I have been enjoying wearing my hand-knit socks every day, and you can tell.
I did a little Googling for information on how to darn socks and found this and this. There are actually a ton of darning tutorials out there, but they all looked pretty much the same, so these are the two I focused on. They vary a little because you can choose to darn from either the inside or the outside of the sock. I've done it both ways, but prefer doing it from the outside so the raggedy edges of the hole end up inside the sock and don't show. It feels just a bit bulky at first, but then becomes unnoticeable.
Also, I ordered this darning egg from KnitPicks, which has proven essentially useless, except for the purpose of taking these photos. I love KnitPicks as much as the next person, but that egg is too small for anything but the tiniest of holes. I ended up using a large round glass votive holder.
After darning, my sock looked like this:
The darning, it is not pretty. But after washing a couple of times it all starts to meld together and look less weird. Plus it's on my heel so nobody sees it.
The problem is that suddenly ALL of my socks are starting to get holes. Although darning is pretty easy, it takes a good 20-30 minutes to do one sock, and I suddenly have a whole pile of socks awaiting their turn. In addition to the hole in the sock above, I have also darned one of my gray socks (the first socks I ever knit), and now the other one has a hole too; one of Eric's Log Cabin socks; I’ve darned a hole in each of my Jaywalker socks and one of them now has a second hole; and one of my Pomatomus socks now has a very thin spot that if left untouched will soon be a hole.
My new routine is to check all my socks after they’re dry from washing, before putting them away, and setting aside the ones that need to be taken care of. It’s a whole new chore I never had before and they are starting to pile up. (I now understand the “darning basket” referred to in so many 19th century novels.) Eventually, I will have to start throwing them out – I’m not sure how many times you can darn one sock, but I suspect I will find out very soon.
Luckily I have two more pairs of socks on the needles, and I'm formulating a plan to spend my summer catching up by knitting oodles more socks while not wearing any out. I’ll show you my new socks-in-progress soon. Teaser: they are both Madelinetosh. Yum.