Janet Haigh : Her Work

Textiles: ideas, drawing, design, stitching….

More mending

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small worn area on elbow of hand knitted sweater.

Talking to friends  Rosemary and Peter Murphy about my mending theme, Peter asked if I was up to stitching an “invisible” mend on a sweater for him as he didn’t feel that he wanted the darn to seen. Immediately I informed him of my new found belief that mending is a sign of worth and he should be proud to wear a very conspicuous darn – he wasn’t convinced – but assured me that if I would mend it he would write the story for the blog, so here it is:_

“My mum Knitted the jumper about 35+years ago and I rediscovered it during the recent cold weather. It was lurking in a wardrobe forgotten and ignored but it’s lovely and warm (a little on the heavy side perhaps) but still in good condition apart from the worn elbows. I would be delighted if you could strengthen them before it is too late!  Coming from the Welsh Valleys (born 1913) Mum was a demon hand knitter as was her mother before her. After many years she treated herself to a noisy Knitmaster machine that she was very proud of. I’m afraid she produced so many woollies for the family, close and extended, that we soon couldn’t wear them out quick enough. If they did show any signs of wear she would set about unpicking them to produce yet another garment. She couldn’t waste good wool.The jumper is, I believe, a fisherman’s style from the Yorkshire fishing village of Staithes. I’m sure you know the story about each fishing village having its own pattern so that in the event of a disaster, bodies could be more easily identified.

  1. Staithes fisherman's knitting pattern

As an art student at Leeds in the ’60’s such clothes were very trendy. Guernseys and fisherman’s’ smocks were practical as they “weathered well” with all the plaster and paint stains. They were usually worn  with a pair of tight jeans and Chelsea boots. Years ago I wore this jumper to a concert at Colston Hall in Bristol. During the interval a woman tapped me on the shoulder to say she added the jumper and where had I bought it. She was delighted to find out that my mother had made it and asked if we still had a copy of the pattern, addresses were exchanged, phone calls made and the lady received the pattern – Mum was delighted by this compliment to her knitting.

darned elbow patch, stitches follow the rows of knitting to reinforce the worn area -

Looking back, her skills were taken too much for granted but I am sure that she took pleasure in us all wearing the results of her enthusiasm, it was after all an act of love.I hope to bring the sweater to you to be restored and revived”.

Well I have tried my best but matching the wool was difficult, this is the nearest I could get using in my whole wool selection and I had to slit tapestry wool into just 2 strands  to reinforce the elbow.

Meanwhile on a navy blue theme, I have been sent a picture of this small and beautifully stitched inserted patch by Dail Behennah.  She visited to my studio in order to find a fabric to match for her new and damaged skirt, we found the perfect colour in linen and also an exact match in linen thread to make tiny buttonhole stitched edges. It looked absolutely fine until she washed it – the skirt faded and the patch didn’t.

3cms long inserted patch with buttonhole stitch edge by Dail Behennah.

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