Thursday, November 3, 2011

darned if I don't

My mom has a great vintage bag. Inside are socks, yarn, a gigantic needle, and a light bulb. Growing up, this bag would sometimes come out in the evening after (most of) the chaos of the day had been tucked into bed. This was the darning bag.

Did any of your mothers darn? My mom would place the lightbulb into a sock in need of mending and position it where a hole had worked its way through a sock. Using the needle, she would patiently weave yarn back and forth over the hole. And suddenly the socks were wearable again. No more heels or toes poking out.

I have to admit that I wasn't a big fan of darned socks growing up. The mended spot was a bit thicker than the rest of the sock, and irritated me all day as I walked around on it. Yet I attempted to keep up with the tradition after I got married. I had a bag. I had a light bulb, a gigantic needle and some yarn. I definitely had a lot of socks with holes in them. Oh, but I couldn't bring myself to darn them. It just took too darn long. When the few I actually mended ended up back in the darning bag where new holes had formed, I figured I was fighting a losing battle. It felt almost criminal to throw holey socks away, but I decided my time was better spent elsewhere.

I still mended clothing - first only when a seam had popped open and it took two seconds at the sewing machine to stitch it back together. Then (after watching my mom expertly fix a hole in my husband's pants with an extra layer of denim and the mending stitch on her machine) I began mending holes that weren't along seams - also a quick fix with a sewing machine.

What do you do when you have snatches of time when your kids don't require your assistance? At home, the internet is perfect ...ahem... for sucking these moments right up. But when we're out and about, I tend to just zone out. I can't bear to waste these rare moments, so I always bring a book along with me when I take the kids to the park. But, really, who am I kidding? I can't read at the park. I am usually bombarded with "watch me! watch me!" as the children show off their playground playing skills. Or unable to read more than one page in an hour as I glance up every 30 seconds or so to make sure the children aren't about to wander off or kill themselves (or each other). And so I thought, darned if I don't need a darning bag!
Still no socks for me. But, surprisingly, I really enjoy mending clothing by hand. I am actually creating new cloth as I set up a row of parallel threads across a hole and then weave over and under them. And in 15 minutes or so, my shirt is perfectly wearable once more - and with only an inconspicuous spot of regenerated fabric. I don't have the space, money or time right now for weaving cloth on a loom (wouldn't that be amazing?). This is the next best thing.


  1. Do you remember when your friends at school expressed a desire to have patches on their socks as well?

  2. a light bulb -- wow. I've darned on a tennis ball, but only ever made the effort for excellent wool socks. any other socks seem, well, like a waste of time. athletic socks, for example, I try not to actually touch with my hands. ahh, the joys of teenage boys.