I have of late been asked to see what I could do about some holes in some vintage sweaters. A vintage clothing dealer friend has an amazing personal collection of vintage sweaters and frequently these are found with moth holes and other damage. This particular sweater that I recently worked on had a variety of issues. Whoever wore this one apparently enjoyed wearing it sans t-shirt, and it is a great poster child for how lethal perspiration can be on fabrics and yarn. Not only did this guy’s sweat discolor the yarn but it also ate through it, causing the fibers to totally disintegrate.
When I first started repairing knits, I was using the kitchener stitch to recreate stockinette stitch, but I found that it wasn’t useful if the hole was large and the stitches had dropped down more than 1 or 2 rows, which was most of the time. If I used kitchener on larger holes, the tension, which is difficult to equalize to begin with, would be all wrong, causing the fabric to pucker or otherwise look really wonky.
So after a bit of research on the internets, I discovered some graphics of swiss darning. In this method, a thin thread is used to loosely join the intact stitches the edges of the hole, resulting in long, somewhat taut threads that you can use as a foundation to rebuild multiple rows of unraveled stitching.
It should be noted that this process is a huge pain in the ass. It’s slow and fussy with lots of trial and error. You need plenty of light, the proper tools, excellent vision, and lots of patience.
But it’s so worth it when you get to save gorgeous vintage sweaters!
On a side note, it was really difficult to photograph this sweater. Maybe because it’s red? The discoloration came out looking extremely saturated both in natural and artificial lights. Anyone know why?
Photographic issues aside now, check out some other vintage sweaters now, like these from datedvintagestyle. And for god’s sake, wear a t-shirt!