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Archive for January, 2012

Item #11 in The Visible Mending Programme mixes new mending techniques with a familiar story. Zoë had heard of my Visible Mending Programme through word of mouth. She had a gorgeous green cardigan with some fraying cuffs, welts and pockets that urgently required my attention. Oh, and one horrifying hole:

Zoë’s cardigan story will be familiar to many people: when she spent some time in New York, Zoë did the inevitable thing, and went shopping. The sales were on and she spotted a beautiful green cashmere cardigan which was reduced in price. However, it was still very expensive, it wasn’t in her size, and she didn’t really have the money for it. With a sad heart, she left the shop. But you know what it’s like: the cardigan  stuck in her mind, and when she spotted another concession of the same shop, she just had to go in and check. Because you can never know. And there it was: THAT green cardigan. In her size. On sale. The only one left. What can one do?

Needless to say, Zoë returned to the UK with said cardigan. It has held up really well – I think the cashmere used is of superior quality. However, favourite items in your wardrobe make many outings, and get love worn around the edges: this frayed cuff shows signs of a mending attempt:

Stress points at pockets started to unravel, the welt started to fray, and of course, there was that hole in the elbow. The chunky knit meant I could try out some new ideas about cuff fixing and elbow patching, and I’m really pleased with the result. I used 100% Jacob wool in aran weight, as I like the contrast: the cardigan made of dyed 100% cashmere, a delicate and luxurious very soft fibre from goats. The mending done in undyed 100% jacob wool, which is very strong and has a more sturdy feel to it.

The elbow patch was knitted in (you can see stitches being picked up in the first picture). I used moss stitch, as Zoë mistakenly believed the cardigan was knitted in moss stitch:

The welt and cuffs were mended by picking up stitches and knitting a 1×1 ribbing. I used a tubular cast-off as it looks good and is very elastic. Jacob wool is strong and has lots of spring, so I’m sure it will keep up for a long time. I mended the pocket corner with a little bit of crochet:

I met up with Zoë earlier today. I’m pleased to report that she was delighted with Visible Mend #11. We had a nice chat and a coffee, when it turned out that she has another horrific hole in her wardrobe. That, however, will be the subject of another post.

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In preparation for my Hand in Glove Workshop at Prick Your Finger, I have knitted a pair of gloves for my friend Howard. He liked my Sanquhar Gloves and houndstooth patterns, so I decided to throw them together. Although we will be knitting a plain stocking stitch glove for the Hand in glove Workshop, you still need to make the same measurements and calculations, so I tried out a few things for the workshop with my very patient friend.

Apart from trying on whilst knitting and using some stitch markers, there are various methods of trying to calculate the number of stitches needed to construct the fingers and I have tried out a few:

If you can’t try out whilst knitting, which was the very reason I wanted to make some gloves for somebody else I couldn’t readily meet up with, then I think that the maths provided in Hand-Knitting Techniques from Threads Magazine (although long out of print, try to get your hands on a copy, it has so many good articles in it) is your best bet.

After a reknitting the fingers three times (don’t ask), I finally produced some gloves I was happy with:

The back-of-hand shows a simple houndstooth pattern:

I say simple, but I did have difficulty getting the tension right for the row that makes the top of the brown check. Whatever I tried, the grey stitch immediately left to the brown stitch just disappears. However much I love my Shetland Spindrift, the sholmit (that’s the Shetland name for this particular colour of natural grey) was a bit thicker than the brown, which made even tensioning that little bit harder still. Luckily blocking has sorted most of it out.

The palm of the hand shows a check pattern I designed myself:

However, the thing I most pleased about is the cuff:

We have the wearer’s initials! We have a small split! We have i-cord edging! But best of all: we have cashmere lining! Even if Shetland wool softens considerably after washing and blocking, the cashmere is so much softer still, it gives a very luxurious feeling when you slip these on. I’m pleased to report that Howard loves his gloves. As the weather is turning cold again, I have no doubt he will be sporting them every day. As for me, I want to line the cuffs of all my gloves with cashmere now…

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Today I did my very first ever INvisible mend. Technically not for the Visible Mending Programme, but hey, exceptions make the rule. During my last visit to Belfast, I ended up in a secondhand clothes shop, despite having implored upon my partner earlier that we were not to buy any clothes during our visit on account of overflowing suitcases. So when I tried on this gorgeous herringbone tweed jacket, I conscientiously put it back on the rail. Even if it was a Donegal Mist tweed jacket. Handwoven. By a J.F Maguire.

As the fibre content contains mohair and cashmere it will not surprise you to hear this tweed is soft and has a great handle. The fact that it not only tells you about the fibres making up the fabric, but even tells you who wove it, is something that makes my heart sing. And I think anybody who supported Wovember last year will agree with me that this is a jacket with provenance and honest cachet.

Another label inside the jacket shows it was tailored by Magee expressly for Shannon [airport?] duty free shop. Browsing Magee’s website shows the history of the company and how they have been producing tweed since 1866.

I think you will have worked out by now that the above pictures were not taken in a secondhand shop. Indeed, I managed to squeeze it into a suitcase and brought it home. However, when I tried it on again, I discovered a small hole on the back.

I’m not sure how that came about. It doesn’t – or rather, didn’t – look like a moth hole and after careful inspection I did not find any other holes. But what to do with it? Somehow it didn’t feel right to do a Visible Mend on this tiny hole. After trawling the internet, I found some references to reweaving, usually on tailors’ websites. So, I knew it was possible to fix this INvisibly. Fortunately I found a reference to reweaving in a Threads Magazine back issue (no. 144) from September 2009, and today it finally fell on my doormat. Without further ado, here is my first INVISIBLE MEND:

As you can see, you don’t need many tools for this: scissors, darning needle, and an unpicker thingie. With these tools, one harvests some threads from an inside seam and uses these to reweave the hole closed. I started with unpicking the lining in a corner, so I could unpick some warps and wefts from the tweed fabric edges.

You then painstakingly weave these strands into the fabric, following its weave and replicating it over the hole, working on the right side of the fabric. I was too excited to take a picture halfway through, so the following picture shows all threads already in place, but I have woven in the needle so you can get an idea of how it’s done.

After all this work, you slightly pull on the ends and snip them off really close to the fabric. The yarn ends nestle themselves into the fabric and all that’s left to do, is press the treated area from the wrong side in order to set the weave. As you can see, the end result is perhaps not entirely invisible, but practice makes perfect. I now really understand why this repair is so expensive. However, next time I see a nice jacket in a secondhand shop I shall inspect it carefully, hope to find a hole, haggle on the price and buy it with the knowledge that each invisible mend I do will give better results.

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If the prospect of knitting a pair of gloves makes your head spin, then fear no longer: I will be running a glove knitting workshop at Prick Your Finger over three consecutive Saturdays, starting on 28 January, 2012.

By guiding you through knitting a pair of gloves in stocking stitch in 4ply yarn, we will go through all the stages of constructing a pair of well-fitting gloves. I will cover the following areas with you: glove construction, hand measurements, provisional cast-on, increasing and decreasing, finishing techniques. The workshop handouts will enable you to repeat the process and knit gloves to fit any hand.

Dates:
Part 1 on Saturday, 28 January, 13:00-15:00h
Part 2 on Saturday, 4 February, 13:00-15:00h
Part 3 on Saturday, 11 February, 13:00-15:00h

As it is not possible to knit a pair of gloves in 3 x 2 hours, you will need to do some homework during the week. But then, who in their right mind would count knitting as homework? Besides, it will give you the opportunity to try some things out for yourself.

Total cost: £100. Pay £50 deposit when booking, the remaining £50 after the last class. The price includes 4ply yarn, a handy sheet to record essential measurements, workshop handouts with glove-knitting hints and tips, and all the cups of tea you might require to see you through any difficulties. Please book online HERE*, or ring Prick Your Finger: 020 8981 2560.

 
Skill level: you need to be able to knit in-the-round, either using double-pointed needles or Magic Loop with circulars, and have an understanding of increasing and decreasing. If you can knit a basic sock pattern, you will have no problem with this course.

IMPORTANT: bring your own needles, size 3-3.25mm.

There are only a few places left, so don’t wait too long with booking to make sure you can tackle your next pair of gloves with a steady hand!

*) please note there is an unfortunate error on the workshop booking page: the total cost of the workshop is £100, not £50.

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