Mending Ways

Mending was once a part of everyday life before unfettered economic growth moved the textile industry offshore and pushed prices down while at the same time intensifying abuse of labour and degrading the environment. The sad irony is that while mending is fading from public consciousness in Canada and the United States, many people overseas and out of sight spend their days in deplorable conditions, sewing cheap, new clothing for the North American market.

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, the mending bag hung from a hook in my parents’ closet. When a sock got a hole in it we would stick it in the long canvas bag dangling from its rope drawstring. The equipment was inside the bag too, and consisted of darning needles, balls of thread and an old burned-out light bulb to insert into the sock while darning. My mother taught my sister and me to darn socks, as her mother had taught her. Every so often she would pull out the bag, and as my Dad and brother did yard work, we would slowly replenish our sock drawers.

I remember once my parents’ old friends Charlie and Faye came from out-of-town to visit us. They had come up in the world, surpassed our family’s income level, and were happy to gloat a bit about their good fortune, which got under my mother’s skin. She was absolutely scandalized by their cavalier and unthrifty new ways. As they were leaving our house, their car had not even pulled out into traffic when my mother turned to my father and said, “You know what Faye told me? She says she doesn’t even darn socks anymore. When their socks get holes in them, she just throws them away!”

I secretly came down on Faye’s side of the darning issue. Later, as feminism took on the liberation of women from housework, I concurred. Now it seems to me that we were disrespecting valuable work when we should have shared it across gender lines. I am glad that my mom showed me how to darn.

For anyone whose mother did not impart that particular skill, this Mother’s Day weekend is your chance to make up for that deficiency.The Mending Lounge.

Local artists will explore mending through experimentation, innovation and signature styles in this pop-up public event that takes a participatory approach as it aims to bring attention to a fading practice. You can bring your own mending or observe and learn through creative know-how and homegrown flare.

Produced by dittybag in partnership with Craft Ontario, The Mending Lounge presents a range of poetry and politics with a celebratory spirit. Come to the gallery, pull up a seat and revel in the act of making the old new again.

dittybag is directed by Kathryn Walter and Greg Woodbury. It takes the form of events and partnerships aiming to resonate in a world where so much stuff with so little meaning is produced in excess everyday.

– Schuster Gindin with Kathryn Walter
Images courtesy dittybag

The Mending Lounge



1:00 – 5:00 pm: Open for mending


5:30 – 7:00 pm: Salon discussion
Judy Cornish (Comrags) Susan Fohr (Textile Museum of Canada)  Serah-Marie McMahon (Worn Journal)


1:00 – 5:00 pm: Open for mending

View one minute videos with participating artists here.

This article is in STAYING IN in the section What We’re Making.


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