Recently I ran across a call for submissions for the upcoming show For Keeps, hosted by City of Craft in December. The show is all about mended goods, objects with enough value to fix or repair. Now that fall is in full swing I was pleased to pull out a well-made and well-loved thrifted sweater I cared enough about to mend.

There’s something special about second-hand purchases, they come broken-in and have a personality not often present in new items. I found it while on vacation two winters ago, visiting family. When I returned home I discovered the sweater had a few small holes in the back, which were probably there when I bought it. The holes annoyed me. I felt like I had wasted my money on something broken. But it was such a small imperfection, I decided to take a stab at fixing it.

A long time ago I bought a beautiful Japanese book called Darning Notebook. It has these incredible photographs of modern clothing that has been darned. Many of the pieces — a linen workshirt, pair of socks, all pretty unremarkable — seemed much more interesting after they had been darned; suddenly they had stories to tell and took on a kind of natural beauty. The book had diagrams of some simple darning techniques, so I decided it was worth a try.

This sweater isn’t valuable or very old, but I think that’s what makes it special. Things don’t have to be old in order to be worth saving. All it takes is a little imagination. And sometimes, instead of making something seem ugly or tired, a simple repair can give an object new life.

All content © Copyright 2018 by Martha Merzig.
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