I've found myself repairing some knitwear recently. The last few days have been spent working on repairing some wonderful fair isle gloves friends of mine brought back from a trip to Iceland last year. While these gloves are really well knit, they're a bit delicate for the inescapable winter chore of shovelling snow. Well inescapable for most Canadians.
While fixing these gloves, I found myself returning to the long avoided task of fixing my father's fair isle mittens which succumbed to a similar fate. I knit these mittens as a Christmas present back over the '11-'12 holiday break. My dad loved these mittens and I quickly heard back about how wonderfully warm they were, perfect for an Edmonton winter (which is a true test for hand knit accessories).
The downside to knitting these "ultimate" mittens was that my dad wore them for all of his outdoor winter activities, including shovelling the driveway. After 1.5 winters, the exceedingly soft alpaca that they are made from was worn through on many parts and I had to figure out how to fix them.
While I found it wonderful that my dad loved his mittens so much that he was wearing them all the time, it was heart wrenching to see how roughly these mittens had been used. I decided the best way to fix them was to reknit the tops of the mittens & thumbs, not a problem as there was plenty of yarn left over from the first time around.
But there was a bigger problem that was causing me to delay this repair. Sure, I could fix them, but in another year or so, I'll be fixing them again. I could be set for Christmas presents for life, re-knitting mittens for my dad every year. As much of a hard time as gift shopping can be, I'd rather not knit the same thing year after year.
So the real fix is a bit more that perpetually re-knitting some mittens, it's the creation of a mitten system. Yes, I am fixing this pair of already beloved mittens, but I'm also going to knit a second pair of "work" mittens out of a more hard wearing yarn. Alpaca is quite soft and warm, but the average Canadian snow shoveller requires fibre that is a bit tougher. Some sturdy wool mittens that will felt rather than fray with the reality of everyday winter chores.