STAR Darning Machine

Do you occasionally indulge in trawling auction websites? I certainly do, and today I want to share with you my latest find: the STAR Darning Machine. For those of you who follow me on instagram (of course, as @tomofholland), this is the revelation of the mystery object! When I saw it up for auction, I was intrigued by the design, which appeared to be similar to my trusted Speedweve. As you can see from the box, it is very old:


Those stamps are surely Edwardian! I cannot find any records of E.J.R. Co., but 682 Holloway Road now houses a unisex hair salon. This STAR Darning Machine was sent to a certain A Daniel, who lived in Cardigan, Wales. I learnt from a Welsh colleague that the first line of the address is most likely the house name, and we think it might be a variant spelling of “throedrhiw” which means Foot of the Hill. The road is called “Glanpwllafon” which means Bank of a River Pool.

Opening the box revealed the following:


The STAR Darning Machine; and it was still set up with a scrap of netting, and a half-finished darn. Underneath the machine I found the original instructions:


Here’s the STAR Darning Machine in full glory:


As you can see, it is based on the same principle as the Speedweve, although it has a bottom loom part with hooks, too:


Apart from the metal spring, to secure your fabric in place, it also accommodates the clips found on the two loom parts:



I haven’t had a chance yet to try this new darning machine, but it is clear I can create a larger patch than with the Speedweve, and it will probably be a bit neater, too. On the other hand, once the darn is finished and the loom has been disengaged from the woven patch, there will be two sides to sew down.




The loom parts are a bit rusty and tarnished, so they can do with a clean before I can use my STAR Darning Machine. I shall report back once I have used it.

As a parting shot, I wanted to share the following photograph, in a quest to help Dr Felicity Ford in her reappraisal of GREY:


17 Replies to “STAR Darning Machine”

  1. How lovely! I was just showing someone how the Speedweve works today at the Big Mend; it’s exciting to be able to create a bigger patch. Look forward to seeing your experiments with it.

  2. What a super piece of history. it makes me think of how common it was for folk to mend things when there were machines made to help the process. A beautiful piece of ‘technology’.

  3. Yes I do have that bad and dangerous habit 🙂 It can be fascinating what turns up there, I have noticed bits like this and been curious. It’s good to see how one works! I might be tempted next time I see one…

  4. How intriguing this little star darner appears; I love that you still have the original instructions in the box with it and am thrilled it has you as its new owner. The stamps are definitely Edwardian so it is very old and the grey tones in all the photos but especially the last photo, are just lovely!

  5. Beautiful! You would be pleased to know that I darned my 30 year old silk long johns with an ancient mini crotchet hook just two weeks ago. It took 5 hours to mend 1.5metres of ladders in them! Was it worth it? Hm… yes, since they kept me warm on my hike through Tasmania… and no, they are worn and after the hike they have now another 3 ladders… and yes again: it was actually really satisfying to give them another lease of life!

    1. That’s a great story! There are darning eggs with a groove in them and they usually come with the teensiest tiniest latch hook. They were used for mending ladders in silk panties. Keep an eye out on auction sites. But a crochet hook also works well.

  6. Tom, my stamp collecting husband says the stamps are George V and could be any time between 1911 and 1937. I am enjoying your blog very much!

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