Make Do and Mend

If you are planning on traveling, take all of your cotton clothing and throw it away. Invest in wool.

I worked my ass off when I lived in Alice Springs and bought several pieces of Icebreaker Merino. I fell in love. It will make every other piece of clothing you own obsolete. Say goodbye to washing your cotton t-shirts after every wear. With wool, just hang it up to air for a few hours. It will pass the smell test with flying colors and it won’t feel grimey.

I have easily gone more than two weeks switching between two sets of underwear and socks and wearing the same shirt and leggings, with pants over top, every day. It does not hold a smell.

Icebreaker is not paying me for this – unless you guys want to pay me – but they make some pretty amazing stuff. Well, actually the credit has to go to the merino sheep in New Zealand’s southern alps. Their wool is hearty and versatile. It regulates their body temperature whether it is hot or freezing cold. And it works on humans!

It is the perfect travel clothing, especially in a cold country like New Zealand. On a gusty, winter day I can layer up my singlet, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweater. It’s impossible to feel the cold through four layers of wool.

Merino is expensive, thin and fragile, but it is worth it. A couple of weeks after I bought my first t-shirt it accumulated several holes in the back – I think from reaching behind the seat of my ute and catching it on a sharp object – but I brought it to the Icebreaker store in Auckland and they replaced it. It’s a pretty common problem, just make sure you keep your receipts and they will set it right.

Well I think that’s enough of sucking Icebreaker’s dick, let me show you how to give your wool clothing some love and affection.

Brett and Hayley, the English hippies who sold me the van, left a couple of bags of unwanted clothing in the back. (They also left an amazing book called A Greener Life, by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott, which teaches this process and many other tips on self-sufficiency.) To my surprise they left behind a beautiful 100% Australian wool sweater that fits me perfectly. There was a big hole in the right elbow and many, many small cuts and holes, but that’s nothing a bit of thread and needle can’t fix.

Tools of the trade.
Tools of the trade.

The process of covering a hole with thread is called darning. Go to your local sewing store or arts and crafts shop and buy a darning needle, which is slightly thicker and has a wider eye than a standard needle, and some darning thread. I found some multicolored wool and nylon thread made specifically for darning. You will also need some sort of round object to stretch the hole over, like the back of a ladle.

IMG_7693
Stretch the hole over the ladle and start a running stitch all the way around the hole.
Now it will stay in place.
Now it will stay in place.
Start going back and forth to cover the hole.
Start going back and forth to cover the hole.
Tie it off underneath once you finish.
Tie it off underneath once you finish.
Then start a perpendicular stitch and go over and under the first stitch.
Then start a perpendicular stitch and go over and under the first stitch.
Pull it tight.
Pull it tight.
It should be really sturdy.
It should be really sturdy.
All done.
All done.

I’ve worn this sweater everyday for the past three months and I’ve washed it once. It’s like being hugged by a cloud.

DCIM100GOPRO
Travel companion.

While I was in the mending mood, I darned my five-year-old wool socks, which both had holes under the balls of the feet.

Lookin' good.
Lookin’ good.
Happy feet.
Happy feet.

I also reinforced the crotch seams on both of my Icebreaker underwear. They were starting to pull apart.

Thin and fragile, but amazing.
Thin and fragile, but amazing.

Traveling in my van has taught me to take care of my things. Make it up as you go and if it doesn’t work try something else. Repairing and mending is fun and cheap and will make you more self-sufficient.

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3 thoughts on “Make Do and Mend

  1. I’m impressed with your darning skills. Mending is such a basic skill but somehow enough people don’t seem to know how to do it. I worked in a seam shop for four years so I can fix anything (though I still hate replacing zippers).

    Like

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