Hello Sewists,

You don’t often see me with a hand sewing needle, so this is a rare post!

I haven’t done a lot of darning… ‘Successful-darning’ I’ve done even less of! My last attempt was on these gloves… it did the job, but is not winning any beauty contests! So it’s time for me to look for some outside help…

I’ve been aware of these little looms for a while; you must have seen them popping up on your social media…? But it wasn’t until I saw Hélène (@hportemanteau) using one on instagram that I thought I’d bite the bullet and give it a go. After a quick search on Amazon I found a well priced kit which seemed to have all the bits and pieces included – a few days later it arrived. I have plenty of knitwear that has been feasted on by moths, or ravaged in the washer (or just ravaged by time) that really need some attention, they can’t all be cut up to make dog sweaters!

Although it really is (relatively) simple to use, I can see it’ll take me a bit of practice to get my darning patches looking immaculate. Until that happens, I’m thrilled that it looks 100 times better than any previous attempts.

So, I thought I’d do a little walk through of my first attempt. A video would probably be easier to follow, but I was doing this on the train to work and even though I had good lighting and enough space, I didn’t have a tripod… so photos it is!

How to use the mini loom

First off you need to position the wooden circle behind the hole in your garment. Hold it into position with one of the elastic bands. At this stage it is important to not stretch out the fabric. (It would probably have been easier for me to start practicing on woven fabric, but it’s too late for that now!)

This hole is partially hidden by the pocket, so even though it’s right at the front, it felt like a good place to start.

Next, slot the ‘loom’ into the groove of the wooden circle and hold it with another band.

As the loom pushes the fabric into the groove on the wooden disc, it’s really easy to distort the fabric at this stage. You might need to give it a wiggle to release some tension above the hole.

Rather than using wool, I’m using embroidery thread (it’s what I have… I’m actually really pleased with the colour match as it’s quite a specific green!) I start by feeding the needle in and tying the thread at the bottom left corner of where the darn-patch will be.

And then I do a running stitch along to the bottom right corner. With the hooks facing to the right, I loop the thread up and over the corresponding hook…

… and then bring the thread down to the running-stitch line, and make a small stitch to secure it.

Continue along, hooking and securing until the hole is covered…

With the vertical threads done, and the offending hole safely behind bars, it’s time to start weaving! You can start straight away using the existing thread – working left to right (from the photo above, the hooks would need to be switched to face the left before weaving left to right) but I’m changing to a subtly different colour and so am securing the new thread at the bottom right corner…

To create the horizontal threads, use the blunt eye of the needle (with the hooks facing the needle) to pass through alternate threads on the loom… the hooks position one thread higher than the other, so (with the right glasses!) it’s quite easy to pass the needle through without missing a stitch.

Push the thread down using another blunt needle to help it lay neatly at the bottom of the patch.

And then secure the thread at the left side and switch the hooks over to face the left, ready to weave back the other way…

Continue in this way, weaving, patting down, securing at the edge and flipping the hooks until you get up to the top.

(This photo looks most like the true colour)

At the end it’s a bit of a squeeze getting the last one through, but it’s worth going as high as you can so you don’t end up with flappy loops at the top.

Once it’s done, take the band off the loom and un-hook it from the top loops.

The last task is to catch each of the loops and stitch the top of the patch into the garment.

And that’s it done! Although far from perfect, it’s a massive improvement on my ‘freehand’ attempts!

I do think this would have looked better if I could have found a similar wool, but that’s something to experiment with now that I know it works! There are plenty of other holes in this cardigan (as you can see!) so I’ll get more chances to experiment!

It didn’t take very long to do (one could argue that if it took a little longer it could’ve turned out a little neater!) so it was a nice job to do on the train – just so long as the track isn’t too bumpy! I’ve had this cardigan for years – long before I started sewing – and I’m so pleased to be able to extend its life. Now I suppose I have to make a bag for my ‘mobile darning kit’!

Until next time,

Happy sewing

Andrew x

Notes to self:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new tools!
  • Fix your knitwear over the summer – then there’s no hurry.
  • Try a ‘fluffy’ wool – the weaving will probably be trickier but I’m sure the results will blend more…

P.S: here’s my 2nd attempt… marginally better…?!