The knitwear trend that turns torn clothes into statement pieces

Have a hole in your sweater. Don’t try to discreetly patch it up. Make a big deal about it and join our growing army of visible menders

Flora Collingwood – Norris (pictured below), is a knitwear maker, designer, and mender from Scotland. Against the backdrop of an increasing awareness of the need to change our attitudes towards what we wear – to use fewer resources and to avoid waste – Flora has been offering visible mending workshops and creating digital mending guides for the last two years. 

“You need very little by way of equipment to start mending,” she says, “just a needle, some yarn, a pair of scissors and something holey.”

The new book focuses on knitwear, which has its own concerns in terms of stretch, unravelling, but many techniques can be applied to any other garment. 

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Once you’ve mastered the basics, darning can be applied across a wide range of fabrics. “Some of the pieces I’ve repaired for clients have been passed on over generations,” says Collingwood-Norris. “Being able to repair such special sentimental pieces is wonderful. Clothes should last a lifetime, not a season.”

Repairing larger areas of damage or extremely moth-eaten pieces can seem daunting when you’re just starting out. Collingwood-Norris shares five projects she has done to repair significant damage in her book. She shares her approach to them and hopes to make the task of mending large elbow holes as well as ragged cuffs and small holes easier. 

“Visible repairs are not only becoming a badge of honour, but a political act,” believes Collingwood-Norris

You can make your clothes last a long time by taking care of them. “Start looking at care labels, learn about the different fibres, and how to wash them,” says Collingwood-Norris. “For example, wool can be aired out between wears, and only needs to be washed when there are dirt marks on it.”

“Visible repairs are not only becoming a badge of honour, but a political act,” believes Collingwood-Norris. They are a sign of a desire to slow down consumerism and to take good care of what we own, rather than throwing it out at the first hole. Mends often become a talking point, she says, a way to discuss repairing – and encourage others to start.


In pictures: Visible mending

The self-published title, ‘Visible Creative Mending for Knitwear’, by Flora Collingwood-Norris, is out now. Visit collingwoodnorrisdesign.comLearn more

Images by Susan Castillo and Rose + Julien Ltd