Book Review: Darning, Hikaru Noguchi

Book Review: Darning, Hikaru Noguchi

Hikaru Noguchi’s book ‘Darning: repair, make, mend’ is now available in English. Having been lucky enough to attend her last UK workshop and getting our hands on a signed version of the Japanese original, we were thrilled to be asked to review a copy where we could understand the words as well as the images.

Hikaru recounts her time in England and how Rachael Matthews inspired her to value the art of visible mending. Along with a page dedicated to another big name in textile art, Celia Pym, the book contains 12 methods of darning. Her choice of threads and exceptional attention to detail give each clearly illustrated example a beauty and a quality beyond their original form.

Different darning techniques to use on shirts
© Wakana Baba, Noriaki Moritani

We particularly like how, in each example, Hikaru identifies the cause of the damage as well as explaining the ‘how to’. From as sustainability point of view, it is important to understand why damage occurs in order to reinforce and prevent it before it gets to a point beyond repair; seeing the beauty in the history of the item and celebrating it.

Done in such a way that each repair becomes a design feature, with technical observations such as “If you leave the middle unsewn it looks more like a deliberate pattern,” Hikaru expertly navigates the delicate dichotomy of blending in while standing out.

Her love for all things British comes through with British made woollen winter items that have been given a Japanese twist, including a gorgeous sashiko thread contrasting on dark denim, through to small patches of Liberty print fabric.

Hikaru is keen to emphasise that her instructions don’t have to be followed to the letter. We believe that as with many craft ventures, it’s through understanding the rules that you become more proficient in breaking them. One idea we’re particularly keen to try out is using ribbon as an appliqué patch for small holes.

A selection of darning mushrooms used for mending
© Wakana Baba, Noriaki Moritani

In a similar vein, part of the book explores tools including classic darning eggs and mushrooms to include an ostrich egg and maracas! The point of course being that anything with a smooth, robust, slight curve can be used as a support for your mend. A wine bottle down a sleeve is one of our go-tos.

Hikaru’s creativity knows no bounds and her prolific nature and passion come through in each page. We particularly admire her ability to diversify a simple seed stitch with flair and skill through her choices of yarns and diverse methods.
Hikaru Noguchi Triangle Darning - Socko What Hikaru does beautifully is not only the mend itself but seeing the wider piece and balancing the design with additional carefully placed stitches. Using complementary earthy tones and natural fibres to stay in-keeping with the original items of clothing, whilst simultaneously not shying away from stitching a contrast mend.

Image-rich with informative anecdotes, this book is a must-have for anyone keen to explore a range of methods for extending the active life of their clothing.

You can order your copy of the book here.

© Wakana Baba, Noriaki Moritani

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