Mend-It Monday #26

I’m afraid that we are back to darning this week, but not socks for a change. Some years ago we came across some excellent oven gloves – glove shaped and made of some magic, knitted insulated stuff, the name of which completely escapes me. Anyway, over the years we have had several pairs and eventually they stop being so well insulated and have to be retired. However, the latest pair, which is constructed of two layers, started to wear out. There were holes in the thin outer fabric of two fingers and one thumb and this reduced the insulating capacity noticeably, although it’s the inner layer that provides most of the insulation.

I think the original outer is cotton with silicone grips, but I decided that wool would be a better fibre for the mend. I found some left-over pure wool in a natural grey colour – I think it might be Jacob wool – that was sufficiently thick for the job. Wool burns at 570-600°C, so there’s no chance of igniting it with the temperature a domestic oven reaches. I darned the holes with quite a dense weave, being careful not to stich into the inner layer, which could potentially provide a route to conduct heat.

Time will tell how long this particular mend will last, but I am quite hopeful that it will significantly extend the life of these very useful gloves.

Mend-It Monday #25

A few days of cold winds last week encouraged me to mend my hat with ear flaps. Mr Snail bought this hat for me about 20 years ago, before I had rediscovered the joy of knitting and ages before I learned to crochet. Since then it has served me well – it must have accompanied me on many hundreds of miles of dog walks each winter. One day a few weeks ago, however, one of the cords started to come unravelled. I managed to catch it before it was completely undone, but wasn’t sure how to mend it. Happily, once I came to examine it, I realised that it was simply a crocheted chain made from several strands of wool. The red strand had broken and somehow that had started the whole thing coming apart. I decided that it would be stronger if I used cotton yarn to mend it, so I simply crocheted a new chain, adding the cotton to the mix. In addition, in order to make all the cords stronger, and reduce the risk of them coming undone at a later date, I threaded a couple of strands of the red yarn along the length of each of them, and anchored the tassels more firmly.

Not just a mend, but reinforcement to avoid future mends too.

A New Chapter

A while ago I hinted that we were hatching new plans and finally I can reveal a little of what we have been up to for the past few months. Basically, this:

The Shop of Happiness

Back in May this year, as I was on my way to Knit Night, I noticed a shop for sale in Lampeter. It made me start thinking… and what I thought was “I’d like to run a shop… something crafty”. I came home and mentioned it to Mr Snail, who said “Let’s go and look at it”. Unfortunately, when he called the estate agent he was told that an offer had already been accepted on this particular shop. However, I kept thinking about it. A bit of discussion and we decided that we’d go and look at some other commercial properties. We viewed several, but none was quite right. Every week I passed the original shop that had got me thinking and every week it still had a For Sale sign in the window. Then one Knit Night, someone looked it up on the internet and discovered that it was actually still on the market. The following morning I contacted the estate agent, was told that the original purchaser had pulled out, and arranged a viewing. The next day we put in an offer. Today, we got the keys and it is ours.

Over the months we have refined our ideas about what we are going to do and I’m delighted to announce that in 2022 The Snail of Happiness Shop will open it’s doors to sell mending supplies and pre-loved craft materials, tools and equipment. We’ll also be running courses on making and mending in our Have-a-bashery. Eventually we hope to have a purpose-built workshop out the back for running the courses, but in the meantime they will be held in the room above the shop.

Many, many people accumulate craft supplies that they never use, which is bad for the planet. In addition, many people inherit someone else’s stash and aren’t sure what to do with it. Charity shops often have no idea of the value (or even purpose) of craft materials and so donating them means that they won’t necessarily be valued and may even be disposed of. What we want to do is make sure that unwanted, good quality materials and tools find their way to people who will use them. In addition, we also want to encourage a culture of mending, so the shop will sell mending equipment: things like needles, darning wool, Sugru, glues… I’ve got a big list!

It’s going to take a few months to get things sorted, but hopefully we’ll be up and running by the Spring Equinox. So, if you are in the UK and having a destash, or have crafting supplies that you no longer want, or are dealing with an inherited stash, do get in touch. We will consider buying any craft supplies, although we won’t be able to give you the price you originally paid for them.

Shop Dogs

Watch this space for more news.

Mend-It Monday #23

There seem to have been rather a lot of things with holes in recently. So far I’ve managed to repair three of them. First, a fingerless mitten worn through by so many walks holding on to a dog lead. Second, yet another couple of repairs to a slipper that may be one of my most-mended possessions. And, finally, a repair of some tiny holes in a jersey fabric fitted sheet.

The mitten was mended using a Speedweve, but the slipper darns were done by hand and I think they are pretty neat. I’m hoping that the roughness of the stitching on the sheet doesn’t make it too uncomfortable, but if there is a problem, I will consider how to use a soft, thin and stretchy patch.

I still have several socks to darn too, but that’s enough for now.

Mend-It Monday #21

Today I thought I’d show off a couple of mends using my Speedweve – the heel of one sock and the ball of the foot of another. In both cases the sock was not completely worn through, but it’s always better to catch a garment before the hole has appeared than after.

For the under-foot mend I just used plain grey sock yarn, but the one on the heel has plain grey warp and patterned sock yarn weft. Next time I mend something in a more visible area I’m going to have a go at using more colours and trying to achieve a tartan effect, but there didn’t seem much point for mends that are not going to be visible.

I like the fact that the Speedweve gives a very even and smooth mend, a feature particularly important with socks, as you don’t want them to rub. As with all skills, it’s getting easier (and more even) with practice, but to be honest the Speedweve is a very well-designed gadget that is pretty simple to use one you understand the technique.

Mend-It Monday #20

In a fit of exuberance yesterday, I managed to pull one of the freezer drawers out onto the floor. Fortunately I narrowly missed my toes, as its contents were rather heavy. Unfortunately, the weight resulted in the front cracking. Since it didn’t completely fall to pieces, I decided that a very simple mend was possible – duct tape to the rescue.

I was so efficient with my mend that I forgot to photograph it broken, but you can see the cracks from the inside even after the mend. If necessary, I will glue some rigid plastic inside to provide extra strength, but I am hopeful that what I have done so far will be sufficient.

It’s a quick way to mend something, but does highlight what’s possible with strong tape.

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.

ScrapHappy September 2020

The past month has been very ScrapHappy – I resurrected a cushion cover, the zip of which Sam had decided would make an exciting chew toy. I removed the zip, then didn’t worry about an inner case, but simply stuffed the canvas cover with a combination of Woolcool insulation, tiny bits of left-over fabric and yarn ends that were too small to tie together to make scrappy hats. There’s no point in making any furnishings with zips because of Sam’s predilection for them, so I simply stitched it closed and now we have an extra sofa cushion.

Sam not eating the cushion this time

I came across some red yarn that might be pure cotton or might be cotton and bamboo. It was a bit of a ball and I have no recollection what I used it for originally. Anyway, I used it to add to my ever-growing wash cloth collection. I like making these because I can play with different stitches and it doesn’t really matter how successful the design actually is. As you can see, I only had enough for a small cloth with the last of the yarn, even combined with a final scrap of some of the organic cotton that I’d been using for the same thing earlier in the year.

Three new cloths

My final project was a mend, but using a scrap (as is so often the case). Daisy’s harness is attached to her lead via a metal ring that slides along the “handle”. After two years, the fabric had started to wear, so I rummaged around and found a length of (nylon?) ribbon off a chocolate box and used that as binding. I wrapped it around and stitched it, then wrapped it around and stitched it for a second time, so hopefully it’s strong and secure and won’t need mending for another couple of years. The harness is perfect for an enthusiastic spaniel and they are quite expense to replace, so I’m pleased to have been able to mend it… especially since it was a scrappy mend.

So, that’s three different ScrapHappies for this month. How about you?

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

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.

 

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