Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A sweater is not just for Christmas...

I have a lovely friend who is sometimes referred to as Dirk Gently.  He was not so much named after DG as he inspired the creation of DG (but that is a story for another time and is his story not mine).  It all started with a predilection for hats.  But my friend goes further he loves all fine clothes - not finery, that is altogether different, but clothes that are cut well and made of the best schmutter.  He has jackets of the softest woollen cloth, creamy linen shirts, loakes and beautiful hats.  And on the whole he cherishes his clothes.  On one occasion I arrived at his house for Saturday lunch to find the kitchen table set with hats.  There were fedoras, homburgs, panamas and the odd Australian bush hat.  He was brushing them all in a strange Saturday morning ritual - he said it helped preserve them.  Fine clothes are not about fashion they are about style and with care they improve with age.  Unless, that is, they are made of the softest cashmere and you don't pay attention to them.  DG has recently had a woolly, cashmere tragedy.

A moth had taken more than a small snack from DG's beautiful Bamford gilet.  It is very easy if you spill a tiny speck of your supper on your black sweater, the one that must either be dry-cleaned or labouriously hand washed and dried flat,  to sponge it carefully till no sign of supper is left and think, job well done.  But it may not be.  Microscopic food particles on wool are like ketchup on chips for clothes moths.  Paying attention to cashmere means actually washing or dry cleaning often, whether you think it needs it or not. 

This sort of damage is tricky to repair.  You can't sew up the hole and old fashioned darning will leave a patch, like an ugly yarn raft sitting over the hole.  You also need to match the yarn for weight, fibre content and colour.  It took quite some googling to find black 100% cashmere in single ply but I found these 'cone ends' left over from some commercial production

Any knitter will know that you can never have too much yarn and although I only actually needed about five metres of the black (second from the left) I already have 101 ideas for using up the rest.  Top of the list is this.

So turning on the radio and a strong light I settled myself on the sofa  to knit a small patch and sew it in as invisibly as possible. I picked up about 20 stitches from below the hole and knitted until the patch was big enough to cover the damage. It curled into a tube as I knitted, as stocking stitch will do

The radio programme I was listening to was oddly appropriate, about a charismatic plastic surgeon Archie McIndoe who during World War 2 treated the terribly burned airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain .  One of his pioneering surgical procedures was the pedicle graft, (don't click on the link if you are not prepared to see some pretty serious stuff about some very brave men) . It occurred to me that what I was knittting was not so very different from a pedicle, grafted top and bottom and temporarily curly in the middle.  I fixed the top end of my graft using something similar to the method for weaving together sock toes (sometimes called Kitchener Stitch).  The sides were just stitched parallel to the stitches in the sweater

After this the sweater had a long soak in Eucalan and when dry and the patch brushed it is almost invisible

I chose the title for today's blog because DG knows a lot about dogs, well one dog in particular upon whom he lavishes quantities of love, attention and home cooked meals.  A cashmere sweater is not as demanding as a dog but... well... nearly




kbenco said...

That is a most beautiful mend. You are very skilled - and wow, finding that yarn to mend with would be rather tricky!

kharold said...

Oh, I do so appreciate good mending! I've just been getting caught up on reading your blog but when I saw this I had to stop. Sometimes we need to remember that keeping things is almost as nice as getting (or making) them in the first place.