Hooked on mending

Most of my stitching, let’s face it, is decorative and of little practical use. Some of my stitching does get made into things that get used, like cards, coasters, thread boxes etc, but that has never been my aim. I enjoy embroidery, which I think is an excellent reason for doing it and really the only one needed. But sometimes my needle is plied in a more utilitarian fashion, mending, for example, the zip on one of my favourite boots or a torn sleeve or buttonhole on a dress (note: I would not generally recommend mending clothes while you’re in them; this was a just-about-to-leave-for-church emergency).

Mending a boot Mending a sleeve Mending a buttonhole - very carefully...

I have even been known to darn Mr Figworthy’s socks! But I’d never tried my hand at mending crochet before. Until my daughter-in-law asked me whether I could mend a crocheted blanket she’d inherited from my mother-in-law, which she would like to use as a table cloth but which unfortunately had got damaged (before she got it). She asked me this back in July 2021 – the very fact that I am writing about it in January 2022 will tell you how confident I felt about this undertaking. Still, a fresh new year calls for a fresh new challenge, so I went to the depths of the cupboard where my bag of crochet hooks and yarn is stored (and largely forgotten for long stretches of time). There I found, besides the yarn I was looking for, some small projects I did years ago, which reminded me that I do actually know how to crochet; a reassuring thought.

A crocheted heart A crocheted band of tulips A crocheted angel

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the damage before I started on it, but what seems to have happened is that some of the threads had frayed, which had caused part of the stitching to come undone. My first task was to find out which frayed bits were still attached to something and which had come loose entirely; then I tried to work out whether the bits that were left could easily be re-attached to each other. But no, I found that some of the frayed and broken threads must actually have been lost before we got to it, and I was left with a hole covering three rows of crochet over a stretch of two to three inches. The original yarn was a variegated one, but luckily the missing bit was mostly in off-white, and I found one in my stash that was reasonably close in thickness and shade. I set to work adding in treble crochets (double in US terms). The trickiest bit, I found, was to match up the stitching where the existing row would originally have been worked around the row that I was adding in. It took a while, but then the gap was filled in and I breathed a sigh of relief.

First stage of mending

That would have been it, if it hadn’t been for two issues. The first one: another frayed thread. This hadn’t led to a hole yet, and I managed to knot the ends and pull them into the existing crochet.

Another frayed thread Safely knotted and the knot tucked away

The second issue was more one of aesthetics. The patch I mended looks very light. Because of the sometimes quickly changing colours of the yarn used, that’s what it would have looked like originally (there are parts where the lilac/pink shade clusters together in a similar way) but it looks like it is because of the mending! Could I perhaps work in some of the brown crewel wools from my Jacobean Certificate piece to make it blend in more?

Should I work in some brown?

Well, no. The colours looked close enough when placed on top of the blanket but when I tried working one of the shades into the crochet it looked awful (partly I think because the original brown has a pinkish shade to it) so I took it out again. This was one issue that couldn’t be solved.

There was a possible third issue, which was that the original crochet wasn’t always regular (something that makes me wonder whether it was in fact my mother-in-law’s own work). Sometimes there were four treble crochets where you would expect five, or the other way around; some stitches were worked around the previous row, some pierced the previous row – it made it difficult to decide sometimes how many stitches to put where! And in one place, that had led to a larger gap than I would have liked.

Even so I’d folded the piece away and let my daughter-in-law know it was done, when I realised I really couldn’t bear to give it back to her with that larger gap, so I brought out the hook and yarn and added two more treble crochets, blending them into the original stitches as much as possible. The two pictures below unfortunately don’t show the same side of the blanket, one is of the front and one of the back, but they do show the difference between the gap after my first go and with the added stitches. I’m happy with it now, or as happy as I’m ever going to be smiley, and it’s ready to go back to its home and be used. What more could I want?

The annoying gap No annoying gap!

2 comments on “Hooked on mending

  1. I think you did a really good job. You’ve made everything useable again which was the whole point.

  2. Yes, I had to remind myself that that was the main aim! And it’s nice to know it will be used, and not just thrown away.

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