A simpler way of living sometimes requires a lot of work.

Cheap Tips – mending knits

Whether a moth chewed a hole in your favorite sweater or you punctured it yourself, mending knits is an easy fix.

Sweater with a hole in it.

Sweater with a hole in it.

What you need:

  • the knit item that needs mending
  •  all-purpose thread that matches or comes close to matching the knit, or if it is a fancy sweater that came with spare thread and you actually kept it, you can use that
  • scissors
  • light weight hand sewing needle, one designed for knits if you have it but whatever you have on hand will do
  • and something to stretch the knit out, I use a small embroidery hoop but you can use  a piece of card board and some binder clips, or whatever you have handy
Scissors, thread, needle, garment to mend.

Scissors, thread, needle, garment to mend.

Turn your knit piece inside out so the part that won’t show is facing you. Stretch and secure the knit so that you can easily see and sew the hole.  Thread you needle, I typically sew with double thread but that isn’t necessary. If the whole is perfectly rounded it doesn’t matter where you start but if it is more oval start at one of the smallest points.

sweater in embroidery ring

Sweater in embroidery ring.

If you look closely at your knitted piece you’ll see the fibers ordered in interlocking rings. Some of those rings have been ripped creating your hole. What you are going to do is to reconnect the rings. Insert your first stitch just above the opening. You don’t want to go all the way through the fabric but rather just through the top of one loop and then through another.

Your first stitch.

Your first stitch.

Then to lock your thread you want to bring your needle back through the sewing thread.

locking first stitch

Locking first stitch.

Continue looping through a knit loop on one side of the hole and then through the other side moving down the length of the opening. Your final stitch should be just beyond the end of the opening.

finishing closing hole

Finishing closing hole.

Lock your final stitch the way you did your first.

locking final stitch

Locking final stitch.

Snip the thread close to the knots you have created and it should look like this.

final product

Final product.

And when you flip it over to the right side of the knit it should look like this.

Right side of sweater, mended.

Right side of sweater, mended.

If it doesn’t look right, just rip the thread out and try again.

Thrifting tip: Thrift, vintage and charity stores are a great place to find high quality knits at affordable prices. Unfortunately many second-hand knits fall victim to moths and general wear and tear. But now you know how to fix that!

Pickled: pt 1

Until quite recently I was a vegetarian and had been so for about eight years. My decision to return to meat was a health related one. Due to some additional dietary restrictions it became unhealthy for me to maintain a vegetarian diet. I still maintain that vegetarian diets, for most people, are very healthy.

The thing vegetarianism did for me, other than make me more health conscious and generally speaking a healthier individual, was force me to try more food.

Which brings us to okra.

Fresh Okra

Okra. Slimy.

The downside of a farm share, the only one really, is that sometimes you get produce that you would rather not eat. But what are you going to do? You can’t exactly throw perfectly good produce away. A technique I often use is trying to hide the unwanted item in a stronger, better tasting dish.

This time, however, I decided to try to make okra that I would actually like. I am a fan of pickled veggies and after some research, it seems like many people find pickled okra to be enjoyable and not, most importantly, slimy. I didn’t have a lot of okra so I decided to just do a quick pickle. I used this recipe from because it looked simple and required me to buy little that I didn’t already have in my kitchen.

Sliced Okra

Sliced Okra.

First, I rinsed the okra, sliced it lengthwise, tossed it in sea salt and let it sit in a colander to drain.

 Next, I prepared the brine which was a mix of coarse salt, distilled white vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, pickling spice, cayenne pepper, onions and a jalapeno pepper.

Brine Boiling

Brine Boiling.

 I brought the brine to a boil over medium heat.

Okra in brine.

Once the brine was ready, I rinsed the sliced okra and put it in a bowl. I then poured the brine over the okra and let it sit for a minute.

Okra mixture in ice bath. Next, I placed the brine and okra in an ice water bath for ten minutes. Once the mixture had cooled I placed it in the fridge for about half an hour.

Once the okra mixture has cooled you have pickled okra!

Pickled Okra in a jar.

While the flavor is good, you still have a slimy finish. So I am going to leave in the fridge for a day and see if the slime dissipates.

Caring for the Wildlife.

Two feral cats, Tux and Bunny.

Feral cats,Tux and Bunny have been neutered and spayed respectively and are regulars in my back yard.

If you live in Philly you have encountered, at some point, the free-roaming cat population. Many of these animals are friendly and would make great pets, if only someone would give them a home, many have previously been house cats. Others are feral or only mildly friendly with humans and do not make acceptable pets. These wild cats are the decedents of domesticated felines, i.e. house cats that were put out. The free-roaming cats of Philly are a result of human neglect of one kind or another.

As we humans caused this problem, I feel the responsibility lies with us to resolve it. Some would argue that we should round all of these animals up, find homes for the ones we can and euthanize the rest. As for me, I prefer a more humane solution, TNR. Trap neuter and return (TNR), by trapping, sterilizing, and returning wild cat populations we can stem the tide of reproduction. Free-roaming cat populations can be managed in colonies with dedicated caregivers.

Semi-feral cat, Shaggy Dog

Shaggy Dog, originally thought to be feral has warmed up to me and now demands chin scratches. He greets me every morning when I put out the food for the free-roaming cats.

I began managing a colony about a year and a half ago, it all started with three young kittens who had been abandoned by their mother. The kittens were living in my West Philly back yard and I started feeding them after their mother stopped coming around. They were not friendly and after doing quite a bit of research I decided taking them in was not an option so I reached out to a West Philly community organization that assisted with TNR. A volunteer came to my house and showed me how to trap the kittens and assisted me with getting them nurtured. Unfortunately one kitten didn’t make it back.

So I started with two and it grew from there. I have been feeding and trapping cats since then. When friendly cats come around I try to find them homes, I have even taken a few in, but honestly, there are too many cats and too few homes. Currently, I care for ten to fifteen free-roaming cats, some are regulars while others are only frequent visitors.

Mat the Cat, friendly cat currently in foster care looking for a home.

Photo Credit: Jenne T.
Mat the Cat is friendly, playful and currently in foster care looking for a permanent home. He walked in my back door this summer and would not leave.

Why do I do it? It is rewarding to know that I am reducing the number of cats who will suffer, starve and die. TNR not only reduces the overall population growth, it also reduces death due to the spread of disease and cat fights. Free-roaming cats that are cared for by a dedicated caregiver are less likely to roam in search of food and less likely to wonder in to another cat’s territory. Within a colony, if there is an ample supply of food, cats are less likely to fight over it. In addition, in a colony with a caregiver, the caregiver is able to spot sick cats and remove them from the general population before they spread the disease. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for those with kind harts, no starving, flea-bitten, disease riddled kittens. I think that it is work that is worth doing and is done by too few. I encourage anyone who has free-roaming cats in their neighborhood to get involved and involve your neighbors!

For more information and how to get started:

Alley Cat Alliance

Project M.E.O.W.

City Kitties


Animal Care & Control Team

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