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Archive for February, 2012

Every day on my way to work I walk to Brighton Station and I encounter a few choice examples of Visible Mending in my surroundings. It includes my all-time favourite Visible Mend!

To start with, I see this magnificent tree. It had some branches cut off a long time ago and the resulting scar tissue has created what almost look like orifices.

Although these branches were probably cut off because they were overhanging the street, I have found out that in New South Wales Aboriginals deliberately scarred trees for a variety of reasons, including ceremonial and artistic uses.

The next Visible Mend seems to be an attempt to hide something. I suspect this used to be a shop entrance:

This corner house is opposite the side of Brighton station and the theme of mending in architecture continues with these windows in the station:

I particularly like the incongruity of these windows: some were filled in with brickwork, but in a somewhat haphazard fashion most had smaller windows put in. They are of unequal size, and the placement differs too. Look at the last one! I can only assume that these used to be windows letting light onto the station concourse, but there must’ve been a necessity for more offices.

And last but not least:

This is a favourite for a couple of reasons: first of all, I feel it comes closest to my Visible Mending of clothes. Changing windows or closing up a shop entrance is not only a way of mending, but also of altering the original purpose of the thing mended. When I mend clothes, I do not intend to change their original purpose, but instead I try to make them fit for purpose once more. Secondly, somebody must be taking pride in living on Terminus Place. So much so that they felt the need to find some tape and recreate the missing letters on the sign. Brilliant.

 

What visible mending do you encounter in your surroundings? I would love to hear all about them.

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Unexpectedly, I have performed another invisible mend recently. Zoë, who commissioned me to visibly mend her green cardigan, had another hole in her wardrobe. She has a gorgeous vintage Acquascutum coat with Princess Anne style sleeves, which she found for a mere £25 in a charity shop. The day before she collected her green cardigan, she was stood at the bus stop and realised there was an enormous hole in the side.

She hadn’t a clue how this has happened. She doesn’t recall getting it caught on something, but the lining has worn through in the same spot, so I suspect the previous owner used to wear a handbag that has continuously rubbed against the coat. In the end, it must just have given up. It was a heartbreaking hole in a once-in-a-life-time charity shop find. There was also a torn pocket flap corner:

What to do with that? I felt that somehow this coat would not improve with a visible mend. It’s too tailored and has very much its own personality, and I felt that a visible mend would distract too much from what makes this such a beautiful coat. So there was only one solution: invisible mending.

I wanted to use a Tailor’s Patch, as this would allow me to line up the weave, so that the patches would blend in; it would also make a strong repair. In order to do this, I had to harvest some material from the coat itself, from which to make patches for the hole and the pocket corner. I took this from the interfacing of the right side front:

Following the instructions from my little mending bible* to the letter, I cut the hole into a square, turned the edges in, lined up the patch behind it, matched the grain, and then sewed it in place. Quite frankly, I was more than a little concerned when I saw how this turned out:

How was this ever going to turn out to be INVISIBLE? Somewhat disheartened I continued the instructions in the Tailor’s Patch chapter. And lo and behold, after pressing open seams, the little magic that is called ‘rantering the seams’, more pressing and a final brushing up of the nap, this mend is indeed nearly invisible:

After this success, I turned to the pocket corner. I quote from the Mend It! book:

This tailoring repair presents considerable difficulty. Unless you are confident of your skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner, take it to a professional repairer. A whole suit can be made unwearable by such conspicuous damage[.] (Goldsworthy 1979, p. 163)

Does having only ever done one Tailor’s Patch count towards being confident in my skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner? There was only one way to find out:

Dear readers, after these early successes in my career as invisible mender, I could return to my true love of visible mending. The hole I had to create in the interfacing for the patches would need covering up as well. I first tried to find some fabric in a near match, but of course this proved impossible. A near match in colour jarred so much, I felt justified in using some contrasting salt-and-pepper tweed:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you an invisibly mended vintage Aquascutum wintercoat:

———

*) Goldsworthy, M. (1979). Mend it! a complete guide to clothes repair. London: Book Club Associates.

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Dropped stitches? Tangled wool? Lace charts? M**ths? For my new art project I want to know what your Knitting Nightmares are!

In June I will present my new art installation at Prick Your Finger. As part of my Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches, I would like to know what makes you exclaim “What a nightmare!” I have interviewed customers at Prick Your Finger during the last two days, and I heard some really funny stories: what about the knitter who did not know how to increase for a whopping 17 years? She made up everything herself, as following a pattern which had increases were a nightmare to knit for her – she would not enjoy the top-down sweater I’m working on at the moment.

Or the knitter who came in to buy some lovely slubweight Bluefaced Leicester yarn and fat needles for a quick, warm scarf: “I started knitting only two weeks ago, everything is a nightmare for me!”

Please share your knitting nightmares with me, they may end up in my Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches!

Post-Script: you may recognise which painting inspired my drawing. I’ve just given the demon something to knit.

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