Darning Tutorial

When I set out to teach myself to darn I found a few videos on YouTube and just went for it. What I was learning was a basic darning method in which a woven patch is formed to fill the hole. I was a little bothered by how this looked, but I figured that it’s on the bottom of my foot, so who cares? But, now that I have had to darn my socks multiple times, I have gotten bored with that method and discontent with it’s resulting patched-up look. How could I make it look like knitting? I wondered. I came up with what I thought was brilliance and thought I would write a tutorial to show you all my really super awesome new darning technique. I decided to call it “duplicate stitch darning”. Then I thought I had better Google that first to make sure that there isn’t already a such thing (surely I can’t be the first one to think of this). Lo and behold! I was not the first to think of it. Duplicate stitch darning has already been invented. Darn!

However, the way in which duplicate stitch darning, or Swiss darning, is done is actually quite different than my little invention. The idea is the same, the result is the same, and even the name is the same. But Swiss darning is done from the bottom of the hole up using thread guidelines, and mine is from the top down using yarn as the guidelines.

So, I have decided to go ahead and write my little tutorial anyway. This method of darning is more interesting to work and looks a lot nicer than a regular woven darning. Maybe you could use it, too? Okay, enough with the intro. Let’s get this thing going…

Duplicate Stitch Darning – the WoolandChocolate Way

Assemble the ingredients

I’ve got my holey sock and matching yarn, scissors, a needle, and my darning egg.

A quick word on the darning eggs. The Man picked both of these up at an antique store for me for Christmas. I love them. The one that looks a little like a shoe horn is a bit slippy and I haven’t actually used it yet, but it looks fabulous in my yarn cabinet. The darning mushroom with the silver band is an excellent tool and one that I use all the time. When I didn’t have a darning egg, I used a baby bottle. Okay, back to the tutorial.

Position the hole over the darning mushroom and trim away all the loose bits.

Now, take a length of yarn and thread your needle. Sew a running stitch square around the outside of the hole, about 3 stitches in from edge. This provides a good anchor for the patch.

Once you have made a square around the hole, starting from the top, begin stringing your guide lines from side to side, one horizontal line for every knit row.

As you can see, I use the running stitch square as my guide, setting the ends of the lines 3 stitches deep into good fabric.

Now, your yarn should be in the lower right hand corner. Weave your way to the top right corner of the square and begin working a duplicate stitch over the existing stitches. When you get to the hole you will use the horizontal guide lines that you sewed in earlier to complete the duplicate stitch.

Working from the top down, take your needle under the next guide line.

Now, take your needle from right to left through the “v” of the above stitch (as if to work the duplicate stitch).

And repeat, taking the needle under the next guide line from top to bottom.

Working in this way, stack your little “v”‘s in a nice, tidy column all the way to the bottom of the running stitch square, about 3 stitches from the bottom of the hole. Now, weave your needle through the guide lines to the top of the square.

And, starting at the top of the running stitch square, work your three duplicate stitches over the good stitches and proceed to work down the column as before.

In this way, build a knitted patch across the hole.

I like to push the columns to the right once I am finished with each in order to pack them in more tightly. Tension seems to be the trickiest part of this method. As you can see, I err on the loose side, but I am trying to learn to make the “v”‘s more closely matching to the gauge of the knitted sock.

When the hole is patched, weave in the ends.

And  you’re done!

Maybe I am crazy, but I really like the way that looks. I also happen to think that it is pretty hard wearing as well.

There. I did it. My first tutorial ever…..

…. does it make any sense?

73 thoughts on “Darning Tutorial

  1. I love it, going to save it for future reference. What I really want to know is where did you get that YUMMY yarn????
    Thank you for the tut!

  2. Someday, when my socks need darning…I hope to find this tutorial again 🙂 Or maybe I’ll just bookmark it…or pin it on Pinterest…whichever.

    Then again, I hope to never have to darn my socks in the first place…….

  3. Wow! I really like this method. Too bad I didn’t see this last week. Just “repaired” a Christmas stocking; wasn’t as neat as this.

  4. Now I’m wondering if you snuck into our home yesterday?! Hubby and I were talking about how nice it would be if I could learn to darn the hole he wore in the first (only) handmade socks I made him a couple of years ago. Voila – there you were on Vogue Knitting’s FB page! Thanks!

  5. I happen to have a handmade sock that needs darning, and I have passively been researching the techniques and tools, but I LOVE the clarity of your tutorial! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us 🙂

  6. I’m a swiss darning “expert”… just joking, but I’ve darned my fair share of socks. Actually recently darned up a dozen socks that had been waiting (impatiently) for repair. This time around, however, I substituted a couple of wires for the usual pre-threading method. Your method looks good too.
    However, I prefer to try and catch my “holes” before they appear and duplicate stitch over thin spots before I have to pull out the extra thread/yarn/wire.
    I also prefer not to use the original yarn since it clearly did not hold up well in that spot in the first place and I’d prefer not to darn it again.

  7. I have tried to do this myself. This looks like an excellent tutorial. I can already see some places I went wrong. I really appreciate the trouble you took to make this post. I am pinning this to my Knitting Techniques board on Pinterest. I fount it by way of Pinterest, actually.

  8. It makes great sense. Darning has always mystified me, and I think I could follow this. I had to pin it to my knitting board on pinterest (my new form of filing!) Thanks for sharing such a detailed nice turorial!

  9. Would you say that this method takes longer or about the same to work as traditional patch darning?
    At the risk of sounding obnoxious, when I first saw your tutorial I thought, “Oh, that’s pretty but looks tedious.” Mainly because duplicate stitch isn’t my favorite.
    But as I sat there last night working a traditional darn and two passes wasn’t enough and I’ll have to make two more passes…well, I figured I’d take another look at yours.
    Also, are the columns linked to each other, or are they only anchored by the guide threads?
    I have two socks to darn so the second might get your treatment!

    • It probably does take longer and I guess it is a little more tedious. I consider the woven method boring and since I am an adventurous crafter (aka please don’t give me boring knitting) I prefer i more challenging method. 🙂

      The columns are not linked together. I guess one could figure a way to link them up. Hmmm, the idea that comes to my mind would even make it harder wearing, but I would have to figure out how to make it work. I do hve some more darning to do…. 🙂

      Good luck on the darning, no matter which method you chose! 🙂

      • This would be a whole lot more clear to me if the patch were done in a contrasting yarn. Granted, the finished sock would not be as glorious, but the instructions would be!

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  12. Wonderful! I just learnt to darn using the weaving method (having recently moved to a country where woollen socks are a necessity) and this looks much nicer! If it’s harder wearing as well then I’ll definitely have to learn how to do it 🙂 thank you for the tutorial (I found it via pinterest, and have repinned ;))


  13. Wonderful! I just learnt to darn using the weaving method (having recently moved to a country where woollen socks are a necessity) and this looks much nicer! If it’s harder wearing as well then I’ll definitely have to learn how to do it thank you for the tutorial (I found it via pinterest, and have repinned )


  14. Looks great! Definitely want to get my own darning ball x now for some socks to wear out! Good job on first tutorial x

  15. Thanks for this tutorial! I love making socks but my son wears holes in the toes and heels so fast. This method looks so much nicer that other darning methods.

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  18. I had fun reading this tutorial, and I am an avid knitter, so subscribed to your blog. Then I read more about you, and enjoyed your pictures. But the description of yourself is very familiar!😊 We have much in common! God bless!

    I Once Was Lost and Found, my wordpress blog.

  19. Thanks so much for writing this tutorial! Just used this method and it works great. I like that you leave the guide strands in the patch–it’s much hardier that way. I’ll be using it again.

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  21. Thank you! I KNEW there was a way to do this because it’s how my mom darned her socks. I just didn’t know how to do it,& it’s too late to ask her

  22. Lovely tutorial, great photos! I have used different techniques for different looks, but I really like yours. I have many socks to darn, so I will try your technique next. Thank you!

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  24. This is great thanks for the tutorial. I have tried darning socks with two different methods and disliked both. I am curious at how it lasted? Pretty good?

  25. Oh Thank you!that what we really need in Russia!it someine to tell us HOW! Very talanted. this was reposted in Russian but with useless translataion.

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  27. Great tutorial! Thanks. I have my grandmothers mushroom and band darner, just like yours. Yours is the only other one I’ve ever seen. I also have the funny shoe one which I find slippery too!

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  29. Much nicer way to darn that the usual stitch. But I’m not clear how you do the duplicate stitch. Can you explain that in more detail? Thanks!

  30. I saw this same type of darning in a historical needlework called Project Gutenberg. They had both horizontal and vertical thread guide options, but your instructions and photos are so much better. Thank you for posting this for others.

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  32. I have to mend a small hole in my sister’s favourite socks, the ones that I knitted for her about 8 years ago. I can darn (woven back and forth method) but wanted something that blended in. This tutorial is perfect! I found something similar in a French women’s work encyclopedia from 1900 (Encyclopedie des ouvrages de dames https://archive.org/details/krl00394827/page/n213) and went looking for a modern day tutorial, with clearer instructions. Thank you!

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  34. Ha! I KNEW there had to be a better way, THANK YOU!!! I’ve sewn pretty much most of my life, and I don’t really mind hand sewing, but after I tried the first time on my husband’s socks and finally finished it, it looked like a train wreck! I’m definitely trying your method, it looks so nice 🙂 I’ll be watching for an egg now, I used what I had on hand, a smooth surface styrofoam ball ( I use them for building up a doll’s head with clay, but it’s really too light weight!). I will be forever grateful!

  35. Thank you very much! I had problems understanding how to duplicate stitches. Would it be possible to show it in a video?
    Thanks again!

  36. I am a sock knitter and have darned Sox before but will try this method ASAP. I was considering getting a stitchweve tool but they are too expensive. This will work the same way. More comments to follow. Thank you for sharing.

  37. This is great. Was thinking about getting a Speedweave but they are too expensive and this will work just as well. Will let you know how it goes with photos.

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