Don’t throw away that moth-eaten baby cardigan or holey pair of socks – mend them! Whether you’re a beginner knitter or an expert, basic repair skills are incredibly useful to have, and they’re easier to learn than you might think.
Find out how to look after your precious hand-knits and make sure they stay looking as good as new with the help of Tom van Deijnen, aka Tom of Holland. Tom is an expert in making and re-making knitted fabrics using traditional techniques. He’s the creator of the Visible Mending Programme, which promotes the art of clothing repair and encourages people to turn away from throwaway fashion and wear the clothes they already have for longer.
In this tutorial Tom shows you how to do a traditional stocking darn, which is suitable for small holes and thinning areas around them.
You will need:
- A darning mushroom (although you can easily substitute this with an old light bulb, a boiled egg, or a ladle).
- Darning yarn: make sure it is of similar weight or slightly lighter than the yarn in which the item to be darned was knitted.
- A darning needle: these are very long (around 8cm/3in), have a large eye and a sharp point.
If necessary, tidy up any loose threads around the hole. The area to be darned here is shown by my circle of mending thread.
A stocking darn is worked from the wrong side. Put the darning mushroom behind the hole and pull the fabric over it. Starting at the lower left corner, pick up alternate purl bumps, working your way up, using a column of purl bumps ‘pointing up’. First put all the loops on the needle, before pulling it through. Leave a short tail.
Select the column immediately next to the previous one, with the purl bumps pointing down. Pick up alternate purl bumps, opposite the ones you did before. Don’t pull through too far; instead, make sure to leave a small loop at the turning point. This prevents puckering.
Keep doing this until you reach the hole, gradually enlarging the area where you pick up the purl bumps. When you get to the hole, pick up any live loops and span the hole with the needle and pick up the purl bumps at the other side before pulling through the needle.
Continue until you reach the other side of the area to be darned. By making the area octagonal instead of square, any strain on the fabric will be evenly distributed.
Now start working across. This time, you only have to pick up the darning thread; again, picking up alternate strands. There is no need to cover the whole area, just one or two strands outside the hole will suffice.
As before, pick up the opposite strands on the way back and leave a little loop at the turning point, thus creating a patch of fabric.
When finished, cut the thread, leaving a small tail. There is no need to weave in any ends or knot them.
On the right side, you will only see a small woven patch. With wash and wear, the darn will integrate even better with the fabric.
Learn more about the Visible Mending Programme and Tom’s darning classes by visiting his blog, http://tomofholland.com.