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What is a Darning Egg?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A darning egg is a tool used in knitting and darning, a related needlecraft which involves fixing areas of wear and tear on garments. The darning egg is most closely associated with socks, since it makes darning socks much easier, but it can be used for other projects as well. Many knitting and sewing supply stores sell darning eggs, which can be purchased in an array of sizes.

The classic darning egg is an ovoid piece of stone, metal, ceramic, or wood. Many darning eggs also have a handle attached, to make it easier to work with the darning egg. The majority of darning eggs are made from wood, since it is easy to shape and work with. The smooth surface of the darning egg will not be easily scratched by a darning needle, and it keeps the textile stretched over it smooth and even.

Darning can be used to repair both knits and weaves. When darning basic wear and tear, a darning needle and thread are used to join the intact areas of the textile and to create a bridge of new material. After the darning is finished, a patch of darned fabric will have been made in the hole or tear which needed repair. There are a number of different darning stitches, many of which are designed to blend in with the existing material so that the site of the repair is not as obvious. Socks are commonly darned because holes appear in the heels and toes with regular wear.

As a mending tool, a darning egg is extremely useful. A darning egg holds the textile being darned firmly, so that the darner can focus on making even, tight stitches. It can also be used at the end of a knitting project to firm up and even out tension. For socks especially, finishing with a darning egg can ensure that the stitches at the very end of the toe are tight and even, blending in with the rest of the knitted sock.

Many people in industrialized nations do not engage in mending, especially for clothing items such as socks. They believe that darning a pair of socks would take more time than picking up a new pair would. However, darning does save money in the long term, by prolonging the life of socks and other clothing. In addition, darning can be used to save a favorite sock, sweater, or similar garment. For some socks, replacement is challenging, and darning the socks helps to delay the inevitable.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon1001098 — On Mar 06, 2019

I like to use the "Dove" bar soap. No rough edges, concave and convex sides, cheap.

By sherlock87 — On Dec 19, 2011

My mom has a very old darning egg that was her mother's; it might be even older. She used it a few times when I was younger, but I never learned to use it.

Even though I now knit a lot and my mom knows how to knit as well, neither of us has ever attempted socks by hand. I know some knitters, though, who not only make their own socks but wear them out to the point of needing to darn parts back together.

I admire people who can really use these, and hope to eventually be able to make, and repair, my own socks.

By kentuckycat — On Dec 19, 2011

@Emilski - I actually see people buy darning eggs to be used for decorations or to paint and use for arts and crafts. Now a lot of darning eggs I have seen have been ceramic and these are a lot easier to use that the wooden eggs.

Personally I do not like the wooden darning eggs and feel like the wood fibers start to catch on the threads after it has been used quite often. A ceramic or glass darning egg does not have this problem and I feel like all wooden eggs are good for in the long run is simply being used for arts and crafts purposes.

By Emilski — On Dec 18, 2011

@cardsfan27 - I would have to disagree with you, because with advances in technology nowadays there is almost no need to have an old fashioned darning egg and it would be something that this current generation would not know anything about.

Until reading this article I did not know what a darning egg was, but I can see how the shape of the egg would be perfect for repairing things like socks. It gives and appropriate shape that allows for someone to repair the sock with a needle and thread and is also shaped interestingly enough that it would be easy to create and manufacture.

I know they used to make darning eggs out of wood and I guarantee this would confuse people and make them think that it is simply a wooden egg used for arts and crafts. However, they are probably actually looking at a darning egg and it just registers in their minds as an arts and crafts piece.

By cardsfan27 — On Dec 17, 2011

@jmc88 - That is a very interesting story and I think that was a very good assignment to have for teaching people how to do historical research. However, I question including the darning egg as one of the objects used in the assignment, simply because it is rather common.

Darning eggs are actually a fairly common thing to have and a lot of people that own antiques or use the "old fashion ways" may own a darning egg. It was very common at one time and it is not actually a very unusual thing to come across.

By jmc88 — On Dec 17, 2011

I once took a college class in history that dealt with learning historical research and the first assignment we had was the professor grabbed a bunch of random objects that absolutely no one knew what they were. The one I picked was a darning egg and I had absolutely no idea what it was at the time.

We could not take these objects home, so I drew a picture of it and wrote a description up, it was not very hard considering it was a wooden egg, and took it to my mom to show. Not only did my mom know what it was, she went over to a drawer and pulled out her darning egg that I had never seen before.

Naturally, knowing what it was now I was able to write a lot on it and get one of only two A's in the class on the assignment.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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