How can this be mended? Is it dead?
November 14, 2017 7:02 AM   Subscribe

On my way to work this morning I noticed a hole in my favourite pair of knit gloves: Is there any way for this to be repaired? I love these gloves, they were an expensive treat for myself a few years ago and they are so comfortable and great to wear when driving in the winter. Can they be fixed?

If they can be mended... how? I don't know how to sew or knit, can I take them to a tailor or something?
posted by modesty.blaise to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It could be darned if you can find someone who knows how to do such a thing (or YouTube can show you how, but might be better in the hands of an expert). Won't look like new, but they'd be usable.

But STOP WEARING THEM until they're fixed, or the damage will run and you'll have a much bigger, possibly unfixable problem on your hands (ha).
posted by penguin pie at 7:08 AM on November 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

They can be darned, or patched with a bit of glove leather.
posted by theora55 at 7:12 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes yes yes darning is definitely the answer, and it's quite easy. If you can, practice once or twice before you start in on this. The trick is that you're just using a heavy needle -- called a darning needle -- and some similar-weight yarn to recreate the warp, then the weft, like such. Once you've done that it may not feel solid enough (since you're patching a knit with a weave), so just weave in extra yarn any old which way until it feels thick enough, using your darning needle. Here's a sock-heel, halfway darned, for general reference.

Because it's on your thumb, the only caveat I'd add is that your knots will be much more noticeable (and bothersome) than if you were darning a hole in a sweater. I'd put the knots elsewhere by just moving the yarn. Sew your way in a loose zigzag (so that your yarn has a similar stretch as a knit fabric) to the back of your hand or somewhere else that a knot won't interrupt your, uh, ordinary tactile experience. This means you'll need to plan in advance and leave long -- 6" or so -- tails of yarn at the beginning and the end, so plan in advance. Or just start your tail on the back of your hand, since it's nice to have that long strand out of the way while you darn.

Edited to add: I have no idea how to knit or crochet either, but I looooove darning. This is a skill you can pick up like a pro in half an hour.
posted by tapir-whorf at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2017 [12 favorites]

Yes, definitely, if you either having matching yarn or don't mind differently colored yarn: instructions via Knitty
posted by aperturescientist at 7:17 AM on November 14, 2017

And if you don't want to dive into darning, felting, or patching, call around to tailors/seamstresses -- I know my seamstress could repair this. I'm not sure I would recommend darning on a fine knit glove thumb as a first project.

If you need recommendations, you might have success calling Nordstrom/Neiman Marcus or the like and asking. They usually have a list of tailors who may be able to do such a thing.

In addition, this looks like it could be moth damage, if you put this away without the hole in it. I'd recommend checking your other knits.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been knitting for about 15 years; if I didn't have that experience, I don't think I'd feel comfortable tackling this sort of repair on my own.

My local yarn/ knitting store will do repairs - might be worth checking at yours. [thinking] I think if it were me I'd consider just cutting the end of the thumb off right below the hole, then picking up stitches and reknit the thumb. If you're ok with losing the embroidery, of course. But it would be the neatest solution, I think...

If all else fails, I can knit you another pair of gloves!
posted by queseyo at 7:34 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Darning is incredibly easy, takes very little time or skill. Don't throw money away getting someone else to fix this for you! I found this tutorial extremely helpful when I was first getting started with darning (see slide #9 in particular).

There's something very satisfying about doing small repairs like this at home. I can't believe people are suggesting you pay someone else to do this!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:43 AM on November 14, 2017

It's true that darning is incredibly easy; you basically just weave a tic tac toe over the hole with new yarn. HOWEVER, I have tried to darn mitten thumbs before, and I ended up with a too-small thumb hole.

I would look to answers about darning mitten thumbs specifically to figure out the tricks.
posted by aniola at 10:59 AM on November 14, 2017

If it's damage from biking or other predictable/repeatable sources, consider reinforcing it there with a heavier-duty yarn.
posted by aniola at 11:01 AM on November 14, 2017

Darning is very therapeutic, and it always looks far better than you imagine it will. I learned from a wikihow page or something, but Tom of Holland (who is an entirely different person to Tom of Finland, do not mix those two up) has some amazingly inspiring visible mending darning projects (google Tom of Holland darning, there’s loads).
posted by tinkletown at 11:02 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aniola - put something inside the thumb to keep it open (like a cotton reel or carrot or something).
posted by tinkletown at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2017

I do repairs like this all the time for friends, but I’m a proficient knitter. Darning will be visibly different and less stretchy than the rest of your glove, which might be ok with you, and would be better than throwing the gloves away!

If you want it to look basically the same, these more advanced techniques are the way to go. Do you know a knitter? You could pay them to fix it (this would take me about an hour, for reference).

To find matching wool, don’t go to a yarn store (you’ll need to buy a full skein, they can’t sell you just a few metres), go to a craft store and look for little skeins of tapestry wool in the embroidery section. Find a close match. It will be thicker than your glove’s yarn, but you can pick out a few strands of wool and re-twist them for strength.
posted by third word on a random page at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Darning will be visibly different and less stretchy than the rest of your glove

You can mitigate this slightly by darning diagonally. (So instead of the warp and weft lining up perfectly horizontally/vertically with your thumb, rotate 90º.)

To avoid a too-small mitten hole, make sure your darn is loose (but consistent -- so no individual strands are looser than the others), and either darn over a carrot that's larger than the largest part of your thumb -- find a carrot that fits your other glove's non-holey thumb snugly without being too tight, then use that -- or use two fingers inside the thumb of the glove to support your darning work.
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:55 PM on November 14, 2017

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