Wednesday 26 July 2017

Darning an art form with a needle!

The verb 'to darn' is explained in my dictionary as follows:
'To mend by imitating the texture of the stuff, with thread
and needle'  But this definition does not correspond to 
work accomplished by some.  When a something
is darned and mended there is no disguise anymore
the art makes no attempt at concealment: it even takes
a certain pride in revealing itself !

I recently bought some vintage quilt pieces and on one of these pieces is some gorgeous darning and I simply adore it.  I will not hide or cover it but it will be part of whatever I make with it.  It is only small but a little wall hanging has its name all over it for me

As you can hopefully see from the photo it is the most beautiful piece of vintage quilt and I can only in my imagination think what the whole thing looked like .. such gorgeous pattern and colour.  Then you can see, I hope, from my photo the little bits of white darning work that is a picture in itself and adds to this little piece of the quilt that survived.  I do wonder at who stitched it as I hold this little piece of history in my hand.

I think that different darning stitches on a piece of vintage linen and add some words, because as you know words are my thing that would make a interesting piece of fabric art.  \

Having some worn vintage linen that was a sheet  originally and then we used it as a table cloth but it wore through in places it was washed and pressed and is no in my linen store.  I think cut a piece out with the wear and use some gorgeous hand dyed threads and make darning patterns in it.  This could sit on my sewing room wall as I could always have room on the wall for pretty inspiration to look at.

Watching a video on darning and the slow rhythmic motion of the weaving that is involved almost made me go to sleep I can tell you and this is why I love the slow stitching of today and doing hand embroidery. It was becoming a dying art but not any more it has made a huge come back and I am thrilled to say lots of teenagers are wanting to sew at colleges now as well.

I found this image of a darning sampler on google and it is dated 1847 it is stunning and with the colours as well I think it is really is a piece of art.  Now the lady who stitched it would probably be shaking her head in disbelief that her darning skills were now that treasured, however I am sure she would be thrilled too.

Socks is another thing I think can be enhanced by a bit of clever darning and I am currently doing that to pair of my socks that actually do not need it but will be all the better for it in my humble opinion.  I saw this picture and it had to be done, what do you think.

I have a little collection of very old school girl sampler books and I have studied the darning in there.  There is of course the invisible mend as well which is what is was meant for I know but they had to do it as well with coloured thread for the needle work teacher to see their techniques.  I treasure this little collection that I have and would always be on the look out for more as well ... The things that we vintagers collect these days!  I also have some very very old darning yarn that I picked up at a fair and it is still strong and in a beautiful beige/cream colour so I think I will be using more of this.  It is
what I am using on my navy socks that I am hand darning just for fun with.

Do any of you darn? for fun I mean rather than make do and mend darning ... Do you have any collections of old school sampler books?  I would love to hear about it as I am sure others that read this blog would as well.  You can leave a comment on here and tell us all about it if you would care to share.  I am not sure if you can add a photo on here at all but if you clever people out there know how I would be delighted to see as well.

The rain cometh here for the last few days and although the gardens were in need it is time for our summer to return me thinks  I am really missing sitting in the garden stitching.  Monday and Tuesday were hot and sunny and I do sit out there in the rain under the huge umbrella as you know but it really has been blowing as well and droplets shook off the umbrella and onto my back, that was my time to retreat with my stitchery as water marks on my nearly completed piece would have sent me nearly over an edge I think so I am waiting for our Summer to return ..... Miss Muddy Beak is some what perplexed too she loves the rain for a while then she likes to grub about and she is not fond of water on her feathers it seems!

Well that is is for today, I hope you all have a fabulous day stay dry  and as always Happy Stitching! XX


  1. I love darning! There I said something really strange! I actually have a vintage darning tool that belonged to my grandmother. Wish I could put a picture here to show you....... I was taught to use it by my mum and it is fun to use! I created lots patterns when I was a child, but very recently used it for its proper use!

    Julie xxxxxxx

    1. How fabulous! Are you unable to put a picture on here?
      Maybe I can for you and for other readers to see?
      I can add to my blog.

      How lovely to have a piece of family stitching history!

      Sarah xxxxx

  2. Gosh I haven't even given a thought to darning at all but now you mention it I have a little book which is really cardboard and filled with what I assume to be silky yarns to mend stockings. Will put a pic on your fb post as it isn't possible to put a pic on here. I did try to darn a sock many years ago using an old wooden darning mushroom (as I call it). Xxx

    1. Hi Dawn
      Sorry pictures will not load on here it's something I need to look in to it!
      Darning now is more patterned rather than in seen which is fabulous..
      Will look on FB for your photo Dawn.

      Sarah xxx

  3. Lovely piece of quilt. I have darned, but would admit it's not my most proficient skill. I bought a an old darning mushroom a few years ago, intending to give it a go - but truth be told it's more of an ornament !! My mum is a great knitter of socks and I do love handknitted one. Needless to say a few have holes in the heels, so I should really get busy. I do think though, that darning is a winter pastime, in front of the fire! I know what you mean about the weather Sarah, we are going from sweltering hot , to wet and windy like winter, the next! Now, I am hoping to get to the Toddington Fair, so hopefully catch a blether then. Xxx

    1. Hi Mo!

      Lovely to hear from you. Yes darning holes is a Winter project I think too although darning on pieces of vintage linen in patterns is a great any time creative pass time.

      I am thrilled you may be at Toddington I will for sure be there as we are meeting friends there who actually are stalling that day as well. Evening out after you see...

      Let me know if you are going we can catch a coffee and maybe a piece of homemade cake together there and if our husbands are good they can join us! what do you think!? LOL

      Take care and hope to see you next month.

      Sarah xxx

    2. Haha! That sounds a splendid idea Sarah. Xxx

    3. Hope you can make this fair it's delicious xxx