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:

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

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

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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:

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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.

HAJ_DamaskCU

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:

HAJ_AppletonsCU

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:

HAJ_SingleCordedBrusslesStitch

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.

To Darn at Wool House

Wool House, a showcase of the use of wool in many different guises at Somerset House, has now come to an end. Wool House was organised by the Campaign for Wool and I got to play a part in it, too. What’s more, my drop-in darning sessions were a great success and the Campaign for Wool added them to their highlights of the exhibition!

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Drop-in darning at Wool House. Photograph © Campaign for Wool and used with their kind permission

As you can see, it was really rather busy – and it was like that all weekend long. In the background you can see two felted wallhangings by Claudy Jongstra. I’d love to see some of her large site-specific installations. Some people knew I was going to be at Wool House, so they brought along holey jumpers and socks, but I also provided swatches to practise on.

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Concentration at Wool House. Photograph © Howard Sullivan, Your Studio and used with his kind permission

I also ran a darning master class. As this was more in-depth, I had to restrict this to six people only, but many people watched over our shoulders. For many, darning seems to be connected to memories of grandmothers or mothers regularly taking up darning mushroom and needle. These stories got shared with other visitors and me – somehow this simple act of repairing, either by doing or by observing, is very emotive.

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Master class in darning. Photograph © Sue Craig and used with her kind permission

We learnt how to do Swiss darning, or duplicate stitching: a good way to reinforce threadbare fabric which hasn’t developed into a hole yet.

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Swiss darning in action. Photograph © Sue Craig and used with her kind permission

And of course, we also wielded darning mushroom and needle. The darning mushroom in particular opened up conversations about mending, as many people have their nan’s or mum’s one, or remember somebody in their family using one frequently. Whilst darning, people start to reflect on repairing garments, what certain items of clothing mean to them, their motivation for repair, and how they get completely absorbed in the act and find it meditative and relaxing. I think this is probably in great contrast to the times when people had the necessity to darn and repair their clothes and it was viewed as a chore.

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Stocking darning, the finer points. Photograph © Sue Craig and used with her kind permission

Of course, I was very happy that darning was so popular, although it did mean I didn’t get a chance to look around as much as I would’ve liked to, or chat to other people showing their skills. Luckily some of my friends took pictures that they have let me use with their kind permission. As the beautifully curated rooms have been discussed at length in other places, I have picked here a very small selection of all the things I would’ve wanted to have learnt more about:

Savile Row tailoring: as I have tried to do some more sewing lately, I’m utterly in awe of all the work that goes into making a suit or a couture gown.

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Pattern blocks. Photograph © Howard Sullivan, Your Studio and used with his kind permission

I may have mentioned before that I have taken up spinning as well. One of the things I want to do soon, is use my handspun yarn for weaving. After all, darning is weaving on a really teeny-tiny scale! I’ll start with a simple home-made frame loom; it’ll be a while yet before I will be able to make something as beautiful as Jason Collingwood can, using a huge loom.

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Jason Collingwood weaving. Photograph © Howard Sullivan, Your Studio and used with his kind permission.

As somebody who really likes hand-stitching buttonholes – yes, really! – I could not finish this post with a perfect example of the art.

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A buttonhole, perfectly stitched by hand. Photograph © Howard Sullivan, Your Studio and used with his kind permission.

With many thanks to Campaign for Wool,  Howard Sullivan of Your Studio and Sue Craig, who runs Knitting the Map, for letting me use their pictures.

One final post-script: you can still sign up for my sock-knitting three-week course; taking place 14, 21 and 28 April. More details here.

To Knit Socks

“I wish I knew how to knit socks,” “I’d love to be able to knit my own socks,” “wow, did you really knit those socks yourself?” “do you teach sock knitting?” are comments and questions I frequently hear whenever I run one of my darning classes or workshops.

KnitSocks

I’m happy to announce that in April, I will start my first sock-knitting short course!

This sock knitting course is aimed at the intermediate knitter, who already knows how to cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, and cast off. You may have knitted a sweater, but haven’t tried knitting in the round yet. I will teach you how to knit basic, well-fitting socks on double-pointed needles from the cuff down.

During the first session (Sunday, 14 April, 11am-1pm), you will learn how to knit in the round on double-pointed needles (also known as DPNs); a suitable cast-on technique for socks; and taking the right measurements. Then, when you get home, you can be confident to cast on the right number of stitches to knit the cuff and the leg.

During the second session (Sunday, 21 April, 11am-1pm), you will learn how to turn the heel. Although I’ve knitted many socks, I still find turning the heel a small miracle. I will also show you how to decrease for the toe. Again, I’d expect you to do some home work, and knit all the way to the toe.

During the third session (Sunday, 28 April, 11am-1pm), you will learn how to graft the toe closed. This technique is sometimes known as Kitchener stitch. We’ll discuss some common sock knitting pitfalls and you’ll leave with the confidence and knowledge to knit sock number two, three, four, and more!

Sock wool and a set of double-pointed needles are included in the price, as is a handy cheat sheet to refer back to techniques and to help record all the necessary numbers to continue your sock knitting adventures. All this for a mere £65! the classes are held at Super+Super HQ, Brighton.

You can sign up by following this link.

Sanquhar Socks

Socks with a Sanquhar-inspired design.

To Be Busy

Dear readers, I can’t believe it’s already mid March! I have so much to share with you, that I’m not sure where to start. So, in no particular order I shall mention some of the highlights of the last few weeks and the coming few months.

First of all, a few announcements on upcoming classes and workshops:

Sock Knitting

Whenever I run a darning class I show my hand-knitted socks that I have darned. For all of you who have asked if I will teach sock knitting, I can now say: yes I do!

KnitSocks

My first sock knitting class is in April, run over three consecutive Sundays (14, 21, 28 April). I will expect participants to do some “homework,” but as this involves knitting, I think it could be worse. You can book here and find more details. This class is aimed at the confident beginner, who already knows how to cast on, cast off, increase and decrease. Learn to knit in the round, turn heels and graft toes.

Darning

Darning is really taking off, and I will be doing quite a few events in the next few months, spreading my love for darning and mending.

First of all, I will be at Wool House at Somerset House, London, for some drop-in darning this weekend (16, 17 March) and a darning class on Friday, 22 March. All for free! Wool House showcases some different uses for wool, and promises to be spectacular.  Check all Wool House events here, including my darning activities.

Secondly, I will be doing my regular Super+Super HQ darning class on Friday, 10 May.

TOM SAYS DARN IT

You can book for this event here. And for those of you who wonder: although these techniques are used for knitwear repair, no previous knitting experience is necessary.

Still there is more! Third and fourth mention go to two one-day darning workshops. These run from 10am-4pm and are a more informal affair. I will introduce the concept of Visible Mending, show examples of various techniques, and then we’ll discuss everybody’s repair needs. Then we will all just pick up needle and thread and start mending!

I will be at Hope & Elvis, in Worksop, Nottinghamshire on Saturday, 4 May. This event is now sold out.

I will be at The Stitchery Studio, Glasgow on Saturday, 18 May. Find details here to sign up.

And more…

Yes, there is still more to share! I will just give you some glimpses of what has kept me so busy in the last four weeks or so. I will expand on all of this in my next few blog posts:

The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches was exhibited at Prick Your Finger, London:

cabinet

Crafty Magazine interviewed me about The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches. It’s a new magazine and it will also feature male crafters, because we do exist!

I have been bitten by the spinning bug. I went to the spinners meet-up at The Green Centre last Friday, where Sue Craig is leading the Knitting The Map project. The aim is to prepare, spin, dye and knit a 1792 map of Brighton; known as Brighthelmstone at the time. I spun up some Lincoln longwool, which I combed myself:

LashedOn

When I went to Prick Your Finger last weekend to collect my Curiosity Cabinet, we had a right spin-off, as Cecilia Hewett was visiting, and so was Felicity Ford. You may have read her three-part spinning story over on the Wovember blog. She gave me some invaluable advice on how to spin Wensleydale wool into a lace weight yarn:

spinning

I have also been knitting a jumper, mixing some amazing deepest, darkest Romney from Prick Your Finger with some of my first handspun:

photo

And I haven’t even started taking pictures of my machine knitted swatches. My friend Amy Twigger Holroyd, who runs the fashion label Keep & Share, and who is working on amazing PhD research, invited me round to her studio for an introduction to machine knitting. Despite my initial prejudices, I really enjoyed it! I hope to do more in the near future.

And more darning. Yes indeed! If all this wasn’t enough, I went to the first Brighton Repair Café a few weeks ago. The Repair Café Foundation was originally founded in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, but has gained huge momentum and has gone global now. I first heard about it at the MendRS Symposium and I was so glad to see that we now have one in Brighton, too.

I think I’m done sharing for now. I hope to see you at one of my sock knitting or darning classes or at Wool House. I hope you have all been creatively occupied, too, with exciting new projects!

To Finish as You Started

Have you ever wondered about cast-offs that matches your cast-on? Well, my Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches contains not one, not two, but three such matches. The Curiosity Cabinet opens to the public on 15 February at Prick Your Finger, so come along for a wee drink from 6 to 9pm.

FYSDoubleMoss

long-tail cast-on matched with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “casting on casting off”

Matching your cast-off technique to look like your cast-on won’t take you any extra effort, yet it is one of those details that really gives a finishing touch to your knitted item. One of my favourites in these matching looks is the tubular cast-on and tubular cast-off for 1X1 ribbing:

FYSRib

tubular cast-on paired with tubular cast-off

I just love how the stitches just roll over the edge to the other side, and as this cast-on is tubular, you have also knitted a neat little channel in which to hide your yarn tails. A winner all round. Indeed, these are the techniques I used for Susan Crawford’s Kasha cardigan, to match the ribbed edges throughout the garment.

Kasha

Kasha cardigan, with matching ribbed edges

As you probably know, the most common used cast-off is the chain cast-off: knit 1, [knit 1, pass second stitch on right needle over the first stitch and off the needle], repeat to end. This is a nice, firm cast-off that gets used very often, and wouldn’t it be great if you could have a matching cast-on? Well, you can. May I present to you the crochet cast-on!

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crochet cast-on complements the chain cast-off

This would be a good match for a scarf, for instance, as they give a firm edge and thus prevent the ends flaring out. If you would like to see these curious stitches in person, then come along on 15 February to the private view at Prick Your Finger, or pop in over the following few weeks.

Or, if you want to add these little gems to your knitting repertoire, then you can join my Curious Stitches workshop on 16 February 1-3pm; sign up here! I will teach you all six techniques shown in the green swatches above. This class is aimed at intermediate knitters.

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

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.

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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!

Tom Says Darn It! Visits Newcastle

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!

Reflections on the MendRS Symposium

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

Tom Says Darn It! Workshop Is Back

You’ll be pleased to hear that after a short hiatus the Tom Says Darn It! darning workshop is back at Super+Super HQ. Come along and learn to darn with me on Friday, 27 July, 18:30-21:00h.

In 2.5hrs I will teach you two classic techniques:

(1) Swiss darning, also known as duplicate stitching, which is a great way of reinforcing thin patches in knitted fabrics that are about to wear through; however, you can also use it to brighten up an otherwise dull garment. What I like about his technique is that once you have gained some experience, you can start using a variety of colours, like I did on the soles of these socks:

(2) the classic stocking web darn, using a darning mushroom. This technique is great for darning holes in knitted garments and regular readers of this blog will know I use this technique often, and that I like to use contrasting or complementary colours:

And that is not all! If there is any time left (and there usually is), I will give you a demo of Lancashire’s smallest loom: The Speedweve! This clever little contraption is frequently available on auction sites for under a tenner.

To book just send an email to supersuperhq@gmail.com or call them on 01273 – 773 910. The Tom Says Darn It! darning workshop costs £25 for 2.5 hrs, and this includes:

(1) all the tools and materials required for darning

(2) a comprehensive hand-out to take home

(3) two types of darning needles to take home

(4) tea and biscuits to keep you going

I will provide all required materials for darning, but I’d like to invite you to bring your own love-worn knitwear lurking in your mending basket.

As an aside, there was no darning class in June as I attended the Mend*RS Symposium, from which I came back totally inspired by all the people who have made mending and repairing an integral part of their life. A blog post will follow soon, as I think you’ll be amazed by our burgeoning Mending Movement!

MEND*R in Residence

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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