Tagged: orange

Feb 02

Golden mending




Cardigan with golden mending


This is an experiment in golden joinery, a style of visible mending which I think I first heard about via Morwhenna Woolcock in Bristol – her film about it is over here on Vimeo. It’s a textile nod to the Japanese art of kintsugi, a repair technique practised on precious Chinese porcelain from the late 15th century. In kintsugi, the damaged object bears conspicuous repair seams of gold-coated lacquer. There is absolutely no attempt to hide the damage, and in the process of repair the artefact becomes not as-good-as-new but even better than. The golden scars are integral to the aesthetic, and repair becomes an alchemical process. What’s not to love? You can hear more about kintsugi in this wonderful BBC Radio 4 programme, Something Understood, which aired last September.

My mission here was to repair a couple of moth holes on the upper sleeve of a Hobbs cardigan. It’s a common place to find moth holes on a woollen garment. Maybe it’s the way we tend to store our knitwear? Tucking arms inside as we fold, thus making an irresistibly snug spot for the average egg-laying moth. I didn’t spot any damage when I bought this cardigan second-hand, but washing revealed the two holes. Damn and blast. On with the mending.

So here’s what I did:

  • I stabilised the area first, tacking a small piece of pre-washed cotton tape to the reverse of the repair – this was to stop the area puckering or distorting during the mending process
  • Then I created a matrix of vertical threads with regular sewing cotton, securing each unattached run-threatening loop and also creating a framework for my darning
  • Next I reworked the stitches with Swiss darning (a.k.a. replica stitch) in gold thread



One down, one to go


My verdict: this is a rather fine knit, making Swiss darning it quite eye-watering, and the gold thread I used wasn’t entirely co-operative: it wasn’t really flexible enough for the task. But I persisted. Here’s the thread I used, top right. It’s unfortunately lost its label but looks like pretty standard metallic thread designed for machine-embroidery use.


Golden threads

Golden threads


This isn’t the most accomplished repair I’ve ever worked, but it’s effective.  The area certainly didn’t pucker (which tends to make a repair look amateurish), and I love the impact of the gold – it reminds me of a square of gold leaf shimmering there. What do you think? And no, I don’t always wear orange knitwear, though I do like orange a lot; it reminds me of marmalade and warm afternoon sun, both much appreciated in dull old February.



Golden mend, complete


I hope you’ll feel inspired to have a go at some kind of golden mending of your own. You might want to try a modern version on your broken ceramics. Let me know how you get on by dropping me a line in the comments – it’s always good to know that someone is keeping me company here! Thanks.

And if you happen to be in the Bath area and you have something textile you’d like to try to repair using this technique, please bring it along to the next meet-up of the Big Mend on Wednesday 26th February 7-9pm at the Museum of Bath at Work. More details about the Big Mend over here. I also include Swiss darning in my bespoke Strictly Come Darning! workshop.


Feb 21

Scrap of the week #18

I haven’t been sharing any vintage scraps with you for a while, so here’s a floral curtain (late 1960s or early 1970s, I’m guessing) to kick off my 2012 offerings. This is one of my latest lucky finds at the charity shop.

Orange petals, green stamens

Orange petals, green stamens

Flower Power curtain

Flower Power

Leaf motif

Leaf motif

Orange flowers

Scalloped vertical

All my pictures are crooked (it’s been one of those days), but you can still see the charm of the textile, I hope: the bright orange flowers ( which are about 4.5cms across), the insistent vertical stripes. The fabric is substantial yet quite supple – definitely a furnishing weight – in either cotton or linen or a mixture of the two. There’s no marking at all on the selvedges so that could indicate an artisanal piece. The slightly wonky pattern placement here and there points the same way. If you know what this is, where it’s from, or have anything similar in your stash, I’d love to hear from you.

Now, what would you make with this? It screams “GYPSY CARAVAN CURTAINS!!!” to me (in the very best possible way), maybe with giant apple-green ric-rac or bobble edging and a lovely contrast lining. But then, I’m badly in need of a holiday. This fabric’s a little too much for most uses without a little judicious dilution, I reckon. Paired with the right solid or two (and restrained use of aforementioned jumbo ric-rac) it could make a really vibrant cushion, apron, tea-cosy or hand bag. It’s a little bigger than most of my scraps. In fact, there’s quite a lot of it (two curtains, each 88cms wide from selvedge to selvedge and 2 metres long) so plenty of scope for ingenuity.

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