A Time to Mend & Embellish – NorthCoast Knittery

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A Time to Mend & Embellish

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     There's more to preparing our fall knitwear than just picking out a cozy new WIP. For myself, this final week of summer is a time to make sure all of my already existing warm woolies are in wearable shape! Even if you haven't worn your winter attire in months- there could still be snags, stains, moth damage, and/or lost buttons to take care of before you're able to wear it out and about.

     Depending on what you're mending, it may not be so easy to do a perfectly-seamless-invisible repair. While on occasion that may be possible... it's usually pretty difficult to do. So I say, let go of trying to be a perfectionist! The best solution is to mend it and give it new life with an embellishment.

In the following photos, I am using simple embroidery techniques covered in the How-To Embroider booklet, as well as techniques used in many of the embroidery patterns and pre-assembled kits we have in the shop.

View all of our embroidery supplies and tools HERE.

     I have a perfect example to share with you. A sweater I purchased at The Gap back in 2007. It isn't hand knit, but it's one of the comfiest sweaters I own- and I've often thought about trying to replicate the pattern to knit another just like it. Nonetheless, when a snag on the shoulder led to a stitch running down the sleeve- I knew I wanted to repair it instead of just tossing it out. I'll share that journey with you now:

     First, since I knew I didn't have yarn that matched the sweater- I sat down with a few partial skeins of Big Liberty Wool that were bumping around my stash from the last time I did a mend & embellishment. I like this yarn for this kind of project because of the weight, those gorgeous tonal colorways, and it's a strong machine washable wool- so it stands up to the test. 

     Then, I used my little repair hook to pick the stitch up, exactly how I would do so if a live stitch fell off my knitting needle. Go ahead and snip away any broken ends. Just clean it up, and use your mending yarn to secure the hole closed.

     You can see that if my yarn matched my sweater- I would be able to quit right here and have a mostly invisible mend. But that's not what I want! So at this point, I'm going to pull out my How To Embroider booklet, and use a few techniques to make a pretty little design. 

     First I added in a few yellow French Knots, surrounded by Lazy Daisy stitches for the flower petals.

I filled in the flower with Satin Stitch in a contrasting color, and then added in a green Back Stitch for little swirly stems.

A few more pink French Knots for the final detail- and VOILA! No more stitch ladder running down the sleeve, no more hole- just a pretty little embellishment on my shoulder. No one other than you lovely readers will ever know!

     If these embroidery techniques are over your head- don't worry, they're actually really quite easy! I recommend purchasing the How-To Embroidery booklet and/or one of the pre-assembled embroidery kits. Both of these options give you a well-rounded introduction to the art of embroidery, and the instructions included with the kits and patterns are all very clear, detailed, and easy to follow. To be honest, I was a complete beginner, but I was able to complete the Curvaceous Kit (shown below) and I instantly fell in love with the craft! Once you know how to work the stitches, it's easy to apply them onto knitted fabric with a tapestry needle and a few yards of choice stash yarn. Just be sure to work nice and loosely to prevent the fabric from bunching up. 

     Sitting down to work on mending always gets me thinking about the many issues with the fashion industry as it is today. Disposable fashion does a huge amount of damage not only to the individuals making the clothing, but also to the environment. It's important to take the time to repair or repurpose old clothing, instead of tossing it out and replacing it with something new. Instead of going on about this, I'm just going to recommend you hop onto your Netflix or Amazon Prime account and watch the documentary The True Cost  (watch the trailer HERE). It's worth it, especially as fiber and textile artists!

 What do you think? Is there something in your closet that needs a new embellishment? Share your progress with us here, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or Ello!

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  • Rachel: September 17, 2016

    Thanks for the inspiration/reminder! I have a stack of clothes in my closet that I’ve planned to mend someday with embroidery and fun scrap patches.

  • Frida: September 16, 2016

    This is a fantastic article! This goes into my “Why didn’t I think of that?” box. Thank you for writing it, I loved it! …and Pinned it :)

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