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Cashmere is the cream of the knit crop -- the diamond, the champagne, the Mercedes-Benz of knits -- and it comes at a fitting price. If your favorite cashmere sweater just sprang a leak, don't toss that fashion investment into the garbage. All good clothing deserves a second chance, and after a quick and easy fix, your cashmere sweater will win back your heart and have you swooning again.
Assess the damage. To determine the best way to handle an unsightly hole, you'll need to get up close and personal with the offending area. Study the weave of the fabric and decide whether the yarn of the sweater merely broke and is still present and hanging on where the snag occurred, or if a larger portion of material has gone missing (for instance, courtesy of moths) or been damaged (with a burn hole, for example).
If a snag is the source of your woe, the solution is simple. You will be able to see the ends of thread that were torn apart, so push them through the hole so that they are on the inside of the garment. To push the thread through, you can use a crochet needle, sewing needle, chopsticks, a hairpin -- whatever you may have on hand. Turn the garment inside out and tie the threads into a knot. If the fabric is relatively thick or a chunky knit, you can seal the knot by dabbing some clear nail polish on it. The nail polish may show through a thin fabric, so skip it if you're working with a fabric that's tissue thin. Problem solved -- no one will ever know that snag even existed.
If there seems to be a bit more missing from your sweater, you'll have to choose a different route. If you -- or an especially helpful friend -- are familiar with basic knitting, you may be able to make this repair yourself. While there are patches and fabric bonds available, on a piece as pricey as cashmere, you probably don't want to take the risk of an iron-on job.
To stitch things back together, start by finding a cashmere yarn in a matching color. Using a 100-percent cashmere yarn (or a blend that is the same as your sweater's) is important, as other fabrics may require different care, or their color may be more or less affected by washing, causing the mended portion to fade at a different rate. Determine the size of the missing portion, and if the tear is small, unravel just enough that you can see the open stitches and tuck the torn yarn out of the way. Create a "graft" by knitting the missing row of stitches and anchoring the new yarn to the torn pieces. If the hole is larger, do not do any unraveling, and start by anchoring the open stitches with sewing thread. Duplicate the stitch used throughout the garment over the hole, anchoring the new yarn to the undamaged, closed stitches a few rows away from the hole. When the repair is done, remove the anchor thread and your garment will be as good as new.
Knitting not your thing? Or maybe you just don't want to risk losing a prized piece of your wardrobe. Take your cashmere to a tailor to see if he can do the repair. If not, you may be able to find a reweaver locally, or ship the sweater off if there's no one in your area. A tailor or reweaver may ask you to provide your own matching yarn (or the spare thread that may have come with the piece). or may be able to take extra thread from an inconspicuous spot on the sweater or provide his own matching yarn. These repairs can cost upwards of $25, depending on the repair, but compared with the cost of a new sweater, a professional sweater makeover is a steal. You'll be warm and cozy in cashmere again in no time.
If your sweater was knitted especially for you, the gift-giver may still have the yarn she used to make it. It can't hurt to ask, and matching yarn is very helpful in repairs. She may even offer to make the fix herself.