Treading Lightly: Mending

Our capitalist culture wants us to throw away any garment that is slightly damaged. Socks aren’t expensive – why not buy a new pair?

But there are costs to that practice that have nothing to do with our bank accounts. Costs to the planet, in the form of trash in the landfill, and carbon footprint for the manufacture and shipping of new socks, not to mention all the packaging (usually plastic) involved.

My favorite socks are still good, it’s just that they wore thin in a couple of places. So I decided to learn how to darn them. Darning is basically using needle and thread to weave new “cloth” over a thin spot or even a hole. I used colorful cotton embroidery floss to mend some small holes in other socks before tackling the large wear in this one.

As I was darning those small holes, I wondered if anyone had ever done a “spiderweb” darn rather than a rectangular one. I searched, but didn’t find anything about a circular darn. So I decided to just try it. It was a little chaotic, but the result is kind of like a mandala, and I like it. Anyone who does Tai Chi knows that these areas of the foot are energy centers, so I like having circles there. And the weaving of these circles was a kind of meditation.

Little holes can also be covered with embroidered flowers or leaves, making mending into decoration. I like that. It’s even becoming a bit of a fashion statement to mend clothing with color, like a badge of honor, instead of trying to hide the fact that the clothing has done good service. It’s a reminder that we can still get good use out of things by mending them, instead of following the consumerist practice of tossing them and buying replacements.

8 thoughts on “Treading Lightly: Mending

  1. I doubt I’ll try darning. I don’t even knit well and my sewing skills are minimal. But when some of my favorite socks wore out at the heel, I cut off the tops to make cuffs for my arms (so that long sleeves will stay pushed up out of the way) and used the rest of one pair to cover the arms on my office chair, on which the plastic covering had peeled off. (The chair itself is perfectly comfortable. I’d fixed the arms before with duct tape, but that gets sticky. Socks are perfect covers.)

    And I have a blouse in the closet with a huge hole in it of the kind that can’t just be sewn up, and I’m still trying to think of something to do with it. I hate to throw out clothes.

      1. I may have to try that. Maybe the right piece of silk fabric that picks up one of the colors in my blouse (it’s very multicolored) would work well. It’s just that my efforts at that will have to include accepting very uneven stiches!

        I’ve done this sort of thing with jeans in my time — got a lovely old bluejean skirt I won’t throw away because I patched it so much and wore it to law school in defiance of the norms.

    1. I just learned another circular technique, and have tried it. It’s tidier than the chaotic spiderweb thing (though I added some spokes to mine, in honor of the spiders). Basically, it’s an embroidery chain stitch in a spiral going inward. It even works over a hole!

      Note: I did NOT do this while wearing the sock!

  2. I tend to mend and/or patch clothes, but I’ve never had much luck with darning. Maybe I should try again (although I tend to buy cheap socks, so mending them is actually harder than on a sock with some substance to it. Darning sounds like one of those skills that A Grownup Girl should have. And I’ve always wanted to be A Grownup Girl. (As opposed to an adult.)

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