How To Darn Socks: Knitwear Surgery 101

If you are wondering how to darn socks or fix holes in knitting, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a step-by-step video tutorial on…

holes in knitting graphic

…and you’re going to love it. You can darn socks or mend any holes in knitting using this technique, and if you have matching yarn, you can make the repair completely invisible.

While there are a few ways to mend holes in knitting, here I demonstrate a technique I learned about in a Knitty article a few years ago – it is definitely the best method I’ve found. Let’s get started!

1. Gather Your Materials And Prepare For Surgery

Materials Needed:

  • A crochet hook
  • Scissors and a tapestry needle
  • A few yards of yarn to match the garment
  • About a yard of thin thread or sock yarn (the color doesn’t matter)
  • Bright light and a clean, non-slip surface to work on.
  • Patience.

Time Required:
Set aside plenty of time to learn how to darn socks for the first time. The video is 20 minutes long, and it will take you at least 30 minutes to get the hang of fixing holes in knitted socks the first time you try it.

Be patient! Learning to repair holes in knitting is an amazing skill that even the employees at your local yarn store probably don’t possess.

Materials Not Needed:
A darning egg. You do not need to buy a darning egg in order to darn socks. I tried to use one of these when I attempted to mend a sock, and I’ve found that it’s much easier to just lay the knitting as flat as possible. For me, a velvet jewelry pad would be an ideal work surface for this task.

2. Clean Up Any Scraggly Yarn Ends (Abrade The Wound)

You need to prepare the wound for surgery before we begin.

worn-out hole in knitted sock getting repaired

To clean up the sock, I trimmed all the worn-out and broken strands, and used a crochet hook to re-knit any stitches that were merely dropped

Use your scissors and trim away any hopelessly worn strands of yarn.

Then, if there are any strands that have just come out but are not in fact worn out, use a crochet hook to pick the stitches and re-knit them as far as you can. You want to end up with a really clean hole with obvious loops showing.

Make sure the cut yarn ends are tucked to the back of the work, out of the way.

3. Stabilize The Patient With A Temporary Tissue Graft

To stabilize the hole and keep all the stitches secure while you repair the hole in your knitting, use a tapestry needle to weave a length of sock yarn or thread through the stitches, as shown below.

I demonstrate this step in the video below, but I want you to have a stationary visual reference to look at while you begin to repair your own sock.

Knitted swatch with a hole in it with a thread woven through to repair

This stabilizing yarn is going to make the final grafting step much easier

4. Use Matching Yarn To Re-Knit The Stitches Row By Row

Watch the video below to learn how to repair the hole from bottom to top, row by row. The video quality is huge, so choose full-screen to enjoy all the HD knitting goodness.

Shortcut Step: Skip To The Grafting If You Are Only Missing One Row

If you’ve only got one row of knitting missing, just use the grafting technique I show you at the end of the video to repair the single row of knitting. You can skip the step where you weave in the stabilizing thread.

Good work! Repairing holes in knitting is an invasive and risky surgery, so if both you and the patient survived, congratulations are in order. Whoever asked you to repair the hole in their knitted sock should know that you love them very much.

UPDATE: The following information wasn’t in the original blog post – I added it by commenter request:

Q: What do I do with the long replacement yarn ends after I’m done fixing the hole?
A: Weave in all the long tails with a tapestry needle, just like you do on other knitting projects.

Q: What do I do with the short, worn-out ends?
A: You can either just leave them (which should be fine on a garment that doesn’t get much wear), or before you repair the hole you could unravel it a little bit more until the worn-out ends are long enough to weave in, and then weave them in at the end.

Q: What if my hole has more than two rows missing?
A: To do the second row, weave another piece of yarn from right to left above the first one, but just switch the over-unders. Where you went over, go under, etc. Do this before you start using the crochet hook to re-knit the stitches. Get pieces of yarn woven over-under for each row that is missing except for the last one, and then start to use the crochet hook to re-knit the stitches, and then finish by grafting the last row shut.

Two Tips To Minimize Damage In The Future

1. Reinforce Your Sock Heels

You can use nylon reinforcing thread held together with your sock yarn to make your sock heels more durable, so that you run a lower risk of wearing out your socks.

Different choices for nylon sock reinforcing thread

Pick the color that goes with your sock and hold it together with your sock yarn as you knit the heel

You can find thread like this for reinforcing sock heels at your local yarn store.

2. If You Notice A Hole, Stop Wearing The Sock (Duh)

Another tip, this one slightly obvious but worth following all the same: if you find a hole in your knitted garment, stop wearing it! And maybe gently advise your loved ones (who will be asking you to do the sock repair) to do the same.

Usually a hole can be rescued quickly if it is caught in time, but if you continue to walk on your holey sock, you will wear out more threads and have to repair more rows.

This is how the turquoise sock in the photo at the beginning of this post came to be so amazingly worn-out (…ahem big sister).

And that’s it! You will now be a hero amongst people who love handknit garments and wear them until they are threadbare – not a bad set of people to have on your side.

More Tips For Knitting Mastery

If you liked this tutorial on how to darn socks and mend holes in knitting, please add a link to this post on your blog, tell people about it on your favorite knitting forum, leave me a comment, and click the “Like” or “Tweet” buttons.

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About Liat Gat

Liat is the founder and video knitting expert at KNITFreedom. If you liked this article, you'll love the tips you learn from her FREE video newsletter. Get it now by subscribing here.
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68 Responses to How To Darn Socks: Knitwear Surgery 101

  1. Susanna says:

    I posted a request on how to avoid these heel problems, as I had made socks for myself and wore them to ruin. I LOVED my socks and by the time I realized there was no heel, they were far gone.

    Thank you SO much for this video. You are totally awesome Liat!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Susanna, you are so welcome! I’m sorry I didn’t post this in time to help you save your favorite socks, but now you won’t ever have that happen again. Hugs!

  2. Janet says:

    Thank you so much for this!

  3. Rachelle Skinner says:

    This is the best informative web site that I have ever come across. It is so well put together and I am constantly browsing through all of it for new and helpful hints. Keep up the good work. We do appreciate it.

    Rachelle

    • Liat Gat says:

      Wow Rachelle, thank you! That is exactly what I aim for every day. I’m so glad you’re here, and please don’t hesitate to let me know any suggestions you have for the site and how it could be better.

  4. Chuck says:

    BRAVO!!!!

    That was absolutely AWSOME Liat. I have been using a different technique I learned from another YouTube video… The entire time I was watching your tutorial I was saying out loud OMG…OMG. Your instructions were so clear, and the video make it seem like you were right here showing me in person. But most important was the technique. It was genius.

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to produce such a helpful video. You rock!!

    Chuck :-)

    • Liat Gat says:

      Chuck, YOU rock! You make me so happy. Readers like you make me feel like it is so worth it and satisfying to study these techniques and film the videos for you.

  5. Marti says:

    Liat,
    Thank you so much for this great video. My two favorite pairs of socks now have heel holes, and I know I have to fix them. Your video is the perfect resource, and I now feel ready to tackle the job. Your instructive videos are the best!

  6. Nancy says:

    Thank you sooooo much Liat, I really needed this!!! I am wondering what will happen with the original loose ends of purple yarn? Won’t they keep unraveling when wearing the sock?

  7. Lynn says:

    Excellent Liat! What a wonderful lesson on duplicating the stitches so the repairs are not noticable and the clothing article is once again usable but . . , since this lesson was about ‘sock hole repairing,’ I don’t believe the tutorial was finished out. As a repaired sock, what do you do with all of the loose ends, both short AND long? With a stretchy sock, weaving ends may only cause the original hole to open up later on and you can’t possibly knot those ends; not on a sock – OUCH! Am I just making a mountain out of a mole hill and the weaving of the ends on a stretchy sock will suffice?

    • Liat Gat says:

      Lynn, I’m so glad you mentioned this – a few other readers had the same question (which means about 200 other people did too, but didn’t ask). I’m going to update the blog post with the answer, which is: just weave in the ends.

      Knitting is stretchy, and if you weave correctly, the yarn that you wove in will flex and stretch too. On a garment that doesn’t get much wear in one spot, like a sweater, I usually just leave the short ends. On a sock, if you want to make it really secure, you could unravel the rows a little bit more just to have enough yarn to weave in the short ends, too. You can refer to my knitting trick about how to weave in short ends if you try this.

  8. maak says:

    Thanks for making this video. The repair is beautiful!

  9. Mary says:

    Best. Video. Ever. Thank you SO much :D

  10. Mary says:

    Wow – wonderful. Have just started knitting socks in the last year and have been wondering what in the world I was going to do when the heels gave out. Now I know. I also know that I am saving ALL my scraps from sock knitting for possible repairs in the future!! Thanks again!!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Yes! Save a little bit of the yarn from every project if you can – it is so hard to match yarn later with something different. Now you can knit and feel secure that you can repair any hole if the socks get a little too loved. ;)

  11. Fiona says:

    Another triumph Liat! This is such a clear guide to fixing socks – and doubtless other garments too. I can see that you must have put in hours of preparation to make sure that every base was covered. I’m now off on a mission to deal with all the holes in the house!!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Fiona you are so sweet! I did really want to make sure I explained everything well, although from some of the comments here I see that I left out a few things. That’s ok! I’ll be updating the post soon. Let us know if you successfully mend a sock using the video! That would be so awesome.

  12. louise says:

    SUPER —- FABULOUS —— YOU DID IT AGAIN. Oh how I wish I knew about this years ago when the sweater I made for my father got a small hole in it. I gave it to someone who told me they knew how to weave and make it magically disappear.
    WELL, IT DIDN’T, IT BECAME A SORE SPOT… ugly looking – and the eye went right to the spot. This method would have made it impossible to detect.
    Thank you Liat for always being ready to answer a need we have. To teach us something we are not event thinking we need to know about. This was like being in a room with you, and feeling that awe feeling of watching you make it look so darn simple. SO THRILLED I FOUND YOU. You are a blessing to us all. Love this newsletter that arrives… I keep looking for it. THANKS AGAIN… hugs from my heart to your heart. Louise

    • Liat Gat says:

      Louise, I’m so sorry about your father’s sweater – is there a chance you still have it? You could re-repair it, the right way…

      And you are so, so welcome. I’m glad I made it look simple! It’s quite a complex technique, and in a video that long, I was like, “Liat, you better explain this right the first time!” Haha.
      Thanks for the hugs and for your sweet words. YOU are the reason I make knitting videos. :)

  13. jan says:

    Liat, I have not watched it yet, but as a new knitter and only so I can make socks, your videos are AWESOME!!!! You have taught me so much already that I will sit and watch this too… It’s just wonderful to get on here and when I need help you are right here. Thank you sooo much!!!!

  14. Rosie Kessler says:

    Talk about showing  the anatomy of a stitch and how to follow them and repair them! I’ve wondered about this since I started knitting This was extremely helpful and educational for me . You are the BEST ,Thank you so much sweetie.

  15. Debra Perli says:

    Thanks for this informative video. I now know how my late friend mended my sweater on a most memorable day when I needed it for comfort. You are amazing.
    One tip you probably know but didn’t use in the video is to fold the yarn in half and slide it off the tip of the needle, this makes it easier to thread the tapestry needle with a fuzzy yarn. Thanks again.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Debra, it’s really a wonderful gift when you can repair a beloved handknit for someone. And thanks for the tip about threading the needle, that’s great!

  16. Ruth says:

    Fantastic detailed video, Liat! I do wish you had gone on to show jut one more missing row; I’m trying to visualize where, in relation to the purple yarn, I run my next piece of (in the demo, green) yarn. Does it go under, over, under, etc. just like the first missing row, or over, under, over, etc.? I have a sock hole with several missing rows. Thanks for a great video!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Ruth,

      This is a great question! I agree that showing one more row would have been better. I’ll update the blog post to include that. To do the second row, weave the next piece of yarn from right to left like you did the first one, but just switch the over-unders. Where you went over, go under, etc. Do this before you start using the crochet hook to re-knit the stitches. Get pieces of yarn woven over-under for each row that is missing except for the last one, and then start to use the crochet hook to re-knit the stitches.

  17. Deborah Jennings says:

    WOW This is great! I’ll bet that this can be used for several different things! Thank you so much for posting this for us.

  18. Very nice repair job, but what about the loose ends?

    • Liat Gat says:

      Silly me! I can’t believe I left that out. I think after recording 20 minutes of video my brain kind of went on the blink! You just weave in the loose ends just like on other knitting projects.

  19. Jane says:

    That is a super video – you make the best how-to’s I’ve seen on the web. I have the same question as several others – How do you secure those short little pieces of purple yarn? I’d be tempted to use fabric glue!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Jane, this is such a good point! I need to add your idea to the blog post. I think fabric glue is a good idea, but it might be noticeable on the inside of a sock. I just leave the little short ends alone…

  20. Lorna Clark-Rubin says:

    Thanks so much, Liat.

    This was so clear.

    Now I’ll try repairing some mittens and scarves with moth holes using this technique.

  21. lindadee says:

    You have a grand teaching talent: hope you never stop. As an intermediate+ knitter I’ve been darning since “gammie” taught me @ around age ten 50 years ago, but your “stabilization” step & general refresher course was great. Several times ere this you’ve impressed me; this time I simply had to let you know.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Linda –

      This is so sweet. I’m so glad that your Gammie taught you when you were young and that my videos are able to give you a little refresher when you need it. :) Thank you so much for the sweet compliments!

      Happy Knitting. :)

  22. Marney says:

    Loved this article I signed up for your video newsletters but have not received a confirmation email. Would this be because I am in Australia?
    Please clarify
    Marney

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi Marney –

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed the article. :) The confirmation email should get to you right away, no matter where you are. It may have gone to your spam folder. Can you check there?

      If you add knitfreedom@aweber.com to your address book, that will help our newsletter emails reach you. I’ll also email you so that we can make sure you get signed up.

  23. Debbie says:

    You are a GENIUS! I only have one question: the little ends from the original sock were not very long. What did you do with them? Didn’t look like enough to weave in. Will they come loose later?

    • Liat Gat says:

      Thanks Debbie! I’ve never had a problem with the little ends coming loose, but you could unravel the hole a little bit more until the ends are long enough to weave in. This might work really well on socks. Your question is great – I’m going to update the blog post with the answer.

  24. Natalie Ford says:

    This was such a useful post and video! I have added a link to it on my website on the “Knitting Links” page so that a) I can find it again and b) my (many fewer than yours!) readers can also find it.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Natalie –

      Thank you so much for sharing KNITFreedom with your readers! I love being able to help others learn about knitting. :)

      I’m also glad that this post was so helpful for you. It’s great to know a quick fix for your favorite knitted items, isn’t it? :)

  25. Thank you so much for this video. I have a couple socks that need mending and I haven’t seen it done this way before. the only way I knew was making a woven grid to fill the hole but it doesn’t duplicate the knit stitches. I’m going to try it your way. If the hole were 4 rows, would you still do it the same way?
    thanks Barbie :)

  26. Nancy says:

    I love this! You probably take out the purple stabilizing thread after you finish?

  27. Teresa M says:

    Hi

    I just wanted to let you know I shared this post on my blog. lileesgram.blogspot.com

    What a great tutorial! I will be using it soon too.

    Thanks so much

    Teresa

  28. Fran Hartman says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your vast knowledge. However I live on a sailboat and travel. Most of the time we do not have a good Internet connection and I can not watch your wonderful videos- is there a way to buy a disk with them on it?? I really need the sock darning video-
    Thanks again for all your help.
    Fran
    S/V Cape St. James

    • Liat Gat says:

      I’m so sorry, Fran, I don’t have my videos on disc! It’s just too complicated to coordinate. If you want you can use a free video downloader service to download my videos when you are in port, and then load them on your phone or tablet or computer. Just Google “free vimeo downloader mac” or “free youtube downloader windows” or whatever you need for the system you have and the video you want to download (some of my older videos are on YouTube, the newer ones are on Vimeo). I hope that helps!

  29. lynn893 says:

    Thank you so much for this fantastic video.

    Just wondering if you will consider doing one in the future showing 4 or 5 missing rows? ♥ Trust me, everyone would love it – it would show how you deal with multiple missing rows and their remaining threads, which is where I’m having the issue trying to repair my daughters socks at the ball of the foot.

    Many thanks for your attention to detail! ♥

    • Liat Gat says:

      Thanks Lynn, that is a good suggestion. You’re right – I should have shown more rows. But the first row I do follows the technique you would do for all missing rows except the very last. So you can repeat what I do on the first row and then on your last row follow along as I close up the gap.

  30. Cloudberry says:

    Thank you so much for this extremely informative video. I love the way you describe what you are doing and patiently describe and show how to do it. I just discovered a couple of moth holes in my favourite cashmere cardigan – part of a twin-set. With your help I have been able to figure out how to fix it – fortunately I had a spare thread in the exact colour.

    I have added your website to my blog to share the good news!

  31. Ruth says:

    At last I have found the missing leftover yarn for my favorite sock with the hole in it, located said sock, and found your wonderful tutorial again. I am so excited that I will be able to wear my favorite socks again! I see that there is another spot on the heel that is wearing very thin; should I cut out that section and do the same repair, or is it better just to reinforce it with duplicate stitch? And do you have a tutorial on how to do that too?

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi there,

      I’m so happy you are going to be able to repair your socks! For the bit that is wearing thin, I would DEFINITELY do duplicate stitch instead of cutting out the weak spot. It will be so much easier! I don’t have a video on how to do duplicate stitch but it’s on my list because it’s such a great technique. Soon, soon!

  32. Susan R. says:

    Brilliant! At first I thought, there’s no way I’m going to watch a 20 minute tutorial, but after starting it, the 20 minutes flew by. Entertaining, educational, and extremely informative! The only question I’m left with, is what happens if you have more than two rows to repair. I suppose you just repeat the weaving in and out and crochet hook to pull up loops?
    Rather makes me excited to get a hole in my socks so I can try this!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Thank you! I know – I can’t believe it’s 20 minutes long either, but I realized there was no way I was doing it over once I had started! Ha ha. You are exactly right on your question – just repeat the first steps again. I should have mentioned it in the video but I updated the blog post to answer your question more thoroughly – just look for the section marked “UPDATE.”

  33. Lisa Goldring says:

    This is a fabulous video and instructions. Let me tell you about a variation I made for a particularly challenging hole.
    I had a sweater that someone asked me to repair. Unfortunately, the hole was about 12 stitches and about 6 or 7 rows. And in the middle of the hole was a missing 4 over 4 cable. Plus there was some reverse st st pattern. I started using your method to clean up the hole, but it was too big and the pattern too complicated to continue with your method. So, I put the good stitches on a short dp needle, and started knitting the missing stitches with another dp needle. At the end of the hole, I snipped the yarn with a tail long enough to weave in. Then I started knitting the next row. I did this until the final row of missing stitches. At the end, I wove in the last row, like you showed in your video. It worked like a charm! Thanks for getting me started on this very challenging repair!

  34. Arno Lowi says:

    Wow! Brand new socknitter, with some wool socks that need darning. I luckily happened on this site, and watched this brilliant video! I’m a convert! This was sooo clear, so informative! I learned not just how to reknit a hole, but I learned about the structure of a knit stitch. Thankkk you!

  35. Deborah Adkins says:

    Thank you for the information. I have a pair that needs work and have been saving them until I figured out a good way to go about it. Will try your method as soon as I have time.

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