knit | sew

(in)visible mending

October 29, 2019

I profess to loving the ideas behind visible mending much more than the actual look. Whilst I have been known to sew a colourful patch on a child’s worn out trouser knees, I certainly don’t want my own clothes to look patched, even creatively, even to draw attention to the political act of mending. Particularly for professional clothes or good quality clothes, I want mending that is subtle and unseen, making the clothes continue to function for the purpose they were intended.

I use sewing thread to invisibly stitch up holes in lightweight machine knits or leggings. I cut off frayed jersey cuffs and resew them on the sewing machine as three quarter length sleeves or short sleeves. Winter trousers with holes in the knees become summer shorts. I am not sure why it takes so long to get around to mending though. Like meditation, it doesn’t take that long, it is actually quite pleasurable when you are doing it and you feel good afterwards. But just like meditation, my brain will find a billion excuses for not doing the mending.

I also keep a jar of small yarn bits left over from every sweater I make. When cuffs fray and unravel or a hole forms, I can use my original yarn to reknit or darn. The sweater below was knitted in 2014 for my son who was around 8 years old at the time. Of course, he out grew it over time and now it is my daughter’s but years of wear on the sleeves cuffs meant total replacement.

The cuffs were really in a dreadful state.

I cut off the cuffs, picked up the live stitches and knitted new cuffs on with saved yarn.

Of course, I don’t mind a bit of visible mending on socks. No one sees the bottoms and if it means using a super tough yarn to make the repair, I am all for seeing it.

I believe that mending shows respect for the object, the maker and the resources of the earth that were used to make it in the first place. I think it is a spiritual act, an ethical act, an honouring of the life of a thing. But I do not believe it is going to save the world, nor is household recycling, eating less meat, or using the car less often or any of those things that we as individuals do to mitigate climate change. Only significant government policy and structural change will transform nations and corporations into globally responsible entities. Mending is what we do while our governments fails to act.