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. Rachael Matthews from Prick Your Finger gave me one of her dad’s sweaters to repair:
Rachael’s dad, who makes the most beautiful knitting tools by the way, 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: it is Rachael’s 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.