Wednesday, 26 October 2011
The satisfaction of darning a sweater
I believe in buying high-quality products, looking after them well and being rewarded with years of superior comfort and style. Little gives me greater satisfaction, therefore, than extending the life of something through my own efforts. With the Roadster, I managed to achieve a decent darning of both the holes. The surface is not perfect, but the small imperfection almost gives the sweater greater character – like subtle colour variation on shoe leather from years of sweat and rain.
This philosophy has much in common with the so-called English country house look. Usually applied to upholstery and other interior decoration, it revels in the natural ageing, untidiness and natural comfort of well-worn items, including clothes. Prince Charles’s patched Cleverley shoes and box of spare cloth at Anderson & Sheppard come to mind.
It is usually the beauty of leather that gets me: an aged watch strap, a battered but not dried out attaché, the patina of the aforementioned shoe. But wool and indeed some forms of cotton (like canvas) can become more beautiful with age. Cardboard too. For more on this theme, search on the blog for ‘How great things age’.
As to the darning, I will not discuss the technique in detail because it is best explained by video. There is a good one on YouTube here. But I will say that it is best to take your time, not overstitch (it can make the area too stiff) and make sure you keep the spare thread that often comes with good knitwear. The biscuit-coloured cashmere I had kept and used on my Roadster was an absolute pleasure to use, and I don’t think anything else would have had the same effect.