A few months ago I purchased a cashmere cardigan from a vintage/thrift upseller. I was so excited to score this piece! Here in Florida, a traditional cashmere sweater won’t get used very often so a cardigan was a good compromise, and buying it second hand made it affordable. When it arrived, it unfortunately had the all-too-common thrift/detergent smells. I gave it a nice soak but ultimately decided to go ahead and wash it in my machine (I know, I know…) As you can guess, I ended up with many holes throughout the piece.
Even though I love the fiber arts, I have not mended many pieces before. However, I’ve always been a big fan of visible mending methods. This has been a busy season of life; so I strongly considered outsourcing the mending work rather than learning a new creative skill. Ultimately, I did it myself (hence this post!)
One day I was scrolling Instagram reels, I saw someone using a darning loom. I wish I could remember who so that I could credit them! I decided to order one and give it a try! It was both effective AND a lot of fun so I wanted to share about it on here.
Darning looms were developed and sold in the 1940s-1950s by E & A Chesstok Ltd in Manchester. Today you can find vintage looms for sale or purchase a modern remake. The darning loom allows the user to mend small patches using a weaving method. The process was easier that I expected but also more time consuming than I thought it would be. (History from Ministry of Mending.)
Here’s how it works. The user selects their threads – you can choose matching or contrasting threads based off of the look you are going for. (I’ve used wool threads and cotton embroidery threads.) Next these threads are looped over the hooks while securing the threads at the bottom of the textile. Then a thread is horizontally woven over and under the vertical threads. Pushing the hooks from one side to the other alternates which threads are raised and which are lowered to make the weaving process less tedious. (Youtube has a plethora of videos for this process.)
If you have spent any amount of time on my blog or Instagram page, you know that I regularly encourage others to pursue creative things. I love that this creative process is also useful! I was able to mend several holes in my cashmere sweater, my own denim pants, and I plan to mend my daughter’s jeans next.
Want to try it yourself? There are many places you can find these darning looms depending on what you are looking for. First, consider doing a simple online search for “Speedweve daring loom” (yes, spelled that way!) You may find the perfect loom to purchase ! If you want direct links, I’ll add them next. I purchased this Amazon loom. You can find a vintage Speedweve loom or a replica here. They are likely out of stock but you can follow Ministry of Mending on Instagram to hear about upcoming releases. Etsy also has this kind of loom.
Have you done any mending or patchwork? I feel it’s a lost but important art that is resurfacing – which I love! It meshes perfectly with a “waste not, want not” mentality!
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