To Mend or not To Mend?

This little something has been sitting on my worktable for just a bit longer than it should.
It’s an altar cloth, with a small hole in it…
How the hole got there, I cannot say… I shall not speculate…

Sometimes things are not worth mending, they’re worn out and it’s actually not good stewardship, but a big waste of time, trying to get more out of them. No shame if something is worn out from much good use. This particular cloth is quite new though and it seems to be nice linen. It’s worth mending even if it only gets used as a back-up cloth.

Here’s that hole…

Invisible mending is a bit of a vanished art! Ever foolhardy, I thought I’d attempt this technique, known as reweaving. A small hole or tear would qualify for French weaving, where the weave is replicated using matching threads taken from a hidden part of the item being mended. A larger hole or tear would see a small patch taken from an inconspicuous part of the item with that piece being woven in (this is called piece weaving).

Anyway I could see I already had a problem… given the nature of the item I couldn’t really open up one of the hems to take threads from, it would be too obvious. I’d be making a second problem in order to fix the first. After looking at my selection of threads, I finally settled on a cotton which looked to be a similar thickness and colour.

To do the job I needed a bit of contrast, good light and magnification. Here’s my set-up:

I spend too much time gazing at those trees…

All went well, or so I thought until I realized I was missing a bit of kit. To do the reweave I needed a long, thin needle and I do have oh, a few of those! I wove in the crosswise threads, no problem.
What hadn’t occurred to me was the degree of difficulty I’d have with the second part of the weave, around those newly laid threads, with a sharp tipped needle. That sharp point just kept piercing the threads. What I thought I needed was something like a very long, thin tapestry needle (blunt point) rather than a straw, or milliners (sharp) needle so I could zip up and down between those threads. I actually tried grinding a point down on one of the milliners to round it out a bit… it didn’t go well…

Darn, I thought, I’ll have to darn it. This wasn’t really what I wished to do especially as I don’t know where my darning egg is. Hmm, ever resourceful, I settled upon a nice rock from Scotland. I like the striations, don’t you? Yes, I know I shouldn’t denude beaches but I was quite little when I took it, a long time ago.

My nice rock.

So sort of having admitted defeat, I placed the holey part of the cloth over the rock and darned. The most difficult thing was making sure that one of the dark bits of the rock was underneath the cloth, for good contrast. Here’s the mend:

The mended bit.

I’m not utterly delighted with it but it’s acceptable and now the cloth can be returned to service.
Here’s a sacristy tip; after laundering and pressing, roll the cloth onto a big cardboard tube so that when you need to change the altar cloth you have one ready to go.

Pressed and rolled… Ready to go home.

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