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Archive for June, 2012

The first Mending Research Symposium in the UK, MEND*RS, will take place 29 June-2 July. Needless to say, I’m more than a little excited to take part. Not only will I be talking about The Visible Mending Programme, I will also be MEND*R in Residence. So today I’d like to share with you the project I will be working on during the symposium, and also how and why I started The Visible Mending Programme.

Most of my mending efforts focus on clothes, and I believe that the art and craftmanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. Looking at the MEND*RS programme, I think this will be highlighted in quite a few talks. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, I try to reinforce the relationship between the wearer and garment. This will enable people to wear their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I take pride in my craftsmanship of hand-knitting, and once I’ve finished a garment, I want to take good care of it. However, I have realised that this urge is not quite so strong for clothes purchased on the High Street, even though they were probably produced by highly skilled makers. Although considerable constraints on time and material can affect their quality, these shop-bought clothes really ought to deserve the same care as a hand-knit and thus extend their longevity.

Hand-knitting creates close ties with the object made; tracing its evolution and progress reminds one of where, when and how it was made. A good darn also requires craftsmansship, and the experience of the mending process allows one to create a similar connection with shop-bought clothes. Thinking about how the garment was acquired, the occasions it was worn and the motivation fo the repair can reinforce that relationship. By writing this blog, running darning workshops and taking repair work commissions I hope to provide inspiration, skills and services to people and persuade them that shop-bought clothes deserve care and attention too, just like that precious hand-knit.

As the MEND*R in Residence during the MEND*RS Symposium, I shall be working on the MUM+DAD sweater. Somebody gave me one of her dad’s sweaters to repair:

Their dad appears to have an occasional habit of spilling his dinner down his front. Dirty jumpers then get lost somewhere in the depths of his wardrobe, where they languish, and moths have a feast. There’s nothing they like more than some gravy with their finest lambswool Sunday dinner. As you can see, this is a Big Job. But this story isn’t over yet, as the mending yarn is also special. Usually I mend clothes with shop-bought mending thread or knitting yarns. However, this jumper is being repaired with a very special yarn: their mum’s very first hand-spun and hand-dyed mohair yarn:

As you can see, it is rather slubby in nature, and the colour hasn’t evenly saturated the fibres. However, this should not be regarded as a defect. Perhaps it would not be the easiest yarn to knit with, but it gives a nice texture to the darned patches, which contrasts beautifully with the flat green of this fine-knit jumper:

During the Symposium I shall continue my darning efforts on this jumper, although I don’t think I shall be able to complete it. Not only are there too many holes too count, but I will also offer on-the-spot Visible Mending services for any participants attending the symposium.

I’m really looking forward to participating in the symposium; I hope to be inspired by all the different aspects of mending and repair, meeting fellow menders, and learn some new techniques.

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When I was a wee lad, I dabbled in all sorts of needlecraft, greatly encouraged by both my grandmothers. One was always happy to make good use of my tiny crocheted doilies, the other loved my “properly done” cross stitching. And although I have taken the Knitters Path, I still have a soft spot for embroidery, as evidenced by the following mends:

These jeans were starting to wear very thin in the seat, which incidentally, I totally blame on my cycling to work every day, and I wanted to reinforce the area. There are many ways to create a reinforcement patch, but I decided on the following technique. First I basted in place a piece of jeans fabric on the inside. Then I used a lovely shade of golden yellow for a coarsely executed running stitch. I wasn’t too concerned about being neat and precise, as I wanted a slightly random look. I made sure to go through both layers of fabric, to hold the patch in place. Then I went over the whole area again with a running stitch, crossing over the stitches from the first round. As Adrienne said on twitter: “it looks like the sun is shining out of your… ACE!” I’ll refrain from any comments!

My second mend is the best of both worlds: Pattern Darning. It’s a darning technique that nowadays is mainly used for decorative purposes, but it comes from repairing certain weaves in fabric. There are many examples of to be found of darning samplers, and one day I hope to make one such sampler myself so I can learn more about this technique. But for now, I tried to used it on a knitted fabric:

The elbows in this shop-bought merino cardigan had worn so thin a tiny hole appeared in one of them, so I first had to close the hole. I tidied up any loose threads, then ran some threads of black yarn through the live loops to create a little framework, to be used later. After working out where the fabric required reinforcing, I picked up one side of the “V” of the knit stitches, to run my darning needle across the fabric. I slowly worked my way up, and tried to stick to the herringbone pattern as closely as I could when I came to the hole.

It was not possible to exactly continue in pattern, but I like it that the mend shows evidence of what is being mended. It adds a second layer to the visibility of this repair. After finishing this, I mirrored this patch on the other elbow, this time using a different pattern:

In case you are wondering what lovely wool I used for this darn, it may come as no surprise that it is Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. This heathered shade gives the patch a tweedy look, which is a nice reversal of the usual tweed jacket with elbow patches in a contrasting material. I’m mightly pleased with the results of the pattern darning, and I hope to be able to employ this technique again soon!

 

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For all you knitters out there interested in vintage styles, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that Susan Crawford, of A Stitch in Time 1 & 2 fame, has released a new collection of knitting patterns: Coronation Knits.

I’m not going to reveal too much about it right now, as Susan has started a blog tour, which will allow you to learn more about the patterns and Susan’s work involved, over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for all the blogs involved – I have a list at the bottom of this post with links and dates.

There are 14 patterns in total, all around the theme of the Diamond Jubilee and the fashions of the time when Elizabeth II got crowned.

There are even some patterns for men, I’m pleased to report!

Susan did a sterling job on designing these patterns and to celebrate this, there will be give-aways of the book along the way, so keep an eye out for the stops on the tour. When it’s my turn, I shall reveal the ins and outs of knitting the Diamond Stole, which features on the cover. It includes a rarely used decrease (make 2 stitches out of 3), which is pleasingly symmetrical.

Not only will I be able to give away a free copy of Coronation Knits, it will also include the yarn needed to knit the Diamond Stole! So be sure to check back here on 14 July; and have a look at all the other blog stops along the tour.

If your hands are itching to start knitting right now, then you can purchase the book here (available as a hardcopy and an e-book):

 http://www.knitonthenet-shop.com/

CORONATION KNITS TOUR DATES:

Tour Date

Blogger

URL

8th June Susan Crawford http://justcallmeruby.blogspot.co.uk/
12th June 2012 Jean Moss http://jeanmosshandknits.blogspot.co.uk/
16th June 2012 Jen Arnall-Culliford http://jenacknitwear.typepad.com/
18th June 2012 Helene Magnusson http://helenemagnusson.blogspot.co.uk/
20th June 2012 Knitting magazine http://www.knittinginstitute.co.uk/
24th June 2012 Ingrid Murnane http://ingridmurnane.com/
28th June 2012 Felicity Ford http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/
29th June 2012 Donna Druchunas http://sheeptoshawl.com/
7th July 2012 Karina Westermann http://www.fourth-edition.co.uk/
2nd July 2012 Simply Knitting magazine http://simplyknitting.themakingspot.com/blog
6th July 2012 Ruth Garcia-Alcantud http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog/
10th July 2012 Tasha Moss http://blog.bygumbygolly.com/
14th July 2012 Tom van Deijnen https://tomofholland.com/
18th July 2012 Woolly http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/
22nd July 2012 Mim http://www.crinolinerobot.blogspot.co.uk/
25th July 2012 The Sexy Knitter http://thesexyknitter.blogspot.co.uk/

Please note, the copyright of all images in this post belong to Susan Crawford.

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