Reinforcing Socks

Do any of you sock knitters our there reinforce your socks in the heels and/or toes?  If so, what method do you use and what results have you had?

I have not in the past.  However, I find myself in a dilemma.  My family keeps requesting socks.  They all love hand-knit socks, from my 5-year-old youngest son all the way up to my husband.  They all want me to make them socks.  But when I do…they love them so much that they wear them almost constantly (except when I demand them for washing) and they have holes in them within a month.

Possible ways to fix this…make them more pairs so they can rotate through more and not wear so hard on them…and reinforce them.  Making them more pairs is all fine and dandy, but of course I can only knit so fast, and I don’t want all the hard work to be hole-filled if I can’t keep up.  I don’t know how much reinforcing helps, but I am willing to give it a try at this point.  WAY too much time and effort goes into a pair of hand-knit socks to have them full of holes so soon.

So I looked it up online as well as asking my friends at my knitting group.  I decided to start by trying the method that is done after the sock is finished.  You use a nylon mix yarn/thread (available at most knitting stores) and a needle to weave through every-other purl bump on the inside of the sock in the area you want the reinforcement.  You can also use the same yarn you used for the sock, but I was worried about how thick that would turn out so I used the specialty stuff made just for this to do it on my first pair of socks.  I might try to use the same yarn as the sock on a future pair.

Here are the socks I just finished for oldest son for Christmas (yes indeed, I only have my husband’s gift and a couple more hot pads for Christmas baskets and then I am DONE with the Christmas knitting!!!):

photo 3

I have been examining my whole family’s socks to see where they get the wear and tear.  it is interesting to see that different people get their holes in different places.  It must have to do with how they walk and the wear that causes on the sock.  So this particular son gets his holes on the sole in the heel area.  Because the sock is striped, I couldn’t find a coordinating thread that matched both color section I wanted to cover, but it didn’t end up mattering with this method because it didn’t show through.

Here is what the weaving I did on the inside of the heel looked like.  It went across the blue and the brown with the brown reinforcing thread.

photo 1It didn’t show at all from the outside:

photo 2I made sure to stretch the fabric at the end of each line to be sure I wasn’t doing it to tight and causing it not to have the stretch and give that the rest of the sock had.

That’s the only method I’ve tried thus far, and I won’t know how well it works until the end of January after he has worn them for a while.  🙂

I am going to keep using this method on the next socks I make. For the people in the family who also have toe-hole problems I will either do this method or just knit the whole toe carrying the reinforcing thread through, if I have a matching color that works.  I think having a darning egg would make this easier, and I know there is one around here somewhere from one of my grandmothers or great-grandmothers.  I need to find it and see if it does make it easier.

I am going to reinforce them from now on unless I have evidence that it isn’t helping.  Hopefully, this can make these homemade gifts last longer.

5 thoughts on “Reinforcing Socks

  1. Beautiful socks!!! I’m a wannabe sock knitter…Maybe, just maybe I’ll get a pair done this winter. Right now I’m finishing up some fingerless mittens… I’m calling them Ragga-mittens…if you can imagine what they look like. Sorry I can’t help…I’m just a newbie knitter. 🙂


  2. I can’t help you with this one. Did enjoy reading it. I remember my mother darning socks using a darning egg. I think she stopped when we became teenagers with jobs and started buying our own socks.


  3. I get holes in the heel and the toes!! There’s a video somewhere I saw once where you take another strand of the same yarn you’re using for the socks, and weave it in along the back, like in stranded colourwork. Haven’t tried it but it looks like it might work. I just go around with holes in my socks 😛 Sorry I can’t remember the video though.


  4. Hi! I was wondering what yarn you used to make your son’s socks? They are lovely, er, handsome! I’ve been reinforcing socks like you have described. I’m going to try knitting wooly nylon with the toes and heels of my future socks. I heard that works great for durability and later ease of darning, if the socks do wear out. Five bucks for 1000 meters too.


    • Patons Kroy Sock yarn.

      I have one child who specifically gets holes in the toes so I have decided to knit the nylon all along the toe in his. But everyone else gets the holes on the bottom of the sock at the heel so I feel like it would waste the nylon to knit it in all the way around in those areas. So for now, unless I learn some other method, I am going to continue to weave it in on the bottom of the heel after it is done.

      When you say knit it in with the heel what do you mean? Just the heel flap and the turn of the heel? Or do you mean continuing into the full round of the foot? I can’t figure out how to knit it in on just the underside of the foot near the heel without it going around to the top of the foot as well.

      Thanks for sharing your methods!


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