Of all the fiber craft tools out there, mending tools like darning eggs and darning looms can be some of the quirkiest ones you’ll see! The simple functions of darning tools leaves a lot of room for creative construction, which is why vintage versions can look like art pieces, but the variation in styles can also make these tools intimidating, so we like to stick with natural wood classics! Here’s an overview on each tool and where you might use them to help your darning.
The Darning Egg
Darning eggs provide a stable surface to work against while darning. Their small shape allows them to fit into tight spaces like sock toes and heels, and the curved surface helps maintain the curves of your sock as you work a darning stitch, which is a woven stitch with less stretch than knitting. Some darning eggs have no handles and truly look like eggs, but the Knit Picks Darning Egg has a handle in order to provide somewhere to hold it without your hands getting in the way of your repair.
The Darning Mushroom
The cousin of the darning egg, the darning mushroom provides the same functions as the darning egg, but it has a bigger, flatter working surface for larger repairs on larger pieces. It might not fit into the toes of your socks as easily as a darning egg, but it will allow you to quickly repair large holes on sweater elbows or blankets. Many styles of darning mushrooms will include a groove around the outer edge of the top to place an elastic band over your knit, securing it to the mushroom so it can’t shift out of place. The Knit Picks Darning Mushroom comes with two sizes of tops, both with outer grooves, so you’ll be able to fit in sweater sleeves and repair a range of hole sizes.
The Darning & Mending Loom
The darning & mending loom is a mini loom that typically comes with a base to be used like a darning egg and one or more heddle pieces that attach to it. The damaged knit gets stretched over the base like on a darning egg, and then the heddle piece gets attached over the damaged knit, so the teeth of the heddle are facing up. Everything is then secured, typically with an elastic band. With the pieces assembled, the heddle provides a guidance for working the woven darning stitch, so each warp stitch of the darning process is evenly placed and slightly raised, which makes it much easier to create an even and consistent darned patch. We have two darning & mending looms from Katrinkles: the Bigger Darning & Mending Loom Kit which includes multiple heddles to create different densities of warp stitches and a larger base for larger repair and the Darning & Mending Loom Kit with a smaller base and only one heddle. Both versions include a tutorial pamphlet that will walk you through setting up the mending loom and teach you the woven darning stitch. We also have a Heddle Expansion Pack to give yourself more options.
The Improvised Darning Tool
Not officially a tool, the improvised darning tool is any smooth surface you stuff inside your knitting to use like a darning egg or mushroom. Decorative Easter eggs are a popular choice for obvious reasons, but raiding the kitchen is also traditional, using firm veggies like winter squash or a gently curved jam jar. You could even use a Magic 8 Ball. Improvising with items at home makes it easy to try mending without investing in tools, but it can be challenging to hold everything in place without a handle or the ability to secure the damaged knit with an elastic band.
What’s your favorite tool for darning? Share with us in the comments!