(Please note: this is a how-to post on how to repair a knitted garment, and as such it is VERY photo-heavy. You’ve been warned!)
Did you have a woobie when you were little? My sisters and I all had various levels of attachment to our security objects, which we referred to as “woobie” after seeing Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom. My sis Adorable, in particular, was incredibly attached to her blanket and had trouble sleeping without it.
This weekend a little girl brought me her woobie for repairs. A friend of a friend referred her mom to me, and on Sunday morning the exchange went down. I’d seen a photo of the hole in the blanket, and although I’d never done any professional repair work before, the family was desperate, so I was happy to take my best shot. Apparently the mom had called around to several local yarn shops and none of them offered repairs. This little girl looked to be about 3 or 4 years old and loved her blanket but apparently liked to bite it in times of stress. Even worse, she was terrified of being away from her blanket and was extremely eager to know how long the repair would take.
At first glance, I could tell that the blanket needed more than one repair. There was a large unraveled section (the mom described it as “ramen noodles” where a thread was broken:
Unfortunately, there were also a few other spots where the yarn was fraying and two patches along the edging that were coming loose. The first challenge, finding a yarn to match, was easy. The little girl exclaimed “pink!” and the mom reassured me that a repair was far more important than an exact yarn match. I guessed at 3 to 7 days and about 6 hours and sent them on their way.
That cute little face stuck with me though, and almost as soon as they were gone I headed to Joann’s Fabrics for the essentials (a new crochet hook and a ball of size 10 crochet cotton):
I think the pinks are a decent match — not perfect or even invisible, but not glaringly bad, right?
Once The Baron headed off to his monthly pinball tournament, Zoey settled in for a nap and I got down to work. Here is what I did . . .
First, I sectioned off the hole. On the bottom edge the hole was pretty close to the border, so I knew it was not going to get much bigger down on that end. On the top though, there was nothing to stop the “run” from zipping all the way up the blanket. To prevent this, I put in a “lifeline” by passing a needle threaded with waste yarn through a line of stitches a few rows up from the start of the hole like so:
Once the top of the hole was secured, I started picking up and re-working stitches from the bottom up, using my crochet hook. I examined each strand to make sure it was still intact until I found the broken strand. Once I got to the break, I put the re-knitted stitches on a cable needle to hold them. A stitch holder or piece of waste yarn would have worked too, I just happened to have the cable needle at hand.
In the above photo, you can see that I took the broken strands of yarn and taped them — this was partly to help me see them, partly to keep them from unraveling any more, and partly to make it easy to keep them away from my hook as I was working. I suggest trying this, especially with a slippery yarn — as long as you’re not working with a fleecy single, it should be just fine.
Next, I worked the unraveled stitches from the top down with the crochet hook until I reached the broken yarn. Again, I placed my work on a cable needle because that’s what I had nearby:
You’ll have to excuse the hideous yellow tint of the above photos — I was far more focused on the process then the picture quality!
Now the fun begins. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of what happened next but the idea is pretty simple. In this particular hole, just a single strand of yarn was broken. The broken strand is seen, above, secured by tape folded over on itself. To fix the hole, my task was to replace the broken strand and join the two open sections of stockinette by grafting the two sections together.
Luckily, I’ve been on a sock knitting kick lately (Monkey Socks, to be exact) so I have my kitchner stitch down cold. I highly recommend the Knitty kitchner tutorial if you are confused.
Starting a few stitches to the right of the hole, using two strands of the crochet cotton, I followed the path of the broken yarn until the point where it broke. Then I began to join the two open seams with kitchner stitch until the hole was closed (3 stitches across) and then continued weaving the new yarn over the old for another few stitches. I was close enough to the edge of the blanket that I just wove the end into the edging, tied it off and hid the ends within the rolled-over edge.
Here is the pre-weaving photo:
And here is what it looked like when I was done weaving in ends, fussing with the stitch tension and after a gentle blocking:
To head off any future problems, I looked over the rest of the blanket, fixed another hole that was forming and some edges that were starting to unravel, and reinforced two spots where the yarn was starting to really fray. Here is one of the repaired edges:
Here is one of the repaired fraying spots:
Overall I am pleased with my work. Although it could have been a lot “prettier” if I’d had time to search for a better yarn match, I think that the durability of the crochet cotton will be helpful in this particular case.
Of course I was happy to “guarantee” my work for several years — I am getting well paid for my time and I think that a good knit repair should last for years. If for some reason it doesn’t, I want to be the one to fix it :)
I really enjoyed this little project — the look on that little girl’s face when she handed over her most precious posession to me, well, it was a big responsibility. I hope I was able to come through for her!