I seem to be out of words.
Here are a few pics though.
Ever wish you had eight arms?
New to him, anyway--
though it might be more accurate to say that the truck has been newly liberated
from where it has been resting for nearly thirty years.
It could not, alas, make the break under its own power
particularly as only two of the wheels would turn--
and even that after a fair bit of persuasion.
But no matter.
It is a highly desirable vehicle
--an FJ 45 Toyota Land Cruiser--
with hood ornamentation
that matches my yarn.
are cool, relaxed and forgiving.
But when a gal spends a lot of time sitting on her butt,
shifting from one comfy position to another,
there invariably comes a moment when the sound of ripping interrupts the quiet.
and decisions must be made.
Does the patch belong on the inside, or the outside?
Does it matter if it (the patch), shows through the tear?
What color thread would be best? What weight?
Is it worth reinforcing the other cheek?
And how much effort am I willing to put in
to secure the disintegrating waistband stitching?
The answers, at least today, are as follows
4. The thread I have:
Güttermann cotton thread and brown pearl cotton (leftovers from making the pants)
6. Restitch but don't bother removing the old green hand spun silk that clearly didn't hold up.
Gotta draw the line somewhere...
and was so disappointed to wake up and find it wasn't true
that before I even had a cup of tea (Earl Grey of course),
I started pulling enormous and dusty pieces of pipe from under the bed.
Then I pushed them back.
There are mobiles to balance
and existing tapestries to mount.
I have neither the time nor the space nor the mental energy just now,
for unknown projects of massive dimension.
But perhaps a bit of pre-emptive knee reinforcement,
would take the edge off my desire.
As I stitched, however, I thought about things I might weave.
No perfect ideas showed up.
I am left with jeans that are stronger than they were
and the smouldering feeling
that if I did happen to mess around with the odd piece of pipe
and wind a bit of white warp
--nice and tight--
fabulous things might happen.
When it comes to sewing bits of fabric together
and mending holes in my clothing
I'm a sloppy running stitch kind of gal.
But fixing stuff still demands decisions:
Is it best to put the patch on the outside, or on the inside?
Should I use denim or plain weave cotton?
Raw edge with chain stitch?
Raw edge with buttonhole stitch?
Or turn the ends under?
Might as well try all three and see which lasts longest.
These garments, after all, are for wearing while working.
I have no one to please but myself
and it pleases me to be warm.
After 15 + years of almost daily use (and nearly that many of mending),
you can still see some of the original fabric on the sleeve of my studio jacket.
Every couple of years I dunk the whole thing into an indigo pot
to even out the hodge podge of patches.
Silk/Rayon Velvet takes indigo very nicely.
Sometimes my patching fabric choices have not been wise.
But so what?
Though deeply influenced by the concept of Boro
and delighted to be distracted by looking at such garments
I choose my patch materials from my current collection of scraps--
an ever-changing assortment--
and stitch with the yarn or thread at hand
so it never looks like proper sashiko.
The mood of the moment is all.
This is not the case when mending things for other people.
When an adorable puppy had his way with my friend Heather's precious hand spun mitt, I agreed to do my best to make it useable -- then put it off for months while I worried about continuity, fretted about technique and dreaded trying to live up to the high standards of of the original maker, my dear friend Nancie who died a year ago this month.
This past weekend on my annual retreat with my spinning group
I finally tackled them,
First I darned all the little puppy-teeth holes.
Next I unraveled the mess around the pinkie, picked up what I hoped was the right number of stitches and re-knit it using my hand spun which didn't match in anything but grist (two ply cormo, about 3000 yards per pound).
Then it was time for the mess around the middle and pointer fingers.
Truth to tell, by that time I was a touch frustrated.
Indeed, if it had been mine, I'd probably have done some casual stitching around the raw edge to halt the fraying and called it good -- anything to avoid more time with 00 needles, miniscule open stitches and fragments of yarn.
But I couldn't do that to Heather and Nancie's Mitties.
And luckily my dear spinning comrades wouldn't let me.
Vicki took the whole thing out of my hands and carefully ripped back until she reached solid mitten (apologizing for undoing the pinkie finger I'd just made, but doing the wise thing nonetheless), and reknit to the base of the fingers, continuing one part of the complicated and unrepeatable cable into the new section.
I patched my jeans, drank beer and practiced feeling grateful instead of guilty.
Rochelle then re-knit the fingers -- three of them anyway.
I worked on my jacket with glee and relief.
Mary Jo wanted to knit the last finger but found her gauge was too different
so Vicki remade the pinkie with a smidgn more of my even darker hand spun.
I wove in the ends and gave both mitts a bath.
Here is the result of our communal Visible Mending:
functional, beautiful in a new way, worth the effort, clearly not new, done.
Thank You Tom of Holland for the term.
Thank You Nancie for what we hope is your approval.
After I send this post into the inter-webs
(and have a bracing cup of tea),
I'll deliver them to Heather.
Then I can come home and resume admiring my knees.
These are my current working mittens.
The blue/green pair I inherited from my son
when they shrank and his hands grew.
The grey and white pair were knit
by my dear friend Rochelle.
"Not to replace the ones you have,"
she assured me,
"but to give you a choice."
I can't think why.
Perhaps she thought
darning the darned darns
was too much.
Or that not bothering
to snip off the end of the yarn,
meant the situation was desperate.
And perhaps she was right.
But you know how it is--
the wind is howling
the dog needs a walk
your mitten has a hole...
Who has time to take off their boots
and find a pair of scissors?
I'm just grateful
when needle and yarn are at hand.
And that pair was not quite as worn
as the ones they supplanted.
which I only reluctantly replaced in '96 or so
when my friends gave me a hard time.
"You can't go to a book signing for
the sweater you have in Knitting in America
Good thing someone is paying attention.
I seem to be particularly hard on left palms.
Probably the dog leash.
Rochelle used a nice strong fleece
so I've only had to darn them once so far.
A duplicate stitch darn at that!
Of course my dog is old and hardly needs a leash these days.
Knitting mittens is great, but only when necessary.
I prefer to put my knitting energy into sweaters.
And anyway, I don't want the previous pair
to have its feelings hurt.
I always use the patterns this book.
They are great mittens.
Also, there is never time to find another pattern,
much less design one,
when the kid has grown,
the mittens have shrunk
and he asks for another pair.
I love how the sawtooth pattern
distorts as the palms shrink.
Looking at life from a mitten perspective
it seems that though I haven't changed much,
my boy is all grown up.
About time I noticed.
was write about my September travels
from Idaho to New Hampshire
I planned to wax poetic
about the astonishing Swetts
who live in the east
and made it all possible.
I would have grown long-winded
on the subject of long-missed friends
from elementary and high school
some not seen in fifteen, thirty, even forty years
who came to New Hampshire from all corners of the East
--not forgetting to marvel at delightful hours
in the company of our headmistress.
I intended to rave
about the AVA gallery
and show off the flattering review
in the Valley News.
And there was to be no restraint
when it came to enthusiasm for driving
back and forth
across this beautiful country
in the new car
with husband Dan (west to east)
and sister Lyn (east to west).
But this morning I dropped my phone.
So I decided to tear apart the studio
and mend my jeans.
will be back to normal.
Whatever that is.
My attitude, however,
needed a small adjustment.
Unlike The Strawberry Quilt
whose repair trajectory was clear,
this tattered remnant
of someone's long ago handwork
some casual side project
to be whipped off
while I thought about other things.
that I put away my hand dyed fabric scraps,
forget about imposing my design ideas,
abandon all thought of covering or subverting its aggressive symmetry,
I learned that it is okay
to stabilize the actual holes
I am also allowed to strengthen the weakest diamonds,
but after that,
nothing can be hidden.
my ancient collection of
(rather than hand spun yarn),
as mending material
as long as I use stitches
that keep the tatters in view.
I'm not usually a corner person,
preferring swirls and curves
to hard edges.
it takes this this into consideration
as long as there is no nonsense about patching.
the underlying structure.
Though not averse to a bit of embellishment,
this quilt is proud of its wear and tear.
As well it should be.
The time came to leave long before I was finished
and the quilt wanted to stay home,
but I expect a warm welcome when I return.
and look forward to a lot more serious stitching.
Sarah C Swett