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.
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!
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.)
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.