Winter DIY: Mending Life’s Plain Weave Darning

On Darning

A friend tells me about her favorite sweater and how she’s afraid if the holes get any bigger, it will be a lost cause. She says, “It has been with me through so much—at first I didn’t quite like it, but something kept me from giving it away. Each time I rediscovered it hidden at the bottom of my dresser drawer, it would call to me softly, but I would always reach for another, more familiar sweater. Later I found it tucked deep in my moving boxes. In my new place, it hung neglected in the back of the closet, the shoulders distended from spending so much uninterrupted time on the hanger.

“One day, for some reason, I reached for it and put it on, just to see. I was getting ready for my big bike trip, and it turned out to be the best warm thing as I crossed the country. It has suffered snags and snares, mud splats and dribbled food, rainstorms and sweaty pits. Now it’s the only thing that goes well over my favorite shirt. In the fall, I wear it nearly every day. So . . . we can’t part ways now.”

I offer to fix it. She’s skeptical: “It’s really pretty far gone,” she says—she can feel the breeze blowing through the tatters. I examine the damage; there are little holes everywhere, congregating at the bottom of the hem, peppering the sleeves, threatening to disconnect the neckline from the rest of the sweater. And the elbows are, of course, gaping holes. “I can fix it,” I reassure her. “Okay,” she finally says.

At home, I gather what I need and sit with her sweater draped over my lap, warming me. I choose a hole to start on, pick a colorful scrap of yarn, and begin the process of loving this thing she loves so much. I am breathing new life into it so it can go on keeping her warm. And in doing so, I am adding to the story this sweater already tells, the story my friend will proudly share as she wears it for, hopefully, many more years to come. She’ll say, “This sweater was brought back to life from the dead by my dear friend; she’s a wizard alright.” – Sonya

How to Darn a Hole

A wonderful way to spend a winter afternoon, a cup of tea nearby, is mending your much-loved clothes. Darning a hole is surprisingly simple and plain weave darning is the Montenegro sisters’ go-to technique for filling a hole in a knitted garment, which get plenty of use in the colder season! Simple and versatile, it’s perfect for fixing holes.


  • Tapestry Needle
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Darning Tool
  • Embroidery Hoop


Step-By-Step Instructions:

Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts is available wherever books are sold, in print and eBook formats.