"Mum, look! Worn once, and already broken" - that's how my daughter greeted me the other day when she came home from kindergarten. She pointed sadly at her brand-new Festival Sweater. While romping on the playground, it got caught on a piece of wooden playground equipment. The result was a large pulled thread in the bobble pattern and a small one in the area in stockinette stitch. And so my repair skills were called upon.
Regarding treating stains on knits, I'm already an expert, thanks to my kids. Repairing their handmade garments - that's next level! But since I want them to wear their knitted sweaters instead of keeping them in the closet, so they're spared, I'm happy to take on this challenge.
So, equipped with a darning needle, I set about restoring the bobble stitches to their normal state. Since the thread wasn't broken, but luckily just pulled, all I had to do was ease the yarn that was hanging out and distribute it evenly again.
Then I turned my attention to the little pulled thread in the cream-coloured stockinette stitch.
With a crochet hook, I pulled the rather short frayed thread through to the wrong side of the sweater to carefully weave it in. For threads that are too short to be threaded into the needle, I simply use sewing thread to fasten the loose thread on the inside of the knit with a few stitches.
So I was able to repair both of these spots quickly, easily, and most importantly, inconspicuously. But what if the damage to a knitted piece is more extensive? A torn thread or even a hole?
One thing is certain: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If you have an actual hole that needs to be repaired as inconspicuously as possible, a bit of technology is required, as you can see very nicely in this video.
Sometimes, however, a creative and rather unconventional solution is called for. Rosy told me that years ago, a lace shawl of hers got caught somewhere, and a stitch tore at the edge. She had no slack there, no thread she could have sewn or knotted. But since the shawl would have unravelled otherwise, she unceremoniously decided to glue the spot. A method she would not normally recommend - but which can work wonders when you’re in a tight spot. She still wears the shawl today.
And then, of course, there are the heavily used areas that become thinner to holey over time and the classic holes caused by moth damage.
For my husband and me, it's mostly the elbows that are affected, while my children have already worn through one or the other pair of wool trousers at the knees. So far, I have helped myself with leather patches, sturdy cotton fabric or wool broadcloth. I have sometimes just pulled together small holes in inconspicuous places only with a few stitches.
For some time now, I've also increasingly encountered really great examples of far more creative repair methods on social media, especially on Instagram and Pinterest. "Visible Mending" is a new trend to artfully patch holes. In the process, a piece of clothing is sometimes deliberately given a completely new look, for example, through elaborate embroidery, patching or darning. This not only looks beautiful but also makes a statement: clothing is valuable and deserves to be repaired.
This mixture of creativity and sustainability made me want to dive deeper into the topic. While searching for relevant literature, I came across the German handbook for a sustainable wardrobe: Flicken und stopfen (Mending and darning). An incredibly appealingly illustrated book with wonderful text and lots of great ideas and instructions for clothing repairs of all kinds. Unfortunately, there is no English translation, but there certainly are great comparable books on the topic in your language as well. I can't wait to try some of these techniques myself some time.
And who knows? After reading to my kids the other day how Astrid Lindgren's little Lotta secretly cut up her wool sweater with scissors, I wouldn't be surprised if I got the chance to do it soon. ;-)