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.)

 

All better

Just a few more rows…

And then a little taper at the top (mostly because picking up a whole row of stitches straight is a pain, so I decided I’d just decrease it away and make a curve)…

And it’s done!

Oh, and then at the end I noticed the cable coming off the side was a little frayed, so I took my tail and duplicate stitched over it to be extra safe.

Again, totally not invisible, not subtle, but it will keep the sweater in circulation for a nice long time. I’m trying to decide if I want to do the same thing (more or less) on the other side, or if I want to actually duplicate stitch over the whole elbow (pattern and all) on the other side, or if I want to leave it and see exactly where it wears out.  Either way, it’s totally going back in the closet instead of in the trash, so I think it’s a win!

Blow out

I have a cheap cotton sweater from some fast fashion place (maybe Old Navy, maybe Target, I’m not 100% sure, it’s at least six or seven years old).  It started life as an actual wear-out-in-public sweater. Then after a year or so, it transitioned to a pajama sweater (I know, some people loathe cotton sweaters, and they’re not what you want to wear if your goal is to keep warm, but they’re my favorite thing to wear as pajamas, and I am the boss of my pajamas, so I get to wear them if I want).⁣

And now…well now I’ve worn it so much it sprung a hole in the elbow because the fabric got worn out.  And I hate shopping so much that I’m fixing it.

I started by laddering the dropped stitches back up to make the hole smaller (that’s a good way to start most any mend).

Then I used some thread to stitch back and forth across the hole, catching the stitches top and bottom so the hole wouldn’t grow under the patch, and picked up a row of stitches below the hole.

Now all I had to do was start knitting back and forth.  At the edges of each right side row, I picked up a stitch from the sweater and knit it together with a stitch from the patch. That holds the patch to the sweater on the sides.

It certainly won’t be invisible.  It won’t even be terribly decorative (I’m sort of thinking I chould have gone with a higher contrast yarn to make it even more dramatic, but the speckled gray was so pretty I couldn’t resist, it’s the leftovers from this project in the Silver Lining Tweed colorway).  But it should make the sweater last a good bit longer, especially if I do the other elbow, too.  I’ll show it off when it’s done!

Oh and I’m going to sneak in a bit of a preemptive response.  Someone, somewhere is limbering up their fingers to write and tell me I could have avoided this had I just been cleverer/cooler/more responsible and not bought a cheap sweater in the first place.  And maybe that’s even true! But the more conscientiously made/sourced stuff is a heck of a lot more expensive, and it’s super hard to find it in fat lady sizes (even more so seven years ago).  Sometimes budget or availability demands that you buy the cheap stuff and then make it work for as long as you can.  And I’m pretty convinced that getting a few more years of wear out of something you already have has got to be at least as good a choice as buying something new to replace it, no matter how carefully made the new thing is.  So, after this repair, this sweater will join the ranks of other things I’ve mended over the years, and we’ll see just how long we can make it last!

My on going quest for indestructible socks

So I really do mean it when I say I mend my socks.

Every time I take them off, I check for thin spots.  If there’s just a little thin spot, I’ll wash them first and then mend them.  If there’s an actual hole, I’ll fix them before I wash them because washing them with a hole can make the hole bigger (which is maybe gross? but whatever…it’s just socks…you can wash your hands after).

I strongly prefer catching it while it’s just a thin spot because then you can just duplicate stitch over it.  (This is the bit where I am extremely mean and say that if you want info on exactly how to do that, your best bet is going to be to google ‘duplicate stitch’ and you’ll find zillions of tutorials on it…I’m totally just showing off ‘hey, I mended these’ not at all doing ‘hey, here is step by step exactly how you do it’ because it is not that sort of week, and other folks have already done that way better than I ever will.)

A few minutes work and it’s all better.  I have socks that are nine years old and still going strong, but an awful lot of them have the odd patch here and there.  Totally worth it to keep them in the rotation for another few years.

So what do you think…will you mend yours?  Or would you rather just knit a new pair?