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Restoring Harmony to a Household with a Crochet Repair

I had a client get in touch with me a couple of weeks ago.  In my client’s words the situation was this:

I got your name from the local yarn store.  I have a blanket my wife made for my daughter.  My daughter’s dog put a hole in it (see photos) and now I need a repair to restore peace and civility to my family.  Is this something you could do (I hope)?

Clearly I had to help!

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The hole was oriented across two of the different colors in the blanket, spanning 5-6 rows, depending on how you want to count it.  On a big plus, the person who crocheted the blanket had kept all the yarn that was leftover, giving me plenty to work with when making the repairs – a true luxury! I was able to dive into the repairs right away.

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In most cases it’s better to make the hole bigger to make the repair, as long as you have a good amount of yarn to work with.  This way you aren’t working into damaged yarn, and you have enough of the ends to weave in.  Here, I’ve already worked the first row of the repair.  I like to pin my ends out of the way using locking stitch markers.  Because this was worked in rows and turned, I flip the entire blanket each time I repair a row, to work it in the direction of the repairs.  Re-crocheting each row isn’t the tricky part.  The tricky part is the last row when you have to connect the old rows with the new.  You’ll see I’m using stitch markers to hold the base of each of the half-double crochets that have been worked.

 

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After working a couple of rows normally, it’s time to close up the hole and reconnect the old stitches to the new.  This takes some real patience, as each row you need to crochet a stitch, then take a needle and sew together the newly created stitch through the one above it.  I’m finding that the final row sometimes takes as much time as the entire rest of the repair, depending on how big the hole is!

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Getting to the end with all the tools I use in play.  A smaller crochet hook for maneuvering things right where I want them, and the larger crochet hook so I can match gauge.

At this point Mr. Turtle wanders through and asks what I’m doing.  “I’m restoring peace and civility to a client’s home,” was my response.

 

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Finally finished weaving things together!  I was so pleased with how the repairs came out!

 

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Now it’s time to finish weaving in the ends and this piece can go back to its owner.

 

Repair and Restoration: Behind the Scenes

Last Thursday I had a lovely surprise: Jeanne Huber, a reporter in the Washington Post, quoted me heavily in answer to a question about repairing an afghan.  She had been asked a question: was there a way to get the holes in her afghan repaired?  Huber called Fibre Space (one of the yarn stores I often teach at), who in turn recommended her to me.  Huber had gotten in touch with me on a Friday afternoon, and between packing up to leave for a long weekend, I chatted to her on the phone about how I do repair.

Huber did a lovely job with the article, taking my rambling replies and distilling them into the pertinent information.  As a result, I’ve been able to chat with a number of people looking to have family pieces repaired.

Still, it left me realizing that there’s a bit of mystery to what I do, and I wanted to expand a little upon the article.

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Blanket in the process of being repaired

How I Approach Repair Work

When someone gets in touch with me looking to get an item fixed, I try and have a dialogue with the customer about their goals.  What is it they want from the repair?  What would be the ideal results for them?  Are they looking to have an item repaired so they can use it further or are they looking to have the holes fixed so that the problem doesn’t get worse?  Are they on a budget?   Are they looking for the item to look pristine or are they willing to allow the repair to become part of the character of the object?

Each person has a different idea of what “fixed” means.

21831892331_7742a4b943_bMeanwhile, I’m also looking at the practical part of the project.  How damaged is the item?  How widespread is the wear?  Would attempting to fix the item hurt things further?  When I’m looking into this I’m often learning about the history of the item: if it was stored in a place where a lot of sunlight, heat or humidity could get to it, the fibers may be damaged.  Are the places where wear is showing from use – such as worn out fingers on mittens, or a handle on a bag becoming worn, or because of a different factor?  Often the answers form the type of repairs I can do – mittens that are going to get further wear over each winter are going to receive different treatment than a Christmas stocking that’s taken out once a year.

Based on the customer’s feedback, I come back with a number of options.

Sometimes this means the repairs are visible repairs: so that the owners can show where the original piece is, and where the repairs are.  Sometimes this means we transform a piece: adding a cute embroidered kitten over an elbow patch.  Other times the repairs are nearly invisible as I splice new yarn into the old.

Just as I put time and thought into repairing damaged items, so can you put the time and thought into what you want from your repair.  Worried that a piece of yours might need help?  Check out my post on what to look for.  Already decided to have your piece fixed?  Get in touch with me through my finishing form– I’d love to start our conversation!

Rainy Weekend Activity – Darning Socks

Like most of the East Coast, this past weekend was a rainy drizzly grey one.  I bravely left the apartment for teaching classes, but in the evening I snuggled into the couch with my really ugly slippers, a blanket, tea and one of my two current projects.  I’m working a technique that I’m hoping to turn into a design proposal, so I can’t show pictures of that right now.  The other thing I was working on was repairing a pair of socks.

As the old adage goes, “A stitch in time, saves nine.” I’m trying to avoid a more extensive repair by reinforcing the heel right now.  Not a surprise these have worn out – the yarn is stellar, but I wear these socks for 3 days straight.  They get so comfy and nice.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the area I’m repairing has twisted stitches, and I’m reinforcing it without twisting my stitches.  While I could repair every row and twist the thread as I’m working, I was feeling lazy.  The twisted stitches were part of an experiment to see if adding twisted stitches on the sole of the sock would reinforce the sock – and my conclusion is, it doesn’t really matter that much.  The sole would be worn out at this point (going on 4+ years that I’ve been wearing them, I believe) no matter if the stitches were twisted or not.
On another note, it’s a really precious thing to get pictures of me working on a project from this angle.  Whenever I try and get this angle on my own, with a tripod, it ends up looking rather awkward.  If not, it takes me an hour and a half to get a shot I’m happy with (seeing as I don’t have a remote trigger). Yesterday, I was up in the morning, and the light coming in the room was just beautiful, and I was looking at my project wishing I could get a picture of what I’m doing, because I never get a good picture of me darning something.
Then Becca, my best friend who is visiting, wandered out of the guest bedroom looking sleepy, and I co-oped her into taking some photos.  Best friend for the win.  Despite being a Nikon girl, she managed to bear with me while I set the settings on my Canon and handed her the camera.
I also tried to persuade her that it would be a good idea to wake up at 6 am and go for a walk so I could take some project photos on her.  She nixed that one.  Smart girl.