Friday, November 9, 2012

Crochet Repair

Repairing handmade fabric can be very satisfying because the results can seem miraculous, which is very cool.  How you repair a fabric depends on how it is made, including the scale, intricacy, and fiber content.  Here are some thoughts about repairing crochet-thread pieces.

Not that long ago, a large doily (about 36" across) came to me with some damage caused by a candle that fell over.  It looked pretty scary, and its owner was afraid that repair was impossible.

1.  This piece was made from very standard #10 crochet cotton, so matching material was easy to find.

2.  The first thing is to clean it, to make sure the color of the piece really is what I thought it was.  Boiling it in water for a few minutes removed the wax that was in the fibers.  Then I soaked it overnight in Biz to clean it. That did not remove the stains, but about half an hour in a weak bleach solution did the trick so the whole piece was its original white when the project was done.

These are all things you can do with cotton that is stitched at a fairly firm gauge.  Not recommended for other fibers or very loosely stitched fabrics.

3.  Crochet patterns are fairly easy to read, once you train your eye to see the stitches.  Doilies are almost always repeats of patterns.  This one is a combination of pineapples and Solomon's Knot stitches, with 11 repeats around.  With so much of it intact, recreating the bits where the holes are was fairly simple.

4.  This pattern is worked in the round, so here is the question:  the damage is over a number of rounds of stitching.  Is it better to take out all the rounds, or just restitch the bits where the holes are?  Restitching the whole thing is a lot of work, but it can be done with a single strand of yarn, minimizing loose ends to tuck in.  Restitching just where the holes are involves making short rows of stitches and tucking in the loose ends for each row.

The nice thing about thread-work is that the fabric is so visually complex that some tucked in loose ends here and there, especially in the small scale of thread (even #10), don't show up.  So working short rows and tucking in the loose ends was the way to go.

This project went fairly quickly, once I had the time to sit down and focus on it.  It came out fairly well, and its owner was pleased.

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