Tag Archives: mending

Make, do, mend

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I really love that sentiment. I know the original is “make do and mend,” but I like that punctuation can subtly change the meaning and modernize the sentiment. For me, the “do” here is about use. Make something, use it (wear it), and mend it.

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I’ve written about mending before (and since that post I’ve darned so many other parts of those gloves that replacing them entirely is on my summer to-do list), but it seems to be in the air these days: Karen did a great post about the resurgence of mending and the corresponding shift in attitude; Ysolda linked to a Guardian piece about the popularity of mending shops; and last fall Julie posted some shots of how she made the best of her moth-eaten sweaters.

L's gloves, still in need of some mending.

L’s gloves, still in need of some mending. After the first few darns, I started darning on both the inside and the outside, to make the areas prone to holes double-thick. After the first time, I gave up on trying to make the mending invisible.

Not that it’s a new idea or anything, but it feels like there’s momentum right now. I have definitely noticed that the more I knit (and now, sew) the more particular I am about what I buy and the more interested I am in fixing what I have. I certainly would never have mended any of the store-bought wool socks I used to wear (which inevitably wore out after one winter) but last week, as I was plodding along on Grace, I took a break to darn some holes and weak spots in a couple of pairs of my hand-knit socks. Both pairs were already a couple of years old and, as some of my first hand-knit socks, had been in heavy rotation, that they only now required repair makes me think of the darns as badges of honour – they lasted well; they’re worth repairing.

The orange socks needed repairs to both heels and both toes. The purple ones wore through in a weak spot I knew would probably be trouble.

The orange socks needed repairs to both heels and both toes. The purple ones wore through in a weak spot I knew would probably be trouble.

The question I have, though, is where do you draw the line? I am happy to darn a few holes to get more use out of a pair of socks, or put a patch over the elbow of a sweater, but at some point items do need replacing, and when that time comes, I don’t want to feel guilty about it. Take L’s gloves, for example. He has worn the heck out of them, and I’ve darned them close to a dozen times, but in the last few months of cold weather it really felt like there was a new hole every week (a combination of hard wear and lofty, woollen-spun yarn). He loves his gloves, but I’m tired of fixing them and ready to just knit a new pair, which is fine, except what do I do with the old ones?

I wear through this part of all my mittens far more quickly than any other part. When he thumbs started to get threadbare, I knit myself a new pair.

I wear through this part of all my mittens far more quickly than any other part. When the thumbs on these started to get threadbare, I knit myself a new pair.

Similarly, I have a pair of socks that’s been in need of new heels for months. I know I could remove the old heels and re-knit them, but to be honest, they’re not the most comfortable socks I’ve ever knit and I don’t miss wearing them. Aside from the heels, though, they’re in good shape, so what do I do? Replace the heels and give them away? Let them sit at the bottom of the drawer for a while longer and then throw them out? I did not have these qualms with store-bought items!

What do you do? Do you say “oh darn” as you drop them in the trash (as the Yarn Harlot suggests) or do you mend them until there’s nothing original left? Do you wonder/worry about this too?