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Posts Tagged ‘Visible Mending Programme’

Years ago,  when I just caught the knitting bug, I made myself a black brick stitch scarf. It’s a lovely scarf and very soft and comfortable, and I wear it a lot. In fact, I wear it so often, that I’ve started to get a bit bored with it. I no longer appreciate the looks of this scarf and the work I put in it. But what to do about it? I don’t really fancy knitting a new scarf, I don’t want to not wear it (if you know what I mean), and I most definitely don’t want to throw it out either. And yet, I’m bored with this scarf. It’s a classic case of Familiarity Fatigue.

I feel there’s only one remedy for this illness: a Fashion Intervention.

Regular readers of my blog know that I love my Shetland wool, and indeed you may have identified the two balls in the picture as Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Here’s an excellent opportunity to combine my favourite wool with my once-favourite scarf.

In a random fashion I coloured in some of the ‘bricks’ with doubled-up Spindrift, using Swiss darning (also known as duplicate stitching):

I like the purl side of Swiss darning too. The purl nubs of the original black yarn and those of the coloured yarn create a striped effect.

I used three different colours here. Jamieson’s called them ‘surf’, ‘bracken’ and ‘burnt umber’. I think ‘surf’ and ‘bracken’ are particularly well-chosen names for these heathered tones of blue and green. I think the Shetland wool works really well here for various reasons: it provides a nice textural contrast with the supersoft merino/silk blend of the scarf. Then, of course, there’s the contrast between colours and black. In addition, as Shetland wool is quite ‘grabby’, so it was possible to weave in short ends, and not have to worry they will work themselves out again, especially after a burst of steam to set the yarn.

As the days are getting warmer now, I’m not sure if I will be wearing this scarf again until after summer. But once I have packed away this scarf, I have something to look forward to come autumn. I leave you with some close-ups of the scarf, as it caught the sunlight beautifully this morning:

 

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Item #11 in The Visible Mending Programme mixes new mending techniques with a familiar story. Zoë had heard of my Visible Mending Programme through word of mouth. She had a gorgeous green cardigan with some fraying cuffs, welts and pockets that urgently required my attention. Oh, and one horrifying hole:

Zoë’s cardigan story will be familiar to many people: when she spent some time in New York, Zoë did the inevitable thing, and went shopping. The sales were on and she spotted a beautiful green cashmere cardigan which was reduced in price. However, it was still very expensive, it wasn’t in her size, and she didn’t really have the money for it. With a sad heart, she left the shop. But you know what it’s like: the cardigan  stuck in her mind, and when she spotted another concession of the same shop, she just had to go in and check. Because you can never know. And there it was: THAT green cardigan. In her size. On sale. The only one left. What can one do?

Needless to say, Zoë returned to the UK with said cardigan. It has held up really well – I think the cashmere used is of superior quality. However, favourite items in your wardrobe make many outings, and get love worn around the edges: this frayed cuff shows signs of a mending attempt:

Stress points at pockets started to unravel, the welt started to fray, and of course, there was that hole in the elbow. The chunky knit meant I could try out some new ideas about cuff fixing and elbow patching, and I’m really pleased with the result. I used 100% Jacob wool in aran weight, as I like the contrast: the cardigan made of dyed 100% cashmere, a delicate and luxurious very soft fibre from goats. The mending done in undyed 100% jacob wool, which is very strong and has a more sturdy feel to it.

The elbow patch was knitted in (you can see stitches being picked up in the first picture). I used moss stitch, as Zoë mistakenly believed the cardigan was knitted in moss stitch:

The welt and cuffs were mended by picking up stitches and knitting a 1×1 ribbing. I used a tubular cast-off as it looks good and is very elastic. Jacob wool is strong and has lots of spring, so I’m sure it will keep up for a long time. I mended the pocket corner with a little bit of crochet:

I met up with Zoë earlier today. I’m pleased to report that she was delighted with Visible Mend #11. We had a nice chat and a coffee, when it turned out that she has another horrific hole in her wardrobe. That, however, will be the subject of another post.

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After all the glove knitting, carboot sale looting and Christmas decorations, it was time I returned to some Visible Mending. Here are three new items I entered for the Visible Mending Programme. May I present to you the classic darn: socks!

From left to right: my partner’s house socks, a shop-bought sock, my house socks.

First up are my partner’s house socks. I knitted this from left-overs of my Elizabeth Zimmermann Bog Jacket and I had only just enough left for making these. Hence the contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. For the lanaphiles amongst us: the brown yarn is Manx Loghtan wool, the grey is Jacob – I bought both from Garthenor Organic Pure Wool. The darns are made with Lang Jawoll sock wool.

As you can see, I employed two different methods of darning. On the left heel you see the classic stocking darn. This method is good for fixing holes. However, I noticed some thin patches too, so I decided to reinforce those with Swiss darning (also known as duplicate stitch), shown on the right heel and the sole top left. If you look closely, you can see I even managed to duplicate the decreases used for turning the heel.

The second sock I repaired, was a sock I bought before I knew how to knit socks myself – all those needles sticking out in all directions, I thought I’d never be able to cope with all that! They’re made by Hirsch Natur. I counted the gauge once, and I make socks of a similar weight myself now.

I used some mending wool I picked up in a sale somewhere. It turned out a bit thinner than anticipated once I got going, so I decided to add some extra warps and wefts. Some mending wools tend to felt a bit (despite their high nylon content), so I don’t think you will see this pretty ‘basket weave’ for long.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the last pair of socks. They’re Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Moccasin Socks. As ever with EZ, the design is out of the ordinary – here, she designed a sock pattern with a completely reknittable heel and sole. And therein lies the rub: however much I like the look of them, unusually, I did not enjoy knitting the heel and sole. At all. But I used 100% Shetland wool for the sole and that isn’t particularly hardwearing, so I needed to do something about those thin patches and the tiny hole that started developing. In the end I opted for Swiss darning. It makes good practice and I like the colour combination with the black and navy (which, incidentally, is warm and woolly lustrous Wensleydale longwool).

A parting note: the keen observer may have noticed something in herringbone-weave lurking in the background of some pictures. I hope this will lead soon to my very first INvisibly mended item!

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Avid readers of my blog know that I run The Visible Mending Programme. On the whole I visibly mend clothes, but in recent weeks I have started to notice examples of Visible Mending in my surroundings. In my office, on the street, in shop windows, on shop floors, I see Visible Mending everywhere! The following examples of Visible Mending are particular favourites:

The Disused Airconditioning Unit Outlet:

Before we had our offices redecorated, one of the rooms was crowded with computers and servers and it was always very hot. So we used a mobile airconditioning unit and the big plastic hose was pushed through a hole made in the window pane for this very purpose. Once the redecoration was finished and the room had proper airconditioning, this was the Maintenance Department’s solution to close the hole in the window. The overlapping pieces of tape look like a star and I like how the light comes through the different layers, getting more opaque the more layers there are.

The Pub Built Around a Wall:

This pub in Brighton has seen most of its walls replastered, repainted, redone everything. But not the back. The contrast between the bricks and the smooth, painted walls works really well together.

The Shop Floor:

The shop floor of Laste, Brighton finest shoe shop, had some pesky floorboards. Alex (for whom I Visibly Mended a cardigan), did some Visible Mending of her own, with brass plates and nails. I particularly like the one right at the entrance. Trodden by many feet, it has acquired a great patina, but what is even better, slowly emerging is evidence of an earlier Visible Mend!

The Pavement:

Many pavements are Visibly Mended. This particularly fine example, as found on the way to work, not only shows a tarmac insert in the shape of the letter T, but also some pavement slabs made from a different stone than the original one.

The Accidental Stained Glass Window:

The other day I visited that most magnificent example of Arts & Crafts architecture, the Tudor revivalist department store, Liberty’s. The windows in the stairwell are constructed as stained glass, but with the strips of lead holding clear panes of glass. However, one of the panes got smashed and it got fixed with a small mosaique of glass pieces. One of them happens to have a grape vine painted on it, turning this window into an accidental stained glass one!

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