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Posts Tagged ‘visible mending’

It is with great pleasure and not a little bit of pride that I came in the top ten of the 2017 Textielmuseum contest! This year the theme was “reinventing textiles”:

“We live in a society where many of us throw away things quickly when they are out of fashion or seem just a tiny bit worn. The contemporary design world is about material and its use. Designers seek both high and low tech ways to rediscover the materials and elements they work with and apply innovative ways to create a product. Materials are recycled and upcycled to give new life to texture, form and colour.

 

Design a special product or material application in which the theme ‘Reinventing Textiles’ adds value to the design.

Consider which (textile) objects you tend to throw away and how to give it a second life as an interior product, toy or item of clothing with a high design value. For example, a curtain shaded by the sun, worn clothes, a carpet that’s been walked on over and over again etc. Think about ways to repair, decorate, embroider, unravel, trim, smear, refurbish or customize textiles or apply textile techniques to non-textile materials.

How can you apply the wearing and tearing in a positive way and use it in a design or product? Research, experiment, learn the origination techniques of materials and innovate. Upcycle instead of downcycle – make ragged outfit textile products that are attractive to you.”

A quick note: all pictures in this blog post were taken by Saskia de Feijter, proprietor of Rotterdam’s hippest yarn shop, Ja, Wol!

tomofholland textielmuseum design contest top ten

Me at the award ceremony and opening of the Reinventing Textiles Exhibition

I work mostly with wool, and enjoy creating and repairing knitted objects. I like to do things that take forever, as it allows me to gain a deep understanding of material qualities and the traditional techniques I use for making and mending contemporary objects. By exploring the motivations I favour not the new and perfect but the old and imperfect, as that allows me to highlight the relationship between garment and wearer. My interest in using traditional techniques for creating and repairing (woollen) textiles means that creating and mending textiles are in constant conversation with each other.

Tomofholland Visiblemending vintage blanket Textielmuseum

My mother inspecting my handiwork

The Textielmuseum is located in Tilburg, a city in an area of The Netherland which has a rich textile history. The museum is housed in a former textiles factory, once one the largest employers of the area. One of the permanent exhibits is about woollen blanket manufacturing, showing all the different stages of making a blanket, from spinning wool to weaving to finishing.

tom of holland the new craftsmen tea towel 3

Vintage patched linen tea towels

The museum also still has a working damask mill, and they frequently collaborate with designers, creating beautiful contempary table linens. I may have indulged myself somewhat in the museum shop…

Also on the premises is the TextielLab, a unique knowledge centre, combining a specialised workshop for the manufacture of unique fabrics and an open studio where innovation is central. National and international designers, architects, artists and promising students are guided by product developers and technical experts, and so discover the endless possibilities of yarn, computer-controlled techniques and craftsmanship.

I love the outward looking approach of the Textielmuseum and TextielLab, showing great respect for traditional techniques, yet at the same time exploring new directions in textiles, and it’s a great honour to have be part of the top ten in the Reinventing Textiles contest.

The entries of the contest top ten and winners is on display at the Textielmuseum until 10 December.

tomofholland vintage blanket visiblemending textielmuseum

Showing off my blanket!

With thanks to Sas for letting me use her pictures.

 

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Last week, I showed you two invisible mending commissions I took on. However, there was a third garment to be repaired. What’s more, it’s not the first time I have tackled it. Remember That Green Cardigan?

VMPZC

That Green Cardigan

I hadn’t seen it for a while, and as Zoë has been wearing it day in, day out since it was repaired first time around, it started showing some more fraying, elbow holes and snags. But it was also very nice to see how the old repairs had really settled in; they look like they were always there.

AmyCardi_old_repair

An old repair and fraying of the welts

This time, I used Foula wool for repairs. It’s a somewhat different shade of grey, but the texture is quite similar to the Jacob wool I used previously. Assuming the cardigan will keep returning for more repairs over the coming years, I’d like to continue using different shades of grey (although I doubt I’ll get up to fifty…), making each repair episode discrete, yet all together they form a coherent story.

I used a variety of techniques this time. I’m starting to appreciate crochet as a repair technique:

AmyCardi_new_old_cuff

Old repair in 1×1 ribbing, new repair in single crochet

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More crochet repairs

Then there was some thinning fabric to be found in an unexplainable-to-me area. This I reinforced with Swiss darning in Brioche stitch:

AmyCardi_swiss_Darn

Swiss darning in Brioche stitch

As my love for Scotch darning just does not diminish, I used it for the hole in the elbow. The texture is amazing when using a heavy DK weight knitting yarn:

AmyCardi_Scotch_darn

Scotch darning in Foula wool

Zoë’s cardigan is fit for another round of heavy-duty work, which is just as well, as she spends lots of time in the forest, working for Wilderness Wood.

AmyCardi_repaired

Zoë’s green cardigan, repaired once more

And if you feel inspired by these visible mends, but you’re not quite sure where to start, then sign up for my next darning class at Super+Super HQ in Brighton. You can sign up below:

Eventbrite - Darning Workshop

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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:

HAJ_Appletons

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

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

HAJ_front

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:

HAJ_DamaskAll

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.

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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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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. Rachael Matthews from Prick Your Finger  gave me one of her dad’s sweaters to repair:

Rachael’s dad, who makes the most beautiful knitting tools by the way, 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: it is Rachael’s 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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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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The Sanquhar socks I knitted last year have seen a lot of wear this winter and even well into spring and when I washed them the other day suddenly loads of holes appeared. These socks are one of my favourites because they are so very comfortable and I managed to get the fit just right. The 2-ply yarn I used (a wool and mohair blend from Blacker Yarns, alas no longer available) is soft yet has a lot of spring and was quite hard-wearing, considering how much I wore them. I’m also still very pleased with how the Sanquhar-inspired design came out.

In other words, a good opportunity to reread those chapters on darning in one of my favourite mending books to ensure I’m going to do a really good job.

The darning tool I used for this job has a mushroom end for holes in the heel, and a toe-shaped end for holes in the, you guessed it, toes. I picked it up in a car-boot sale, and the toe-end is particularly well-designed.

A close-up of my darning tool reveals that somebody didn’t like it as much as I do! (click on the picture to see a larger version: GRRR!) I guess that in former times, when darning was seen as a necessity, and a skill every woman was supposed to possess, a little girl didn’t like it one bit. This is so different from my own views and feelings. In a society where it is easier to throw away and replace than repair (for whatever excuse), I often get the feeling that people think of darning as a hobby and a luxury. But I like my hand-knitted socks, if only because the fit is unsurpassed and it gives me pleasure to be able to make such an everyday item myself. As these socks took some time to knit (11 stitches to inch!) I want to be able to wear them for as long as I can possibly make them last.

Whilst I was examining the holes, I also noticed thin areas under the ball of the foot and on the side of the big toe. So not only did I need to fill in the holes with stocking darns, but I also wanted to reinforce the thin areas to prevent holes forming.

I tried out a couple of new things. First up is the biased stocking darn:

As you can see, these threads cross each other at the diagonal, and not in the more usual perpendicular fashion. This is supposed to give the darn more stretch. I shall report back in due time, although so far, I haven’t noticed any difference.

Secondly, as I like a Visible Mend, I decided to mix up the colours.

Solid patches in Swiss darning, and the stocking darn is speckled due to different colours for “warp” and “weft”. But as you can see in the following picture, it didn’t stop there. My cuff design was calling out to be re-used!

And so, esteemed Ladies & Gentlemen, the meta-darn was born. This self-referential pattern took me a quite a bit longer than a plain darn, but I had so much fun doing it. Suddenly the slightest shadow of a hint of an inkling of a possibility of a thinning area required to be reinforced. I’m very interested in adding something, which is related to thing added to. Another good example of “meta-interventions” is Amy Twigger Holroyd’s stitch-hacking work. As she says about stitch-hacking: “The [technique is] used to adapt existing garments and patterns to include personalised content. On a conceptual level, these pieces explore authorship and ownership; on a personal level, they allow me to put something of myself into my wardrobe.” *) Although Amy is talking about shop-bought clothes, which sometimes lack a certain individuality, this principle can also apply to hand-made things (although admittedly, the authorship and ownership does not get questioned as much here). In these socks, the cuff pattern gets referenced, and so the darn not only reinforces the fabric, it also reinforces the design.

I limited myself to the areas that needed reinforcing, so the pattern isn’t complete. It looks like an ancient Roman mosaic, or half-stripped wall paper. I’m not sure how this mending yarn will wear, as some of the mending threads I’ve used tend to get fuzzy. However, to me that is going to be an exciting development to follow. Will this design still be legible after having worn these socks for another winter? And once this has worn out, will I be able to perform another Swiss darn, will I need to do a stocking darn, or will I eventually have to resort to refooting the sock? Perhaps for some, these socks are just temporarily stopped on their way out, but for me, the journey with these socks has only just begun.

*) http://keepandshare.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/stitch-hacking-and-pattern-blagging-at-prick-your-finger/

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