Well, there you have it. First I dispelled the myth of “dry clean only” wool sweaters, and now I’ve shown you that darning store-bought sweaters is also in the realm of possibility.

So, you want to be a surgeon, too?!?

I considered posting a little tutorial, but then reconsidered, convinced that someone, somewhere must be one step ahead of me. I mean, I hardly reinvented the wheel here: it’s just grafting! We graft toes of socks on a regular basis, and darning a hole in a knit sweater is not an ounce different.

So I surfed here and there, and found a brilliant Knitty article – Repairs 101. The section titled, “Tears and Holes — Weaving Method” is exactly how I went about fixing my sweater.

I used a crochet hook to pull through the darning yarn because it wasn’t long enough to thread a needle. I also recommend opening up a basic knitting reference book to the grafting section, and following the outlined maneuvers. The yarn travels through each loop twice, and I find having a diagram in front of me useful to get things right the first (and only) time. My personal favorite is, of course, Montse Stanley’s The Knitter’s Handbook (p. 241), but any (worthwhile) knitting reference will do.

As for the source of the hole which was “the epitome of poor taste and ugliness”, it isn’t moths (God forbid!).

I have 19 ways to ruin all your favorite sweaters. And don’t you forget it!

(Kitty is a polydactyl cat)


47 thoughts on “Nineteen

  1. June

    Sweet kitty! I give mine manicures on a semiweekly basis – helps keep the damage to a minimum. James seems to like it, he’ll come and wait his turn when he hears clippers. Charlie struggles a little bit, but he knows I’m boss.

  2. Ashley

    There’s a hole in the sleeve of one of my most decadent cashmere sweaters that Bailey put there–stupid pets. But now you’ve given me the inspiration to fix it when I get home from my parents’! Thanks for reminding me that that Knitty artice was there.

  3. Sarah

    That’s one smart cat — s/he has quite a fondness for wool, it seems!

    I had no idea that polydactyly occurred in animals with any frequency. My dog growing up had several extra claws on her rear legs, but I always though she was just a freak of nature.

  4. Laura

    Glad to hear you got the hole fixed! The cat who lived with us when I was a teenager had 26 toes! But she couldn’t retract the claws on the extra ones so she was always snagging the sofa or rugs or anything she touched!

  5. kelp!

    Thanks for the link! I have a large, kitten-induced hole in one of my socks that I’ve been procrastinating fixing, and the tutorial has exactly the information I need.

  6. marie in florida

    that is one heck of a grand kitty picture. is she from Key West? my Baby (and the others) does not touch the yarn but this past four day weekend, while i was sewing the five baby dresses i made, she did cuddle up on every scrap of every bit of fabric and tissue paper pattern AND most notably , at one point, even on the fabric as it was on my machine AND right up against the back of the machine at the point where the fabric comes out from under then needle.

  7. Heide

    LOVE the kitty picture. My kitties make my projects “important” by laying on them, but the only holes in my knits come from my own innate clumsiness. Thank you for the mending motivation!

  8. libraryliz

    Cute kitty! My kitten Mia is a polydactyl – 2 claws in little “thumbs” – kind of creepy yet oddly cute. She loves the yarn – when it’s just laying around, when it’s being used – she’s not picky. Her brother Bentley likes it too but he has a little more self control. He just sat staring at me last night as I worked on a sock.

  9. maryse

    i didn’t know you had a cat.

    don’t need extra toes though to cause mayhem in the knits — i have the holes in the knits to prove it.

  10. Leslie

    Your kitty certainly looks mischevious! Hide the yarn, hide the good sweaters. At least she has good taste and doesn’t go for acrylic.

  11. kelpkim

    ACK! KITTY! Polydactyl at that.

    even better…

    well, even better for the cuteness factor but definitely worse for the handknits.

    on a separate note, yes, please, more pics of the kitty! :o)

  12. chris

    Extra cat toes = extra hole potential, eh?

    I had no idea you had a cat!!!

    And I just want to tell you what a terrific technical resource you’ve become to me!

  13. kelly

    Ok, duh. Knitty tutorial. Go ahead — smack me in the back of the head. You know you want to.

    Give Mr. Cat a belly rub from me.

  14. Melissa

    That would explain why the hole was over the bosom. I have many of those holes in my sweaters. The back claws are the worst for that. I find my cabled sweaters to be particularly suceptible, since the yarn is stretched tight at the cable twist.

  15. Maritza

    Look at that paw. Kitty is quite the little queen – she is adorable!

    Thanks for the tips and sources on how to repair a sweater. Like you, any hole on my sweaters is not due to moths but over-friendly felines that catch their claws there when they jump out of my arms. So lovable but so vexing.

  16. Julie

    I have a soft spot for polydactls. Ernest Hemmingway did as well, your know.

    My Joe is not poly, but you’d think he was if you ever had to give him his thyroid pill – I have snags and holes in more t-shirts because of him. If only there were a way to fix them like the sweaters!

  17. Tammany

    It’s so hard to stay mad at them for long, isn’t it? Yours is beautiful. My grudge would last about 10 seconds, I think. (About as long as it lasts with my two.)

  18. Steph B.

    I had a friend that had a polydactyl cat. Six on each paw, so they called him Four-by. He was an enormous and friendly boy, looked like he had giant cat tires instead of paws! Hadn’t thought of that for a while, thanks.

    I have very well-behaved cats when it comes to wool, thank goodness.

  19. linda

    Thanks for the link to cats toes–so interesting! The opposable thumb quality was new to me. As always, you are brilliant in your observations, both knitterly and otherwise.

  20. Gina

    My kitty has thumbs on both front paws and will grab onto your ankles when he’s hungry. Very cute.

  21. April

    cool, cats with thumbs! awesome =)*) it’s weird that they seem to be mostly in New England. hmmmm and, yaay for fixed stuff!

  22. ThreadBndr (Karla)

    wow – great tutorial and weird esoteric cat-ness all in one post! Only you, Kathy *G*

    I’m a dog person, so I was not aware of the ‘extra toe syndrom’ in cats. Loved the bit in the article about the Boston port sailors spreading the gene. Sounds like it’s a mutation that is a positive adaptation – sweater snags notwithstanding.

    I second the vote for more pictures of your kitty – and an introduction (boy or girl, name and how he came to live with you???) I love pet stories.

  23. catbookmom

    Yep, had a cat chew my very first cashmere sweater; she survived, but had to hide out for a few hours. Polydactyl cats’ paws look so big. I dated a fellow who had one he called 7-Up, since it had 7 toes on each front paw. They looked like salad plates!

  24. Pam

    Hope this is ok by Kathy to do, but if you love cats AND love your wool sweaters, furniture, etc. I highly recommend Softpaws nail caps. One of my cats wears them on all four feet, and the level of destruction in my household has amazingly reached zero! (I have no interest in the product except as a satisfied user.)

  25. Maryann

    What an awesome kitty shot! Glad you fixed your sweater and thanks for pointing us to the Knitty article.

  26. Brenda

    Fabulous repair! Such a naughty kitty. With all their gorgeous fur, cats just don’t respect clothes.

    I didn’t know about the Knitty article; thanks!

  27. Marjorie

    Not only can you wash “dry clean only” sweaters, but you can wash “dry clean only” silk scarves. I use the same method of soaking in cold water. You can set the scarf on a drying rod, or just roll it gently in a towel. Then press under a pressing cloth (which for me is just a washed piece of muslin–the kind I used for fitting sewing patterns). I have also made blouses in crepe de chine, and I wash them too, but the pressing is more demanding.

  28. maureen

    I have a store-bought cashmere t-shirt that has 2 holes. 🙁 I’m encouraging myself to follow your lead, but, as another commenter said, procrastinating.

  29. Amanda

    You have inspired me to hand wash my Dry Clean only sweaters! Last night I found a dusty wooly sweater of my husbands in the back of his closet and tossed it into the tub with some Woolite. It is drying now…. I can’t wait to do the others! I can’t believe all this time of knitting I never put this thought together on my own! Many thanks!

  30. Laura

    Yay! Thank you for posting the fixing 101 on weaving. My two Jaywalkers with holes worn in the ball of the foot thank you, too. 😀

  31. Teyani

    congrats on the great repair job – and what a fabulous photo of the culprit. I have two of those guys here at my house – and their favorite ‘toy’ is some of my handknit cashmere.

    Good thing I love them.

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