How to repair a crochet blanket // tutorial
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Spoiler alert: It's not as hard as you think.
Crochet blankets are cool. Crochet blankets loved to metaphorical pieces are even cooler. Crochet blankets loved to literal pieces are less cool. Think big holes in an heirloom blanket. Moth damage. Deteriorating yarn. Rough-‘n-ready hookwork before you knew what you were doing. Playful puppies with sharp teeth. If you have a crochet blanket in need of mending, this blog post is for you.
Typically, you'll have some kind of hole in the middle of your blanket. It might be just a few stitches wide. It might be half the blanket. You might have holes all over the place.
However it looks, what we're talking about here is mid-row repair. Somehow you have to work in between the rows. Into the row below and the row above at the same time. But there is a way.
It isn't complicated but it does require a bit of patience. There will be ends. Perhaps many ends. But the effort is worth it. You will have saved a beloved blanket that can go back to being the useful member of the family it always was. You will have preserved the memories and all the love that was woven into every stitch. No mean thing.
There's also something to be said here about consumption and sustainability and the value of making-do. Emma Friendlander-Collins - eco-crafter, colour genius and general good egg - summed it up aptly in this post on Instagram (well... she aimed to. Kittens intervened). But you get the gist. Mending blankets is a good thing to do all round.
So, without further ado:
SAVE YOUR STITCHES!
A handy step-by-step photo tutorial
I use UK crochet terms. UK treble = US dc.
I’m working with a granny blanket, one of those really “crochety” crochet blankets made up of groups of three (UK) treble stitches. Theoretically this method would work for any stitch combination, but take care. I haven't tried it myself on anything complicated or lacy.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
If you made the blanket in the first place, and recently, you will know all about it. If not you will need to spend some time with your blanket and get to know it well. Prise apart stitch groups and look at it from all sides. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What kind of job do I need to do?
Is this blanket an heirloom?
Is it the last surviving handiwork of my dearly-loved late grandmother?
Does it have special qualities such that it deserves extra care and attention?
Or is it a grunty old car rug for picnics and wet dogs?
This will determine how careful you need to be about your yarn choices and your stitches. I for one am a fan of the visible mend. I think it adds layers of character and history to a finished piece. It tells another chapter in a story.
2. What can I work out about the original crochet?
Was the original crocheter left-handed or right-handed?
Did they work in turned rows or continuously in the round?
Is there a right/wrong side to the blanket?
How many chains did they work between treble-groups, if any?
How did they handle colour changes?
Were they consistent or does the working of the blanket vary?
Roughly what size hook were they using?
And what kind of yarn?
You may be, or be able to ask, the original crocheter yourself. Or you may have to deduce these answers by examining the blanket.
So, the blanket I have here came from my son’s kindergarten. The kids use it inside and outside, make tents with it, roll around in it; it gets a much-loved hammering. I can tell from the stitches it was made by a left-hander, which will be tricky because I am right-handed. It means that if someone looks really closely, my stitches will differ from the original. But because mending is my end goal rather than perfect restoration, I can live with that. My original crocheter used some kind of synthetic yarn of about DK/8-ply weight. I’ve got some acrylic in my stash that will work nicely. There are sections worked in turned rows and others worked without turning, so there is a mix of “right” and “wrong” sides. Colour changes are random. There’s a definite stashbusty vibe going on. I’m thinking a 4mm hook, but I’ll see if that looks right that after I’ve worked a few stitches.
A WORD ON YARN CHOICE
The yarn you use will depend on the answers to the questions above, but generally you want to aim for:
Matching the original yarn as best you can will ensure your mend looks and behaves like the rest of the blanket. I recommend making sure you have plenty of your chosen yarn to hand. There will lots of ends to weave in. And because you will be working from cut lengths of yarn (rather than with yarn attached to the ball), you may end up with some wastage if your initial estimate was off. Factor this in as you gather supplies.
WHAT YOU NEED
As well as yarn and a hook, you're also going to need:
A whole lot of safety pins. You want one for each treble-group in the section you are working. Choose ones that are a bit longer than each treble-group; say, about 5cm/2” long or so.
Little snippy scissors.
A stitch marker (or just use one of your safety pins).
A tapestry needle.
A crochet hook 2-3 sizes smaller than your main one can be helpful too.
Now then, to work.
Secure the top level stitches
Lay out your blanket. You want to stop it unravelling any more than it already has. You do that by securing the “top level” stitches with safety pins.
In my blanket, the stitches that need replacing are the dark blue stitches that are falling to bits. The top level stitches are the mid-blue stitches above them. See how they’re still intact? Let’s keep them that way.
Insert a safety pin into each treble group. Go through the actual loops, rather than piercing the yarn.
If you look closely, you’ll see that for each treble stitch there are two loops, or legs, that end up on your safety pin. Take a look at my marked-up photo above. I have three stitches on my pin. For each stitch, see how one leg is twisted (marked up white) and one leg is not (marked up yellow dashed)?
When you transfer the stitch onto the safety pin, make sure the twisted leg stays twisted and the untwisted leg remains untwisted. (Remember, my original crocheter was left-handed and this is the “wrong” side of the work. Your twisted leg may be on the right, rather than the left like mine. It will be pretty obvious.).
Remove the offending yarn
Trim away the stitches you are replacing. You can pull out the offending yarn with your fingers but if it is an old or particularly hairy blanket, the stitches may be matted together. Snip them away carefully with scissors.
Snip back to where the row or round is still intact. (In theory, you could replace a whole row or round if you need to. But I suspect it would be unnecessarily hard work. I recommend working in stages, re-crocheting one section of stitches before moving onto the next one. It means more ends to weave in but less hassle and fewer opportunities for disaster.)
Joining your new yarn
Time to join in your new yarn. Remember, you need to work with a cut length of yarn. Estimate how much you’ll need for the section you’re working on and cut it from the yarn ball. To help you work out how much you'll need, you might want to whip up a quick swatch first, then undo it, to measure how much yarn you use when working treble groups. (Pfffft... I know you're not going to swatch. But don't say I didn't warn you when you run out of that discontinued yarn you're using).
Carefully undo some of the intact treble stitches until you uncover a working loop. You may need to secure another set of top stitches with a safety pin. For the most seamless transition between the old yarn and the new yarn, aim for the last loop of the chain between treble-groups. I’m less worried about hiding my mend, so my join is in the middle of a treble-group. Make sure you have at least 5cm/2” of old yarn tail to weave in - undo a few extra trebles If you need to.
Insert your hook into the working loop. You’re ready to go and from now on use your new yarn. If you need to, complete the treble-group and then the required number of chains.
This is where the magic happens.
Remove your hook from the working loop (or use your smaller crochet hook). Pass it through the first group of top level stitches, then pick up the working loop again in the notch of your hook. I leave my safety pin in the top stitches until I know I’m all secure.
Pull the working loop through the top level stitches.
Give that working loop a good tug, because you also want to pull through the beginning of the tail end of the yarn too. It will be trailing alongside the chain you just worked. Use your fingers to wrangle it out of the top level stitches. Bring it right out the other side, until the whole tail has passed through. You may find it easier to remove your hook from the working loop and insert a stitch marker there instead. That will give you two hands free to fiddle with tail end, safe in the knowledge your working loop isn’t going to disappear on you. (It's no biggie if it does - just re-insert your hook into the working loop that's there and redo the stitches).
Boom! That’s it! Your yarn is now in position, ready to work the next treble group.
Keep crocheting and pulling-through in this way until you reach the end of the section you’re working on.
You’ve reworked the treble groups and now you’ve reached the intact treble group at the end of the section. Now what? Work a pull-through in the last group of top level stitches and slip stitch into the top of the first stitch in the intact treble group. Cut yarn and weave in ends. And that, my friends, is it. Well done.
BUT WHAT IF I NEED TO FIX MULTIPLE ROWS?
You may have a poor deteriorating blanket that is really, really falling to bits. You may have to fix more than one row (or round) at a time. Fear now. The process is the same.
Just complete one row at a time. Once you reach the end of the first row, fasten off. Turn your work (if required) and start afresh, as above, on the second row. It will mean extra ends to weave in but I’ve found it to be the neatest and least-obvious solution.
Pretty cool, huh?
Do let me know how you get on with your blanket repairs. Oh go on then, let's make up a hashtag too. How about #saveyourstitches ? I can't wait to see your efforts!