repairing holes in wool socks

My husband is a runner and wears out lots of expensive store bought wool socks.  Over time I’ve collected a bag of holey socks thinking someday I’ll get around to repurpose or repairing them.  And do you, like me, run around the house, garage and patio in your stocking feet?  Do your socks get holes in the same areas – the heels & toes?  It’s too sad to throw out a pair of hand-knit socks!

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Have you tried to darn your socks like your mother did and end up with this lumpy mess?

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Holes can be repaired by felting wool fiber over the holes.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Foam wedge – wool fiber – Clover brand needle punch (5 needles) and an extra pack of needle replacements for the punch

Romney wool felts with good results.  It is stronger than say a fine Merino wool.  Romney sheep do well in the Pacific Northwest and there are quite a few local farms so I have lots of this colorful Romney wool in my stash.  I also have pre-felt scraps left over from other projects.  These pre-felted scraps are great for repairing holes.  Using wool fibers works well too – it doesn’t have to be a pre-felted piece although it’s probably easier.  The pre-felt is made by wet felting fiber into a small block – say 6″x6″ three thin layers thick.  It is then rolled between 2 sheets of bubble wrap – bubbles toward the fiber.  Roll until it’s just holding together.  You can get very colorful.

To mend you holey socks, first stuff the sock area with a thick piece of foam cushion as shown here.   If you don’t have foam around you can buy it at a craft or fabric store.  My foam piece is 3″ thick and from it cut off a wedge shape about 6” long, 3” high at one end and tapered down to 2″ at the other end.

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Next, cut a piece of pre-felt that will cover the hole with about a quarter inch extra margin all around.

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Place the felt over the hole, and with the needle punch begin punching GENTLY & SLOWLY along the outside edges as shown here.  It’s important to go SLOW – punching straight down – not at an angle.  There’s no need for fast work.  The needles will break !

If you’re new at needle felting, it is a good idea to work at the table with a thick layer of folded up towel underneath your work area.  DO NOT work on your lap!  The needles are sharp and it hurts  to get stuck.

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We’re not finished yet.  The outside of the sock has been prepared and it’s time to felt the inside.  Gently turn the sock inside out and reinsert the foam wedge.  Cut a second pre-felt a little larger than the outside felt piece.  Again, gently and slowly punch around the edge to fix the felt to the sock.  Then repeatedly punch the whole piece of felt.  The fibers will slowly grab onto each other and become a firm patch over the hole.  At this point it may not look like it’s going to hold up to wear.  But we’re not finished yet !

Wash your socks as usual – preferably in the washing machine with hot or warm water and dry in warm dryer.  The patch will felt even more as you wear your newly repaired socks and the felt will get a little firmer.

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There you have it !

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2 Responses to repairing holes in wool socks

  1. great idea Debbie, and very thoughtful of you to post all the directions. I have done the same thing patching elbows in a wool sweater. Except I used roving, and it took a long time. I’ll try a prefelt next time. What’s cool about using wool is you can pretty much match the sweater color, or go for a contrasting color
    best,
    Mary Jane
    Walton, Or

    • catbelle says:

      Thank you Mary Jane…I too patched some little holes in a black llama sweater with black llama fibers.

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