Swift Darning Loom Sampler

Swift Darning Loom Sampler

What weights of yarn can I use for darning with the Swift Loom?

Great question, thanks so much for asking!

Let's start by taking a look at the Swift Darning Loom itself.

There are 14 hooks in the loom, and the space between each is fixed - you can't move them closer together or farther apart. This means that the "sett" of your darning - how far apart the threads are - will always be the same, no matter how thick your yarn is.

For quick reference: your Swift can darn with anything in the range of lace (fine), sock/fingering (light) and DK (medium) yarn. Basically, if the yarn is too thick, it will be difficult to flip the hooks and slip your needle through the loops. See the end for my exception, of course.

Since most people immediately think of socks when they think of darning, it shouldn't be surprising that a sock weight (also called fingering weight) yarn is perfectly compatible with the Swift Darning Loom. This is the yarn weight I use most often for all sorts of mending, whether socks or sweaters or other knitwear.

Side note: it seems that there are actually two thicknesses of yarn that are called Sock/Fingering - and I might be wrong on this, but I have seen "Light Fingering" listed as a yarn weight on Ravelry, and Rav can't be wrong, right? In my stash, my light fingering has three ply...though I also do have a heavier sock weight that is two ply, so perhaps that isn't the deciding factor. You'll know, and if you don't, you'll figure it out, and if you don't, well, they both work.

Here are the two fingering weights side by side.

Oh yikes, you can hardly tell here, but the two definitely feel different in your hands! Pink is "light" and the variegated is "standard" sock. I used those two same yarns in the first two mini darning examples on the t-shirt you see right at the bottom of the photo.

Sock weight yarn can be held as a single strand while darning to create a nice strong and well-tensioned weave. It's the middle weight but it's the most straightforward and common yarn you'll need.

Sometimes, though, you'll want a thinner patch! We established that the spacing of the hook spacing sets how far apart the thread will sit. What to do?

Get a little creative, of course ;)

The yellow yarn above is lace weight, ish, it's a crochet cotton. On the left, I held the yarn single and kept a balanced weave. This created a, well, lacy effect that is wonderfully decorative but wouldn't be strong enough to stand up on a sock. Instead, try this:

Double-up for Basket Weave

Hold your yarn double through the whole warping and weaving process. This will create a two-by-two weave commonly recognized as Basket Weave.

Squiiiish for Weft-faced Weave

Warp your loom held single as usual. As you weave your patch from bottom to top, make your stitches on each side extra close together and squish (or beat) down extra with your Weft Pick so the wefts are packed side-by-side. This will "hide" the warps and leave the wefts visible, hence the Weft-faced structure.

In the photo above, the blue darns in the middle illustrate both techniques using lace weight wool yarn. Centre left: basket-weave darn. Right: weft-faced darn.

Thicker yarn

Last up for this sampler, let's look at the purple and grey patch. This is the thickest yarn in my sample: tapestry yarn, which is close in weight to DK and about as thick as I'd say easily works on the loom when held single. With DK, you get a tight, thick, strong, sturdy patch that will hold up anywhere you need it.

Remember up at the top when I said I had an exception to share? There IS a way you can use even thicker yarn...and that's by warping on every OTHER hook and then continuing as normal.

I used this technique when darning the bottom of these thick classic hand-knit slippers - though, admittedly, haven't had the opportunity to try it since! Your "tell" is this positively ancient Swift Darning Loom prototype in the photo...Yes, this was from the 2020 Kickstarter era! Anywho, when your thick house slippers need a darn, do show me how it works out!!

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