Circumstantial convergence really is the strangest thing. To wit:
Last night I watched this fascinating TV program on TVO which profiles the real experiences of some modern people who live as if in wartime (WW2), farming in the English countryside, conserving to protect their resources and to promote their country’s ability to beat the Nazis. (Note: This is the third in a series, the other 2 timeframes covered were Victorian and Edwardian – which is all a bit gaslight and misery for me.)
Then this morning, when I got to work, a colleague pointed out that my (expensive) super-slender, machine knit Ca Va de Soi cardigan had some little holes. Perhaps they're the result of moths – we don’t have a big moth problem and I do use cedar in my sweater drawers, but occasionally these holes appear. (Sidebar: These holes appear less and less now that I’ve stopped going to the drycleaners. Hand washing all sweaters of all yarns in Soak with a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil in is a fantastic way to a) actually clean b) reduce chemical exposure and c) protect from bugs all one’s much loved knits.)
You’ll recall, on the weekend, I swore never to darn anything – which seemed a bit brutish to me, even as I wrote (and meant) it. I’ve lingered over the claim ever since.
Today I found this (fab and very inexpensive) pdf for download on Etsy. And this darning egg. And this thread.
Here are a couple of links that show you how to darn knitwear and other garments, I found online in 30 seconds:
So, it seems, I take it back. (Man, I’ve been wishy-washy lately.) I’m going to darn things (maybe even homemade socks?!?!) rather than taking them up to the seamstress or letting them languish.
It occurs to me that the biggest limiters of all activity are lack of knowledge and the proper tools. Why have I threatened never to darn a hole or build a telescope or reupholster a couch? Sure, there’s a part of me that hasn’t the time or interest. But there’s a much larger part that hasn’t the knowledge. I wear sweaters every day of all gauges and many textiles. Why the hell can’t I spend a few minutes – which is really all it will take once I know the method and have all of the materials ready and waiting at my access – to protect them for future generations. Isn’t this ground zero for environmentalism (about which I am hardly extreme, just ask the people who know me).
I wonder if, were we find ourselves (horrifically) in another wartime scenario, could we manage with the grace and capability that so many of the English did during the second world war? Sure, there was much less industrialism at that time – so a large part of the general population had actual subsistence skills. But that aside, citizens attended government-organized classes about the conservation techniques they’d be required to know and apply. They learned so they’d have the means to undertake risk and to function in circumstances we likely cannot imagine. An entire country came together in, perhaps, the most organized, large-scale show of community that ever there was, and it thrived. Would we?
Five years ago I had never heard the term Make Do and Mend. (I know! I lived in post-war England and I studied history in high school yet I’d never actually heard it said. Really, I am a child of the 80s.) When I started reading blogs, particularly the craft ones, the culture of self-sufficiency amazed and, truthfully, amused me. How crazy, I thought, that people make stuff and then they fix it. To add to this rich mix, my husband has always been profoundly "handy" (his people are engineers) and he’s a first-wave environmentalist of the most irritating order. As a result, I’ve had 20 years to acclimate to a philosophy that seems increasingly second nature: How can I respect and protect what I have because it’s worth having?
I guess I can learn to darn a freakin’ pair of socks.