This past weekend I had a delirious crafting experience.
It started out as a normal Saturday, by which I mean, we were doing our weekly quarantine house cleaning, which has become so efficient in its military precision that my housemates and I blast through it with time to spare. We’ve achieved a beautiful choreography: the Killers playlist plays, the O-Cedar spin mop spins, the vacuum cleaner vacuums, the dogs bark, and before we know it, it’s all done.
The Gardiners like to clean. As a people, historically, we have not gone in for the leisurely pursuits. We have gone in for maintenance projects, highly focused on organization, tidiness, and generally holding up our end of the neighborhood. Favorite family projects include: taking everything out of the garage, then putting everything back into the garage. Pegboards and the labeling thereof. Hosing things down whether they need it or not. Oiling things whether they need it or not. A fond memory of my dad is his weekly warm-weather ritual: rinsing the aluminum siding. During his cigar years, he got a cigar smoked while doing this; I daresay no golfer has enjoyed golfing as much as my dad enjoyed spraying water on aluminum.
So Saturday, a next-generation Gardiner and I decided that the dessert course for our weekly housecleaning would be a deep-clean of the living room. We’d take everything out of the living room, get after all the feathers, grit, and cobwebs, and put everything back in the living room. Goal: use all the attachments to the vacuum. As part of this project, we’d air out the carpet and put it back down, flipped and rotated.
This was where the weekend took a dramatic turn.
The carpet has had a large hole in it, for many years. Without my noticing it, an unnamed beloved member of the household had shuffled their feet over this spot several million times, until the soles of the socks were united with the pad under the carpet. I’ve been looking at that hole for years and trying not to see it. I love the carpet a lot, and I just couldn’t bear thinking about it. I entertained passing thoughts of visibly mending it, but pushed them away. It just seemed like a big, vague project—too much. But the passing thoughts persisted, and on Saturday, with all the furniture off the carpet, they broke through.
I took the carpet off the clothesline, laid it on the table on the porch like a person prepped for surgery, and went down to the basement to search the stash. A plan was forming.
I’ll let the photos show you how things went.
The hole. I started by cutting all of this mess out, back to healthy tissue, in a neat, rectangular shape. This is something you only have the strength to do after you’ve lived with a big hole in the rug for a very long time.
Considering all the Kon Mari-ing I’ve done in my time, I was amazed to find all these promising materials in the stash.
I used two shades of Euroflax Sportweight Linen to “warp” the “loom.” If you think of the dining table as a darning egg, and the rug as a sock, it all makes sense. If I had a second shot at this, I would double-warp it. With experience comes wisdom. I have no regrets.
I got a lot of encouragement on Instagram—people on there love mending. Someone asked me if I’d learned how to do this from watching a video on YouTube. In fact, I learned how to do this from watching everybody on Instagram visibly mending their jeans for the past five years.
A skeptical Olive stayed at the bedside for most of the procedure. This is Olive’s prayers-up face.
The actual weaving was exactly like weaving on a potholder loom. I used the same bent-tip tapestry needle I use to weave in ends on my knitting. The whole project was extremely manual.
I figured things out as I went. One thing I learned was that it was easy to weave in ends in the middle of the weaving; they just disappear into it, making those spots a little thicker but not noticeable visually.
Day 2. Running out of the single skein of hand-dyed cotton tape yarn of unknown provenance.
This meant I got to change colors, which is always a happy thing.
Basically, I ended up making an entire small rug—inside the big rug. A play within a play. A Sean Scully painting. The world’s largest darn.
It took me about 7-8 hours of weaving time, total. I had a blast. I was amazed that it actually worked, and how well it came out.
We barely got the living room furniture back in the living room before the opening prayer of Zoom Kippur on Sunday night, but we did it.