When Fixing a Hole, Give a Darn About Your Yarn!

I’ve written before about two of our newest online-education workshops from Jennifer Raymond. The first one, All About Yarn, covers the raw material of every project you have ever knitted, will ever knit, or will even think about knitting. The second one, Darn It! How to Repair Your Knitting, covers how to mend your knitting when it has seen a little too much love.

A daring duo of workshops.

A daring duo of workshops.

I’ve had reason to return to these video workshops over the past few weeks. Several coworkers and family members have shown up—hat in hand (like, literally)—asking me to do a quick repair job. Fixing a rip in a garter-stitch scarf is one thing, but I blanched a bit when my boss gave me a cabled hat that looked like someone had shot it with a large-bore weapon. Thankfully, there is an entire section on cable repair in Jennifer’s darning workshop.

Watch some fast repair action.

Here’s the thing, though. Often when we repair an older project, we very well may not have the yarn originally used to knit it. I don’t care how many leftovers you have: if a friend gives you a scarf to fix, you will not have matching yarn. In that situation, it’s time to get clever. Embroidery floss is a great repair tool: It comes in wool, cotton, silk, and various blends—and in 5,981,002,139 shades. You can ply multiple strands together to approximate the weight of the original yarn. BUT. If your repair is large or uses a heavyweight yarn, floss won’t cut it. You’ll need to find a closer substitute.

Thankfully, All About Yarn has a lot of info on fiber. My boss’s hat didn’t feel terribly woolly, but to be sure, I did a quick burn test. (When a hat has a hole the size of your fist, a burn test on a loose end is small potatoes.) The fiber melted into a small bead AND stank, so I assumed it was a wool/synthetic blend. Superwash wool has a slick feel and wouldn’t shrink, so I felt safe using that. The hat was a knit with a bulky yarn and in a rather uneven color. After a bit of dinking around, I discovered that by plying a few strands of gray, hand-dyed superwash I had in my stash, I got yarn that was close enough in color, texture, and thickness to actually work. I fixed the hat—and it looked like hell.

Unlike the rest of the hat, the repair looked brand new. Jennifer points out that whatever we repair has seen some use: colors might be a bit faded, and stitches are probably a bit blurred and fuzzy. When you do a repair, make sure the repair matches the original fabric. Washing helps, and in the case of the hat, I took a bit of Velcro and fuzzed the repair a bit to get the same halo.

Cable repair, before and after.

Cable repair, before and after.

The whole experience felt a bit Wagnerian, but I’m glad I did it. Combining the techniques of grafting and stitch repair with fiber knowledge made the hat look like the damage had never happened. My boss was happy and I was proud.

All About Yarn and Darn It! How to Repair Your Knitting are available as streaming workshops you can watch anywhere, anytime. Want a deal? Subscribe to Interweave’s online workshops and tackle new techniques without leaving the house. For $9.99 a month, you can binge-watch to your heart’s content. Knit, crochet, spin, weave—hone a craft or learn a new one. Watch videos from great instructors, and access and download plenty of supporting material such as charts, diagrams, and patterns. Interact with other students via our chat boards, and post your finished assignments to a shared gallery so others can see your work.

Never stop learning,

(Originally posted on December 17, 2018; updated on November 14, 2019.)

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One Comment

  1. Myriam G at 5:56 pm January 3, 2019

    Great article. I would have loved to see pictures of the hat, before and after the repair, though.

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