Sunday, January 3, 2016

Darning by Knitting

I changed the name of my blog, because I think it better reflects where I have been going these past few years: from almost exclusively quilting to all sorts of fiber fun.  I still quilt, but knitting, spinning and weaving take bigger chunks of my creative time.  I still climb, but much more modestly, and so I felt Quilting Climber was inaccurate and maybe pretentious.  I hoped to blog more because of the name change, but I obviously haven’t been.  However, this topic came up in a forum on Ravelry and rather than clutter up a thread, I thought I’d post this technique here.

This isn’t necessarily new but certainly doesn’t show up in any of my resources.  I first started doing this, because a young friend of mine ripped the heck out of a sweater.  He guides hunting trips in Montana, when he isn’t a backcountry wilderness ranger.  He got jumped by a grizzly while gutting an elk and ripped one of his sweater sleeves in several places during his hasty exit through the brush.  It’s a his favorite sweater and after some thinking, I decided it would be best to flat out knit the patches and graft them into the knitting as I went.  The results were excellent and I have used it on some other items, including socks with good results.  It’s fast, easy and I think better than anything else I have tried.

Before I explain this technique, I want to share my thoughts on darning socks.  Socks tend to get holes where you also tend to get blisters. The rubbing action that wears out socks also is hard on your skin.  A patch will only aggravate that area, possibly causing worse blisters.  And there’s nothing so miserable than having to work all day (I was a field forester) or hike out of the backcountry with blistered feet.  I relegate mended socks to knocking around town or to in the house status where I am not likely to walk enough to get blisters.  In the field, I wear good, perfect socks to protect my feet.

Here are the steps to a knitted patch:
You will need:

  • At least 2 dp’s – preferably slightly smaller than what was used to create the item.  This makes picking up the stitches easier and the patch denser and durable.
  • Yarn identical to the item, or of a thickness equal or possibly thinner than the item.  You don’t want the patch to be too bulky.  I try to save a small ball of all items I have knitted for this purpose.  Not that I can find it when needed…  You might add a strand of wooley nylon or the like if this is a high wear area.
  • A tapestry needle for grafting and weaving in the ends.
 The procedure:
  • About 2 rows below the lowest extent of the hole, pick up the right hand leg of each knit stitch, starting 2 columns left and ending 2 columns right of the hole’s width.
Picking up initial stitches.
  •  Knit that needle and turn the work, and knit back, using the stitches that match the item.
  • Pick up a stitch in the column above with your right needle.  Knit the first stitch from the left needle and pass the picked up stitch over it.  Finish that row.  And turn your work.
  • Repeat the step above each way until the knitted patch extends two rows above the highest point of the hole.  End with a RIGHT SIDE row.
  • Cut the yarn, leaving a tail 3 times the work width plus a bit.
  • With the free DP, pick up the stitches 2 rows above the hole and of equal number as in the patch.
  • Holding this needle in front and the patch behind, graft the patch to the picked up stitches.
Getting ready to graft.  See that the edges barely show the passed over picked up stitch.
  •  Bring the starting and ending yarn ends to the wrong side and weave in.
Finished patch.  The orange is a patch done by Swiss darning and it looks awful.

The cool part, besides looking nice, is that you can maintain the stitch pattern or even the stranding pattern in the patch as should have been in the item there, creating a very seamless repair.