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WoCaR 2023 – Week 5

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here

20 January

Cut up scraps for more mini-quilts. With what I had left the biggest plain squares I could get a bunch of was 3″, so I based a few patterns off those.

I’m not entirely happy with the first one. The second one is based on this quilt I found on Pinterest (though I didn’t have as much gold and white to do the checkerboard. For best random effect I think I need more squares, as I really struggled to lay them out. I have another in mind like this using some fabric I bought in a destash, but more on that if/when I get around to it.

I also want to make a scrappy vortex quilt using up as many of my remaining scraps as possible, as I have no idea where I’d put them or how I’d use them otherwise. So I took some time to lay out a few pairs as well. Will this turn out alright with so few fabrics? Who knows! But at worst it’s practice.

In the shower later a new layout came to me for the top I wasn’t happy with – thankfully I had a spare white square to make it work.

21 January

Assembled a few more mini-quilt tops, using up nearly all my scraps. I used the scrappy vortex assembly as leaders and enders for the “proper” tops, until I’d finished those off.

The first two are about 8″ square, the scrappy one is 12″ square.

I also cut and assembled some binding for these quilts. Backing will probably just be the nativity dot fabric to use that up, though I’ve got a few spare black/white fat quarters I haven’t even cut into. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, as it’ll create more scraps I’ll feel compelled to use!

That evening the power went out for a few hours due to the high winds. My husband and I were playing a board game so we just put on head torches and continued. But afterwards we sat on the comfy seats and I stitched up more of the binding on the giant towel I mentioned last week.

22 January

I’d worn a coat I hadn’t used in a while over the weekend, and remembered how bobbly certain areas of it were. No one noticed on the day, but I also remembered I’d bought a debobbler, so I gave that a go.

It definitely needs a clean, I may take it to the local dry cleaner’s this week.

I also felt compelled to try and fix the zip of a suitcase I found in a charity shop.

It’s a wonderful yellow Samsonite case, and although it’s not the most recent iteration of this bag design, still I’ve found it being sold online for £140+! So my £10 was a steal, even though it had a broken zip. It performed admirably as a wheely shopping trolley for use around town, and will act as a replacement short trip away bag (as my husband has stolen the Osprey one I bought for myself 10 years ago and still going strong).

I re-examined the teeth before attempting the repair, and still couldn’t find any damage, so I unpicked the lining around the bottom of the zip. I was VERY careful not to pick anything along the (as shown in the pictures) top side of the zip tape, as those stitches go through the piping and exterior of the bag. and I don’t want to compromise any waterproofing.

It was more awkward than I’d like, but I managed to feed the zip pull on both sides…and it just went along both sides without joining anything. Whoops! So I took it off again and examined the pull itself.

I wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed like the gap towards the back of the pull (closer to the arrow), was wider than that towards the front – so maybe it just wasn’t compressing the teeth close enough together? I used a pair of pliers to pinch it back together a bit, and once again awkwardly fed both sides of the zip in.

And it worked, phew! I was incredibly pleased, though I did have a backup: the official samsonite repair partners are here, and even though shipping would cost more than the repair, it would still only cost about £35. I’d still be well below market value for this suitcase.

There was still a few little steps to finish off the job.

I put a little stop on the zip so the pull couldn’t fall off the end, and I (fairly messily) stitched the lining back onto the zip. I might need to fix that again at some stage, but my plan is to just try not to use that pocket much, and definitely not overload it.

I’ll report back on Instagram once I’ve actually used it.

23 January

Finished off the towel binding, with the “help” of Tilly

I still have some flannels to do, but tbh I’ve misplaced them in the chaos that is my sewing room so they’ll happen at some point!

24 January

The weather was nice so I took Tilly out in the back garden while I spray basted the mini-quilts.

I got as far as stitching in the ditch in the two smaller miniquilts, trying out a different thread in the top and bobbin again…to less than ideal effect

To be honest I don’t entirely mind, though I know if tension isn’t right the stitching isn’t as strong as it could be. My bigger quilt is a mostly white back so I’ll just choose a lightish thread – even if the top is different it won’t nearly be as high contrast as this.

In front of The Traitors I did a little bit of stocking web darning on Colin’s socks, with the help of my vintage Mend It! book and Modern Mending.

This is the first time I’d ever attempted this kind of darn, and I’ve got a few improvements to make…namely to not stretch the fabric on over the mushroom…and make my stitches tighter. I also needed to use a contrasting thread on the supporting thread structure because I lost track of it a few times.

I’ll undo it but I’m happy with the first attempt.

In the Mend It! book, the author says this kind of darn can be fiddly on all but the smallest of holes, so I might try her recommendation of picking up a row of stitching on the sock itself and basically knitting a patch on needles to fit.

25 January

I’m definitely odd.

So today I decided to try another style of mending that I’ll be using on Colin’s socks, but this time I had something of my own to practice on.

I didn’t get a before picture of the first patch.

I love honeycomb darning – it’s soo fast and really useful on areas that are thinning but not quite turned into holes. You can also use it on holes (that’s my plan on the awkward heel holes of Colin’s socks), but I might couch a thread in the blanket stitch that makes up the darn so it’s less gappy.

But back to me being odd…

I had done the first one before heading out to my belated WI Christmas lunch. It was being held in a pub that’s a half hour walk away from my house along the canal, so I decided to leave a bit early and walk. Worrying that I might be super early I decided to bring the other sock along with me in case I was just sitting around with nothing to do.

Turns out there were some other ladies who were even earlier with me so I sat and had a chat. When we actually sat down to lunch I started chatting about the fact that I’d brought a sock to darn just in case, and as one of the ladies I was with asked to see it sometime, I took it out between courses and showed it off.

Is that normal? For me, yes. For most people, no. Thankfully they were clean, though I did say it does sometimes make more sense to mend clothes before washing them.

Anyway, that night in front of The Traitors (and some other telly) I had a go at the knitted patch and another attempt at stocking web darning.

Two downsides for me an the knitted patch: I’m not the best at figuring out gauge, so I did end up bodging it a bit (it would be easier if you’d made it yourself and knew what you’d done). I also had a mare of a time stitching down the sides of the patch. It was a bit late, the edges of my knitting always curl, and this diagram from Mend It! was doing my head in. There’s a slight ridge on the left side of the patch, but I didn’t really feel it when I put the sock on and stood on the floor. But I’m hoping Colin doesn’t have sensitive feet…given the state of these socks I’m thinking not.

The stocking-web darn, however, I’m very happy with – definite improvement over yesterday:

The my stitching might be a little loose or the wool slightly too thick, but it looks infinitely better than the other one…being a smaller hole helps.

I’ll probably still re-try the stocking web on the other hole, and then leave the patch knitting method until I have some time to practice and get my head around it.

26 January

I wore my honeycomb patched socks out, as you may have seen in my instagram stories. My feet have gotten used to patches overall, but I didn’t really feel the ones on my toes.

Would you count walking around Shrewsbury looking at charity shops a proper walk? I did end up going back to the car several times. Regardless I also did some mending in front of the telly. I started by tackling one of the massive heel holes.

As there’s lots of decreasing and adding stitches around a heel, I didn’t want to attempt a stocking-web darn. Thankfully I’d practiced the honeycomb yesterday and I basically did as I had there…except as I mentioned yesterday I couched another strand of yarn within the stitches to give it bulk.

This was all done in spite of the cat, who was desperate for a fuss. Eventually she settled and I managed to finish.

I was worried I’d maybe stretched the heel too much – it did seem a bit bigger than the surrounding sock when I’d finished. But then I remembered that this kind of mend won’t really stretch so I just tried them on.

It’s REALLY hard to get a picture of the bottom of your foot!

Anyway it looked fine, not baggy or anything, but I did notice another thinning patch on the ball of my foot. Thankfully no hole, so I did a straight swiss darn/duplicate stitch over that whole area.

The first picture is before, the second shows the mend on the left.

It was so much easier than doing it with the guiding threads!

Speaking of which I unpicked the first stocking-web darn I’d done the other day and replaced it with a (still rough but) better version (which is technically in the picture on the right above as that photo was a late addition to this post.

I know my mending books say to make the hole square or oblong but at this point in time I can’t bring myself to cut threads. I know there’s a reason for it, and someday I will do this properly, but that day isn’t today.

I also took some time tidying up ends. The only thing left to do is the other heel and this pair will be finished. I do have another pair of Colin’s socks to mend, but thankfully it’s nowhere near as bad as these – just one (large) hole on one sock that I’ll honeycomb darn the same way I did the heel today.

I feel like this week was the first proper repair-heavy week in this challenge. I do have a mending pile to see to, and hopefully this will lead to more of that.

I’m really enjoying mending knits, and wish I had more to practice on. But while charity shops will put out holey jeans, I’ve never seen a holey jumper.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for future practice attempts at the repair cafe.

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