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« Summer School | Main | René Gruau: A Glamorous Legacy »
Thursday
Oct072010

A Good Yarn

A patch that just passes muster … from a distance. Don’t look at it up close!

Needlework used to be thought a fit occupation for a young lady to keep her occupied during those moments when she was not busy trying to captivate an eligible bachelor.

Nowadays few young ladies are fit for mending, let alone sewing. I remember once purchasing a skirt from an expensive designer boutique that had a loose button at the waistband. As I said I would take it as is, rather than wait to have the store mend it, the salesgirl gave me a needle and thread to take home! Obviously I didn’t look the sort to own a mending kit.

This hole is about an inch in diameter! Sob!Darning however is not something I was ever taught in textiles at school. Who has the time or inclination these days to darn holey garments?

I never did, until my favourite cashmere cardigan developed an enormous hole in the elbow – I don’t know how, but I suspect that old proverb, ‘a stitch in time prevents nine’ applied here.

This time I was determined to rescue my cardigan from charity shop doom, and purchased some Italian merino yarn. Researching darning online somewhat sketchily (I looked at a few diagrams), I learned that I should recreate the weave, and set to with gusto. I read afterwards that some darners unravel their yarn to get a finer thread and a more subtle result, but that would have unravelled my sanity I think.

Okay, look at it up close. Sure to make a professional darner shudder, but I got the weave happening, and it's less tawdry than a hole.I did without the wooden darning egg and started with the two tiny holes in each underarm as practice. By the time I was ready to tackle the giant hole, I felt more confident. It was fiddly work, and my eyes were sore from squinting, but I think I acquitted myself not too badly for a beginner! Fortunately the colour of the new yarn matches the cardigan so well it’s less noticeable.

I’ll be darned if I don’t wear my badge of honour with pride!

Click here and visit Colette Patterns for some vintage instructions on darning. (And such a cute illustration on the cover!)

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