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Happy Monday (and happy February), everybody! We’re thrilled to welcome Sonya Philip back to MDK from a very productive sabbatical. (She’s written a whole book, which will come out this spring—more about that exciting news, later.) Sonya’s columns will share thoughts on life, love, and the handmade wardrobe, and occasionally feature guests from her two worlds of sewing and knitting. It’s so good to have you back, Sonya!

—Ann and Kay 

That really was the longest January. The promise of a fresh page on a calendar weighed down by upheaval and the terrible year that was 2020. We still find ourselves in the grip of a pandemic, with news of hotspots, second waves and variants. Ordinary life remains upside down, back to front and looks like it will remain so for many months to come. 

Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre in AVFKW Toasted; Shirt no. 1 and Pants no. 1

It is stressful to live a developing situation. Wanting to know what comes next is something for which we are hardwired. This is clear from the vast array of prognostication techniques, reading everything from palms to tea leaves. Heck, even knitting a swatch is a way to foretell a future outcome. The internet is all about immediacy. We no longer wait for a newspaper delivery or the evening news. All the information is available instantly. So when it isn’t, we stare at devices and scroll. 

Stopover by Mary Jane Mucklestone modified as a cardigan in Álafoss Lopi Lighti and Noro Kureyon; Shirt no. 2 and Chaparral Overalls

Finding the balance between staying informed without getting overwhelmed is tricky and by no means am I there yet. How do you take a step back, especially when you crave answers? One way to be marginally OK with all the uncertainty is to find something else to focus on, things to distract you, if only for a short time. Sometimes that meant more screens, such as my many hours logged on the game Animal Crossing. 

Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston in handspun yarn; Joan Fuller by Ellen Mason in Beaverslide Dry Goods Merino Mohair 90/10; modified Dress no. 1 and Pants no. 1

What about knitting I hear you wonder? It is a uniquely soothing and meditative pastime, but I had nothing but a sock on my needles and starting anything new seemed unusually daunting. With low making mojo, I turned to my mending basket to find things I could potentially finish in one sitting. Darning holes provided the crafting fix I needed to refocus my eyes and spend time away from the news. By using bright bits of leftover yarn, I can smile down at the colorful addition to my socks when I put them on. 

Wainwright by Bristol Ivy in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire; modified Dress no. 1 and Pants no. 2

This is the kind of maintenance I would usually find any excuse to put off, clear by the many things in said basket waiting for their stitch in time. Mending of course extends the life of what we wear, which has many eco-friendly benefits. But right now, repairing things is a way to bring a small bit of order to the chaos. Fixing a rip or patching a hole, it’s simple and most importantly, it’s manageable. 

Save it for later. Keep Sonya’s recommendations handy in your MDK account. Here’s how.

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • Oh, Sonya, so good to see you back here again! Your columns are always inspiring and you in your photographs so beautiful! Thanks so much.

    • Aww thank you Ginny for such a warm welcome, it’s good to be back!

  • Sonya! What a smile you gave me when I saw your face! What a terrific column. Thank you !

    • That’s so very kind of you, thank you! Really glad you enjoyed the column.

  • Yes, I agree with Ginny; Sonya, it’s great to see you again and all your wonderful clothes. And how funny that this column is about mending, when just last night my heel went through the heel of one of my favorite socks. Guess I know what to do today instead of starting something new. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Thank you Kayt, it’s really good to be back. And there always seems to be more mending – sort of like laundry that way 🙂

  • It is so nice to read your words again. I have missed your inspiration!

    • Thank yo so much Alleynine, I’ve missed being here!

  • Me too—I’ve missed you and wondered where you were. I’m so happy to see you again. Your “clothes as art” always make my day. think I need to go find my (well, actually, your) pants pattern.

    • I thought writing a book would take a lot less time, but it is a PROCESS. I was a bit wrung out after all that. I am glad to be back here at MDK. And yes to making pants!!

  • Outstanding column, Sonja! Thank you for writing and posting it. You are right in saying that repairing things helps to give order to chaos. It extends to everything in life.

    • Thank you Eileen and you’re absolutely right, it applies to so many areas of life.

  • Love the blue clogs! Back in my college days in San Francisco, I bought my clogs on Clement Street, wore them every day, wish I had some now but can only find them with high heels. I was practically laughed out of a shop in Edgartown, MA, when I asked the shop owner if they had a low-heeled version of the clogs on display. I was told they aren’t in fashion these days. If you know of any place in SF that still sells them, I would love to know.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and style sense!

    • Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, looking forward to checking these out!

    • As Lynda wrote, they are indeed Troentorps. I was introduced to the brand by Mary Jane Mucklestone after admiring her clogs. I like them because they run a bit on the wider side. Another brand you should check out is Sven, you can buy ready made clogs, but you can also customize the heel height – low, medium etc. I’m not a high heel wearer so I appreciate all the options!

    • LEATHERWORLDDesigns is an Etsy shop that makes and sells clogs w/out high heels in fun colors. I have my eye on a pair of red ones. The shop has very good reviews.

      • Wow, thanks! Never fails that there are so many helpful women on this site!

        • Also Chameleon Clogs on Etsy. If you don’t see what you want, she does special orders.

    • Those blue clogs caught my eye too. Not sure but they look like they could be Troentorp Da Vinci clogs in royal blue (they happen to be on sale when I just looked at their site).
      Love all the color in this post – thank you Sonja!

      • Lynda! You have such a keen eye – you got it absolutely right on the money.

  • It’s so good to see your photos and read your thoughts again! Yes, renewing things we’ve worn well feels good now, and for me, small projects are most satisfying at present.

    • Thank you so much Dorothy! And here’s to small and manageable projects to keep our hands busy.

  • Yay, Sonya’s back!!! With bright outfits that raise the spirits, outfits the like of which I haven’t seen for many months in these fraught times – thank you! And a hat made of homespun – has spinning been added to knitting and sewing?

    • Thank you so much Tess!! Fraught is right. And the handspun was a gift from my dear friend Kim, but I have indeed started spinning again! I just got a wheel two weeks ago and it’s very soothing.

  • So true! Those thoughts on scrolling in hopes of finding something definitive. I mended a jacket a few days ago. Rather than hurrying and just using the thread and needle on my machine, I checked the needle suze, wound a bobbin and even changed to a zipper foot. Wow!

    • You’re so right Lois, we do scroll to find something definitive or some answers. And when they aren’t there, it’s hard to stop. As for your mending -changing to a zipper foot, that is major! My default is always to attempt the short cut, which usually doesn’t work because I have to undo and redo.

  • Welcome back! So happy to read your posts again!

    • Thank you so much Nancy!

  • So cool! I have to learn/ see/ read more!

    • Thank you Jane. And learning, seeing and reading – some of my favorite things!

  • Love your colors and reminder about repairing and finishing Sonya. Discarded clothing that makes its way into landfills is a big, big problem. You’ve given me the inspiration to frog the wrap I never wear (because I did sloppy knitting on it) and reuse the lovely yarn.

    • Thank you Mary Ann. Using what we have is very important, I hope your yarn enjoys its new life!

  • You’re back! All will be right in the world, and I’ll be smiling all day. I’ve missed you so much. Thank you. ❤️

    • Oh Cathy you are SO SWEET! If only I had the ability to make everything right. You’ve made my day.

  • What everyone else said!
    So good to read your wise, needed, words.
    So lovely to see you, and all your fabulous clothes, and your lovely smile.
    A little bit every day. My mantra for this insane time.

    • Thank you so much Jane and that is a very good mantra to have at all times, but especially now.

  • You make me feel so much braver in what I wear, Sonya! Thank you for being so inspirational. I might yet wear something other than black t-shirt and blue jeans.

    • That makes me so happy Nancy. Nothing wrong with black t-shirts and jeans. I transitioned from that to black linen pants and then it was just a hop, skip and jump to what I wear now. Have fun!!

  • Ditto, Ditto, Ditto! I’m always amazed that you can find yet another colorful wall to bedazzle your creative thoughts and clothes. And, as always. a good reminder of how beautifully useful a good basic pattern can be.

    • Aww thank you Barb and I feel fortunate to live in a place with a long history of murals.

  • You hit the nail on the head. Not knowing when this will end makes us anxious. I spend way too much time on Instagram.

    • Looking at pretty things on Instagram is good way to distract! Take good care Francis, here’s to hopeful times ahead.

  • Yay, welcome back Sonya!

    • Thank you Jen!

  • You always bring wisdom, color, creativity, and resourcefulness. Your post today is no exception. Thank you. The way you summarized the emotions arising from our pandemic lives is spot on. Thank you for pointing us in the direction of doing something constructive with it all!

    • Thank you so much Carol, glad you enjoyed the post. It is definitely an unsettling and stressful time!

  • I love books!

    • I do too, but I’ve become the slowest reader. I need to just read some fluffy fun stuff I think.

  • Missed you. Welcome back.

    • Thank you Barbara!!

  • Would love a post on how best to mend socks. Twist had a great article on it but alas I didn’t know they would disappear w/o warning so never downloaded it. The difference in my mending went from good to MAJOR FAIL without their guidance.

    • My pal Tom of Holland is a master at mending and I’d point you towards him. Also Arounna Khounnoraj has a mending book that I just ordered. Maybe I need to start a lazy mending movement!

  • Your words and clothes are inspiring as always, but…I really need to know more about that umbrella!

    • Thank you so much and isn’t the umbrella a stunner? I got it from a museum gift store. If you search MoMA Color Wheel Umbrella it will come up.

  • You are my style icon! I love the way you layer garments and patterns into a total look that shows everything off! Can’t wait for your book to come out!

    • Thank you so much, that is really kind of you – me an icon!

  • What a lovely article. And thanks for sharing all the gorgeous photos of your handmade clothes and that fabulous umbrella.

    • Thank you Ruth!

  • I love your articles and I re-read them for a pick-me-up and inspiration. Thank you.

    • Awww that’s so sweet, thank you Jeanie!

  • So glad to see you on MDK again. The color and creativity of what you wear in your photos always makes me smile and reach for something whether it is yarn or clothes for the day out of my closet. Thanks for being a bright spot in some dark days..

    • That makes me so happy to hear Laurel. Here’s to brighter days ahead!

  • Sonya, you continue to inspire me! So happy to see you reappear. I love everything you make!

    • Thank you Gail, I am happy to be back on these pages!

  • Welcome back Sonya!

    • Thank you!!

  • Aww thank you Ginny for such a warm welcome, it’s good to be back!

  • I have been either repairing or repurposing lately. I made a sleeveless tunic out of a long-sleeved t-shirt that belonged to my late fella. I’m working on a vest out of a damaged cardigan that was machine knit by an artist I knew.

  • Welcome back Sonya, I have missed you so much. You encourage me out of the comfort zone of what other people wear to discover what I like to wear.x

  • So great to read your words here and look at those wonderful, colorful combinations of sewing and knitting. Thank you for the color! am right there with you— socks are the only knitting I can do…I have knit ten pair of fingering weight socks in the pandemic and absolutely nothing else.

  • I love your happy fun colors and patterns! They brighten my day! Keep em coming!❤

  • I’ve been following you on Twitter but this is much better, and the pictures of you in exciting outfits has decided me to make a dress for the summer.
    Hand stitched, don’t have a machine, prefer handwork. Now I’m thinking what fabric I might be able to patch together for this project. I don’t stash, either! This will be a spring fun project.

    Thank you!

  • Well, it looks like I have some reading to catch up on over here! Your article really struck a chord and I think that after the overwhelming year that we’ve had that getting a creative fix with bite size mending projects definitely works on so many levels. Thank you!

  • It’s so good to see you again, Sonya. I’ve really missed you! You inspire me to continue trying to make my own clothing

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