Rock Your Socks: We talk about mending and upcycling your favourite pairs with Flo Greaves
We do love a great pair of socks here at Thought, and when we spotted the Darning Diary on Instagram we were instantly smitten.
The account was created by Flo Greaves and features her delicate sock darning work, which isn’t only about mending worn well-loved socks but also about adding a little something special to the pieces too.
Flo told us all about where the passion for her work comes from, as well as giving us a few tips on upcycling socks. She also shared which her favourite Thought socks of the season are too. Take a look…
In Flo’s own wordsThe beginning of the journey
My favourite pair of Thought socks, and the pair that really started my darning journey, have rainbows on. I’m currently studying for a master’s degree in meteorology, so I’d love to see some more weather-themed socks!
I started out with the intention simply to extend the lifetime of my rainbow socks, so I could keep wearing my favourites, which at the time had holes in the heels. I found some plain cotton thread and made a fairly scrappy attempt at darning the holes, following the instructions in an old book on needlework.
I remember getting some dubious looks from colleagues when I mentioned this in one of those ‘Share something you’re proud of this week’ meeting icebreakers at work!
Being part of a community
Around the beginning of lockdown (with more time for mending on my hands) I started an Instagram account, initially just as a personal record so that I could keep track of how many pairs of socks I had mended. I soon realised, though, what a fantastic wellspring of knowledge, support and inspiration the online mending community is. Through following other menders, I quickly saw that mending doesn’t have to be purely functional but can be an opportunity for creativity as well.
Breathing new life into socks
I’ve never thought of myself as an upcycler, but there’s definitely a lot of overlap between upcycling and repair. My sock darning has evolved from plain threads and straight lines to bright, mismatching colours and organic shapes. It’s incredibly satisfying to breathe a bit more life into a pair of socks which might otherwise be on its way to the bin, and now I find I love my socks a little bit more with each new splash of colour. Something else I’ve learnt along the way is that darning is much easier and quicker if done *before* the holes develop!
The wellbeing of mending
I’ve also found tangible mental health benefits in mending. Darning is a simple, soothing task that can easily be picked up and put down at any time. I often go through bouts of anxiety, and darning has become my go to activity to busy my hands and anchor my mind when my thoughts start swirling.
Mending makes a great gift as well. I sometimes now offer to mend a family member’s clothes for their birthday or Christmas, rather than buying them something new. It’s brilliant to be able to give them back a favourite item they’ve missed being able to wear, now more unique to them and with a little bit of my love for them woven in.
Who to follow
If you’re just getting started with darning, I really recommend following menders and mending related hashtags on Instagram. I’ve taken so much inspiration and learnt so many new skills and techniques from all the talented menders across the world who share their work online and post tutorials. If, like me, you love learning from books, then there are some great ones out there. One of my favourite introductions to darning techniques is Darning by Hikaru Noguchi (@hikaru_nouchi_design on Insta). Instagram mender @ministryofmending also has a nice list of books on her website
The rainbows shine on
Darning can be as simple or as intricate as you want to make it and socks are a great place to start experimenting with mending, because let’s face it, nobody really sees the bottom of your feet! A word of warning though – mending can be addictive, and it never ends. My rainbow socks are still going strong, now with several new mends in various places, and I’m still proud of those first scrappy darns.