Spurred on by the darning masterclass with Tom of Holland, last weeks rummage for darning mushrooms came up trumps and it would seem I have acquired more than I thought I had.

First out of the box was this well-loved wooden mushroom which is so worn down you have to work your way around all the grooves in the wood.

Wooden darning mushroom || my life in knitwear

And this beauty is one of my favourites:

Wooden darning mushroom with clip || my life in knitwear

It has a metal clip for holding your sock in place, although Tom advised against using the clip as they tend to pull the fabric a little too tight.

Wooden darning mushroom with clip close-up || my life in knitwear

I have a couple of tortoiseshell effect bakelite mushroms which are the most beautiful colours.

Two bakelits darning mushrooms || my life in knitwear

And one of them has a hollow handle that screws off for storing your darning needles in…

Bakelite darning mushroom unscrewed || my life in knitwear

But I think this green one is my favourite and it has been put to use over the past week:

GReen wooden darning mushroom || my life in knitwear

Sadly I can’t find the one from my Great-Grandma. It’s around here somewhere but doesn’t want to be found at the moment. However, in the same box as the mushrooms were my vintage yarn holders. I love the colour of this pink one in the shape of a Patons Beehive holder but by a different company.

Yarn beehive || my life in knitwear

There’s a hole at the top to thread your yarn through…

Yarn Beehive close-up || my life in knitwear

And a handy needle gauge in the bottom.

Bottom of yarn beehive || my life in knitwear

I also have this beautiful red cannonball shaped holder.

Round yarn holder || my life in knitwear

As for the darning, well I was truly inspired after last weeks class and have mended one pair of socks. In fact I mended them twice, but the first time I darned them on the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong side! It’s all good practice!

Darned yellow socks || my life in knitwear

I have also just started swiss darning a second pair where the yarn is thinning but not quite worn through all the way.

Swiss darning the pink socks || my life in knitwear

These will become my ‘arty’ socks I think, which no doubt will translate as ‘technicolour’ by the time I’ve finished with them!

Do you have any vintage knitting ephemera around the house? I’d love to hear about it if so.


I was rummging through a couple of storage boxes last night in search of a darning mushroom (as you do), and found my old Filofax. Tucked in the back pocket is one of my favourite letters sent to me from Grandma in 1996 whilst I was studying at Central Saint Martins.

We corresponded on a weekly basis and I loved receiving letters from her and Grandad. They are written just as they would talk, and relayed details about daily comings and goings and any news they felt I should know about. This one is a perfect example and contains a newspaper clipping about an old school friend. Grandad was a sign writer for a number of years and studied calligraphy, so he was always tasked with writing the envelope even if he had not written the letter.

Letter from Grandma || my life in knitwear

In full as written:

Monday 23rd Nov

Hello Rachel,

I have enclosed a picture of Dawn, it was in this week’s Selby Star. your Mum said she was going to send you a copy. but as you know she doesn’t have a lot of spare time, so I thought I would send one, if she doe’s send one you don’t tell her you already have one.
Joanne is excited about the prospect of going to America in January.
We stayed overnight at Davids on Saturday and during Sunday morning we said we would get ready for home. David said stay and have lunch first, but I said no we will get off, because they were going to the afternoon performance of Disney on Ice. at Sheffield Arena, and I didn’t want to delay them, any way it was just starting to drizzle when we left, but about half hour after we were home, David phoned to say they hadn’t been able to get to the show, because the slight fine rain had turned into heavy snow. and they were unable to get out of Matlock. apparenly Matlock had been cut off. owing to the heavy snow, and drifting snow. making Blocking the rowads, so it was a good thing we left, when we did.

Well Cheerio For Now.

See you soon

Lots of Love
Grandma + Grandad. xx


I popped down to Brighton yesterday for the Unwind festival and to attend a Darning Masterclass by Tom of Holland who specialises in darning techniques, and has developed what he describes as a ‘visible mending programme’ celebrating the beauty of darned fabric.

Tom of Hollad class kit || my life in knitwear

Tom is an inspiration…

Tom of Holland himself || my life in knitwear

…and his work is both fascinating and breathtaking.

Tom of Holland visible mending || my life in knitwear

He is one of those amazing people you meet in life who is so focussed on what they do that their enthusiasm for the job in hand infectiously rubs off on you. The darning techniques themselves, whilst a little frustrating at times, are very meditative to work on and and you soon find yourself drifting away as the needle and yarn work their mending magic.

Tom of Holland's sock || my life in knitwear

We started with Swiss Darning which is a technique I know about but have never actually tried. This is useful for mending thinning patches of fabric before the hole acually appears and the pattern possibilities are endless.

Swiss Darning || my life in knitwear

You can see how Tom has used Swiss Darning to mend the sole of a sock and has reflected the colourwork pattern from the leg into the visible mendng patch:

Tom of Holland's swiss darned sock || my life in knitwear

Next up is the Stocking Darn. This is the most widely used method for mending holes in all types of garments and the one you need that darning mushroom found in Granny’s mending tin for.

Setting up for darning || my life in knitwear

Darning warp in place || my life in knitwear

Completed darn || my life in knitwear

Completed darn from the right side || my life in knitwear

The great thing about taking classes is that you pick up lots of tips from the tutor along the way along with reassurance that what you are doing is correct and whilst a little uneven and slightly too loose, I am reassured that my first ever darned patch is looking good!

Finally Tom showed us Scotch Darning which he has combined with a similar Finnish Darning technique. I think I may need to practice this one a little more as I have holes in my darning!

Scotch Darning || my life in knitwear

I leave the class with my lumpy bumpy sampler and feeling very inspired about where my darning journey could take me. Thank you Tom for such a great morning.

My finished sampler || my life in knitwear

You can read more about Tom’s work and projects over on his blog where he also keeps a list of forthcoming class dates. If you get the opportunity to take his class I highly recommend you do.

Now back to my pile of holey socks!


I seem to have more than my fair share of interesting and eclectic books, and know how you all enjoy the occasional rummage through my bookshelves, so thought I’d share my latest acquisition with you.

The Diamond Dictionary || my life in knitwear

The Diamond Dictionary was found in a box of ‘things’ at my Dads and I’m completely in love with it. Described as a ‘Dictionary of the English Language’, its 640 pages contain a dictionary, almanac and a small amount of of Debrett’s etiquette which is a lot to fit into a 7 x 10 cm volume.

with appendices || my life in knitwear

An inscription inside reads, ‘W.A.A.F 2130636, I. Atkinson’ who was my Great Aunt Renee, a member of the Womens’ Auxiliary Air Force during World War II.

Inscription || my life in knitwear

The edges are worn and tattered.

DIamond Dictionary worn edges || my life in knitwear

At some point it has been stained with ink; maybe in the bottom of a bag or drawer?

ink stained || my life in knitwear

There are a smattering of line drawings showing important things such as various designs of Dirigibles (airships), points of a horse, knots and ‘the evolution of the bicycle’:

Evolution of the bicycle || my life in knitwear

Random dog breeds appear opposite the definition of ‘dominion’:

Dominion and dogs || my life in knitwear

In amongst the tables of weights and measures, a ‘foreign time table’ and punctuation symbols, you will find information on ‘moneys of the world’:

moneys of the world || my life in knitwear

A list of ‘stamp duties and taxes (correct when going to press)’, however I’m not sure when this little book was published:

Taxes || my life in knitwear

And in case you are unsure how to address a Baron…

Modes of address || my life in knitwear

Isn’t it wonderful! I could probably get good odds on betting that you have something similar on your bookshelf? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

I promise there will be knitting activity next week as I’m heading to the Unwind festival in Brighton on Sunday. Hope to see some of you there and do say hello if you spot me!


Late last week we made a flying visit to Yorkshire and called in to see my Dad. His cottage is surrounded by fields all of which are in full bloom and his garden is teaming with flowers, birds and rabbits which send Pip the bouncing dog slightly crackers! So much has changed since our last visit.

The ducks say hello as always. ‘Hello ducks’!

Hello ducks! || my life in knitwear

And the hens we named The Three Degrees at Easter are now full-grown but still stick together and will happily follow you around in a little pack. They also move rather fast and erratically making it very difficult to get pictures of them!

The Three Degrees || my life in knitwear

Most of the puppies have gone to new homes with just two kept for training by Dad, although he can’t resist a good pup when he sees one and Yola is the latest addition to the pack. She’s a tiny little thing with a face like a baby bear.

Yola the Border Collie puppy || my life in knitwear

There’s so much colour from all the flowers with my favourite foxgloves towering over most of the others. As always my flower knowledge fails me, so I’ll share pictures with you safe in the knowledge that my readers know far more about flora than me!

Foxglove close-up || my life in knitwear

Foxglove || my life in knitwear

Foxgloves || my life in knitwear

Clover and other flowers || my life in knitwear

Unknown flowers || my life in knitwear

Blackthorn? || my life in knitwear

The apple tress are laden and there will be a good harvest in the autumn, so there are plans to return and make use of the apple press in the barn.

Apple trees || my life in knitwear

I also photographed these fruits but have no idea what they are…any ideas?

Unknown fruits || my life in knitwear

The bird feeders in the front garden keep a family of woodpeckers busy and I lost an hour watching them hopping up, down and around the feeding tree. There are also a number of swallows who return every year to rebuild nests in the outdoor buildings.

As we were leaving I spotted the baby swallows lined up along a fence as they practice their flying skills, gently encouraged by Mum who flies back and forth with freshly caught rewards. It won’t be long until they are on their way again for sunnier climbs.

Baby swallows || my life in knitwear

Being so short on time we missed time out in the fields with the sheep but left with a shoulder of hoggett and a rare treat of venison fresh from the estate, along with half a dozen duck eggs which I plan to bake with today.

It’s lovely watching the seasons change and we often wonder about leaving the big smoke to return to our country roots. Maybe one day.