Saturday, June 27, 2015

Side track: Repairing latch hook, part 1

back side of little rug
Recently, I was asked to take a look at a little latch hook rug in need of repair - to fill in places where the yarn had fallen out.  The little rug, about 24x40 inches, was made by the grandmother of the current owner, probably in the 1930's.

I know how to latch hook.  I've done a fair amount of crochet repair.  How hard can it be?  So I agreed to see what I could do.

I know from repairing crochet that it's never that simple to repair/restore an old piece.  Really messed up areas are the result of little messed up areas that got worse - there are levels of damage and repair.

Here's what I learned so far from this piece:

1.  Of course, matching the color is always a problem.  Since the original yarn is wool, the replacement yarn should also be wool.  Thanks to a suggestion from a friend, I will take some new wool in colors I think might work and lay it out in the sun to fade them quickly.

2.  The areas around the bare spots have yarn that is worn down -- those are shorter than the good strands, and shorter than replacement strands, so some of them may need to be replaced, too.

3.  But here's the real challenge:  The rounded bits in the picture are where each strand of yarn is folded in the latch-hooking, not the ends of the hook strands of yarn -- that means all those bits of yarn are just waiting to fall out, basically held in place by the natural tendency of wool to stick to itself and stay put.

3.a.  The client likes the flattened, rounded texture of the surface.
3.b.  She wants the finished surface to be a consistent height.
3.c.  The strands of yarn of the new bits I've added -- what latch-hooking actually looks like when it is new -- seems messy to her and is not desirable.

So while I might/could wiggle those old strands a bit to re-seat them, that might disrupt the flat, rounded look of the surface that the client likes.  It might be better to fill in the empty spaces and then trim the new bits to have the same height as the flattened surface, or somehow worked them to be flattened in a way that they won't fall right out.

I am disinclined to add a finish to the backing to help secure the knots better when the whole project is done.  My experience with adding a finish to the back of a hooked piece to secure the knots has been disappointing:  It left an unpleasant finish that got tacky in hot weather and collected dirt, and it made any future repairs impossible because it permeated the basic mesh.

Searching for information on this on the web has not led to much information.  Fortunately, the mesh is in good shape, so I can work with it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

String markers

Sleeve with marker
Recently a knitting friend asked the group if anyone had a row counter handy, because hers wasn't.  I realized I don't use a row counter.  There are a lot of really fun tools out there for counting rows and otherwise keeping track of shaping when instructions indicate to do something or other on a regular basis.  I have tried using row counters and pencil-and-paper to keep track of where I am and what I need to do next.  I end up keeping a couple of pieces of string in my kit, instead.

Here's a sleeve where I decreased 1 stitch at each end of every 6th row >>>

The sleeve is stitched from the armhole down to the wrist, with the armhole at the bottom of the photo and the wrist at the top of the photo.  It is stitched in rows, joining the end of the row to the beginning, then turning the piece to do the next row.  The marker is a yellow piece of thin string, which came at a very reasonable price from a tube of some incredible yardage from the hardware store.  Don't know the fiber content- it's not relevant.  It is smooth and thin and contrasts with the yarn of the project, which are the bits that matter.

Attaching and using the string marker
When I started working the sleeve, I attached the marker in the first decrease.  At the end of the same row, I remembered to decrease again, because what I am doing is decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the row.  The string is just hanging there, waiting for the next time I need it.

Since I am decreasing every 6th row (that's an even number), I know that I will always do a decrease row with the same side of the fabric facing me (in this case, the RS).

So at the end of that first row, I decrease.  Then I worked 5 more rows without doing anything with the marker.  But I do look at my piece to keep an eye on where I am in the process.  It is easy to read the rows.

When there have been 5 rows worked even, and I'm starting the next row, I catch the string as I make the decrease, enclosing it in the stitch.  At the end of the row, I decrease again.  If I were afraid of forgetting that decrease, I could have enclosed the marker string in that decrease, too, or used another thin string to mark those decreases, too, but that seemed redundant.

No pieces of paper.  No row counter.  It's just the piece of string.

Another good thing is that if the decreases are done correctly, the string in the piece shows how nicely the decreases line up over each other.

Once the shaping is done, I untie the knot securing the beginning of the marker and just pull it out.

It would have worked just as well to use a shorter piece of string, without securing it at the beginning.  Then, as the sleeve grew, I would pull the string to mark the current decrease, having it just long enough to mark the previous couple of decreases.

String is good.