Mend-It Monday #27

As you know, one of my favourite raw materials to work with is wool, and usually I knit it or crochet it, but I sometimes do a bit of felting too, which can be very useful for making substantial objects. So, when I got a new phone last year, I got out my felting supplies and made a case, to protect it when I’m out and about. I used lots of layers of wool and wet felted them to achieve the desired thickness. Looking back through my posts, I realise that I didn’t write about it at the time, and looking back through my photographs I don’t even seem to have taken any pictures of either the process or the finished object.

Anyway, this post isn’t about making the case, it’s about repairing it. Because it turns out that Sammy is rather fond of woolly things… balls of wool, sheepskin rugs, Woolcool insulation and – you guessed it – felted mobile phone cases. Now we know, we are teaching him to leave them alone and trying to avoid temptation, but for a couple of weeks after he arrived we weren’t so careful and one day he pinched my pone case (sans phone) and was happily nibbling it when Mr Snail discovered the naughtiness in progress. The result was a piece removed (which I photographed) from the top and a little nibbled hole on one side (which I failed to photograph).

One of the joyous things about felt, however, is that it’s relatively easy to repair. Admittedly, it does require the use of a barbed felting needle and I do always managed to stab myself at least once, but as long as you have some wool tops in an appropriate colour or colours, holes can be filled, pieces reattached and mends achieved without any sewing or sticking. Simply needle felt the hole full of wool or reattach the separated piece using a little extra wool for reinforcement.

I’m pleased to say, that I did only stab myself once and that the resulting mends are pretty sturdy, so now I just need to keep it away from the hound and all should be well. In fact, If I hadn’t told you about the hole in the side (its location indicated by the arrow) I bet you wouldn’t have guessed it had been there.

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.

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.

Stepping up to the plate

I’m pleased to report that after allowing my elbow to rest for a while, I was able to resume the knitting that had caused so much pain. When I put it to one side, it looked like this:

Temporarily abandoned

After a couple of weeks, I decided that, being pain-free, I would pick up my needles again. To begin with I just worked a round or two each day, but as I didn’t have any recurrence of the pain, I built up the amount I did every day and soon I’d finished my hat. It’s a very long time since I’ve done any Fair Isle knitting, so I’m quite pleased with the result. Possibly the most fun thing about this project is that you have to block it using a dinner plate, to get it nice and round!

Possibly the least fun thing was that there were about a million ends to weave in!

Cutting my cloth

Some time last year – I forget when – I bought some wool fabric. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill stuff, it was deadstock; this means it was left over from a textile or garment making factory. Deadstock has become big business and there are clothing brands that base their eco-credentials on using deadstock. I’m not convinced about this because if they have access to loads of this cheap fabric, the textile manufacturer must surely have factored selling it into their production run calculations so it’s not really waste. However, small quantities that are simply left over after garment runs must exist and seem like an interesting way to access new fabric. In fact, some deadstock is old and must have been hanging around in a warehouse for years. Whatever its origin, deadstock is usually marketed on the basis that you are saving it from going to landfill, but I’m not entirely convinced how “green” it really is. Anyway, that debate aside, I did buy a couple of pieces – one of which was a two metres or so and was all the company had available so it clearly was, if nothing else, a remnant.

Of course, buying a remnant means that you have to chose to make something that you have enough fabric for. I had something in mind for this particular piece of fabric, but according to the pattern, not enough. Well, not quite anyway. Not deterred, we laid it out and Mr Snail and I played around until we got it to fit, photographing it along the way so that we didn’t forget where everything went.

And that was the most difficult bit. After that, the construction and sewing was easy. It is an unlined jacket, but all the seams are bound, so that it’s very tidy inside.

In fact, this was a bit of a test piece because I’d like to make a waterproof version. I find it very difficult to get jackets to fit me. They tend to be straight up and down rather than shaped, so it they they fit my hips, they tend to be enormous across the shoulders. The joy of this particular jacket (The Hove Jacket by In The Folds) is that it has pleats at the top of the back, thus creating an ideal shape for someone like me. I plan to make version #2 (probably) in a Flax/Cotton dry oilskin, with cotton facings… I just need to work out how much fabric I need to buy, so we’ll be back to laying out pieces on the floor again because the pattern layout only takes account of using a single type of fabric, not combining two.

Making (the most of) what you’ve got

One of the sad things about being restricted and having to stay at home has been the not being able to go into a real live shop and make a purchase (other than for food). This applies especially to materials for crafting and, in my case, especially to yarn. However, what it has done is made me look at the yarn I already have and consider how I would like to use it. Over the past year I have made various things out of yarn in my stash and using scraps left over from other projects:

As time has gone on, the amount of yarn I have has reduced and I have been looking at some that sits firmly in the “?” category. One such yarn was some 5-ply gansey wool that I won a few years ago in a raffle. There was plenty to make an actual gansey, but the more it sat there, the more I realised that I didn’t actually want one. So, after the success of the Southern Pines sweater (made from wool that I did get new this year), I thought I’d have another go at the pattern and tweak it a bit. Being the wrong gauge of yarn compared to the pattern I had to slightly adjust the sizing, plus I decided to make it longer and slightly A-line in shape. It turned out to be a relatively quick make and I managed to remember to wear it for an outdoor photo-op with the hounds:

It’s not a colour that I would normally have chosen, but actually I think it’s going to be quite versatile and the wool will certainly be hard wearing. Now I’m rummaging though my remaining yarn and trying to think of even more creative makes with what I have available.

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

ScrapHatty February 2021

As I have mentioned before, over the periods of lockdown (we’re currently in #3, which started before Christmas) we’ve come to know people in our immediate community much better than we did before… after all, they are almost the only people we get to talk to in the flesh. This means that a 45 minute dog walk can take anything up to an hour and a half if it’s a dry day and people are in their gardens or out for a walk themselves.

So, what has this got to do with scraps? Well, all this chatting means we get to know each other better – to find out about each other’s interests and hobbies – and to let each other know if we need something. Which is why, as we were passing the other day, Beryl (who lives on the corner of our road) asked me whether I might have a knitting pattern (knitting, mind you, as she doesn’t crochet) for a hat with both ear flaps and a visor. I told her I’d try to find one on-line (she does not use the internet at all) and came home full of confidence. I settled down and searched and searched, but to no avail. I did find a nice crocheted version, but not one knitting pattern. Mr Snail suggested that I could write one for her, but I just couldn’t face that, so I bought the crochet version, rummaged about in my scraps, located a hook of the correct size and “voila!”

The plain red yarn was left over from making Mr Snail’s first pair of long socks to wear in his wellies, and the scrap of slightly variegated yarn for the edging has been hanging round, unloved, for ages.

So, a quick make, that has been an immediate hit with its recipient… I do love creating something useful from my scraps.

-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:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me), Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2 and Noreen

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.

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