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Posts Tagged ‘mending’

This Spring is a little out of sorts for me. My beloved house wrens have arrived late and found all the wren houses I’ve made and bought for them taken, including the prime real estate one by the kitchen door. The black capped chickadees have raised a family in that one and they only fledged yesterday. I do so love watching and hearing the little house wrens, they are such wound up, comical little birds. When they found the house they love taken, the male protested loudly and persistently for two days at the kitchen door. I think he wanted me to eject the tenants. But I couldn’t do that. I have since made and hung a little “For Rent” sign from the tiny perch outside the house’s entry, but no wrens…yet.

The purple finch who usually nests in the wreath on our porch sang his little heart out for two weeks. Alas, he didn’t find a mate. I haven’t seen many purple finches around. I fear the winter was no friend to them and so the wreath sits unoccupied. For 15 years I have watched the purple finches raise their young in that wreath. It feels so lonely not to have them there.

My much loved mourning doves, however, have decided to nest in the lilac bush / tree. They are a sweet young couple who are hard at work building a nest. I love to hear their soft cooing at dusk.

The bluebirds have occupied all the bluebird houses. They are so beautiful to watch. We even have a pair of Baltimore Oriels nesting in the crab apple tree. At present, the bright orange feathers and the dark pinks of the blooming tree slightly clash, but in a modern sear the eyes out of your head kind of way.

On the knitting front, the more I work the more I fall behind. The winter hat for The Skipper (yes, even a train stops) is nearing the end. I have maybe two more nights’ work on it. Yarn Rascal has been occupying my evenings. He sleeps all day and is a little devil all night. I’ve taken to calling him Vampire Dog. Try as I might to tire him out, I am the one who is exhausted first.

I have to finish a pair of socks now three years in the making! It’s not the socks, it’s me. They are part of a set. I have knitted the other items in the set three times now so the knitting mojo for that particular pattern has lost its edge.

I have two hooded sweaters I must get off the design boards and onto needles. I have one vintage baby girl sweater and hat set that I need to test knit and puzzle out as to how the original was meant to look. Yes, vintage patterns are not always whole. It’s a Scottish design. I used the picture below as my inspiration for the color scheme. The picture was photographed by Ian Cameron. It is of Glenlivet, Moray Scotland. The yarn I am going to use is DROPS Lima. I’ve never worked with it before so I am excited about trying a new yarn. It is winging its way here from England as I write this.

ian cameron glenlivet  moray scotland

Isn’t it beautiful picture? I love Scotland. When I move, I am going to Scotland.

In addition to all the above, I need to begin mending a shirt for the start of my own Visual Mending Project. I just need to find the time to research the best mending stitches for where the holes are. It’s a dark teal, long sleeved tee and I’ve decided to keep with a watery theme, so the mending thread will be in the colors of water. I’d like to find a kind of netting type of mending stitch. My inspiration is the picture below for both color and texture of the stitches.

colorful fishing nets

The photo credit for the picture above goes to Lucy of Attic24. It was taken in Dorset, England.

I don’t plan to get all this done this weekend, not even close. If I finish the hat and start swatching the hooded sweater for a boy, I will consider the weekend successful. The weekend could be a huge success if I get Vampire Dog to turn his internal clock around.

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Mending As Art

I’ve become quite smitten with the idea of Darning As Art. The origin of the idea did not spring forth from my head like Athena did from Zeus. I discovered it in the blog Tom of Holland. He calls it Visual Mending. All I can say is, I can see endless possibilities in which the skill of darning crosses over into and becomes art.

The basic idea is to conserve well lived-in clothing. A while back, I had written that I rarely knit myself sweaters because I’m afraid to wear them. I don’t want them to become worn. It would kill a little bit of my heart and soul if I had to chuck a hand-knit sweater. But in what Tom does, the mending becomes a visual part of the item, adding character, charm, interest, another story line, entwining another life with the original and thus giving it continued life. Visual Mending is a wonderful way of conserving and being able to continue to use clothing that can’t be mended invisibly. What I love about it is it doesn’t pretend to make the garment look like new. Instead, the mending itself becomes a form of art adding to the personality of the garment.

This picture is posted with the permission of Tom of Holland. All rights belong to him. Please don't reproduce it without his consent.

This picture is posted with the permission of Tom of Holland. All rights belong to him. Please don’t reproduce it without his consent.

The picture above is an example of different mending styles. The mending was done in crewel wool. Below is the close up of the work.

Used with permission from Tom of Holland. All picture rights belong to Tom of Holland. Please do not reproduce without his permission.

Used with permission from Tom of Holland. All picture rights belong to Tom of Holland. Please do not reproduce without his permission.

This whole idea took me back to my teenage years in the 1960s. Every pair of jeans I wore were carefully repaired with needle and embroidery thread in worn out areas. They were a constant work of art in progress. The Home Economics teacher and the Art teacher always stopped me to see if I had embroidered any new designs. I was able to enjoy wearing my jeans and extend their usefulness in colorful and fun ways. I had forgotten about this until I saw Tom’s blog.

This picture is used with the permission of Tom of Holland. Please do not reproduce it without his consent.

This picture is used with the permission of Tom of Holland. Please do not reproduce it without his consent.

Don’t get me wrong, it takes a fine skill with needle and thread to do the work that Tom does. But I am eager to explore the various mending patterns out there and try my hand at it. I keep thinking, what if mending patterns were intentionally included in the original knitted piece? As both a form of decoration and in the places most likely to get worn out first? This idea keeps running around in my head and I am already designing a little boy sweater that will incorporate intentional mending.

I find it interesting, in an almost inexplicable way, that in the myriad of knitting books, and knit wear design books, little if anything is mentioned about the skill and art of mending. I have The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt and of the 790 plus pages only 1 page briefly mentions mending. How absurd that mending would not be given as much attention as the knitting itself. After all, I am not, for the most part, knitting garments out of stainless steel wool (though I have ruminated on the possibility). I am knitting garments meant to be worn and enjoyed and I can’t do that if I am fearful of ruining it.

In some ways, Tom’s Visual Mending, has given me the freedom to knit items for myself and opened a way for me to feel good wearing them. After all, isn’t having to be mended a sign that something has been both well-loved and well-worn?

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