The Mast-Head: For Want of a Nail

Who darns things anymore anyway, seems the right question

There is no darning yarn at the Sag Harbor Variety Store, as I discovered the other day after making a trip there from Amagansett. I had found a hole in one of my gray wool mittens while shoveling the driveway during the last big snow, and, knowing I  had only beige yarn in my sewing box, had planned my day around getting to Sag Harbor for the right stuff. Some time ago, though I can’t say how long, the shop stocked a good supply. No longer.

Who darns things anymore anyway, seems the right question. The back-counter clerk at the store told me that most customers bought colored embroidery thread when they needed to stitch something up. I almost did, but having spent several minutes holding packets of thread up to my mitten, forgetting about weight and texture and finding nothing that matched the color, I gave up, put the sample back, and climbed into my truck, feeling a little blue and stupid for even wanting to try. Maybe I should just buy a new pair of mittens, like everyone else.

Repairing things around the house may be a dying art, but I enjoy it. It gives me no small degree of pleasure to know how to clear an ice jam in my refrigerator drain, instead of waiting for the repair company to arrive, for example. As everything has gotten more complicated, however, there is a limit.

I did engine work on my first car (a 1970 Dodge Dart) and the second, an International Scout whose model and year I have forgotten. Messing around under the hood of the Chevy Volt I drove until recently was unthinkable. Mittens, though, I can do, and I still want to. If I can find the yarn.