Show a Sweater Some Love by Mending It!

Show a Sweater Some Love

I have a sweater that needs mending. Many years ago, well in 1995, I knitted a tunic inspired by tree bark. The bark pattern is made using stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch, garter stitch and moss stitch. There’s no repetition in the stitch pattern; just one chart which you follow, stitch by stitch, row by row, for each piece. I really enjoyed knitting Bark!

Here’s my Bark tunic about five years ago.

Bark tunic by Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding designed the Bark tunic; it was published in Rowan Knitting Magazine No. 15. It was part of the Natural Elements collection; all of these garments were knitted in Rowan California Cotton, a double-knit 100% cotton yarn.

The fibre for this yarn was grown by Sally Fox and was the first machine-spinable naturally coloured cotton. Wild cotton plants produce cotton fibres in a variety of shades, but the fibres tend to be coarse and short; this isn’t suitable for machine spinning. Cultivated cotton is white and has finer, longer fibres. Sally used the traditional plant breeding techniques of cross breeding and selection to obtain plants which produced coloured cotton fibres which could be spun by machine.

I’ve worn my Bark tunic a lot. It’s a great weight sweater for chilly spring and autumn days. Eventually, the cast-off edge at the neck wore out.

Before You Start Mending

First, you need to locate the yarn which you used to knit your garment. This may be easier to say than to do! It took me a few rummages through my stash before I located my yarn.

Second, you need to find the pattern, and third, pattern notes, if you have any. My pattern notes include which size garment I made, the yarn used (in case I used one different to that recommended in the pattern), the size needles used (in case I had to change them to knit the required tension), any other alterations I made and the cost of the yarn.

In this case, I used smaller needles for the pattern and ribs, and I knitted a round neck instead of a turtle-neck. And the yarn cost £25.00 in a sale from Liberty’s of London. I’ve worn this sweater for over 20 years, so that was a good purchase!

Next you need to remind yourself how you made your garment. You need to know this because you may need to undo some of the seams, and knowing the order in which you completed them makes things easier. In this case, I knitted the tunic flat, joined a shoulder seam and then knitted the neckband in rows, before working the other seams.

Mending My Bark Tunic

I decided that I would reknit the neckband using circular needles rather than straight ones. This meant that I just unpicked the short seam joining the two ends of the neckband instead of the underarm and side seams, as well as all of one shoulder seam.

After I unpicked the neckband seam I worked out which end of the neckband was the beginning and which end of the cast-off edge. It’s easy to unpick a cast-off edge from it’s end; you just pull the yarn tail out of the last stitch, then pull on the yarn end to unpick a stitch at a time, placing the released stitches on your needle.

Mending Bark tunic: unpicking the cast-off edge and placing the stitches on a circular needle.

You may need to unpick a row or two; it depends how many rows are damaged. In this case, the only damage was to the cast-off edge so, I unpicked all of it, including the part beyond the damaged stitch. It’s best to replace the whole edge with new yarn because even if there’s no visible damage the old edge will be worn.

Mending Bark tunic: the unpicked cast-off neckband edge with stitches placed on a circular needle.

I finished by resewing the neckband seam, then weaving in the ends.

Good as New!

So, here is the new Bark. You can see the difference in colour between the new cast-off edge and the original garment. I’m not sure that many people would spot this!

Mending Bark tunic: the new cast-off neckband edge.

The repair to Bark’s neckband was quick and simple one which will enable me to wear it for many years to come.

My next mending is a cable cardigan with worn sleeve cast-on edges. And I think that I don’t have any spare yarn!

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