My two late grandmothers were very skilful at making and mending clothes. My father’s mother was a natural at crocheting. Every summer, I still proudly wear one of her handmade cardigans. My mother’s mother was a meticulous sock darner and I remember her working her way through a basket full of mismatched socks when she came to visit.
In the days when my grandmothers were young women, the items of clothing in their wardrobe were considered valuable possessions that deserved looking after and mending to make their useful life last. One of the main differences between then and now seems to be the loss of our appetite for quality. We no longer buy with the intention for our clothes to last. When a jumper has a hole, we simply buy another one.
There doesn’t even have to be anything ‘wrong’ with the jumper per se. Being out of fashion tends to be a valid enough reason to allow it to be forgotten. To me, this all boils down to a lack of appreciation for the maker, for their craft and for our natural resources.
Luckily we are witnessing a growing social and environmental awareness that is making people more conscious of their clothes’ makers and materials. And this is where I see the ideal opportunity to reintroduce the skill of mending. I don’t mean to say that we all have to become experts at seamless repairing. In fact, I personally strongly subscribe to the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, which celebrates our items’ history by consciously making any mends visible.
These days, my husband, my children and I can be seen wearing crocheted elbow and knee patches like badges of honour. Out of love and respect for my two late grannies, I have found a way to marry both of their skills by carefully patching up holes using crochet squares and rectangles.
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