Further improvements

Ok, so there’s the first one done!⁠

You can see I ended up doing a second area of duplicate stitch, but it’s a little funny looking. That’s because, when I handed them back to their owner for a fit check, the heel was declared delightfully cushiony…and now that it was so soft and cozy, it became clear that the ball of the foot was…less so.⁠

That’s largely because I knit these socks back in my ‘what? what do you mean my stitches are twisted? aren’t they all supposed to be like this?’ phase of being a baby knitter. So the whole foot is twisted stitches. And between the twisted stitches and the rather unsuitable yarn, you can sometimes get a sock that feels a bit rope-y under foot…sort of like standing on burlap.⁠

And there’s not really a way to fix the whole foot being twisted stitches. But we can add some padding.⁠

I wasn’t going to have enough of the original yellow yarn to do the ball and heel both, so I picked another yarn (slightly thinner since I was just adding a bit of cushion, not repairing a worn spot). Then I duplicate stitched over the part of the sock that is under the ball of the foot when it’s on. ⁠

But I’m very lazy, and didn’t want to do that much duplicate stitch, so I cheated. I stretched each row of duplicate stitching over two rows of my knitted fabric. That gives a less dense patch, but it’s still plenty to make the socks just a bit softer under foot (and gets done in half the time).⁠

So, sort of a franken-sock vibe as far as the aesthetics go, but by all reports they are much more comfy now, and should be good for many more years of wear!

And repeat…

Now we settle in for the actual mending. ⁠


⁠But first things first, I was not in charge of this color selection. The original yarn is long gone, so I asked the sock’s owner if we should go with as close a match as possible, or something super high contrast. ⁠The vote went for super high contrast.⁠

So I rummaged around in the scraps bin for something of a suitable weight and fiber content (generally you want to get something fairly close to your original yarn, though it’s not a hard and fast rule) and settled on this. Yellow and purple totally count as high contrast.⁠

As for how I’m actually fixing the thin spot? It’s just duplicate stitch. Which I won’t teach you because I’m mean, and countless other (nicer) folks have already written up endless sets of instructions and I can think of no good reason to duplicate that work. But if you google something like ‘duplicate stitch, mending’ you’ll find all you ever wanted to know.

It’s my favorite way to reinforce thin spots and can even be used if you have some missing stitches. I firmly believe it’s the most useful technique for mending your knitting, and you should add it to your store of sneaky tricks.⁠

Always remember to extend the patch at least a few stitches/rows on either side of the thin spot, and try and keep your tension even as you work, but otherwise there really are no tricks to this. You’re just recreating the fabric that’s wearing thin. All it takes is a bit of patience!

Venerable

Mending time! But first, before you start mending, a little bit of prep work is in order.

Actually, we need to take an even bigger step back. This is probably the very oldest knitting I’ve ever shown around these parts. These socks are from 2008. You know, back when we were all young and well rested, did not have a failed reality tv personality encouraging a coup, did not have anxiety dreams about leaving of the house without a face mask, and had no idea what instagram was because it hadn’t been invented yet.

They’ve been in spouse’s sock drawer for well over 12 years now, and have held up shockingly well given that I used wildly unsuitable yarn and did not yet know the difference between twisted and untwisted knit stitches and so everything I knit in the round ended up with all twisted stitches.

But, while my knitting skills back then left something to be desired, I was good at the sock lecture. The sock lecture goes like this ‘as you wear these (and you should totally wear them, seriously, please wear them), they will get worn spots. This is normal! However, if look for the worn spots when you take them off, and tell me about them as soon as you see them, I can fix them, and you’ll be able to wear them much longer.’

So over the winter break, spouse comes to me, socks in hand, and points out a worn spot (it’s the heel turn, which is apparently the only spot on the whole thing where I didn’t use twisted stitches).

I take a moment to double check that they really are that old, reel in shock for a moment, then make a mending plan. We’ll talk about the actual stitching later. For now, I want to talk about how, before I did anything, I blocked the socks and took the gleener to them to get rid of 12 years worth of fuzzies (no, this isn’t sponsored, I just like that tool).

Because really, look at this. One of those socks is blocked and defuzzed. One is rumpled and covered in fluff. It’s going to be way easier to mend them once they’ve gotten a little help.

So, soon we will stitch. But first we will prep. And then we’ll see just how long we can keep these socks going!

And now it starts to get tidier

So, we had the messy middle part.  We made the patches.  Now it finally starts to look better.

After sending the patches through the washer and dryer a few times (because if they’re going to shrink, I want them to shrink *before* I sew them on my sweater thank you very much), I pinned them to the sweater.  Then I held the fabric stiff and still with an embroidery hoop and started sewing.  I picked a column of stitches on the edge of the patch and duplicate stitched over every other stitch in the column, then over a random scattering of stitches in the middle, just so the patch and the underlying fabric would be held together.

Once the first one was done I did it again, making at least a token effort to line the two patches up so they happened at the same place.

More pinning, more stitching, and in no time they were both on there. And now I have a sweater that should happily last another year or two at least.

This is the bit where I tell you, fairly sternly, that you can do this too if you want to.  It’s not hard (make new fabric where the fabric is missing, reinforce spots where the fabric is getting thin or frayed).  You can google ‘how to mend’ if you’re feeling really nervous, but really I think it’s probably safe to just jump in and experiment.  Almost everything you’d do as part of mending is reversible (you can pick it all right back out if you don’t like how it’s coming out), and if you were going to throw the piece away anyways, you’ve got very little to lose.  Plus when it works out you get to feel absurdly smug.

Sidebar

We interrupt your regularly scheduled elbow patches to talk about the slits on the side of the sweater.

I love sweaters with side slits (what can I say, I have a big ass, side slits make for extra ass room).  But I find they tend to get messed up over time).  But…but…this is fixable!

The best way I’ve found to fix it is by blanket stitching around the perimeter of the slit.  Now, if you were a cool kid, you’d do this before it got worn out.  But if you were me, you’d intend to do it before it got worn out but somehow never quite manage it and call it good if it happened at all. Which is the approach I took here.

If you’ve got a sweater that could use this treatment, google ‘blanket stitch’ and you’ll find all sorts of lovely nice people who will tell you exactly how it’s done.  This is totally a thing you can do.  Promise.  And you’ll get to feel all smug and clever once you do!

Elbows to follow shortly, because they’re all done and I want to show them off!

 

There is actually some knitting involved in this

So these are the patches. Nothing fancy, just more or less oval shaped, and a good bit bigger than the worn area on the sweater.⁠

I’m knitting the patches in Ontheround’s Everyday DK in Silver Lining Tweed. That’s actually the exact same yarn I used for the original patch (this is more leftovers from the same skein I used before). ⁠

You can see that the original patch faded a good bit since I put it on. This is totally MY fault, NOT the yarn’s fault. I have done things to this yarn that no yarn should have to endure. I’ve washed it in hot water with piles of other clothes at least once a week since last April. I’ve washed it with oxyclean (you should never do that to wool, it’s very bad for it, but I know I’ve forgotten and done it a few times, I think that’s what lifted the color). I’ve thrown it in the dryer every time I’ve washed it. And while it did fade, it didn’t felt, and it didn’t shrink, which is really rather amazing.⁠

If I were suggesting a yarn for a mend like this (where you’re going to wash it frequently and not gently), I’d probably steer you towards something superwash, with nylon, that can handle being knit fairly tightly…in other words, sock yarn. But since I know this works like a dream and I have it handy, I’m just using the same stuff again.⁠

But just to be safe, I am going to throw the finished patches in the washer and dryer once or twice before I put them on the sweater. I’ve knit them a tiny bit looser this time than on the last patch, and loose fabric has more room to shrink than tight fabric, so just to be super safe I want to give them a chance to shrink up before I put them on the sweater. ⁠

But don’t worry, there’s something else to fix while those are in the wash.  We’ll do that next time.

The middle is messy

Like with a lot of projects, the middle of this is going to look a bit messy.  I’m pretty sure if I were doing this right I’d only show you the shiny finished product.  But I always find it refreshing to see that someone else has messy bits in the middle, so I’m leaving them in.

The first step was ripping off the old patch.  I’d put it on there rather firmly, and it has been through the wash dozens of times since I put it on, so this part was actually kind of a pain.  But I wanted to take it off because I was worried the elbow would feel thick and bulky if I didn’t.  So I got my seam ripper and put in the time and it eventually came off.

Next I took out the stitching I’d used to stabilize the hole last time.  I wanted to see the whole thing, with all of the earlier repair work removed.

Once that was done, I took some sock yarn (superwash, with nylon, nice sturdy stuff I trust to go in the wash over and over again) and stabilized the old hole, the new hole I made with the seam ripper slipped while I was removing the patch and the thin spots that had developed since the last time I fixed this.

I didn’t worry about making it pretty, since it’s going to be under the patch.  This is just to make sure the holes don’t get any bigger and make sure I have fabric to work with when I put the patch on.  Don’t worry, it will start to get cuter next time.

 

Ongoing

This mending thing is an ongoing process.  If you were here last spring, you may remember I saved the elbow on an old cotton sweater I wear as pajamas.  Well that kept the sweater happily in the rotation for another nine months.

But now, the elbow on the other side is starting to get thin.  It doesn’t quite have an actual hole yet, but if I don’t do something soon, it will.

So I’ve decided to just go all out and fix this up properly.  I’m going to take off the old patch and make a big patch for each elbow.  Think full on tweed jacket style, no apologies about it, embrace your inner weirdo.

Now yes, this is probably a ridiculous amount of time and effort to put into a seven year old sweater.  But I rather like mending things, and I absolutely loathe shopping.  So if this gets me another year or two of wear out something I clearly enjoy enough to wear an awful lot, well then it seems like a good use of my time.

You’ll be seeing more of this over the rest of the week!

Flare

So, I have a couple of cozy house sweaters that have that stupid, irritating band at the bottom. The band like you see on the bottom of sweatshirts. The one that causes the sweater to pull in just at the point where my body goes out.  This is not ideal.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
So today, today I fixed it.⁠

I stared at the band at the side of the sweater, and saw that there was a seam there. So I grabbed my seam ripper (they are so handy, you should have one) and sliced it right on open (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).

It took literally 30 seconds. The edges of the fabric are finished, so it’s not going to come apart. If I get to feeling very industrious, I may take some thread and throw a few stitches in right above the top of the slit, just to reinforce it a bit, but I don’t think it will be necessary.

And now the sweater does not pull in right at the spot where I flare out, and all is right with the world (well no, it’s not, but all is right with my pjs, and that’s a start).

Fall

It’s cool enough to reach for a sweater, and around here, that means this ancient, lovely thing.  It also means patching up the latest round of holes (seriously, the fabric is thinner than a tshirt, it gets tiny holes if you so much as look at it).

Luckily, that’s something I rather enjoy.

If you peruse the embroidery tag on here, you’ll see many of the previous mends.  (This is the bit where I preemptively mention that I can’t show you the whole thing at once because the mends are all over and there is no way to take a photo that encompasses all of them, plus the sweater is big and the mends are small, so if I try and take a picture of the whole think it looks like junk…you’ll just have to live with the mystery.)