Darning Eggs

Darning Egg_1 of 2.jpeg
Darning Egg_2 of 2.jpeg
The Art of Mending.jpg

Title

Darning Eggs

Creator

Unknown

Date

ca. 1900-1930

Format

6" High and 11" High

Description

Description:

2 turned wood darning eggs, measuring 6" high and 11" high.  Date and maker unknown.  Condition: Fair to Good  

I inherited these darning eggs from my paternal grandmother more than twenty years ago.  She lived in Western Massachusetts most of her life, and was accomplished at all forms of needlework.  She had a degree in Home Economics from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, and worked as a social worker during the Depression. I do not know whether she also inherited these tools, as I did, or bought them new in the 1920s or 1930s.  Darning eggs were used as supports for the tedious work of repairing holes in socks and sweaters.  

Neither darning egg is marked with a maker’s name or date.  The smaller one measures approximately 6” long; its quaint, turned handle is permanently affixed to the egg.  The larger one is a multi-purpose, “Swiss Army”-styled, modular darning-tool-and-carry-case all in one.  Fully assembled, it measures 11”, but the egg-shaped top can be removed and used alone, or attached to either the top or bottom section of the carry case to make two shorter darning tools measuring 5” and 7”.  Originally, the pieces probably fitted and held together neatly and securely, but the wood has expanded and all the joins have loosened over time. 

Inside the carry case was an assortment of 8.5” unmarked steel sock needles ranging from Size 0000 to Size 00 – very small by today’s standards – and a crochet hook marked “Milward 13”.  I do not know whether the needles and hook came with the darning egg, or were added later by my grandmother.

In 2015, I used these darning eggs as originally intended to mend a pair of socks.  In one of the images that accompanies this post, you can see that once I put the darning egg inside the sock, the support it provided made it easier to see and overstitch the threadbare areas.  You can read more about my observations on the current interest in repairing and mending garments, and how to use a darning egg on the CKC Blog: “The Art of Mending” published on June 26, 2015.  I am now very grateful to have these simple, specialized tools on hand.

Provenance

Jennifer Lindsay

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