Refooting and new heels

I don’t knit myself, although I can knit in a very basic way, but I admire people who do! I mentioned before that I picked up an old book in a charity shop, published in 1946, but no doubt written while the war was still on and many things, including wool were rationed. The idea of not wasting, of making do and mending persisted for years and years afterwards, and even as a child it was drummed into me… my family now find it quite comical that I’m so anxious about not wasting! it saves money but on the other hand it does encourage an awful lot of old stuff to be kept, in case it might be useful!

Here is some handy tips on how to repair old socks and stockings… just in case you get inspired to do so!

With knitted socks and stockings the legs very seldom need repairing, while the heels and toes wear through after a time. As has been explained before, knitting a thread of cotton or silk into the heels and toes prolongs their life considerable, but when they wear through, instead of daring which is generally rather unsightly, it is usually far more satisfactory to knit new ones.
TOES – Cut off the worn part, pick up the stitches and knit up as for the original toe.
NEW HEELS – Cut away the old heel, unravelling the last row or two to obtain a good row of loops. Pick up the heel flap stitches on one needle and the side stitches on two others… (there follows a detailed instruction on how to knit the new heels, the crucial thing seeming to be to graft the whole thing together securely)
REFOOTING – It is better to refoot four-needle socks and stockings using the two needle method, as it is thus possible next time to refoot the sole without knitting a new instep.
Cut off the worn foot above the instep shaping above the instep shaping and unravel for a row or two to leave a good row of loops. (… more detailed instructions)
There is nothing magic about these methods of repairing socks and stockings and it will be found that in practice they are far more satisfactory than darning and reknitting.
Always keep a small quantity of the original wool by you so that the difficulty of matching does not arise.
If, however, you find it impossible to match the wool, unravel and use the good wool from the foot for the heel part that will show above the shoe, and use another colour for the underfoot.

I wonder how many people actually did this… probably many as there was little alternative if you couldn’t buy new as there were none even if you afford it.


  1. Rosie Scribblah

    I can remember my Nana doin this and also unravelling our sweaters and reknitting them, adding stripes of different coloured wools to the original. The more we grew, the stripier the sweaters became.


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