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?


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!


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!


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!