Mend-It Monday #19

I know those of you who read last week’s Mend-It Monday post will be desperate to see some actual mending with those lovely tools that I showed you, just as I was really keen to have a go with them. But first I needed something to mend… and what better than the most mended garment that I own? My favourite ancient cardigan. For this repair, I decided to give the Speedweve its first outing. I assembled my tools (including the obligatory cup of tea) and settled down to learn the technique.

I decided to use some cotton yarn from my scrap collection: cream for the warp and grey for the weft. Of course you can use the same colour for both directions, or make fancy tartan patterns if you wish, but as a beginner, I thought that two clearly different colours would make it easier for me to see what I was doing.

To begin with you place the wooden disk behind the area than needs mending. This is secured with an elastic band, then the metal part with the hooks is slipped into place on top of the fabric, against the disk and held firm with another elastic band. After that, the warp threads are created. You start by securing a thread at one corner of the area to be covered with the weaving and work your way up and down – stitching in place at the bottom and putting the thread round the hooks at the top.

Once that’s done, the weft thread is attached at the bottom corner and, using a long needle, threaded through the warp threads alongside the hooks. The needle is then pushed down to the bottom of the mend (away from the hooks) and the thread pulled through. Before inserting the needle back in the other direction, the orientation of the hooks is reversed by running your thumb along the metal loops. This moves the lower threads up and the upper threads down, just like a full-sized loom. Before each pass of the needle the hooks are moved using the metal loops, so that when the thread passes back the woven fabric is created.

You keep working back and forth, reversing the hooks after each pass and anchoring the thread on each side, until the warp threads are completely used. After that, you release the elastic band holding the metal piece in place, remove the warp threads from the hooks and stitch that edge in place. Once that’s done, the wooden disk is removed and you have a very tidy bit of darning.

I have to confess that it took me a couple of attempts to get it right. Because of the stretchy nature of my cardigan I realised after my first unsuccessful try that it would be best if I stabilised the area with a few running stitches around the edge of the hole before attaching the disk. Once I had done this, it all went fairly smoothly. I think that the stitches at the side to secure the weaving could have been neater and I could have done a better job with the warp threads to begin with, but otherwise I’m happy. The yarn I selected is right at the thickest end of what can be used with this particular Speedweve model (there is a version with the hooks further apart for thicker yarn), but it was just right for this particular mend. The wool that came in the kit is thinner and might have been easier to use for my first attempt, but it just wasn’t right for this job.

Now I’ve got the hang of it, I think some rather more interesting weaving patterns might be on the cards.

Mend-It Monday #18

OK, I know it’s not Monday, but I was really busy yesterday and didn’t have time to write, so today it’s Mend-It Monday on Tuesday. In recent months my mending has been ticking over, with objects repaired as necessary, but it’s a subject that I have been thinking about more and more. The culture of consumerism is so bad for the planet – the more we buy, the more we end up throwing away, or simply not using, and it can’t go on… our resources are not limitless. Every time any item is manufactured, it uses some sort of materials, and even if those are repurposed or recycled, there is still energy involved. And what about the hidden resources? How much water does it take to make an item? And what about the waste during manufacturing? And all this before we even start to think about the conditions of the workers, which can be abysmal, especially when it comes to the cheap goods we have come to expect to see in our shops.

Mending box

So, mending is a big step in the right direction – extend the useful life of an object and you buy new stuff less often, so there is an easing of demand for the world’s resources. But this does sound like a bit of a chore and I think that it is also important to see mending in a positive light rather than simply as something “worthy”. I particularly like mending items that I have made… this is how I have come round from my dislike of darning to loving it: because I can keep wearing all those socks that I put so many hours into making in the first place. Indeed, extending the life of something I really love wearing or using is a particular source of happiness for me. I know that eventually I will have to give up on certain much-loved garments, but it’s so good to be able to keep using them for long after “normal” people would have sent them to landfill.

A skillful invisible mend is an amazing thing and something that I do not excel at, but visible mends are great fun and also highlight to others the possibilities. Fortunately, visible mending is acceptable, and even trendy, these days. Over the years I’ve got good at darning socks and have had a bash at boro, but I’ve been looking to extend my range of skills and have, therefore recently invested in some new books and equipment. I’m particularly excited by the arrival just this morning of a “Speedweve”: a tiny loom to assist with mending all sorts of fabric, including (I hope) some of the things that I’ve struggled with in the past. I’ve also treated myself to a Japanese leather palm thimble, some sashiko needles, long darning needles and sashiko thread (which I want to compare to the embroidery thread I have been using for boro).

So, today I don’t have any completed mends to display, but hopefully I’ll soon be showing off the results of playing with my tiny loom and practising my Japanese stitching.

Holey moley, it’s Mend-it Monday!

Now I have finally persuaded myself to like darning, I tend to keep on top of it quite well. However, the other day I noticed that Mr Snail was about to put on a pair of socks that had a hole in them and I decided I’d better take a look at the contents of his sock drawer. I almost wished that I hadn’t when I discovered just how many holes were lurking in there…

What a lot of holes

Anyway, I got out my needle, yarn and mushroom and darned and darned and darned. It took me several evenings to work my way through all of them, but finally I’ve finished:

In all cases, the latest darning is grey, so you can probably see that this is not the first mend for any of these socks. Still, I keep reminding myself that every time I do this, I am reducing our waste just a little bit, and if we all did a bit more of this sort of thing, we could make an enormous difference.

Mend It Monday, 1 March 2021

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus*

Today, I’m reviving my Mend It Monday posts. I dropped them last time because I was sure everyone was getting fed up with seeing another sock that I had darned. There is a sock today, but I also mended something else this week, that Mr Snail thought was beyond repair, so I wanted to share it.

We enjoy feeding the birds in the garden. We don’t see anything especially stunning, but it is nice to watch the sparrows and other small birds enjoying the seeds we put out. We’ve got several feeders designed for birds that hang on, but were short of something that those who like to perch could use, so in the autumn last year, Mr Snail ordered what looked like a suitable feeder – it’s plastic, but since you are supposed to wash them regularly, that seemed like an ok option. Online ordering is fraught with risk and when said feeder arrived, he was rather disappointed – it’s fairly flimsy and difficult to fill. In fact, the design could have been much, much better. However, once it had arrived, we decided we’d use it rather than send it back, and, to be fair, all the birds did seem to like it. We take the feeders in at night to avoid unwanted nocturnal visitors and, unfortunately, one morning when putting them back out Mr Snail dropped this new one and it shattered. There were rather a lot of pieces – mainly the tray that the seeds sit in – and some were very small. As I mentioned, Mr Snail thought it was too far gone to be mended, but I decided to get the Sugru out and give it a shot.

The tray required some reinforcing, so I found a sheet of clear plastic that I used to use for paper-making (something I haven’t done for ages) and cut out an appropriately sized circle. Then I pieced the fragments together on top of this plastic, joining and anchoring them with Sugru. It turned out that one piece had completely disappeared, so I filled the hole with Sugru. We left it to dry for 24 hours and then hung it out once more. It’s been fine for the past week, so fingers crossed it will hold together for another season or two.

My other recent mend was a pair of long-forgotten socks… ones that I didn’t actually knit myself, but someone else did. These got very holey some years ago and had been languishing with the walking boots ever since. I came across them a week or two ago and decided that they were repairable. I didn’t try to colour-match my mending yarn because they are bright and stripy, so I wasn’t going to be successful no matter what. There were actually quite a lot of holes, but I worked on them all and now I can wear them again. There has probably been other darning since I last wrote a Mend It Monday post, but I’m sure you believe me without seeing the evidence (I have got very lax with my photography of late).

-oOo-

  • Happy Saint David’s Day

Mend It Monday #13

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Yet again, this week’s mending started with some sock darning. Unusually for me this repair turned out to be very subtle…it was just the first yarn that came to hand, rather than a deliberate attempt at invisible mending.

 

Then I moved on to a garment that has needed mending for years. A long time ago, Sam chewed the press-stud off this cardigan. I intended to mend it straight away, but somehow it got put with my yarn stash and only came to light a few weeks ago when we were moving the piano (don’t ask). When I looked at it with fresh eyes, it was clear that Sam had simply made a new buttonhole and all I needed to do was make it a bit more robust, remove the remaining press-stud half from the other side and add a button: 

 

I reinforced the hole and then blanket-stitched to make an  acceptable buttonhole. Rather than using one of my button stash, I decided to employ a newly-acquired skill and make a Dorset button (more on these in a forthcoming post).

Including making the button, it only took my about an hour and a half… plus the 10 or so years it’s been squirreled away!

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

 

Mend It Monday #12

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Over recent weeks my mending pile has started to grow again, so I’m back to sharing my mends on  Mondays. It’s an old favourite this week – darning socks.

The purple one has never needed darning before, but there was a hole in one side of the toe and the other side was getting weak and needed reinforcing. The other pair, has been darned many times and for the latest mend I chose to use grey wool. You can see an earlier mend in the mauve. I rather like doing each mend in a different colour as it highlights the process and demonstrates that it’s possible to mend a number of times before giving up on a sock.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

 

Mend It Monday #11

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week sees the final mend from the pile that had accumulated over recent (and not so recent) months. It seems appropriate to be finishing with one of my most common mends – hand knitted socks. This particular pair of socks was amongst the first I knitted (about eight years ago I think) and this is the first time that they have needed mending, so that’s quite an achievement. It was the toes that were going so I mended and reinforced and I’m hoping they might last another eight years.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #7

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Last week I started darning a second sock and that has now been completed. It’s a rare sock for me because I didn’t originally knit it myself, but it’s so comfy inside walking boots, that I really wanted it to last a bit longer. Anyway, once I’d started, it didn’t take long to make it usable again.

The embroidery problem that I mentioned last week was kindly solved by my friend Lizzie (thank you so much Lizzie), who sent me some black and yellow embroidery floss so that I could work a bee design over a hole in one of Mr Snail’s sweatshirts. When I came to look at it, there were two holes, so he’s got two bees. He’s threatening to make more holes in it, so he gets more bees! First I sewed around the edges of the holes to stabilse them, then it’s simple satin stitch to cover the holes, a running stitch “trail” and back stitch wings. The orientation of the bees is defined by the hole itself.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #6

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

I’m afraid it’s more darning this week. I was intending to do some visible mending involving some embroidery, but when I looked at my thread, I discovered that a key colour was missing. As I’m sure you’ll understand, just popping out to get the colour that I want is not possible right now, so that project has had to be put on hold (and may, in the longer term, be re-designed on the basis of the colours that I do have).

Anyway, there always seem to be socks to darn. There was a pair of Mr Snail’s colourful socks, knitted by me as well as hole in some thick socks I wear with my walking boots. The latter is a work in progress, but the former are all mended.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #4

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

After telling you about a cardigan that I don’t like in my last post, today I want to tell you about one that I really love… and that I have really loved for about 30 years. I am pretty sure that I bought it when I was a postgraduate student, and I haven’t been one of those for 29 years, so it can’t be younger than that. Anyway, it has started to show signs of its age and a couple of weeks ago I noticed a large hole and some smaller ones in one of the sleeves. Originally I thought I’d crochet a flower to cover the big hole, but then I discovered that I have some cotton yarn that matches the cream (also cotton) and thought that I would stabilise the holes first. Having done this, I’m going to leave this particular mend alone, as it has worked so well.

I am not, however, finished with this cardigan, as the cuffs are starting to fray, so more work is required before I feel ready to wear it again. If I notice any worn patches after that, I think I will add some black crochet flowers or leaves, as they would be fun to make.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

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