Hello Amazing Jumper

Late last autumn I bought a jumper from a charity shop. It was a nice enough woollen jumper. But after wearing it a few times, I wasn’t feeling the love anymore. As I was keen to explore a technique I tried out on a cardigan last year, I indulged in ten skeins of Appleton’s crewel wool:


Ten shades of Appleton’s crewel wool, and a boring jumper

It was time to say Bye Bye Boring Jumper, and Hello Amazing Jumper:


Bye Bye Boring Jumper, Hello Amazing Jumper!

In a way this is a darning sampler gone slightly out of hand. The bottom half consists of blocks of crewel wool woven in and out of the stitches of the knit fabric:


Damask darning on knitted fabric

As you can see, there’s plenty of different patterns to make, and yet I think I’ll run out of jumper before running out of ideas! In some patterns I pick up a single “leg” of a knit stitch, in others I pick up a whole stitch, or even more. Some of these patterns are based on existing patterns from other sources. There are quite a number of herringbone variations, a Prince of Wales Sanquhar tweed pattern, and a simple houndstooth, too.


The pattern in the middle is based on the Prince of Wales Sanquhar pattern

Unsurprisingly, weaving in and out of the fabric mutes the colours of the crewel wool when seen from a distance. And these colours do deserve to be seen in all their glory:


Appleton Bros. Ltd. London, 100% Wool, made in England Crewel Wool

So I have just started adding a row of what I have called “Finnish” darning in the past, by want of a better word. This really shows off the colours:


As an aside, when I was browsing through a stumpwork book, it turns out that in this needle lace tradition it is called Corded Single Brussels Stitch, but, as a few people have pointed out, it also appears to be a variation of nålbinding. Whichever name you use for this stitch, I just love the way it looks.

It might take a little while yet to finish the Hello Amazing Jumper, but I will be taking it to my one-day darning workshop to share these techniques at Hope & Elvis on Saturday, 4 May (please note, this is now fully booked.) I will also run the same workshop in Glasgow, on Saturday, 18 May at The Stitchery Studio – for which there are still a few places available.

Last but not least, I’ll be running my usual darning class at Super+Super HQ on Friday evening, 10 May.

30 Replies to “Hello Amazing Jumper”

  1. I love this. It’s so YOU; meticulously executed, curiosity-impelled, precise, colourful and exploratory. I particularly like the fact that you are maximising all the materials to hand to their highest potentials and finding so many new ways to elaborate plain old stocking stitch fabric through acts of darning and embroidery. It’s such a beautiful intervention in the life of a simple sweater! I love the process and the colours you have chosen are lovely beside each other. Best of all, I love the thoughts, concepts, subtext and personality that you are lending to this garment through your reinvention of it.

  2. really, really beautiful! what a lovely idea. I’m learning a lot about mending and darning from your blog and can’t wait to try some things out on my own garments. Thank you!

  3. Be careful with washing, I have had bad experiences with Appleton crewel yarn used for darning, it isn’t always colourfast. Looks lovely though!

  4. Wow, love it. Definitely livens a quiet sweater. I’m not sure you intended the off-center design, but I like it. I wonder if this would work to salvage a sweater with a stain. I’m totally new to this, but would one wash the darning yarn in advance to avoid problems later with laundering?

    1. It’s still in progress, so who knows how centred it will come out. As for washing the mending yarn: I don’t usually do so, so let’s see what happens when I do. I will wash it by hand in cold water in any case. And yes, it would camouflage a stain.

  5. This is utterly beautiful stuff. I especially like the way that despite the precision of the stitches, there remains a slight wonk to it all – perfectly imperfect, totally human, delightfully Tom.

  6. Dang that is a fun post and sent me off in about 6 different directions! And what a place, Hope & Elvis!!! I have all of Janet Bolton’s books and have done several things from them…I have no shame…….I copy ideas………
    Your sweater is truly HELLO! and those gloves…wonderbaarlijk!!

  7. love the sweater, all the darning stitches are so lovely, I definitively need to learn how to do that.

  8. Curse the fact that I can’t come to your darning workshop in Glasgow! Best friends shouldn’t get married on the same day as three other fantastic things I am now unable to do instead 🙂

    Love the jumper too!

  9. You are just so imaginative and creative, and must be very busy and fast. So inspirational. A friend is bringing a knItting machine from Scotland to Gotland for me. I hope I’ll get the hang of it and can then knit pieces to make up clothes from. I know its cheating, but we can’t be kosher all the time. When I was a little girl, I used to knit various straight or long pieces in garter stitch that I then made up dolls clothes from. I was only five and they were brilliant. Wish I was as imaginative now..

  10. I absolutely love this! Where do you get the patterns from? Just from your head, or is there a book I could go out and hunt for?
    I just found your blog quite recently, and loving it for the beautiful mending inspiration!

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