Visible Mending

Visible mending, in case you haven’t heard of the movement, means repairing a garment in a visible way. In a way it can be a form of art and it can add to the character of the garment, resulting in a more unique and interesting piece.

Somewhere between 2011 and 2012 I knit a Girasole using my own handspun yarn. I was gifted my first Golding spindle for my birthday and had also been gifted a box filled with different types of fiber. My eyes fell on a bag of chocolate brown Wensleydale fiber. I washed and spun it in parts and knit up the handspun until there was no more yarn left, and went back to spinning so I could knit again. What I love about this shawl is that there’s definitely a long story behind it and I really enjoy wearing it. It smells like sheep (which I love), I know where this particular sheep comes from and I know it has a happy life. While working on the edging I ran out of fiber so I placed an order online (I found some chocolate websleydale on some webshop and ordered it). Unfortunately it turned out to be gray instead of brown (only after washing….).

I decided to frog the edging (I was halfway) and to unply the yarn. I spun a single using the gray fiber and plied the brown and gray together. The difference was now less of an issue and I knit along the edge of the shawl. Anyway, like I said, there’s a long story behind this shawl, so imagine my shock when I saw this…

yeah and this…

and the other five or six holes I didn’t bother to take pictures of. This was definitely an ‘oh-crap’ moment. It took me a few days to go through all five stages of grief, but eventually I did manage to end up at the final stage: acceptance. There’s huge holes in there and I’m NOT chucking it. So now what?

To be very honest with you, I did think about finding some more fiber, spinning it and mending the thing invisibly, but here’s the thing: it will never be as it was. The fiber will be a different shade, the mending will always be a visible and it doesn’t feel right. There’s nothing perfect about this shawl, from the spinning to the knitting, and these rips are a part of it now.

The Japanese have a name for this technique they use to fill cracks in porcelain with gold. It’s called “Kintsugi”. I chose Scheepjes Mohair Rhythm in colorway Disco (yellow), to fill up the cracks in my knitting 🙂

For the lagest holes I picked up the stitches, knit a few rows in pattern and grafted the gold with the live stitches from the shawl. The small rips were just sewn together.

This is what the shawl looks like post-suregery.

Now that the holes are repaired I can honestly say I’m very pleased with the result. I don’t think the ‘invisble’ mending would’ve come out so good. Now that I’m also passed the final stage of acceptance, I’m truly at peace with what my shawl looks like today.

I think this shawl could do with a good wash and blocking after so long, which will tame the golden threads as well. When comparing the picture above with the first picture (right after finishing and blocking) you can see how much the shawl has compacted by being used.

I’d like to add a little side-note: I’m going to be treating this shawl with a bit more care. Wensleydale is a sturdier fiber, but it’s still a lace shawl and it’s still one of my first handspun yarns. Hopefully this way I’ll be able to enjoy this shawl for a long time to come 🙂

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