One of my growing research interests is repair, specifically mending of textiles, darning, patching, and other methods. Over the past few years I have sourced and read many books, articles and published research papers on mending, I find the most informative the instruction books from the early 20th century and back into the 19th century. Almost all of them advise that preventative measures, reinforcing worn areas before holes appear is the best method. Today I followed that advice. I have a pair of socks that do duty around house, and this morning I noticed a thin spot in the heel.
It was thin, but not yet a hole. There were thin threads marking each worn knit stitch - this meant I could use Swiss darning as the method of mending. When the knit fabric has worn through - other methods are required to replace the missing area.
I fetched my darning mushroom, this is a formal one, with a spring loaded metal clip to hold the fabric while the mend is made. Stretched over the darning mushroom the worn area is even more noticeable. And the felting of the fabric, this is superwash - and whist it won't felt when washing - the rubbing of wearing will cause the fabric to felt a little, unlike the felting that happens in the wash - this kind of felting happens with feet inside so the socks do t get any smaller. I think in some way the felting probably makes for a sturdier fabric - all those fibers tangled together must be more durable.
There is theory, the idea of what should be done, and there is practice, the doing. When. Worked together - theory informing practice the term praxis is used. My praxis was informed by theory - but I do need practice. Swiss darning over thin felted threads at a sock gauge (8 or so stitches per inch) is not as easy to do neatly as theory implies. Once this kind of sewing was part of many school curriculum, students were breaded on their mending, mine might not pass.
Still, the socks are mended, ready for a few more years of wear. I suspect the darn will feel like a soft lump under my heal but in time will soften and flatten till I no longer notice it. While my darning wouldn't win me any school prizes - it is serviceable, I finished the work by weaving the yarns back through the darned area as further reinforcing, and turned the sock inside out to see the inside, again the mend is visible, but I think neat. My Ravelry notes tell me these socks date from January of 2010, four years of near constant rotation in my sock drawer is a good lifespan, I will be interested to see how the repair performs.