Darn

So The Boy knocked on my office door, brow furrowed, injured socks in hand.  Now these socks are old…like nearly ten years old.  And they’ve already been mended once.  But they are still in surprisingly good shape, and I’d much rather darn them than knit a whole new pair.  So I fixed them.

For a hole like this I need a couple of locking stitch markers (I use these (as always, amazon links are affiliate links), love them to bits) and a tiny crochet hook (I have this set, which comes in handy more than you might think for someone who doesn’t crochet) and some yarn (the orange shade from a Frabjulous Fibers color morph on Cheshire Cat in the Yellow to Fuchsia colorway…I had a bit leftover from the cover piece from Curls 3 and it’s what I used on the previous mend so I knew it was a good match), and a darning needle.

I always start by grabbing any dangling stitches and securing them with a locking stitch marker (one per stitch) to keep things from getting any worse while I work (you can see another example of that here).  In this case, there were three that needed to be held in place.

Then, one by one, I use the crochet hook to work those stitches as far back in as much as I can (this is very much like running a dropped stitch back up as you knit).  It won’t fix everything, but it is a good start.

Then I pull off a length of yarn and start duplicate stitching.  I like to make sure I am at least two full rows below the hole and two full stitches to either side of the hole (more is fine, especially if the fabric is thin).  I just leave the stitch markers in place as I work as they help me rebuild the missing fabric.  I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, because every repair is a little different.  But with practice, you get a feel for how the yarn travels and you can repair fairly large areas of missing fabric (this is a tiny bit of missing fabric, like two stitches).

There it is all done!  It’s not invisible, but it will be a bit less noticeable after this is washed and worn a few more times.

And just in case you’re curious, here’s how the mend from over a year ago is holding up.

Totally worth the time to fix it!

Mending

So for a good solid year after I broke my leg, I either had to wear this oh-so-stylish compression brace or my ankle was puffy enough that knit socks were tricky to wear.  Which is Something Of A Disappointment if, say, you have a giant basket of hand knit socks that you love dearly and wear constantly.

But…just lately…the ankle has started behaving itself, and I’m back in my socks.  These are particularly stretchy and so were one of the first ones back in rotation.  I noticed they had a tiny little bit of a thin spot on one of the heels, so I patched it up before it went back in the basket this time.

I’m a firm believer in mending my socks.  They take an age to knit, I’m not throwing them away before I absolutely have to.  These are nine years old, and there’s no reason they can’t last many more years with just a bit of attention.  Before you ask, I have a lot of socks so each one only gets worn once every few weeks at most (I try and enforce even wear by waiting until they’re all dirty and doing one giant load of sock laundry rather than just wearing the same five socks over and over), and I’m picky about my sock yarn, and I knit socks with a seriously tight fabric…that’s how I have nine year old socks.

So how about you, any old socks in your sock basket?  Do you mend your socks?  Or is that taking things a bit too far?

Done! Er…for now…

And with that, I’m calling this patch of stitching done.

The first bit of stitching was in a previous post, the middle bit is below.  If you want to watch the progression of stitches on these, you can check out the embroidery tag on here and scroll backwards.

Now, it’s all but certain I will get/find another hole in this some time soon.  And I’ve given in and bought spare of all the colors I used stitching this so I can keep repairing it as I run out of thread (it’s just DMC embroidery floss, which you can find for like the cost of a stamp at pretty much any hobby store).

Now, for the housekeeping bits.  First off, no, I won’t show you the whole thing.  I’ve tried, and there’s not a way to take a picture that both shows all of the stitching and looks good (the stitching is small, the sweater is large, it just doesn’t work), so I’m not going to do it.  You’ll have to live with the mystery.

And second, there are lots of books on stitching if you want to read one.  I’ve recommended this one and this one and this one and this one in the past (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  There are online guides too.  But I pretty much just made it up as I went along, and that method has a lot to recommend it.  You can always pick it out if you don’t like it!

Stitched

Yes, yes the cardigan is back.  Remember it, the one I’ve been stitching on for, um, two years now on and off (scroll down)?  Yeah, it’s back.

The fact that this gets so many holes is proof either that I’m too rough on my clothes, that it was too delicate to begin with, or that I wear it all the time and therefore just beat up on it a lot.  Possibly all three.  But at this point, I’m not sad to see the holes, so I don’t really see a problem.

More “avoiding shopping” than “mending”

So have I mentioned that I really really really hate shopping?  And how I hate clothes shopping most of all?  I work for myself, from home, in the middle of nowhere, and yes I work in my pajamas like 98% of the time.  And by pajamas, I mostly mean ‘things that were once proper clothes but got worn enough that I can’t bring myself to wear them in public anymore, but also can’t throw away because they’re soft and cozy.  And because even that is not enough shopping avoidance, I actually will mend them when they start to come apart.

This is a cotton sweater I got at TJ Maxx probably seven years ago.  I wore it as real clothes as long as I could bring myself to, but like all cotton sweaters, it eventually got too fuzzy to show its face in public.  So it became a pj sweater (it’s Maine, of course I have pj sweaters) and it’s been happily in the rotation for quite some time.  But alas, the hem got torn.  No idea how it happened, but the tear was growing, and I wanted to stop it before it got any worse.

Now you know my philosphy on mending is “it’s going to show anyway, so why not flaunt it.”  So I reached right past all the purple yarn in my stash and went for a nice pond scummy green.

Five minutes of (shockingly wobbly) stitching later, and it’s stabilized.  Not invisible. Not hugely tidy. Not at all subtle.  But stabilized, and cheerful and ready to be worn a zillion more times.  All so I can avoid shopping just a little while longer.

Alright, let’s fix them

Back in early August, The Boy got a pair of the spiffy Allbirds shoes (the ones made of wool!) to wear as slippers.  He likes them and has worn them around the house for the last few months.  However, come the end of December, it became clear there was a problem.  The lining of the shoes had worn through over his big toes, and the outer layer of fabric was starting to get thin.  If we didn’t do something, there would soon be a hole.

We didn’t really want to buy new ones (especially if they only last 5 months…), and they were in otherwise good shape, so I thought I’d see if I could fix them.

Needle felting seemed like the best bet.  I had the wool on hand (I also had some less colorful wool in the stash, but The Boy liked these…please don’t write to me and tell me I’m a monster for putting something colorful on a guy’s shoes — it will annoy me, and it won’t change the shoes).  I bought a felting needle and some foam and started experimenting.

I started by cutting the foam down to fit in the shoe so I’d have a firm backing behind the fabric to stab into.  Then I pulled off a tuft of the yellow wool, set it over the thin spot, and started stabbing.

It stuck just fine (which makes sense…wool sticks to wool).  I kept building up the yellow, making it thickest where the hole was, and then added on some orange, again making it thickest where the existing fabric had worn thin.  A little bit of purple finished it out.

When I pulled out the foam and put my hand in, I could totally feel where the wool and poked through and reinforced the whole area.  I suspect it will continue to felt down and tighten up as they’re worn over the next few weeks.  I’ll report back later in the year and let you know how its holding up.

I think this will solve the problem.  The worn spot is much thicker and sturdier now, and it seems like the patch will hold.  I won’t know for sure until they get some more wear on them, and I’m a little bugged that the shoes needed a repair after less than six months, but with any luck, this should make them last a lot longer!

UPDATE: Alas, the patch totally didn’t hold, at least not for long.  There just isn’t enough room in those shoes for those toes, and it keeps wearing through.  If Allbirds changes their shape, maybe they’d work.  But until then, they’re not a good fit for these feet.

Just a little bit more

And here’s the third patch for this go round.

This one was another hole at the edge of the pocket (and a good reminder that if I ever knit a sweater, I should maybe do something to reinforce the corners of the pockets from the get go).

And that’s probably the end.  Probably.  I need to give the whole thing one more check to see if there are any other spots that need attention before it goes back in the closet!

More Mending

So remember that sweater? The one that I spent far too much time mending already (scroll down…you’ll see it)?  Yeah…yeah so it’s due for another round.  It’s got a few holes (I wear it all the time, I climb on rocks and through prickly things more than I should, and I have kittens…holes are a given).  I’ve  got some thread, and I clearly have an excess of free time.

I should probably just find another pajama sweater…I’ve had this one since at least 2014 and I’ve worn it more than just about anything else in my closet.

But I love this one (all the more now that I’ve stitched the ever living crap out of it)…and I hate shopping.  And to buy a replacement is sort of expensive (for you see, I’d want this one…because it has pockets and comes in a zillion colors and sizes).

So I mend it.  Kind of a lot.  And I’ve decided that really is ok.  And I’ve been super pleased with how well the stitching has held up in the wash (that bottom patch there is 9 months old and still looks just fine after lots of washes).

I am in no way an expert (clearly), but I’d call myself a cheerful amateur. I’m currently eyeing this book and this book (to improve my skills…since if I’m going to keep doing this I might as well learn something).  And I’ve recommended this one and this one in the past if you want somewhere to get started (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).

And in the meantime, I’ll be over here starting in on holes two and three and four!

Mending

Somehow…and I have decided not to dwell on how (though I have refreshed all of our moth traps just to be extra cautious), a pair of The Boy’s socks got a hole.  Right up at the top where you are absolutely not getting any serious wear.

I’ve never actually dealt with a hole involving the cast on edge, but I decided it couldn’t be that different than a hole anywhere else.  Step one is find yarn…these were the options the stash offered.

From left to right that’s two yarns from a Frabjulous Fibers color morph on Cheshire Cat in the Yellow to Fuchsia color and two yarns from an Indigo Dragonfly Tornadoz set on Chameleon Sock in the Cahoots color.  They’re all leftovers from upcoming Curls 3 projects (and I’m working on the assumption that the lovey yarn companies who sent the yarn won’t mind me using a yard or two of the project leftovers to mend a sock…because yarn people are cool like that).  The closest match seemed to be the orange-er of the two Frabjulous Fibers yarns.

And the result isn’t exactly perfect (you can totally tell there’s a mend…the yarn isn’t an exact match and there’s a wodgy bit where the middle of the hole was).  But when it’s down at ankle height, it’s not super noticeable, and it will keep the socks in the rotation going forward.  Totally worth the 30 minutes it takes to do the mending!

The pattern is Xanthophyll, and if you’re reading this the day the post goes up and happen to scroll back and look at the post that went up earlier today, you’ll see something nifty.

Darn it

I managed to get a funny hole in my sock.  It’s on top of the toes (not a spot where I usually get a lot of wear), and closer examination revealed that it’s just one popped strand.  There’s no sign of wear (the fabric around it isn’t thin), so my guess is it just got caught on something (kitten claws are a distinct possibility) and snapped.  This is easy to fix…

I started by securing the freestanding stitch with one of my very favorite safety pins/stitch markers (as always, amazon links are affiliate links).  The strand that broke is directly above this stitch.  The safety pin keeps the dangling stitch from running down any farther and makes it easier to recreate the fabric around and over the hole.  Then I moved out a few rows below and to the side of the hole (when in doubt go bigger) and started duplicate stitching over the existing fabric.

When I got to the row with the pinned stitch, I kept on duplicate stitching, just following the path of the existing yarn like I had been all along.  That meant going right through the pin.  The pin helps make the new stitch the right size and keeps the damaged fabric stabilized while I’m working.

On the row where the broken stitch means there’s actually missing fabric, I used the outside edge of the pin as a guide.  I just wraped the yarn around it to make the missing stitch. This is the only spot where I was actually creating totally new fabric (instead of tracing the path of existing fabric).  It’s easy enough when you’re only dealing with one stitch, but if there were more, I’d use one pin per column of bad stitches (and it does get trickier if there are lots of missing stitches…though it can be done).

Once I was past the hole, I just did a few more rows to finish it off and called it good.  The pin stayed in the same place the whole time and made it much easier to line up the stitches where the underlying thread was gone (and kept the hole from getting bigger as I tugged on the surrounding fabric as I worked).

If this had been a hole caused by wear I would have used thicker yarn and made a bigger patch.  But since this is just a snapped strand, this should take care of stabilizing it and make the socks fine for many more wearings.  The whole thing took about fifteen minutes (and would have taken less if I’d not been taking pictures), which seems like a fine investment to keep using something that probably took twenty hours to make in the first place.