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The first of February is approaching fast, which means I need to get ready for my first darning class of the year, taking place at Super+Super HQ in Brighton. There are still a few places available, so don’t hesitate to sign up! I’ll be teaching two classic darning techniques: Swiss darning, and stocking darning.

SSMDTwoToneDarn

Stocking darn on sock

And what with the cold weather, I’ve been wearing out my warm woollen socks like there’s no tomorrow. This, of course, is a no reason to have cold toes when you know how to darn; and indeed, is cause for a darn good celebration! My mending basket was stuffed to the brim with holes, and not one to sit idle, I took darning wool and mushroom to the holes:

FDPile

A collection of mended socks

For the sharp-eyed amongst you, you will have noticed these darns look different from the stocking darn above. Here’s a close-up:

FDOldNew

A darn old and a darn new

I have recently discovered a new darning technique! It was brought to my attention by the inimitable Dr Felicity Ford, who sent me a picture from a Finnish book on knitting and mending:

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Finnish darning diagram

I don’t speak Finnish, but I think the diagram speaks for itself. Once you start working it, you’ll see that it’s the good old-fashioned blanket stitch employed in a new way. It is closely related to Scottish darning, although with this Finnish darning technique you lay one foundation thread and then blanket stitch over it, whereas with Scottish darning you first lay down all foundation threads before filling it up with blanket stitch. I find the end result of the Finnish darn a bit neater, and it must be my favourite new darning stitch.

As I have only recently started using this stitch, I’m not sure yet how it will wear. The darn itself seems sturdier than a stocking darn, as there are more layers of thread. However, the area covered around the hole is not as big as with a traditional stocking darn. This may result in new holes developing around the darned area, as that usually has started to wear thin, too. I shall report back in due course, but I have made sure to extend the darned area beyond the hole .

To clarify the diagram, here’s how to do it:

You need a needle, darning wool, and a hole. I have used both sharp and blunt needles, without appreciable differences.

You start with laying down the first foundation thread at the top of the hole. Simply pick up one leg of each knitted stitch:

FinDarn1

Make sure to go well beyond the hole, as you need two or three knitted stitches worth to make the turn and simultaneously reinforcing the area around the hole. You need to pick up the other legs of the same knitted stitches:

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Pull the thread through, but not too tight, or the darn will pucker and cause unnecessary stress on the fabric. The it’s time to start blanket stitching. Try to lay the as close together as possible:

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When you have reached the other end of the hole, you need to start weaving in and out of the knitted stitches again:

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Turn as before, lay down the second foundation thread, weaving in and out of the knitted stitches again. After the next turn, start blanket stitching again. Make sure to insert the needle inbetween the blanket stitches on the row below, and bring the needle up from behind the new foundation thread:

FinDarn6

It’s important to work the blanket stitches close together. Extend the darn beyond the hole, and start weaving the foundation threads through the knitted stitches again.

Give this new technique a go, and let me know how you get on!

FDGreen1

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I recently bid on a Speedweve on an auction website. This being Lancashire’s Smallest Loom, I got very excited when I won the bid. It is a nifty devise to speed up all your darning tasks. I was lucky to get one with the original instruction leaflet, but a quick search on the internet showed that many people have one lingering in the sewing box left by Gran without one, so here’s a picture heavy post on how to use the speedweve:

Tools required: Speedweve, two rubber bands, darning needle, thread (I used embroidery floss from said sewing box), a snipping implement, a HOLE.

Here’s a close-up of the darning plate and the actual loom. Mine came with two: a coarse one for wool yarn and a fine one for linen and silk. The darning plate has a groove.

Place the hole over the darning plate and fix with the first rubber band.

Then fix the loom in place with the second rubber band.

Now set up the warp yarn: fasten the yarn at the bottom of the hole, wind yarn onto the hook above and fasten with a stitch at the bottom. Repeat until the hole is covered. How many hooks you use depends on the size of the hole.

To weave, hold the point of the needle and run the eye of the needle BETWEEN the two rows of yarn, close to the hooks. By going eye first, you won’t catch the needle on the warp yarn.

Reverse the warp yarns by sliding your finger along the top of the hooks.

Don’t forget to fasten the weft thread at the side with a stitch!

When you put the needle through the warp yarn, push it down before pulling the weft yarn through. This ensures an even weave.

Once you are as close to the hooks as you can get, disengage the loom—this can be a bit fiddly. You are left with a row of loops.

Sew down the loops, et voila, a darned tea towel!

I also tidied up the back and sewed down the edge of the hole.

As you can see, this tea towel is in herringbone weave, so my next adventure will be a hand darn, but in pattern… Wish me luck!

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