Last fall, while I was going through sleep therapy, one of my “stay awake” activities was learning to darn socks. I wear my hand-knit socks all winter, so it’s no surprise that some have developed holes in their heels. Figuring out how to extend their life was important to me. As I darned my first pair, I made a mistake that taught me the value of letting your patches show.
What did I do wrong? I darned the sock from the outside. Traditionally, you darn from the inside, and if you do it with matching thread, you can’t even see that it’s been fixed. My yarn didn’t match — I was trying to make it easier to see what I was doing — but even if it had, I would have wound up with wonky patches you can’t miss.
When I mentioned my goof to my knitting friends, I was told that this is just visible mending, which is apparently a thing. Many people repair their clothes with decorative stitches, attracting attention to the patch or darn instead of trying to hide it. I love how visible mending looks. I now use high-contrast yarns when darning my socks for effect.
But visible mending isn’t just about clothing. It also applies to life. During the last few years, my health has been a constant challenge — developing new symptoms, trying a new medication, changing my routine, getting more tests, pushing myself through sleep therapy to reduce my insomnia — and I feel like I’m being held together by lots of patches.
As a private person, I usually keep my mends hidden. I don’t like telling people what’s going on in my life. But letting your mends show can have its benefits.
At the dentist’s office last year, I answered the hygienist’s polite “How are you?” with the truth. I described the sleep therapy I was undergoing and how painful it was. She was sympathetic. She treated me with extra care because she knew I was going through something hard and didn’t want to add to my burden. I hadn’t been sure I could handle a dental cleaning, because man, was I tired, but she made me glad I had come.
The visible mends on my socks are also a good thing. My feet are sensitive enough that I purl the soles of my socks so the smoother knit stitches are against my skin. Having darning stitches on the outside of my socks instead of the inside is more comfortable for me.
Our mends are important. We all have them, thought we don’t all let them show. But maybe we should let the world see our wonky seams, funky patches, and scars. Maybe the things that are holding us together are just as beautiful as the undamaged parts.
Have you ever let your mends show?