Friday, October 7, 2011

Fixin' - reknitting the toe

So that Araucanica Itata Multi I bought turns out to be unsuitable for socks.

After a short time of wear, a hole at the toe:

[I didn't use any reinforcing thread.]

Also note the distinct colour change on the sole of the sock as opposed to the leg. After 1-2 washes, the colour has faded distinctly. In some of the following pictures, you can also see that a "fuzz" has appeared; presumably this is the bamboo or the silk that is coming out in places where it has been abraded. It's quite unattractive, looks almost like melted plastic.

[I'm reknitting the toe...but check out the colour difference! Yech.]

Time to fix the hole. I hate darning, it looks awful unless you do the kind where you follow the stitches, which I have a really hard time with (especially when there are no stitches to the hole!). So I will simply rip out the toe and reknit. Since these are top-down socks, this is easy to do. I'm not sure how you'd do it for toe-up socks...never tried...
Step 1: establish a "lifeline" below the hole, picking up only one "arm" of each stitch as you go around the entire sock:

[I'm doing the entire toe so I start right before the decreases]

[using DMC embroidery cotton...nice and thick and a different colour!]


Step 2: start ripping at the hole. This makes a sort of "cap" that lifts off above the hole...

[here you can see those plasticky fuzzy thingies, bottom right]

[toe end above hole removed, lifeline showing below.]

Step 3: Rip out to the lifeline. The line will prevent further unravelling, and makes it very easy to pick up the stitches for reknitting!

[I skipped a stitch, but that doesn't matter. It won't unravel.]
Step 4: pick up the stitches from the lifeline, and then remove it. Now you're ready to reknit! You may have to correct the seating of the stitches on the first knitting row, depending on which "arm" of each stitch is facing you.

This, by the way, is the reason why toes were sometimes knit in different colours / pieces / types of wool. It is easy to place the lifeline, and to rip the knitting out, because the ripping stops automatically once the wool runs out.

You can do a similar trick by knitting the heel (short row or afterthought heels work best) using a different piece / colour / type of wool. When it wears out, insert lifelines around the heel, and then rip it out (the heel, not the lifeline!). You knit a new heel in by picking up the sts on one side of the hole. When finished, you'll have to graft (or sew) the last row into the rest of the sock.

Flap heels can be done this way too, but their sides have to be sewn or knitted back in as well. It's a lot more work.


  1. Claudia Scheffler/ angelseedtooAugust 29, 2015 at 7:19 PM

    I love your website. I do forethought heels a little diferently. when I come to the place I want the heel gap to be, I bind off half of the stitches, finish the round in pattern. On the next round I cast on the same number of stitches that I bound off. and continue knitting the rest of the sock including the toe. This way I have no worries about raveling out too much of the heel or dropping stitches. I don't need a lifeline. I just pick up the stitches on the cast on edge and the bound off stitches with the addition of two or more stitches in the corners to avoid holes, just as you do. I wear out the bottom of the heel before I wear out the toe. In fact I often replace the heal twice before I have to replace the toe. Often I will bind off the stitches before I start the toe, then I will pick up the stitches and continue knitting the toe.

  2. For toe-up socks, I put the lifeline in just like you do. However, as they don't unravel in that direction, I take some scissors and cut the toe off the sock one or two rows before the lifeline. This is so I don't have to unpick every single stitch of the entire toe with a needle.

    I then pick the remaining yarn out with a needle until I reach the lifeline, and then pick up the stitches and knit a replacement toe as if the sock was originally cuff-down.