Mending knits by hand

I don’t treat items very well. Friends of mine have refused to lend me books because of how mangled they become over the many months it takes me to get through a book these days. I want to try and treat things better. I have a good understanding of the cost (to all of us!) associated with short-term items, and it truly pains me to throw things away – a pain that gets more severe with age I’m noticing…the more curmudgeonly I become.

But in the meantime, I am EATING UP the movement to repair things. With clothing, not only is there hip-cred given for the repair itself, but all the better if the repair is visible. This is great because people don’t have to be intimidated if they haven’t sewn before. They just need a needle and some embroidery thread and they’re good to go.

It doesn’t matter if stitches aren’t even, or if the colours don’t match – in fact, the more noticeable the mend, the cooler the item of clothing becomes.

I bought my grey knit cardigan when I was living in Toronto, in the Junction, and working up at Downsview Park in the north end of the city. Every so often there would be a sample sale at a rando warehouse close to my work, and I spent significant time and coin at this sale when it took place (this was before kids, or BK).

This item of clothing was my FAVOURITE thing to wear while I was pregnant. It’s roomy enough to accommodate a pregnant belly, and long enough to cover my butt, so I felt ok wearing black maternity leggings to work with a nice blouse and this cardigan.

When it ripped in the back a few years ago, I kept it around, thinking I would make baby sweater pants or something out of it – to commemorate a job well done by this sweet, sweet sweater. Then, I learned about darning, and sashiko. The result: my favourite sweater is back, and now there is a funky triangle on it.

This kind of handwork is the greatest kind of project to bring to a stitching group. You can start and finish in one sitting, it doesn’t require a lot of thought (so you can chat with your pals), and there is minimal stuff required:

  • needle (big one to fit your thread)
  • embroidery or sashiko thread
  • scissors
  • darning egg (not totally necessary but nice to have for socks)

This is the kind of work you can dive into with no background in sewing:

  1. Find the place where the knit is unraveling, and secure the lose thread/stitches.
  2. Create a warp by making a few stitches outside of the hole, stringing the thread across the hole, and then stitching a few again on the other side, then turning to do the same thing again, until the hole is covered with thread.
  3. Then, working perpendicular to your warp, do the same thing except weave the needle in and out of the threads that are covering the whole. You are essentially filling the whole by creating a new textile and securing it to your knit through stitching.
  4. You could leave it at that, but I decided to go one step further and stitch a little design in, highlighting the repair.

If you’re like WHAAA??, check out this tutorial. It’s short and really easy to follow.

Enjoy mending the clothes that you love! And rest assured, if it isn’t perfect, that makes YOU more punk-rock.

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