednesday I figured I earned a day off. I left Irene in charge and took a day away. And now I just need to get the sewing caught up, which I hope I can do over the weekend.

Isn’t it amazing how much chaos you have to wade through to create order? But it’s so worth it!

Ho Ho Hem

Our shop sees a lot of hems.

Curtains, trousers, dresses and more. We refer to the finishing of an exposed raw edge of fabric as hemming. Most commonly, we think of the bottom of our pant legs, skirt or curtains. There are a lot of ways to finish a hem. The various methods allow choice to find what is just right for each different application. I won’t go into hand stitching techniques for hems here.

Jeans and work or casual pants

Continue reading “Ho Ho Hem”

Zip Tips

As the owner/operator of a busy sewing shop that specializes in repairs, replacing zippers is a big part of what I do. I thought it may be helpful to share some information and tips about zippers this week.

Zippers are such a wonderful and effective invention.

I have always loved witnessing human ingenuity; the sheer genius of this simple design delights me. We use zippers in so many of the items we use every day that it’s difficult to imagine how the world ever got on without them. Continue reading “Zip Tips”

To Repair or not to Repair

I do a lot of sewing repairs and alterations for customers. Everything from hemming pants to altering backpacks. Whatever the repair, they all take time, skill and the right equipment to complete.

Often people have unrealistic ideas about what can be fixed and how much repairs and alterations will cost. As the owner of a brick and mortar store, with overhead to pay, my rates have to be set in such a way that prices for work completed are fair to the customer and fair to me, so I can afford to keep the doors open.

One of the things I sometimes hear when I give an estimate is, Continue reading “To Repair or not to Repair”