#MenditMay: Beyond darning

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There were smaller places where I did small darns or just trapped live stitches so that ladders could not spread further.

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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.

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There were four buttonholes but one button.  I couldn’t match it, so I sewed on four that have come off some other garment.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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17 Comments

Filed under Knitting, Sewing

17 responses to “#MenditMay: Beyond darning

  1. …..after waking from my own dream of making this morning(true!), your post is the first thing I put me eyes to. I.m.h.o., this is the richest, deepest, truest kind of work we have the privilege to do here. mending with love imbues soul like nothing else….and when worn afterwards, deepens human connection. I admire your joyful, resourceful, sensitive and skillful work…wow, just wow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Therese. What a beautiful comment. I agree with you about this work being rich and true. And CA privilege. Thanks for that wonderful sense of mutual recognition.

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  2. Knitting in patches is a brilliant idea; I would never have thought of it. Inspirational!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Norma! I think this is one of those unventions… I don’t think I invented it, but I can’t say I learned it from anyone in particular. I suspect it seems logical to lots of knitters at some point. I found a blog post through MenditMay where someone else was doing this to her girlfriend’s socks (which I did for my daughter a while back) and now I have tried and failed to find the post again, I find Cookie A does it too! Well–now I have read what she does in more detail, it’s a fair bit more complex but gives a great finish…

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s all a bit beyond my knitting skills which are basic despite my best efforts. I have knitted patches for my socks & jumpers but without any great concern for looks.
        Your method & the other one are much nicer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan

    Brilliant, I have knitted in patches but never thought to weave first! You continue to amaze me, seriously. And your thoughtfulness for your friend is very heartwarming. Nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very kind of you, Susan! I love having skills that mean I can do things for my friends hat they don’t know how to do themselves–and of course, the reverse is also true 🙂 I feel very rich in friendship, and it makes my life so much the better.

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  4. I also read your blog first thing in the morning when I sit to have my coffee. it is like a warm hug of care, thought and community connection. I love people like you who GET it. How lucky we are to have people who love their family and friends, the earth and every living thing and who are resourceful and make this world such a better place. Thank you. What an even prettier cardigan too.
    PS I went to the guild and bought some handspan wool and am on my 5th attempt of my socks. You would laugh if you saw them but I am persisting…if I ever finish one it will be a weird looking creature I think.

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    • Dear Keryn, you are so kind! I know lots of people who share these concerns and I feel rather blessed to have found more through the blog. It has been an interesting experience writing it, mapping what I do and how and why, because needless to say there are projects that don’t work out the way I hoped, and cold mornings kneeling in mud, and tough times when my beloved friends are pulling me through. I am sure I wouldn’t laugh if I saw your socks, because I was also a beginner once and my early efforts were pretty odd too. But the saddest part was when my first pair (bedsocks) went into the brand new front loading washing machine by mistake. I didn’t know it well enough to be able to get the door open in time to save them and instead knelt on the floor watching them go round and round crying. My poor housemate didn’t know what to do! I have kept them in their miniature glory. I also knit my first handspun into socks that are quite unwearable but a record of where it all began!

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  5. What a lovely thing you have done for your friend 🙂

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  6. Rebecca

    The darning is wonderful, a tender gift to your friend and such a homage to the life of things, things that are made, things that hold stories and things that require tending just as people do.

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  7. Pingback: Darn Sock – needle & spindle

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