I have a dear friend whose entire family are facing some very tough times. I’d been wondering what I could do that might bring some comfort to her, and then I had an idea. I knew she had a cardigan that had belonged to someone she treasured, and that it was showing signs of long wear and lots of love. So I offered to mend it for her. She chose some yarn and on some quiet nights last week I set to work.
Darning is always possible, but sometimes it seems barely adequate to the task, and the result is unlikely to be pleasing. I have darned holes bigger than this, but I did cover some of them with leather elbow patches afterward!
In the end I decided knitting in patches was a better idea. I used needle and yarn to stabilise runaway live stitches. Then I picked up some stitches, as you can see above.
In a couple of spots I darned first and then picked up stitches. See the woven section above the knitting needle? Then it is really a process of knitting along and purling back, knitting two together at each side with a patch-stitch and a picked up strand from the garment. There were some places where I added extra stitches or cast some off as I passed.
One sleeve got several patches. I tried different ways of casting off (binding off) and decided hand sewing the stitches down was the smoothest finish.
There were smaller places where I did small darns or just trapped live stitches so that ladders could not spread further.
On the cuffs, I considered a few options before settling on using some of the silk thread I dyed with Japanese indigo. The grey was pretty much perfect here and I was able to use a fine enough needle to stop the stitches that are unravelling going further.
There were four buttonholes but one button. I couldn’t match it, so I sewed on four that have come off some other garment.
Because a cardigan can be worn open, I concealed the ends of the stitching, with the initial knot and the tie off under the button rather than on the ‘wrong’ side, where I would happily tie them off on a shirt.
And here it is. Visibly mended but in a way I hope will mean this treasured cardigan will have an extended life providing comfort and warmth to my friend through times good and bad.
I know my friend is surrounded by the love and care of many friends and her family too. I’m lucky to be among them.