Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mending again -- a new way

A few weeks ago I was unhappy to see a bunch of moth holes on my husband's favorite sweater vest, which he's had for decades.  Yes, it had pills on it, but it was still warm and comfy, 100 percent wool, and did I mention that it's his favorite?

Ordinarily I mend holes in sweaters with a bit of ultrasuede, sometimes a plain old square in the same color, sometimes a fancy heart or star in high contrast.  But I didn't think six or seven ultrasuede appliques would look very chic.  Then I got a brainstorm, to felt the holes together.  It might not work, but what did I have to lose?

My friend Alyce lent me her felting needle and threw in some gray roving, which was a shade darker than the sweater.

I decided to start with the smallest and most unobtrusive hole, one in the back near the side seam, frequently concealed by the wearer's arm.  I pulled the fabric together to close up the hole, laid roving over the back, and felted just a little from back to front.  The felting needles pushed the fibers almost a half inch up past the surface of the sweater.

Then I flipped the sweater over and felted from front to back, making those wafting fibers lie down and meld into the knitted surface.

The first hole I mended didn't look exactly right; even though I pushed the edges of the hole together, there was still a gap, and the darker roving showed through.  So I went on a search and found some variegated novelty yarn that seemed to have wool parts that were exactly the right shade.

the blob right above the 5 on the cutting mat was the right color

I had to unwind the two-ply yarn, separate out a blob of the right gray, then cut off just a bit -- perhaps the size of two grains of rice -- and put it into the moth hole.  Then I laid the roving over the back and felted as before.

This worked great -- the correct gray filled the hole and got felted into a smooth surface, while the roving gave stability on the back side.

Here's what the finished mend looks like.  The needle points to the mended place, which would be hard to find unless you were really searching, and will never be noticed by anybody other than me.

If you have a wool sweater with moth holes, I highly recommend this method.  It took me perhaps a half hour to mend six or seven holes, including yarn-search time.  The only hard part is finding the exact shade of wool to fill in the gap.  But many sweaters come with an extra button and a little length of matching wool, which would be plenty to mend several smaller holes or one substantial one.


  1. Wow! What a beautiful mending job and fabulous idea! Thank you for sharing! On a related note, I unfortunately had moths eat holes in my giant roll of wool batting so now I'm trying to decide what to do on that front....

    1. Why don't you pull a bunch of wool from the edge of the batt, fit it into the moth hole. then pull out some longish fibers from the edge of the batt and add them to bridge the gap in two directions between filled-in hole and the rest of the batt, and felt them lightly together? worth a try. especially if you're going to quilt rather densely everything should hold together nicely.

  2. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing it!

  3. I enjoyed learning your novel repair approach! Have to say though….how many of us can actually find that extra button and wool that comes with our sweaters…..grinning…. Perhaps I’ll have to do a better job of keeping track of them!

  4. Brilliant!!!!

  5. The bo-nash people at Quilt Festival have instructions how to do this also. The 007 bonding powder basically fuses the fuzz in the hole similar to what you have done. Pat

  6. Brilliant - I'll be using this technique a lot - as soon as the felting needles turn up again!

    btw to prevent moth damage, rotate woollens through the freezer - 3 days in, 3 days out (to hatch any surviving eggs), then 3 days in again. This info comes from a museum conservator.
    I then handwash the woollen, to get rid of any "stuff".