Category Archives: Cashmere

SLOW STITCHING: Darning and Mending

Lap work is my favorite needlework. I love to knit. Embroider. Hand stitch. Mend. Lately I have been taking things apart so I can harvest pieces of fabric to use elsewhere. I love to painstakingly pick out stitches and cleanup  the bits of thread up with my lint roller.

In knitting and sewing either by hand or on the machine I never seem to mind if I discover a mistake and have to go back. Picking, snipping and “unsewing” is as relaxing and satisfying as completing a finished project. I like to do a thing over and over until I get it right.

I like to buy cashmere sweaters on eBay and love to wash them in the sink  gently squeezing them in warm water with shampoo. Then I rinse and squeeze again in fresh warm water and put them in the washing machine to spin out the water (never let them agitate or they will shrink and full (felt). Then I pop them into the dryer for only  about 10 minutes with a fluffy dry towel, take them out and hang them on padded hangers to dry completely. The fibers bloom and they smell lovely- use shampoo that smells good to you. I do not ever have them dry cleaned. I don’t trust the toxic chemicals and they just don’t seem clean. They will not shrink if you are gentle with them.

Here is one of my favorite cardigans that has been worn almost to death:


And here is the process. I had to practice and I took all the threads out a few times to start over. The most difficult thing is to let the fabric lie flat and to not pull or stretch the long warp and weft stitches as you create them. Puckering will result in an unsightly patch.

I was snowbound up in Maine for a week house and dog sitting for my kids while they escaped to sunny Sanibel Island. This was the perfect time to perfect this discipline. I had never mended anything this way. For thread I used some gray knitting wool by Cascade. It was 3 or 4 ply (I now forget) and very soft. I had to pull and let it twirl as I separated it.



I used long lengths and pulled carefully creating a very rough looking web.


I just kept going, weaving in an out making it bigger around the edges. I don’t know if I did this a traditional way, but I do like the end result and am ready for the next worn out sweater.


Cashmere scarves from pullovers

Buying secondhand cashmere sweaters is a hobby of mine. Ebay is a great resource and thrift shops have some great finds. A few weeks ago I found a really nice full length tan colored cashmere skirt with the tags still on (!) at Plum right here in Beverly.

From recycled cashmere sweaters

From recycled cashmere sweaters

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I cut the pieces with the straight of grain running vertically. Then I sew the ends together to make the length I want. I have to make another length and then I sew them right sides together all the way down both sides to make a tube. I like to turn the scarf right side out and then serge the ends together and add decorative trim. The trim adds body which helps the ends lie flat against my body. I like to make the scarves long enough to go round my neck several times.

Hint: if you cut your lengths across the width of the sweater or skirt  your pieces will curl and misbehave.

Another option is to make an Infinity Scarf.

Do everything the same way until the part where you would have added the trim. Sew by hand the ends together neatly so you have a circle. See the blue and gray one in the picture. For a more professional (read persnickety) effect leave about 4″ on one side near the end open and sew the ends together with the ends right sides together. Then turn right side out through the 4″ opening and neatly hand stitch the opening closed. This makes a continuous loop to wrap around your neck a few times.