Saturday, February 9, 2008

I felt that...

I've been knitting socks for quite a while. I love them because they're a relatively quick project, easily portable and, most importantly, I have cold feet. Nice warm wooly socks keep those toes so much more comfortable than any cotton, nylon or acrylic can. The spouse claims to enjoy wearing them too, so I keep him well supplied.

Nothing good lasts forever though, and there always comes a time when that first little hole appears. Here's one peeking through even as we speak --

Now normally I would just snip that offending hole right off the sock, pick up the live stitches and knit a new toe. This time, however, I'm up against the problem of having no more yarn to do so. I hate to see a good sock go bad, so let's try a little needle felting.

I had a felting needle I bought at MD Sheep & Wool a few years back (and never used), some leftover high density foam from a home dec. project, and some fiber -- seems like a good solution to me. Now, unfortunately, I tend to like to spin natural colored fiber, so I didn't have a good match for those black socks. I went with some Jacob (the dark colored bits), figuring a brown-ish toe was better than an unwearable sock. If I'd had some black yarn, I might have tried that -- but no luck there, either.

OK, I've never tried needle felting before, but why let that stop me. So I turned the sock inside out, stuffed the toe with the foam, layered on a thin bit of fiber, and started punching the needle up and down. By golly, it forms a nice, cushioned mat right over that hole.

Just for good measure, I turned the sock right side out, re-inserted the foam inside the toe, and punched away on that side too. (You know, this is almost as good for releasing pent up energy as kneading bread.) When I was done, I had a nice, thin layer of felt patching the hole in the toe of the sock. I spread the felting out over most of the toe -- an ounce of prevention...

And here's the outside of the sock, post felting --

You can see a 'beard' of the lighter colored fiber against the black of the sock. So, not as elegant a solution as using same colored fiber, but it closed up the hole, reinforces the toe area and keeps the socks in circulation -- not too bad, eh? He'll just have to remember that these aren't the socks to wear when going through airport security!


Karla said...

very creative and resourceful. you should do the other one for good measure. it might get jealous.

LizzieK8 said...

What a great idea! I just learned how to darn the other day.

The original yarn on the socks? Superwash?

Karen said...

Not to worry, Karla, he now has a matching pair of 'bearded' socks. I'm not incredibly compulsive about matching, but I wanted them to feel the same on the foot -- and perhaps it will keep the other toe from popping through so quickly. Lizziek8 -- Yes, they were regular sock yarn (Blauband, perhaps?) so machine washable. Now, I know you couldn't 'wet' felt that yarn, but the needle felting seems to be fine. Time will tell, though, and I'll update if there are problems. Actually, I've noticed that even supposedly machine washable sock yarns will felt just a wee bit in areas (toes, heels) that receive a lot of abrasion -- at least on the spouse's socks.