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Archive for the ‘The Visible Mending Programme’ Category

The first of February is approaching fast, which means I need to get ready for my first darning class of the year, taking place at Super+Super HQ in Brighton. There are still a few places available, so don’t hesitate to sign up! I’ll be teaching two classic darning techniques: Swiss darning, and stocking darning.

SSMDTwoToneDarn

Stocking darn on sock

And what with the cold weather, I’ve been wearing out my warm woollen socks like there’s no tomorrow. This, of course, is a no reason to have cold toes when you know how to darn; and indeed, is cause for a darn good celebration! My mending basket was stuffed to the brim with holes, and not one to sit idle, I took darning wool and mushroom to the holes:

FDPile

A collection of mended socks

For the sharp-eyed amongst you, you will have noticed these darns look different from the stocking darn above. Here’s a close-up:

FDOldNew

A darn old and a darn new

I have recently discovered a new darning technique! It was brought to my attention by the inimitable Dr Felicity Ford, who sent me a picture from a Finnish book on knitting and mending:

FinDarnDrawing

Finnish darning diagram

I don’t speak Finnish, but I think the diagram speaks for itself. Once you start working it, you’ll see that it’s the good old-fashioned blanket stitch employed in a new way. It is closely related to Scottish darning, although with this Finnish darning technique you lay one foundation thread and then blanket stitch over it, whereas with Scottish darning you first lay down all foundation threads before filling it up with blanket stitch. I find the end result of the Finnish darn a bit neater, and it must be my favourite new darning stitch.

As I have only recently started using this stitch, I’m not sure yet how it will wear. The darn itself seems sturdier than a stocking darn, as there are more layers of thread. However, the area covered around the hole is not as big as with a traditional stocking darn. This may result in new holes developing around the darned area, as that usually has started to wear thin, too. I shall report back in due course, but I have made sure to extend the darned area beyond the hole .

To clarify the diagram, here’s how to do it:

You need a needle, darning wool, and a hole. I have used both sharp and blunt needles, without appreciable differences.

You start with laying down the first foundation thread at the top of the hole. Simply pick up one leg of each knitted stitch:

FinDarn1

Make sure to go well beyond the hole, as you need two or three knitted stitches worth to make the turn and simultaneously reinforcing the area around the hole. You need to pick up the other legs of the same knitted stitches:

FinDarn2

Pull the thread through, but not too tight, or the darn will pucker and cause unnecessary stress on the fabric. The it’s time to start blanket stitching. Try to lay the as close together as possible:

FinDarn3

When you have reached the other end of the hole, you need to start weaving in and out of the knitted stitches again:

FinDarn4

Turn as before, lay down the second foundation thread, weaving in and out of the knitted stitches again. After the next turn, start blanket stitching again. Make sure to insert the needle inbetween the blanket stitches on the row below, and bring the needle up from behind the new foundation thread:

FinDarn6

It’s important to work the blanket stitches close together. Extend the darn beyond the hole, and start weaving the foundation threads through the knitted stitches again.

Give this new technique a go, and let me know how you get on!

FDGreen1

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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:

STARbox

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:

STARopened

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:

STARinstructions

Here’s the STAR Darning Machine in full glory:

STARout

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

STARweave

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

STARclip

 

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.

 

STARloom

 

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:

STARgrey

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Goodbye 2012

Some of my personal highlights for 2012, a year in which I saw my making and mending practice bloom, are almost too many to count. I’m thankful for all the people that believe in me, with a special mention (in alphabetical order) to Susan Crawford, Felicity Ford, Louize Harries, Rachael Matthews, and Linda Newington; and last but not least, all my blog readers. So, without further ado, here are some of my highlights:

Commissions:

THAT Green Cardigan, was a commission that I really enjoyed doing, contrasting luxurious soft dyed cashmere with sturdy, natural Jacob wool.

VMPZC

Invisible Mend: this commission was a learning curve for me, and rather scary: an invisible mend of a beautiful 1950s (?) Aquascutum woollen coat:

ZCFinished

Mending:

I started teaching regular Darning Workshops in Brighton at Super+Super HQ (incidentally, the next one is on Friday, 1 February 2013). I have also been roaming the country for one-off workshops. One that I particularly enjoyed took place at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

SAGDarning

I also started taking my darning to a whole new level: meta-darning Sanquhar Socks.

SSMDSoleAndCuff

My favourite Visible Mend of 2012, however, must be my shoes!

WWS14

I felt honoured when I was asked to be Mender in Residence at the MendRS Symposium. I met so many amazing people and I got to talk about mending in a barn, what’s not to like?

InsideBarn

Knitting:

In 2012 I also released my very first knitting pattern: A Sanquhar-inspired Pencil Case.

SPC title page blog

I presented at In the Loop 3. Incredible that it is possible to talk about knitting for three days, my head was spinning for days afterwards. Alas, I didn’t take any pictures, as I was completely immersed in a different world.

Although I’m no speed knitter, I did manage to churn out a lace stole sample knit for the cover of Susan Crawford’s Coronation Knits in 3.5 days.

CoronationKnits

Coronation Knits Cover © Susan Crawford and used with her kind permission

Wool:

For the woolheads amongst us, November was transformed into Wovember. A month-long turbo-celebration of all things wool. This was the first year I helped out, and I curated a series of posts called Wovember Words. It also spurred me on to start sewing and I made myself a pair of Woollen Trousers.

WTGreenPea

2012 was a great year, and I hope to continue this in 2013.

Hello 2013

Mending:

One of the things I really enjoy doing, is running my darning workshops. So I will continue my regular workshops at Super+SuperHQ, although somewhat less frequently. Also, I will be doing more one-off workshops. You can stay up-to-date by following me on facebook and, of course, my blog.

TOM SAYS DARN IT

As I learn more about darning, I realise there are more darning techniques to be explored then just the regular Swiss darn and stocking darn; a new world is waiting for me.

Knitting:

One reason for doing less darning workshops, is because I want to start offering knitting classes at Super+Super HQ. I’m working on a Sock-Knitting Workshop – details to be announced in a few weeks!

Sanquhar Socks

Art:

At long last, the Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches will see its first outing. Head over to Prick Your Finger in February (Private View on 15 February, Tom’s Curious Stitches short workshops on 16 February).

CAbinet1

Once the Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches Show has finished, I will start working on Bursiforms: an exploration of seamless containers.

New Skills:

Last but not least, in my quest of making my own things, I will start developing my sewing skills. With knitting, I know now how to make garments that fit me, without using commercially available patterns and I want to be able to do the same for sewing. In 2013 I would like to learn how to draft my own trouser and shirt patterns.

And to take the ‘making my own things’ a step further, I have started spinning. I’m taking this very slowly, using a drop spindle to get familiar with drafting fibre and everything that comes with it. Having done a little bit of fibre preparation, I’m amazed at how different wool is when you use it from scratch. It highlights how processed commercial knitting yarn is in order for the mechanical spinning process to work smoothly.

Here’s to a new year; I’m curious to see how all this will develop over the course of the next twelve months. I hope you have plenty of ideas, too!

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Or to be more precise, I visited Gateshead, as I was invited by The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, which is just on the other side of the river Tyne from Newcastle. The Shipley has a new exhibition on, called ‘Collected Threads,’ celebrating 35 years of the Shipley Craft Collection. One of the events around this exhibition was the Shipley Late last Friday, where a number of artists and makers were asked to lead drop-in workshops. Amongst others, one could learn to make Suffock puffs, make jewellery out of bicycle inner tubes and felt collars. And, of course, how to darn!

The Shipley Art Gallery opened in 1917, bequested by Joseph Shipley, who was a local sollicitor. He had a large collection of paintings. Here’s one of them:

Unfortunately I did not manage to note any particulars of this painting, so I don’t know who painted it, or who’s portrait it is. Although I don’t think it’s a Vermeer, it does have a certain Dutch feel to it. If anybody knows, I’d love to hear from you!

In 1977, 35 years ago exactly, The Shipley started to collect contemporary craft made in Britain. It contains about 400 objects and some of the highlights are currently on display as part of the new exhibition. I particularly liked this tapestry by Sandra Milroy, titled Bleached Wall Under Thatch (1980-1982):

I love the contrasting textures and irregularities and the colours she used. It has a very warm feel about it through the use of wool and hessian. Another example of texture and wool, but this time entirely practical, where these three beautiful ganseys:

My hands are itching to knit one! But that was not what I was at The Shipley for. I set up my little stall with darned socks, a large and motley collection of threads and yarns and an abundance of swatches and needles:

Hiding under the table you can see the wheels of my trolley that helped me transport all these treasures to the gallery. The doors opened at 6pm and it didn’t take long before it was buzzing with people, drink in hand, walking around and soaking up the creative atmosphere. Here you can see yours truly, discussing yarns:

There was a wide range of darning skills to be found in Gateshead. Some people told me they darned all the time, whereas others had never darned in their lives. I was shocked, however, that one girl told me she THREW OUT HER HANDKNITTED SOCKS when they developed holes as she didn’t know how to mend them! I’m pleased to report that after last Friday, this shall not happen again, ever.

Many people knew that I would be teaching darning, and they brought with them cherished items in need of some Tender Love & Care. This ranged from a wild Italian knit from the 80s (colourful flowers on a ground of black and white checks, it looked much better than I could ever describe it – if only I had taken a picture), to these lovely Scandinavian hand-knitted gloves:

The left glove, confusingly displayed on the right, had been darned previously in a cream coloured yarn. The lady who brought them told me that she didn’t know who had knitted these gloves, as her husband has had them for years, and they are his absolute favourite gloves. I was not surprised to hear this, as they were nicely knitted, and had a classic Nordic Rose (or star) on the back. The right glove, as displayed on the left, had some big holes in the index finger and thumb, and the lady who brought them in was enthralled by my glove darner. She told me it made darning so much easier!

I also learnt some darning techniques from the visitors. One lady in particular showed me some invisible mending principles, which she had learnt from her grandmother. I wish I could have met her grandmother, and learn all the tricks!

With around 200 visitors the Shipley Late was a very successful and fun evening, and learning as well as teaching made it an even more worthwhile event. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I can heartily recommend a visit to The Shipley and who knows, you might bump into some darning!

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As many of you will know, I attended the UK’s first research symposium on mending. MendRS took place on the first weekend of July and today I want to share my reflections on the symposium as part of the MendRS Blog Tour; at the end of this post you will find all the other dates past and future.

The Symposium took place at Bill Lloyd’s farm, called Slough Farm:

Here you can see Bill chatting with Miriam Dym, one of the presenters at MendRS. As you can see, it was a very casual affair, with most people staying in tents, and the big barn in the back serving as our conference centre, auditorium, canteen and coffee shop (Miriam and I shared many a damn fine cup of coffee.)

I didn’t quite know what to expect from the symposium and I decided to go with an open mind and a blank slate. It was amazing how quickly I felt at home at the barn and how quickly we got to know each other. It soon became clear that despite all the different areas of interest from the participants, there seemed to be a common underlying mindset: if something is broken, whatever this might be, the first question any of the MendRS participants ask is “can this be repaired” and not “can this be replaced.” We all felt this approach is no longer a common one, as everything seems to be available in abundance and mostly cheaply, too, and most people choose the perceived easier option of replacement.

This manifested itself in many ways. To start with, I found many examples of Visible Mending around the farm:

A day before the symposium started, Kendal experienced an unusual amount of rain and one of the footpaths had to be repaired after a flash-flooding:

Steve Grundy, who does many repairs at Slough farm, patched his work trousers with cotton and leather:

Slough Farm was built in 1771! This grand old age meant there were many repairs to be found on the buildings themselves, but I particularly liked this plastic corrugated roof on a little extension, as it somehow really works together (click on the picture for a larger version):

The D.I.Y. Store brought together broken objects and mending skills. As the Mender in Residence I was given the challenge of repairing these trainers with cracked soles. As you can see, I couldn’t help myself applying a knitterly approach to this task:

Artist Kate Lynch had several projects on the go and you can find out much more about them on her own website, but one of the things I really enjoyed was her Helping Hands project, where symposium participants were invited to highlight Visible Mending on the farm, or things that required mending. I found this rug:

Apart from presenting my Visible Mending Programme, I also taught people to darn and to knit, and performed quite a few repairs, including Bill’s guernsey. Here you can see the mended collar, and I also put in his initials:

After this weekend of sharing thoughts and listening to talks in a relaxed environment, I realised that the scale on which people work is very different. Some people think big and would like to see policy changes, all the way down to where I feel most comfortable: a very hands-on practical and personal approach through the Visible Mending Programme. Attending the symposium has shown me the validity of this approach, and I want to continue providing repair inspiration, skills and services and share the joy of mending!

Here’s a teaser of my next mending project. All shall be revealed in due course on my blog, so keep an eye out.

The MendRS Blog Tour has only just started, and there are many stops still to come. It’s also worth checking the previous tour stops; you can find them all in this comprehensive list:

Tour Date Blogger URL
Tour Taster Clare Thomas http://cleaningbeaches.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/mending-objects-mending-roadsides-mending-lives/
Tour Taster Flowering Elbow http://www.floweringelbow.org/2012/invent/musings-on-mending-mendrs/
20/07/2012 Mend*RS http://mendrs.net
25/07/2012 GUTmag www.gutmag.eu
27/072012 Futuremenders http://futuremenders.com/
03/08/2012 Keep & Share http://www.keepandshare.co.uk/blog
10/08/2012 Venerable Clothing http://venerableclothing.blogspot.co.uk
17/08/2012 tomofholland http://tomofholland.com
24/08/2012 bridgetharvey http://bridgetharvey.blogspot.co.uk/
31/08/2012 textilelives http://textilelives.co.uk (NOT LIVE YET)
07/09/2012 KnittedGeographies http://knittedgeographies.wordpress.com/
14/09/2012 lizparker lizparker.org
21/09/2012 The Bunny Pile http://thebunnypile.wordpress.com/
28/09/2012 Unstructured Material http://www.unstructuredmaterial.blogspot.co.uk/
05/10/2012 The Blogging Phenotype blog.spinningkid.info
12/10/2012 Logo Removal Service http://www.logoremovalservice.com/news-log-etc/
19/10/2012 Caitlin DeSilvey and Steve Bond http://smallisbeautifulproject.blogspot.co.uk/
26/10/2012 Stitched Up http://www.stitchedupuk.co.uk

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Earlier this year my friend and sound artist Dr Felicity Ford went on a month-long residency at the MoKS Center for Art and Social Practice in Tartu, Estonia. Dr Felicity Ford spent some time travelling, recording sounds, visiting sheep farmers, interviewing amazing makers, before staying at MoKS for her British-Estonian textile traditions swap-out, using native sheep breed fibres and traditional indigenous plant dyes. You can read all about it in this wonderful blog post here. She also visited a couple of local history museums, which showcased some of the amazing textile traditions in Estonia.

As it turns out, not only were the Estonian women (as traditionally it were women who did all the needlework), amazing knitters and weavers, they were also astonishingly good at darning. The following pictures were taken by Felicity Ford and she has kindly given me permission to share them with you in this blog post. So, without further ado, here’s a highlight of Astonishing Estonian Darns:

A beautiful knitted jumper, with darning in contrasting colours, how could I not like this mend?

 

There were also incredible socks. The knitting has a mind-bogglingly teeny-tiny gauge, and the colours have been carefully chosen to create rich patterns. The plain sock shows a beautiful pattern in travelling stitches.

But not only the knitting is beautiful, the darning and mending skills shown here are in a league of their own.

 

 

 

These were clearly very valuable items, a lot of time, effort and skill must’ve gone into creating them. All the evidence of mending makes me think that these garments were worn a lot and were not only for Sunday Best. If only these socks could tell their stories, from the moment the fibres were spun into wool, knitted up into the most beautiful things, down to all the hard work they will have seen and the necessity of repair – I would love to hear them.

Furthermore, Felicity also bought an Estonian book on needlecraft. She doesn’t read Estonian, but the book is so full of diagrams and pictures, that it is still a joy to browse through. It contains a whole section in fabric repair, with lovingly made illustrations.

Rebuilding a stocking web with supporting threads (you can make completely invisible mends in knitted fabrics this way):

 

Classic darn for rips in fabric. Look at the detail of the frayed edges:

 

After that close-up to show how to do the darn, here is an illustration of two finished darns, showing the little loops you should leave so that the darn has some give:

 

There is also a section on embroidery or damask darning, so that you can rebuild a particular weave in fabric. I would like to learn more about these techniques:

 

 

I really like this illustration of a fabric patch in a checked fabric, as the patch doesn’t quite line up with the fabric, even though clearly the same material was used for making the patch. A dotted line shows how the classic hedge tear has been covered:

 

I would like to thank Felicity once more for letting me share these pictures with you. I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I did, and marvelled at the astonishing Estonian craftsmanship showcased in these items.

Please note that the copyright of all pictures in this post belongs to Felicity Ford.

 

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I own a pair of shoes that were in dire need of a Visible Mend. They were once very smart, yet comfortable to wear, and clearly made by highly skilled shoe makers. But now they are more than love-worn, as I haven’t always taken care of them as well as I could and I neglected using a shoe horn:

I remember very well the day I bought them. It was in the autumn of 1999 and I was visiting London with a friend. I would normally not have enough money to justify buying something by Vivienne Westwood, but I knew the sales were on and so I dragged my friend to her shop on Conduit Street. I fell in love with these shoes straight-away, but when I tried them on, I could not get my feet in. With a sad face I put them back on the shelf and looked at other things. However, nothing really appealed to me and I was drawn back to the shoes. I tried them on again. And I could not get my feet into them. So with a sad face I put them back on the shelf, again. After another trawl through all the racks and shelves, clearly nothing would do but those shoes. So I tried them on one last time. The helpful shop assistant started chatting to us and said that after nothing much had happened in the shop, I was her “amusement of the day.” And as if by magic, at that moment my feet just slipped in. I laced up, paid up and walked away with the most gorgeous shoes.

But twelve years later, I realised that if I wanted to continue wearing these shoes for another few years, something had to be done. So I bought a box of macarons, and paid a visit to my friend Alex, who runs Laste Shoehop in Brighton:

As you can see, not only were the heels run down, the insoles were also in need of replacement. Note that the box of macarons was still full at this point:

We decided to make a new heel piece, which would line the inside of the heel and a flap that would fold over to cover up the ugly mess. To put this into place and keep the shoes comfortable, we also had to take out the insoles. Or socks, as they are called by shoe makers! They clearly needed replacement, too. There was some shoe maker evidence about the size of the shoes hiding under the sock of the right shoe, if you look closely:

First, we made a pattern out of paper, which had a curved seam in the middle to create the heel shaping. The macarons were proving to be very tasty indeed:

I also traced the socks, so I could use that as a pattern for the new ones. Once we were happy with the pattern pieces, I cut them out from card. In the shoe maker trade, seams are indicated on the pattern by a few cut-outs, instead of cutting the wedge out completely. This makes the pattern more sturdy, as they are usually re-used a lot. One cut-out has a squiggly side, so you can tell left and right side apart. In this picture you can also see the so-called click knife. In shoe making, cutting the leather pieces from the pattern is called clicking – and using scissors is frowned upon at all times!

Alex explained how leather stretches in only one direction (across the belly), and when you click the pattern pieces, this is taken into account, so you can give the shoes stretch where they need it, for example across the foot. Once I had clicked the pattern pieces, it was time to sew the seams. Leather is a wonderful material, as you can use a very small seam allowance, without it ripping it. Alex has an old but sturdy domestic sewing machine for this:

Here are the heel pieces just after sewing up. They somehow remind me of moths in this picture:

In order to keep the seams open, and to make sure they don’t give you blisters by rubbing against your heels, they are flattened out with a hammer. This shoe makers hammer has a special head, one side of which is made from raw hide, which won’t damage the leather when you give it a good bash:

On the inside the heel pieces will fold under the sock, so here is Alex using the naughty scissors, cutting out small wedges to make shaping easier and avoid buckled up leather under your foot. Tut tut tut Alex, scissors!

Next stage is to put contact glue on all surfaces to be glued together. The smell of it made me feel a bit giddy:

Once the glue had dried, it was time to stick the pieces in place. This was a bit tricky to do, as the two glued surfaces should not get in contact with each other where you don’t want to:

When the pieces were in place, I had to let the glue dry properly, so the finishing touch: a nice contrasting seam in bright yellow strong top stitch thread, had to be done at home. It would be difficult to sew through layers of leather with a leather needle and at the same time making sure the stitch lines would be neat and tidy, so I used a little trick. I borrowed Alex’s awl, which is also known as a bradawl (pronounced as |ˈbradɔːl|), to pierce holes through the leather. To keep the holes equidistant, I marked them on the leather with a pair of contractors:

One heel done, one left to go! If you look carefully, you will see I also made a small piece on the right shoe where another seam ripped. I’m a bit obsessed with using yellow as a contrast colour:

I made new socks from this lovely thin blue leather:

I thoroughly enjoyed visibly mending my very favourite pair of shoes. I learnt a lot from Alex about making shoes, and I got to use some great tools:

Clockwise from top left: cup of coffee, bradawl hiding under shoe, left shoe, right shoe, upholstery hammer (there was one pesky nail poking through), contractors, click knive, lighter to burn ends of nylon sewing thread, ballpoint refill with silver ink (this rubs off easily), a rubber made from a piece of crepe sole in the shape of a shoe, heel piece pattern, sock pattern, right sock, left sock.

Although using special tools was nice and made certain things go a bit easier, I truly believe it is possible to do this repair at home with tools you have just lying around; you just need some courage and patience. Thank you Alex, for a wonderful day!

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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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Today’s Visible Mending Programme post is all about tape. And starting a Visible Mending Gallery. Let’s start with Tape: tape is a very versatile fixing material; as you will see in this photo essay. It can be used for many different types of instant repair: to keep something in place. To keep something out. To cover something up. To replace something. To stop something from happening. All the examples in this post are non-garment repairs, but  I have even seen white tape used on a yellow raincoat, but alas, I had no camera to hand.

And now for the Visible Mending Programme Gallery: for those of you who use Instagram: you will notice some pictures have been “instagrammed”. If you are an Instagram user, then you can follow me @tomofholland. Any mending pictures I upload I hash tag with #VisibleMend or #VisibleMending. It would be great if you did the same, I would love to see a gallery of Visible Mends.

But enough talking now, here is the photo essay on Tape. Red Tape. Brown Tape. Yellow Tape. Black Tape. Silver Tape. Clear Tape.

I’m looking forward to seeing your Visible Mending Pictures on Instagram. I hope to be able to use some prime examples for the presentation I will give at MEND*RS.

What, you haven’t heard about MEND*RS yet? It is the first mending research symposium in the UK (29 June – 2 July 2012). Registration will open soon, come join us in the Lake District for some mending action.

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