On this project, I’m back to mending with the goal of making the mend invisible.
Mend a tiny hole in the waistband of my ash grey cashmere sweater. I don’t know what caused the hole — it was so little and clean, I thought maybe it had gotten cut by a blade before I bought it. I ended up revising this theory later.
Most of my mending serves to repair ordinary wear and tear, but this time I’m dealing with specific damage. Ultimately the goal is the same — to extend the life of the garment.
Why I chose to mend it when I did
This sweater sat in the mending pile for months upon months because I had very little experience mending knits and this one is cashmere and not cheap and I didn’t want to fuck it up. And I didn’t have any thread/yarn that I thought would work. Also, I’d been feeling more indecisive than usual due to some mental health stuff, and so much of sewing and mending is just making a series of decisions.
But then I was feeling more with it, so I took a look through the mending pile and found that this project now felt like one of the easier ones. A while ago, I fixed up a friend’s heavy wool-and-possum (it’s a New Zealand thing) cardigan that had been somewhat mangled by moths. The mends, though inexpert in some ways, were very much good enough. The hole in my sweater was much smaller than those, and also smaller than I remembered it being.
The technique I found when researching for my friend’s cardi is to stitch a circle around the hole using ordinary sewing thread, draw it closed, and then stitch across to secure. I had asked in a woollens shop for some thread for such a repair and the woman there said she used ordinary sewing thread too, so I tried it. It got the job done but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the results with that thread.
But then during a trip to Paris, I found some fine woolly 4-ply thread that looked promising. (It says Repriser, Broder, Festonner, which I now know means “darning/mending, embroidering, embellishing” — well, literally “festooning”, but I don’t know anyone who talks about festooning as a type of needlework.) I picked up a few colours that I thought would be useful, including a charcoal, but not an ash grey that would have matched this project because I’d entirely forgotten about it. But charcoal is close enough, especially on a hole this small.
So I had thread I could use, but just before I cut, I remembered that I’d gotten a short length of repair thread/yarn with the sweater when I bought it. (Does anyone ever use that thread? This was certainly my first time.) So, hurrah!
The technique I’d found seemed like it wouldn’t work well on a hole as tiny and linear as this one, so I ended up taking 4 stitches across, with the slight fluffiness of the thread helping to fill the gap. (Thus roughly 3 months of procrastination per stitch.)
I returned the sweater to circulation and when I went to wear it proudly a few days later, I discovered another hole! Dammit! This one was a little bigger (though still pretty small) and looked more clearly like insect damage. I guess. I didn’t think we had insects here that would eat wool, so it’s not something I’m all that familiar with.
I assume now that the first hole is attributable to the same culprit. (I’m also choosing to believe that this hole happened about the same time as the first one, and not while sitting undisturbed for months waiting for the original hole to get fixed.)
I stitched across the hole with a ladder stitch from one end to the other and back again.
I wonder if circling around the hole would have been more effective on this one. The mend is less apparent now that it has flattened and stretched a bit with wear. It’s just to the front of the side seam, at the lower ribs, and thus often hidden by my arm. No one will ever notice.
So, as I suspected, woolly thread when mending woolly knits is definitely the way to go, if you can find the stuff.