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Reweaving a Lace Knit Blanket, Part 2

Today I resume notes on my recent repair, a lace hobbyhorse blanket.  This is the second of the series detailing my thoughts as I worked through this reweaving and repair project.  You can see the first part here.

 

Base of the Hobby horse, stitches on locking stitch marker.

Base of the hobby horse, stitches on locking stitch marker.

When I last left off I’d gotten the piece reworked up to the lacework, and fixed a couple of runs that were below the hobbyhorse.  I’m ready to start working my way up the lace horse.

To review, this is what a whole hobbyhorse looks like (below). You’ll see I’m using stitch markers to visually mark my place – the green stitch marker represented the first line of stitches in a column that were whole and unraveled.

Reference hobbyhorse

Reference hobbyhorse

I got my stitches on a pair of needles and began “knitting” my way up the rows, following and mimicking the other lace horse.  I used a trick I often use with children and beginning knitters – the knitting needles are two different colors so I could easily remember which were right side rows and which were “wrong side” rows.  By that I mean the rows I was working with the lace (which would have been the right side of the pattern) and the rows I was just plain knitting (which would have been the wrong side, or the purl side).

Double pointed needles made it easy to not have to slip the stitches back and forth.

reknitting and reweaving the foot of the lace knit hobbyhorse

Reknitting and reweaving the foot of the lace knit hobbyhorse

At this point I was to the top of the horse’s foot and  began to notice a problem I hadn’t been sure about until that point.  I thought there was a jog in the line of decreases and yarnovers to the left, but I wasn’t quite sure.  As I began working the pattern up the leg of the horse, it became apparent that a couple of mistakes had been made by the origional knitter when knitting the horse.

Note: you’ll also notice that as I was making these repairs I wasn’t paying attention to gauge too much – both because I could go back and “adjust” areas, and also because this repair had a time budget – it was more important to get the repair to a place where it wouldn’t come unraveled.

reknitting and reweaving the leg of the lace knit hobbyhorse

Reknitting and reweaving the leg of the lace knit hobbyhorse

There were three apparent mistakes, but two of them affected the repair – circled below.  You can see the jog in the line of stitches on the bottom circle, and another jog at the line of stitches in the horse’s neck.  The third mistake, the one which may have led to the run in the first place, is right at the top of the dropped stitches.  The mysterious part of all of this was the fact that there wasn’t any broken yarn – the run must have resulted in a dropped stitch that couldn’t get fixed.

At this point I was also starting to suspect that there might have been an extra pair of stitches in the original pattern.  Looking at the horse I began to wonder if perhaps there was a fourth mistake that was lost when the stitches dropped down?  I’d been noticing that even accounting for differences in gauge, the stitches were really loose. This hypothetical fourth mistake would account for an extra row of stitches, and thus the extra yarn hanging out in each row.  I started to suspect that the drop might have resulted from the original knitter trying to fix those mistake; and perhaps losing a stitch in the process?

comparing how the hobbyhorse is supposed to look, vs the horse with the run in it

Comparing how the hobbyhorse is supposed to look, vs the horse with the run in it

By now I worked my way back to where the drop happened. I had to strategize how I was going to finish this repair off.  I had two different choices I could follow:

1.) Cut the yarn to reweave the affected area and then weave in those ends.

2.) Use additional yarn to sew the gap closed.

I discarded the first option for a couple of reasons: time and cost was a factor for this client. I also wouldn’t have much ends to work with when weaving things back together.  Since this is a child’s blanket, I wanted a sturdier option.

Instead, I went with option two.  I found some embroidery floss in as close of color as I could get, and cinched in the stitches.  I then sewed through the area several times, weaving in the ends afterward.

Getting ready to sew the run and hole in the hobbyhorse closed

Getting ready to sew the run and hole in the hobbyhorse closed

To get the stitches looking more even, and to test to make sure everything was locked in tight I decided to go with an unconventional approach for blocking. I wet the blanket, maneuvered the stitches so they looked as even as I could get them in a reasonable amount of time, and threw it in the dryer (since the yarn was dryer safe). This fluffed up the yarn, locked the stitches into place, and helped everything even out.

 

And there you have it!  This piece went off to its owner last week, back into the loving arms of a boy that will have it for years to come.

Repairing a Puppy-Destroyed Blanket

New Year brought a small, temporary break in the designing workload – thank goodness!  I took the time to catch-up on some of the repair work that’s big and cumbersome, including repairing a puppy-chewed blanket.

Over New Year’s I was able to work on repairing a family blanket that had been “savaged” by a puppy.  This is a tricksy repair, with lots of patterning.  I’ve been working my way through it, taking the time to trace out the pattern in waste yarn before making the final repairs.

 

Take a look at some of my progress:

 

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Here I’ve got the tools of my trade: good solid waste yarn that’s smooth and not prone to breaking.  I’ve got a bent-tip needle, locking stitch markers, a crochet hook, and the project.  You can see the hole closed up now, with the yarn ready to be traced over.

 

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And here we have the final repair, the new yarn nearly invisible.  You can find the fixed area by looking at where the orange marker is poking through.

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Another hole, this one near the edge.  The repairs are made a bit more difficult because every other row the knitter worked is twisted.  Twisted stitches are NO FUN to repair because the top unraveled bit looks like a backwards loop cast on.  Every other row has to be manually detangled instead of just dropping things back to a good starting point.

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Here, working the pattern using a crochet hook.
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And now, the hole ready to be traced over with the new yarn!  Halfway finished!

Stay tuned, as this blanket has several more tricky holes that I’ll be tackling.

A Perfect Sweater Repair

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been hopping, trying to wrap up finishing projects before Christmas is truly upon us.  I’ve nearly pushed through the projects that are due in the next two weeks (and then the rest aren’t due until the New Year!).  I had one repair in particular that I wanted to share – a sweater repair in the Irish Knit Style.  The owner, AM, discovered me through the Washington Post article, and got in contact with me shortly thereafter.  She had a hole right in the front of the sweater, and could I please repair it?

As always, I told her I’d do the best I was able, but I was concerned – the yarn she had, a cream flecked with bits of brown, looked to be tricky to match.

This week I sat down to start on her repair, and when I pulled her sweater out of my bag, I couldn’t help wincing – this yarn was going to be really tricky to match.  I have a number of different creams on hand, but all of them were too light, and with too much “yellow” undertone.  AM’s sweater was a cream with an almost grey undertone.  And again, it had flecks of brown it it – tricky to match.  I checked the sweater – there wasn’t a good place to “harvest” yarn without going to a lot of effort, and I knew AM wanted to keep the costs down.  So matching the yarn from somewhere else would be a better option.

The hole itself was a lucky one: a row higher and it would be in the middle of a cable – a repair that’s much more finicky and tedious to do.  Two rows down there was the same problem.  This hole happened in exactly the right place – the few rows between two cables.

Well, it’d been a while since I’d been to one of the local yarn stores.  I figured it was time for a visit.

The Knitting B is a local yarn store about 25 minutes from where I live.  It’s the longest drive to a LYS I’ve had since I left my parents’ house.  So I don’t get there as often as I feel I should, and it’s too bad.  It’s a great store with lots of natural light, a solid selection of yarns, and a good parking area (always a plus!). Elizabeth, the owner, had an LYS in Charlottesville, VA for 25 years.  She’s a savvy businesswoman who knows here stuff.

When I got to the Knitting B one of the employees began helping me out trying to get a match.  Everything we pulled was not right.  Many of my go-to’s weren’t working.  And then, I remembered a trick I’d used before to get a good match.  Color changing yarns often will have sections that shift between colors, which means you get a lot of “bang” for your buck – and in this case, a couple of yards of yarn that match a hard to match yarn.  In this case, Noro Silk Garden came to the rescue.

The repair was pretty standard after that.

Because the yarn was awfully fuzzy, and hard to see what I was doing, I did a step I sometimes skip.  I ran guidelines: a different color of crochet thread for each row.  Because it’s the holidays, I decided to go with red and green.  I then unpicked the old yarn, pulling it out of the way.

Sweater repair with guidelines.

Sweater repair with guidelines.

I began tracing the yarn with the Noro Silk Garden.  My only complaint about Noro is that it’s really easy to pull apart, being a single-ply.  It was also a fraction less lofty than the original yarn, but the color matching was so perfect I didn’t care, as the repair was only 4 stitches across.  I ran the first row of yarn, adjusting the stitches to make sure they matched the gauge of the stitches around them.  Then I pulled out the green guideline.  It’s one of the reasons I love crochet cotton: it pulls out REALLY easily, and is nearly unbreakable without scissors.

Sweater repair half done, only red guidelines remain.

Sweater repair half done, only red guidelines remain.

I then ran the second set of yarn, and pulled out the red yarn.

Sweater repair, needing ends woven in.

Sweater repair, needing ends woven in.

See how nice the color match is?  Just let me be geeky for a moment – the under-color is SO close, and the flecks of brown is SOOO close too.  You’d really have to be looking to notice this.

Then got down to the tedious part: weaving in the old ends and the new ends, tweaking things as I go.

Sweater Repair, finished.

Sweater Repair, finished.

Can you spot the repair?  Yes?  Well then, I ask you.

How about now?

Sweater Repair, big view

Sweater Repair, big view

As always, if you’re looking to have a knit piece repaired, get in touch with me on my Finishing Page.  Got questions?  I’d love to hear from you.  Comment, or drop me a note!

4 Warning Signs Your Handmade Afghan is Falling Apart

My business has many arms – my teaching, pattern writing, and more recently, finishing.  Normally finishing involves piecing together sweaters or blocking shawls, but sometimes I get another type of request.  Sometimes I get requests to do repairs on well loved a
fghans and blankets that are lovingly knitted or crochet.  Many times I’m able to fix things before they get too bad, but sometimes I have to be the person saying, “I’m sorry, but there is no way to fix your family heirloom.”  This is a terrible thing to say, and so I have a list of things to look for to know when your afghan is in need of repair, before it gets irreparable.

  • At the First Sign of Trouble, seek help.  There’s an old adage that says, “A stitch in time saves 9.”  And it is so true – making repairs before they happen is the best way to prevent tears, rips and holes.  Look for weak spots in your knitting or crochet – where the thread is getting thin or wispy.  These are places where holes will form.  Find someone to help you retrace the stitches and reinforce the work.
  • Pulls or loose threads.  Sometimes yarn that has been carefully woven in works its way loose, or gets caught and creates a pull or snag.  Don’t panic! If the thread is not broken, just stretched and out of the weave of the fabric, carefully pull it in different directions, and see if you can ease it back into place.  If not, see if you can find someone (like a finisher or a more experienced knitter or crocheter, that can help you work the yarn back into the stitch.

  • Seams coming undone. So many crochet (and even knit) afghans have their seams come undone.  One of my very first repairs to a blanket was my father’s well-loved afghan, made in long strips of knitting and seamed together.  If a seam comes undone, don’t panic.  Take a bit of matching yarn or thread, and carefully seam the edges back together, using a ladder stitch or running stitch.
  • The center of motifs are a common place I see in need of repair.  Either because the original creator didn’t secure the ends enough, or just because of stress, this can be a common cause for problems.  If you can, try to pick up as many of the loose loops and put them on a stitch older or locking stitch marker, to prevent further unraveling. This is one repair I’d say, if you can, to get a professional to do, as it takes a deft touch and a good understanding of how stitches work to get it back to matching the others.
The key to all of these problems is if they are caught early, they can be fairly painless repairs.  If you let the problem go, the worse things get, and the more likely that the afghan will need to be reconstructed or have more extensive repairs.Have you ever had to repair a project?  Tell me about it on twitter or facebook.  Looking to have your own repaired?  Get in touch with me through my finishing form!