Make do and mend - but how many of us know how in this day and age?

Could you darn your socks?

Could you darn your socks? - Credit: Archant

My Year of Thrifty Living.

Darn it is not an expression you hear very often these days, unless, perhaps, you have a penchant for watching reruns of 1970s TV series, The Waltons.

It’s also not something that many people do (or even know how to do) anymore. If an item of clothing gets a hole in it nowadays we just throw it away and buy a new one.

Such behaviour would have been sacrilege to John-Boy, Mary Ellen et al. in the fictional town of Walton’s Mountain during the Great Depression and Second World War, just as it would have been in real life for many people at that time. In fact, Make Do and Mend was a war time slogan in this country, where clothes, along with lots of other things, were rationed. If your sock got a hole in it, you’d darn it (you might also, incidentally, have had the skills to make a coat out of a blanket or some babywear out of a pillowcase).

I haven’t really ever darned anything before but somewhere along the line when I was a child I must have observed my mum or nana doing it because when I decided to take up my needle and thread this week, rather than splash out on some new socks, I found I began to darn quite instinctively, as though I’d been doing it all my life. I’m not saying the finished results were pretty but at least I no longer had holes in my socks. The darning was, dare I say, actually quite therapeutic.

Darning a hole is different to merely sewing two bits of material together. You’ve got to try and imitate the threads of the original garment so the material doesn’t pucker. Once you’ve created new threads across the hole in one direction, you have to weave your sewing needle between the threads at a right angle.

You can even buy implements called darning mushrooms or darning eggs (pieces of wood shaped like, yes, you’ve got it, a mushroom or egg), that you place behind the area you wish to repair so you can get the right tension. I made do with my wooden kitchen pestle, which achieved pretty much the same effect, although there is a faint possibility my socks now smell ever so slightly of garlic.

• Email or tweet using #ThriftyLiving.

Read more about Sheena’s year of thrifty living here.

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