Thursday, February 26, 2015

Darned Socks

Do you know what this is?
It's a darning egg.

 Most people in this day and age have no idea what a darning egg is, let alone what it is used for. In the modern era of disposable items, especially clothing darning has become a lost art. At the turn of the century every household had at least one darning egg and darning was an essential domestic skill. 

  So what is darning? Darning was a method used commonly to repair holes or worn thin areas of socks and stockings before the time when socks and hose were disposable. For hundreds of years this task fell to servants, maids and it was even included in the duties of nurses at one time.
Image property of Getty Images

I found this beautiful picture online that illustrates how in the not so distant past darning socks was part of the normal duties of a nurse.

Darning at one time was considered a skill necessary to life. Often viewed as a womanly skill, it is worth noting that in the First and Second World war soldiers darned their own socks in down time. It was a part of life when socks and hose were expensive and not so easily replaced. 

A page on darning from a vintage manual

  The art of darning though is not entirely lost, there is a large movement towards learning this skill again. I have taken the time to sift through all the information new and old on the internet to learn the skill. 


  Two reasons, I like learning old skills, my hubby seems to think it has something to do with my paranoia about being prepared for when the zombie apocalypse hits. Joking aside I don't like just throwing stuff away, I happen to be a bit of a pack rat, but I think it comes from growing up with grandparents who grew up in the war time who taught me that if you could fix it, it was still good. 
   The second reason came out of necessity and thrift. I wear compression socks to work, 12 hour shifts on my feet have made it somewhat of a necessity. After much trial I found some great socks, a wool and bamboo blend that allows the feet to breath even when being crammed into hot leather shoes for hours on end. The down side to these miracle socks is they are expensive, at $25.00 a pair it's not like they are disposable, so when holes appear in the toes I am just a little reluctant to simply toss them out. So I learned to darn my socks.

My sock pile

  Back to the darning egg, it is inserted into the toe or heel of the sock to spread the fabric so you can see the area you are working on a give you a firm surface to work with. In the beginning I used a tennis ball but found the fuzzy surface often got sewn into my sock. Darning eggs are relatively cheap, about $10.00 for a decent wooden one, which is less than half the price of a new pair of socks and it will last forever. Darning is a relatively easy thing to learn and while it can be a touch time consuming if you have a pair of socks you absolutely can't live without or can't afford to replace it's a life saver. 
Let me walk you through it:

My socks tend to wear out in the toe are pretty fast. 
It's better to darn your socks before you have a huge hole, as it becomes trickier.
See the worn area? This is what needs to be fixed.

First order of business is to lay down a border of stitches around the weak area.
Make sure these stitches are put into the fabric of the sock that is still intact.

Next lay down verticle lines of thread over the weak area.
Anchor these in with stitches above your border stitches well into the "good" fabric of the sock.
Cover the weak area entirely and continue stitching into the "good" fabric beyond the weak area.

Now begin to stitch horizontal to the weak area. 
When you reach the vertical thread weave your thread through them.
You are basically creating a grid.
Continue until you cover the entire area and then into the "good" fabric into your boarder stitches.
Knot off your thread and you are done!

My socks are all ready to go.

  This works great for heavier socks like skiing and hiking socks, or heavier compression socks like mine. I like to use embroidery floss as it is heavier and easy to work with, I split the floss in half and use three strands when I darn. Using a different color floss is helpful as you can easily see your stitches as you work. Besides who cares if it doesn't match, no on is going to see your mended toes while your shoes are on.

  It may seem like a ridiculous amount of work but I actually enjoy darning. It's pretty mindless work that keeps my hands busy so it's perfect for doing in front of the TV or on a quiet morning in a sunbeam when I want to think about school while accomplishing something. It may be an old skill but it is a useful one, besides you never can be too prepared for the zombie apocalypse!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Sunday

  While most people are in front of a television right now, I'm getting ready for work. Yep, I volunteered to work Superbowl Sunday in a trauma center, in the city the game is being held in, smart me. In reality, while I enjoy football, I am just not that married to any team and have yet to make Superbowl Sunday the third most important day of the year next to Christmas and Thanksgiving. Honestly, I don't mind working tonight, the die hard fans get to have their fun and I get a few bucks in my pocket.

  Also did I ever tell you nurses love to potluck? Oh yes and we are very, very good at it. The key to a good potluck is lots of different foods that can all be eaten on the go. It is not uncommon to see several crock pots bubbling with delicious contents in the unit on nights like these. My problem is that I found out about the potluck last night, when I worked and had no time to plan due to the need to sleep so I could get up and go to work all over again. No worries I have a fail proof solution that works every time, home made salsa.

  Who doesn't love a good drippy salsa with plenty of good crisp chips on the side? Easy to grab on the go and stays fresh the whole night. It's super easy, the key is just good, fresh ingredients.

  Cilantro is always around in my house, it's used in a lot of  Asian cooking and we live in the Southwest, Mexican makes it on to the menu once in awhile. 

Fresh jalapenos are essential.
If you don't like your salsa super hot remove the seeds and only add the pepper.
But it is a must, it adds a nice fresh flavor.

  This recipe isn't really a recipe at all, you just toss everything in the blender until it's the consistency you like, then chill it in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld. I made this batch in the morning when I got home, put it in an old sauce jar and stuck it in the fridge.  Everyone will think you worked forever chopping and mixing, you don't have to let them know how easy it was. It'll be our little secret.

Blender Salsa "Recipe"

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can original Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno,
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime (fresh! The stuff in a bottle is not the same)
 Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whiz until desired texture. Add salt to taste and chill for 3 - 4 hours to let the flavors blend. Serve cold with chips or on your favorite dishes.

All packed up with some of my favorite chips!