This week, there has been a rather sad revelation. Followed by a lot of mending. In fairness to the grubs who ate my woolens–they only made small holes. It’s just that they made a lot of them. It began when I found another hole in this garment that I mended only a few weeks back.
Then another wooly item with a few little holes in it. No sooner did I mend the first hole than I see this one nearby. That telltale ladder is the sign that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is going to be the story of this fabric from this point onward.
Rather more sadly, this newer garment has come to grief too.
I’m still deploying my mother’s favoured approach to darning: first secure the edges of the hole. Then stitch across in one direction, creating lines of thread across the hole, leaving a little loop at each end of each line. This accommodates the fact that this is a woven darn inserted into a far stretchier knit fabric.
Then, stitch another row of lines in the other direction, weaving with your needle tip when you come to the gap to be filled. This is an undergarment, so I sometimes just darn on the outside, loops and all, where I can see the finished effect.
But there were more holes, so I kept going on the inside, first stitching one way across the holes and then changing direction and stitching across the first row and weaving threads across the hole itself and any ladders and weak parts.
Mum taught me during Busy Bee Week, a fundraiser for the Brownies (so I was about ten). We were living in a small mining town in the middle of Western Australia: Kambalda, then one of the hubs of the nickel boom. One neighbour keen to use my talents gave me a white cotton tennis sock to darn and my mother set me to it with cotton machine thread and a needle! She didn’t own a darning mushroom. This is a tool I have discovered since, and it is a lot easier to use than Mum’s improvisation, a Vegemite glass (upturn a small drinking glass and insert into sock, proceed to darn). The handle is the key feature for ease of use. A glass, or even making a circle of your own curled fingers, will do the job.
Quite neat really. But. Nothing can make a darn right smack bang in the middle of the front of your top flattering. Just as well this one won’t be on public display while on my body!
A friend who has been similarly afflicted (and is in the Heroine category of Menders) told me about the CSIRO guidelines for managing this kind of problem. I’ll be making use of her research as well as the sticky pheromone traps that let me know I had a problem last summer. For now I am considering whether re-bundling these tops might make those silky darns blend in better… or whether I should wear them with pride, as recommended by Tom of Holland and his Visible Mending Programme. I can recommend this post of his on one major commission, mended with love, thought and skill.
I admit, I’ve been wearing mends with pride for my whole adult life–but there are limits. I have to say that while my darns will do the job, they are not up there in the Tom of Holland category of mending as an artform!