Having spent a decade exhaustively knitting, recently I decided to try some new things, which I posted about the other day, and intend to make a little series of New Things! What prompted the latest New Darning Thing was when I found these examples of some really very old Dutch needlework darning samplers. I presume the purpose of the colorful samples was ultimately to learn to repair fabric, but in doing so it seems the lessons are teaching a solid understanding of warp and weft, so artfully, and in as many types of weave patterns as possible. There are quite a few, click the first photo and see a slide show, they are so inspiring!
I adore how cross stitch and darning are combined in these. Although I think the many colors in darning are so very artful, I think I am mostly interested in invisible darning, which brings me back to the point of New Things.
Having lost my wardrobe to the wildfire, I am taking a new stance about clothes; I want to own far fewer things, and only things I love to wear, and then take care of them. First off, I never was one for expensive clothes at all, nor too casual, and although I’m a bit goldy-locks about clothes, there is one thing for sure, I do love linen with a passion! So I have been collecting some of my favorite linen brands, inexpensive (used) ebay finds, and perhaps because used, already I have been wearing some things threadbare, and that says something about how hard I am on clothes, but also the quality of linen. I find that Irish Linen wears so very much longer, but I do not care if I have holes in them, I’ll wear holes in my clothes until it becomes too unseemly, then I must repair. But I have been a little too uncaring in recent year, to the point of wearing nearly indecent holes in my clothes, but now I am up for an all-out clothes repair intensive. Darning is now my new obsession. Okay, well, maybe not totally new. I have done some beginner stabs at darning (posted here) But I do want to pick up needle and ease back into it, and practice practice practice.
Just last night I spent about an hour on this hole, I stitched in tan for warp (threads going up & down) , then wove white weft (threads back & forth) into the warp, then tan again at the diagonal. I left it at that. An impossible weave to disguise actually, so I just went randomly, and when I say ‘weave in’ , it is just a running stitch I am working, in a random woven affect.
Rather haphazard looking and not at all artful, its not even ironed yet (where is my iron? Packed somewhere in the recesses of the shed!) … but its just a work shirt. If I were going to repair some heavier fabric, I would stitch in the warp layer, then weft layer and two opposing diagonal layers, and repeat as necessary until the fabric density felt even. I really do have quite a pile of mending to do, and here is the task of today, to weave in the twin holes in the inner thigh of these pants…
A discovery I made is that is cotton embroidery floss works great; it is relatively inexpensive, you can get in any shade and can be found everywhere. A single strand of the 6-strand floss is the best I have found, it is soft and very pliable, and you can find a shade matching nearly exactly for threads in warp & weft. I am thinking for the very very lightweight fabrics to split one strand, but that is an experiment for another day.
Having stitched in a warp in tan like the fabric has, I am now weaving the black weft layer, as the fabric has, and I work the weaving past the edge of the hole, all the way out into the fabric that is stable. Then I will weave in a diagonal sheer layer in tan again. Not overly artful either, but I am just repairing casual everyday clothes, and this darn is from a very large shredded edge hole about 3″. I am observing that weaving diagonally over the grain of warp & weft adds a great deal of sheer strength.
The old saying ” An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is resonating loudly for me. Had I only done this when the fabric was starting to show wear I would have saved myself a heap of darning, but regardless, I want to learn to repair these disasters all the same. I suppose being a practical person the fancy darning samplers will have to wait until a day when I have nothing better to do. It is extremely tedious weaving one-over/under-one warp and weft, so I just decided to go more randomly with the running stitch. I found a rhythm. A mesmerizing rhythm, and I am loving darning!