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Holey sweater? Fixed!
December 1, 2010 5:34 AM   Subscribe

Holey sweater? Fixed! Use a piece of foam, some wool and a felt needle. No knitting skills required.
posted by ouke (63 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see a hole new style of punk attire coming at us: deliberately made holes filled with mismatched wool fillers.
posted by beagle at 5:38 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kind of cannot believe I have never thought of this on my own. Awesome.
posted by padraigin at 5:39 AM on December 1, 2010


PRAISE JEBUS!
posted by Askiba at 5:39 AM on December 1, 2010


Darn
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:39 AM on December 1, 2010 [50 favorites]


Except that without the exact right colour of wool, it kind of looks like a giant stain instead of a hole...

Now I'm frugal and love to wear things until I can really no longer wear them, but I think I'd rather just buy a new sweater than have a big spot of a different colour on it.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:40 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish I had known about this is the early 90's-- me and the other guys in my grunge band wouldn't have had to wear all those holey sweaters.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:40 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


ummm…all you are doing is making felt. My wife has been making stuff with that same equipment for years.
posted by ShawnString at 5:44 AM on December 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Except that without the exact right colour of wool, it kind of looks like a giant stain instead of a hole...

Now I'm frugal and love to wear things until I can really no longer wear them, but I think I'd rather just buy a new sweater than have a big spot of a different colour on it.


Well, I liked some of the examples where they added multiple spots of color to make it look like it's supposed to be that way. And at a good yarn store that carries a wide selection of roving (unspun wool) you might very well be able to match the sweater pretty precisely.

Also, wool dyes so well that you could fill a hole with a not-quite-right color, dye the whole thing over, and have a brand-new sweater.
posted by padraigin at 5:45 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is great, because I have some sweaters with holes in them and an irrepressible desire to look like I'm an escapee from the Island of Misfit Toys.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:45 AM on December 1, 2010 [20 favorites]


Looks easy, but with all that quick stabbing I'd probably put the needle right through my finger instead of the felt.
posted by russmaxdesign at 5:54 AM on December 1, 2010


am sold. too bad i can only use cotton sweaters (what is it about wool that kills me and my skin)
posted by liza at 5:57 AM on December 1, 2010


Before making 100% wool sweaters repairable they should first make them wearable. And findable.

Perhaps a good way to fix *socks* though.
posted by DU at 5:57 AM on December 1, 2010


I understand the meaning of the word "fixed" to be different than what you understand the word "fixed" to be.

(my dog has yet another meaning for "fixed" and this didn't make any sense to her at all!)
posted by HuronBob at 5:59 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Except that without the exact right colour of wool, it kind of looks like a giant stain instead of a hole... "

This is why you shouldn't try to match the color and instead pick a complementary color that will not be mistaken for a stain.
posted by oddman at 6:01 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do mend sweaters, but I do so by darning them with the same, or a very similar, colour. And generally my rule is that mending has to be invisible, or at least unobtrusive, or the item goes out. I'm really not into the grunge/Dickensian urchin look.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


@liza - I recommend that you announce wool sweaters are itchy on an NPR news quiz, as part of your penance, you get a free sweater (be sure to watch the video).
posted by plinth at 6:17 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am consistently impressed with consumerism. $40 for a few grams of wool and two felting needles, with a splash of wool/felting knowledge that most people would've known a few generations ago? Well at least I know a new niche market I'll get into next year when my wool production ramps up. Though I'll do it without the pretentious attitude: A new solution for an age old problem. Ugh. More like an age old solution for a new problem/market (folks who can't mend clothes without paying for an overpriced kit).
posted by Meagan at 6:19 AM on December 1, 2010 [13 favorites]


Wait, what? I can't tell if this is a joke.
First, I think the result looks awful. Secondly, the technique is needle felting and you can do it with any bit of wool roving, a cheap felting needle and any piece of foam. 20 euro for a kit is a bit of a ripoff and this feels a bit Pepsi Blue-ish to me. But whatever, I guess they found a market.
posted by like_neon at 6:24 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is for sale? We learned how to do this in school. I mended my drab gray wooly winter socks with day-glo neon wool feeling so very punk-cool. (cut me some slack, I was only 10)

Also, this feels so very pepsi blue. Might just be me though.
posted by dabitch at 6:29 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am consistently impressed with consumerism.

I went to the office supply cabinet for a new dry erase eraser yesterday and all they had was a big plastic handle with a "replaceable" fuzzy mat on it. And no replacement fuzzy mats.

I guess my point is that capitalism is going to destroy the universe.
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on December 1, 2010


I watched this and thought it was from a crafting site ("oh, cool, that's a nice technique. I bet I could use that block of styrofoam that came with the microwave, and the knit shop has roving.") It's a cool technique that I hadn't seen before. Didn't realize until I read the comments here that they want to sell me the kit.

Similarly, Target sells these "doll clothes sewing kits" for about six bucks that contain what looks like a square foot or two of scrap fabric, a couple tiny spool of thread, and some needles.

I realize everyone has to start somewhere with learning to do their own sewing/mending - which can ultimately be a powerful force against personal consumerism - but the markups are ridiculous and I get mad that people are being sold these things purely on the basis that they lack the experience to know that they can get the materials for PENNIES.

grar.
posted by heyforfour at 6:53 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see what all the grumbling is about for this product. I think it's a great idea. I did not know how to felt, and I do have holes in some sweaters. I also understand that I can probably do this myself instead of buying their wool. That's what's so great about it. I don't think the people behind this are trying to hide the fact you can figure this out on your own, they are just trying to offer a solution. And I tell you, fixing (or updating, or revising, or whatever word you want to use) a sweater instead of throwing it out is the opposite of consumerism. It is rather responsible use.
posted by gingembre at 6:55 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Philosophical question: If you wear a sweater long enough and patch it enough times that there is none of the original wool remaining; i.e. the sweater is entirely patch, is it the same sweater? Is it a new sweater? Is the sweater defined by the material it's made of? The shape? The idea of it?

Discuss.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:11 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with Meagan. For $40 I can buy several POUNDS of wool top or roving and dye it any damn color I want, no Island of Misfit Toys look required. Felting needles are absurdly cheap at your average craft store. This is just silly.

Then again, I do this stuff for a living.

(On the "doesn't look stupid" front, I once used needlefelting to fix a very sentimental sweater that had gotten a little shreddy and didn't have much spare yarn to pull from... the owner was very happy, that cardigan was just NOT replaceable as far as she was concerned...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:14 AM on December 1, 2010


Oh, sure, everyone's done this already. But how many of you have done it to such a snappy piano tune?
posted by snofoam at 7:21 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


This invention wool change everything!
posted by snofoam at 7:22 AM on December 1, 2010


Well, speaking as someone who has done needlefelting, yeah, the kit thing looks silly, but that's for newbies, you know?

I think I like the idea of trying this out on my more threadbare sweaters, actually.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:26 AM on December 1, 2010


So by "Woolfiller," they mean... wool?
posted by Madamina at 7:30 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, textile people, would this work with a wool blend fabric? I assume it would be a weaker bond, but maybe it wouldn't felt at all?

I like in some of the examples where they've made elbow patches on sweaters in contrasting colors of felt. Professor chic!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 7:31 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few years ago, a friend begged me to "fix" her favorite, most cherished sweater. It was a Cowichan sweater, which she had been given as a gift when she worked for the tribe. And as such, irreplaceable. It had been loved very nearly to death.

There were a bunch of different holes, and a wide variety of ways in which the sweater was broken. I learned a lot about knitting repair from that project.

In one smallish place, I did try needlefelting a patch, as in the video. The results looked okay, because a Cowichan sweater lends itself to this kind of thing. It's a bulky, "grippy" wool in a natural color, and thus not too different from felt on a good day anyway. I was able to easily match the color and texture with some wool roving.

But I decided not to use this technique again, for three reasons:

1. The felted patch had a very different texture from the rest of the sweater. It looked fine, but you could really feel it.

That would bother me, if I were wearing the sweater. My fingers would constantly be seeking out that funny little square lump. But I'm just that way.

2. It took a LOT longer to needlefelt than it would have to mend it as I usually do.

That bit in the video where she's placing a big wad of fluff on the patch, and then they cut to a finished felted patch? That jump cut represents at least half an hour of real time felting.

3. It's the nature of the work that you're stabbing with a sharp needle, within an inch (or less) of your fingers. You're stabbing as rapidly as you can, and you're putting some force behind it.

You will stab yourself when doing this. It is inevitable. And it hurts like hell.

I developed my own technique, which is basically to weave a patch in place. Just thread up a tapestry needle with a length of yarn, and go back and forth across the hole, threading it through the undamaged stitches on each side. Then go up and down, threading through the undamaged stitches at the top and bottom, and weaving the yarn through the horizontal threads.

This kind of patch blends in surprisingly well with the rest of the knitting, depending on how well you're able to match the yarn. You can usually match the color and thickness of the sweater's yarn, with a yarn store employee's help. (They're very helpful!) It requires no skill, just a bit of time, and a standard amount of hand mobility.

(I did try all the various methods of Real Darning, and didn't care for any of them. Most left a lumpy edge all around the patch, which would bug me. None of them ever looked seamlessly perfect. And they were all, in my opinion, far too fiddly and painstaking for the final real-world results.)
posted by ErikaB at 7:39 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I feel like I've had the wool pulled over my eyes. No seriously my eyes itch. Stupid sweater.
posted by humanfont at 7:41 AM on December 1, 2010


gingembre, despite of my grumbling I'm not really complaining. I too will make up some sweater repair kits and sell them for people who want to buy them. I'm simply astounded at what I consider common knowledge being treated so commercially. My mind simply can't parse how a few cents of materials plus a bit of technically free knowledge is worth $40 plus tax, but like I say, that's consumerism for you, logically speaking I should be getting on this bandwagon to make some moolah right?

My main grar is how they're presenting their very non-new product - I mean, saying it's a new solution, that price tag, going on TOUR? To demonstrate common knowledge with penny material that they sell for a ridiculous price? How absolutely pretentious. The epitome of DIY snobbery.

They say it's sustainable, but they don't say where their wool is produced or how it is dyed, what breed of sheep, where they are raised, their living conditions, etc. This leads me (admittedly a shepherd and fiber artist) to assume they're bulk importing from the cheapest source, which I can tell you now is not a sustainable operation. Using fluff terms without regard is a sign of shady businesses, sends the same bullshit signals to me as the "organic" "local" farmer at the market who can't tell me how his out of season strawberries were grown.

They've taken the culture and ethos of DIY and turned it into an outlandish commercial mockery. They're shitting on themes of sustainability and free knowledge, touting their product as something that bridges generations. I wish I was exaggerating but these are words from their site, their mouths! I'm astounded that they're selling practically nothing. Sure they're not hiding the fact that you can do this on your own, but in a way, with their pompous phrasing and incredulous claims, they are certainly trying to give their audience the impression that THEY invented this solution, that purchasing THEIR kits is the right thing to do to solve your sweater hole problem.

It feels like an adult trying to sell you one of those origami fortune tellers kids make out of paper. Most people know it's valueless, they know how to make one or know how to find out how to make one. But sure if you took that back in time a few hundred years ago people would probably be pretty marveled, just how people nowadays are marveled at this revolutionary new sustainable sweater solution system.

I guess this simply shows that there's always a market for regurgitating information and supplies at ridiculous margins. Still, there's a respectful way to approach it, and a sleazy way. In my opinion Woolfiller chose the latter approach. I shall take the former. Each to their own.
posted by Meagan at 7:45 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holey-moley.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:48 AM on December 1, 2010


It feels like an adult trying to sell you one of those origami fortune tellers kids make out of paper.

Meagan, I suspected that might exist, and turns out it does.

:(
posted by heyforfour at 7:49 AM on December 1, 2010


So, textile people, would this work with a wool blend fabric? I assume it would be a weaker bond, but maybe it wouldn't felt at all?

Well you have to first ensure your sweater is not superwash (something the Woolfiller site seems to fail to mention). If you can put your sweater in the washing machine and dryer and have it coming out looking fine, it's superwash wool. Superwash is basically a wool treatment that closes the scales of the fibers thereby preventing felting, which normally occurs under conditions of wetness, heat, and agitation. Trying to felt-mend a hole in a superwash sweater won't work, or it will seem to work for a bit but there will be no real felted bond between the sweater and patch, you could peel it right off.

Then you need to know what the second blend is. If it is natural non-superwash fibers (alpaca, llama, angora, etc) then it would felt just as wool does, so it would work fine. Synthetics can never felt as they aren't manufactured with interlocking scales.

Mixes of natural fibers and synthetics gives mixed results. It really depends on the size of the hole, the nature of the material (much higher success with a 90% wool blend than a 40% one), and mostly the amount of time you want to spend (not) jabbing yourself with a very sharp and fast moving needle.
posted by Meagan at 7:55 AM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


heyforfour, of course it does. It's America. Anything exists so long as some sucker will buy it. Case in point: Aunt Jemima premade frozen sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches.
posted by Meagan at 7:56 AM on December 1, 2010


keep pricking!
posted by jessamyn at 8:11 AM on December 1, 2010


Ok, I do not recommend this technique for patching bald spots on your favorite sheep. I'd explain further, but the nurse is here with my medication.
posted by orme at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2010


MetaFiller.
posted by seventyfour at 8:26 AM on December 1, 2010


All my sweaters are cashmere. (hey, it's cheap cashmere, though, and its because I'm allergic to regular wool) They get holes something awful.. but I just wear em or patch them any old how. I doubt this would work on them because it goes on about "the specific character of wool fibers"... anyone know if you can felt with cashmere?
posted by The otter lady at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2010


This concept is actually very helpful to me, as I bought a lovely sweater this summer that got fucking moth holes before I even had a chance to wear it. I was planning to darn it by hand, but 1)I was despairing of finding thin enough yarn in the correct color, and 2) I'm kinda shit at any sewing that is required to be tiny and precise.

I'm going to consider using this technique instead. But I won't buy a kit from these folks, because I bet you can a starter needle felting kit for about $7 in most craft stores, plus my mom owns every craft item known to man. We have an awesome spinning store in town where I can probably get some roving that matches my sweater.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:07 AM on December 1, 2010


warm and fuzzy blue sweater filter.
posted by crunchland at 9:32 AM on December 1, 2010


felting, roving, superwash wool...I can't even sew a button. When did my Metafilter
friends become a craft coven? I had no idea!
posted by kozad at 9:35 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cool!
I never felt this way before.
posted by Flashman at 9:42 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


20 Euros for some wool and a felting needle?? Look. Go to any hobby shop anywhere and this stuff is at most like four bucks. Felting, folks. It's felt. In fact, I wonder why they don't use a piece of felt instead of a ball of wool.

Also, that's the most wildly inappropriate sweater-fixing music I can imagine.
posted by cmoj at 10:05 AM on December 1, 2010


I like this needle felting tool, which has multiple needles and a plastic guard that helps you not stab yourself. (You will still stab yourself.) It makes a pleasant kthump-kthump sound and is a satisfying crafty way to work out aggression. You can felt yourself all sorts of patches and appliques and creepy gnome heads and stuff.

For extra credit, dye your wool with Kool-Aid and be the sharkleberry pinkest kid on the block.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2010


For extra credit, dye your wool with Kool-Aid

I tried that once, but the armpits full of bees offset any social gain I got by not having a holey sweater.
posted by jessamyn at 10:19 AM on December 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


In fact, I wonder why they don't use a piece of felt instead of a ball of wool.

You'd have to use felt made from animal fiber instead of the commonly available synthetic stuff. Using a felt piece seems to give a much more defined edge than using roving, so it wouldn't blend as well (although admittedly, blending does not seem to be Woolfiller's goal.)

I guess you could also use yarn for this, although yarn doesn't seem like a good choice to fill in a large hole.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:28 AM on December 1, 2010


No thanks. I prefer to wear sweaters that don't look like a fungus is growing on them.
posted by The World Famous at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2010


The otter lady: " anyone know if you can felt with cashmere?"

No, cashmere generally doesn't felt, which is very unfortunate, as moths tend to love it. (In general, non-itchy things are harder to felt, as they have fewer and finer scales.) You can, however, get a skilled knitter or crocheter to fix your cashmere sweaters if you can find matching yarn or, alternatively, make really soft pillowcases from them.
posted by JMOZ at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2010


jessamyn: "For extra credit, dye your wool with Kool-Aid

I tried that once, but the armpits full of bees offset any social gain I got by not having a holey sweater.
"

They have (or used to have, anyhow) kool-aid in which you add your own sugar, and it's commonly used to dye yarn. Without sugar, it probably won't attract bees. It does, however, fade pretty badly.
posted by JMOZ at 11:46 AM on December 1, 2010


Protip: It still looks like a ridiculous goddamn stain. A hole looks better than a stain.
posted by tehloki at 11:55 AM on December 1, 2010


I wonder what armpit honey tastes like? Oh wait, no I don't.

Dog hair felts pretty nicely, in case you were wondering. I've used pomeranian felt to repair an accordion!
posted by moonmilk at 11:59 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kool-aid dyeing is fun but you're limited to their often bright colors. I prefer to use Wilton icing dyes, they have a much larger range of colors available, and the price is equal if not better than a comparative amount of kool-aid. All protein fibers (angora, cashmere, wool, llama, alpaca, etc) will take these dyes when combined with acid (commonly vinegar, or citric acid crystals dissolved in water). Cellulose yarns/acrylics are an entirely different beast though. Dyeing yarn - in fact creating yarn too - is a very interesting art form, one I am glad I discovered at a young age, cause it'll take decades to master.
posted by Meagan at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2010


Philosophical question: If you wear a sweater long enough and patch it enough times that there is none of the original wool remaining; i.e. the sweater is entirely patch, is it the same sweater? Is it a new sweater? Is the sweater defined by the material it's made of? The shape? The idea of it?

You might know this already, but that class of philosophical question is known as Theseus's paradox, and one of the best-known instances of it is called "George Washington's Axe" (also detailed in the link).
posted by mendel at 12:22 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's America. Anything exists so long as some sucker will buy it.

Yes, of course. Except that this site is from the Netherlands.
posted by pinky at 12:27 PM on December 1, 2010


You might know this already, but that class of philosophical question is known as Theseus's paradox, and one of the best-known instances of it is called "George Washington's Axe" (also detailed in the link).

I knew I wasn't being original, but I didn't know any of the historical details about the paradox. Thanks :)
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2010


Protip: using two (or more) colours, you can make a nice little flower to cover that hole, or maybe a duck or a dog or something like that if flowers are not your style.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:52 PM on December 1, 2010


After hoping that moth larvae would not eat my mixed-fiber woolly sweaters, I found that they do eat them voraciously (I hope they get constipation from the indigestible artificial fiber).

I would like to try this method to close the holes, but finding a similar mix of fibers and the right color might be hard. Has anyone tried unspinning commercial yarn into roving, and would it work for needle felting?

My best candidate for fixing is a fisherman's sweater in a brown heather color, where the color variation and the bumpy stitches might hide the felted patch.
posted by bad grammar at 5:41 PM on December 1, 2010


I've never seen a sweater with a skin ailment before.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:18 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I've used pomeranian felt to repair an accordion!"

It's sentences like this that keep me coming back to Metafilter.
posted by like_neon at 1:20 AM on December 2, 2010


I know about needlefelting, but have never done it - I can just about knit and crochet, but am at the point where I haven't actually made a thing with either skill. The comments here remind me of some of the things that have come along with the craft boom - department stores (not John Lewis, which has always had a haberdashery dept, or Liberty which has always sold fancy trimmings and fabrics at some expense) selling individual buttons for £1 each, or kits that have very little in the way of raw materials. But, like ready meals, some things are sold to people who don't know how to make them themselves and would like to try it out before they have a go. And if we stretch the analogy a bit, eventually they'll realise it's cheaper to cut your own chunky chips than buy the Tesco Finest version in the ready-prepared metal tray.
posted by mippy at 8:26 AM on December 2, 2010


I do want to learn to darn, though. Any ideas on how to darn viscose jersey invisibly?
posted by mippy at 8:27 AM on December 2, 2010


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