Di Campbell from the Bangalow CWA shares the threads of an incredible story of a jumper knitted with love in Bosnia and mended with care in Bangalow.

Visible mending gives new life to a cherished jumper

There was a time when holes in clothing were embarrassing or shameful; a sign of impoverishment. Isn’t it always the way that the jumper we wear and love most is the one that gets moth-eaten? These are the jumpers with stories and memories attached to them. They are appreciated beyond their colour and design. This was the case with a very colourful striped woollen jumper that was brought into the CWA rooms late last year, in need of mending.
The owner explained the jumper was cherished and had significant sentimental value. As a young man in his 20s, he had spent time working as a volunteer in a camp for Bosnian refugees during the 1990s. During his time there, the babushkas (older women), had some yarn donated and worked together to knit him a jumper, all knitting a different stripe in the adhoc pattern, imbuing the garment with great sentimental value.
At the CWA, we very rarely take on mending work as it would become a full-time role if we started. However, the members rostered on that day were so moved by the owner’s story that they decided to take the project on. The holes in the jumper were too large and too many to attempt invisible mending, so the team decided to combine the textile skills they possessed in a creative way and practise “visible mending”.
Visible mending is an ornamental way of mending. Rather than mask the damaged area, it highlights the imperfections in a creative, eyecatching way. Not only does mending add to the life of the garment, but it also adds to a garment’s story.
We have given new life to the treasured work of the older women from the Bosnian refugee camp, and the jumper is now entwined with stories the CWA women’s story as well.
If you’d like ideas for visibly mending your own garments, come along to the CWA Help Centre in the rooms on Wednesdays. Developing your own colourful mending style is a conscious way to fight consumerism by extending the life of your garments and live more sustainably.