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March Mending Month
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Crochet Patches
By Andrea Dunlap

A few years ago when I was working on a documentary in Peru, I only had a few pairs of nice hiking socks with me and one of them got a hole. I didn’t have a sewing needle or thread, but I did have a set of crochet hooks and access to some beautiful, hand-spun alpaca yarn. I developed a method of patching that typically considerably outlasts the machine-made life of the rest of the garment.
I wouldn’t call myself a great crafter, though I enjoy it; to be honest, the idea of following a pattern to crochet, say, a sweater really sends me running (all that counting!). If there are any experts out there who have ideas for improving the technique, please leave ideas in the comments!
As for me, I find it encouraging not to follow a pattern, to just throw myself at this hole problem headlong and come out with a glorious piece of art. I patched an old thermal my boyfriend had and it became his favorite shirt. When I was broke after I came back from filming my documentary, a friend paid me to patch every item of clothing he owned that had holes in it.
To start, you need a pair of scissors, a crochet hook that fits your yarn approximately, yarn (a gauge close to that of your garment is good but not necessary), and a hole.


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Trim the hole you are going to patch so that it is tidier and easy to crochet around.

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Make a slip knot to begin.

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With the slip knot on your hook, put the hook through the sweater as though it were something you were already crocheting. Then proceed around the hole, just sticking the crochet hook right into the perimeter of the hole you are patching.

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As you get going, your hole will start to look cauterized.

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This is a good shot of the yarn going through the sweater and being hooked through to the other side for a single crochet around the edge.

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Once you have gone all the way around the hole, just start crocheting in a spiral through your first row. Every hole/yarn combo will be different, so you can figure out what looks right as you go. I first tried crocheting three single chains, skipping 1 ch, but that was coming out a little tight. I then tried 4 ch skip 1, and that seemed better. In general, I wish I’d crocheted a lot looser and been more relaxed (like life). You can usually tighten your crochet job up in the wash, whereas crocheting through very tight chains is more difficult and doesn’t shrink down as well.

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At some point, I am always tempted to just leave the hole as a kind of window because I like the way it looks, but I keep going nonetheless.

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When you get close to the end, you can skip more chains and just spiral down into no hole at all. Cut the thread, then turn the repair inside out and work from the inside.

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Chain around, then just pull the yarn through many places in the center as a kind of knot. Trim the ends of the yarn, but not too close or they might pull through.

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Finished! A little bumpy, but hopefully it will wear in?
About the author:
Andrea Dunlap is a photographer and filmmaker in the Bay Area. Inspired by Wattzon, she recently started the My Favorite Sweater blog to celebrate use of sweaters rather than heaters. Send in photos of your favorite sweater to help her out.


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Comments

  1. Meg says:

    Very nice! I’m almost tempted to cut a hole in a sweater just to try it. :)
    Just to clear up any confusion, I think the author is talking about slip stitching, not chaining, into the base single-crochet “rim” of the hole.

  2. Diana Foss says:

    In general, the formula for a flat circle in single crochet is decreasing 6 stitches per round. So, if you count the number of slip stitches you start out with and divide by 6, that will tell you how many stitches to work before you either skip one or do a decrease (insert hook into next stitch and draw up a loop, insert hook into following stitch and draw up a loop, yarn over and draw through all loops on hook.

  3. Carrie says:

    This is my favorite mending idea so far – it’s brilliant!

  4. Jessica says:

    What a beautiful solution! Can that yarn be found somewhere online?

  5. Emmy Jay says:

    This is so beautiful it might (*might*) just inspire me to fix holes in my socks instead of…not.

  6. EmmyJay says:

    This is so beautiful it might (*might*) just inspire me to fix holes in my socks instead of…not.

  7. Laura says:

    You’ve inspired me to repair the hand-knitted wool socks with holes now, thanks! Tennis shoes can be murder on sock heels, and this technique is brilliant to get more life out of these things I spent hours making in the first place. Nice!

  8. dofnup says:

    I also think she’s doing slip stitch throughout … ?

  9. Andrea Dunlap says:

    I imagine you are all correct about the name of the stitch. I learned crochet by just doing and I never know if I’m following directions properly or using the right terms. So: slip stitch it is.
    Thanks for the formula for a flat circle in single crochet! Decrease 6 per round!
    As for the yarn, I fell in love with it at ImagiKnit in SF, it’s from Uruguay and you can find store locations here: http://www.malabrigoyarn.com

  10. thelittlefluffycat says:

    oooh…I’ve got a beautiful cashmere set I bought at a garage sale… I’m imagining little shimmery gold crocheted patches. . . awesome!

  11. Kristen says:

    Thank you! The lovely photos in this post (and simple explanation) inspired me to mend my the elbow of my favorite old sweater this evening. I am not very skilled at crochet, but I figured it out as I went along. I am thrilled to have my sweater back in circulation without a hole.

  12. Andrea Dunlap says:

    I’m super glad people are using this! It’d be rad to put them on the My Favorite Sweater blog (send photos?).

  13. fuchs&bär says:

    Thank you so much for the best tutorial ever!
    I just tried it with my favorite socks and it works
    great!

  14. fuchs&bär says:

    Thank you so much for the best tutorial ever!
    I just tried it with my favorite socks and it works
    great!

  15. fuchs&bär says:

    Thank you so much for the best tutorial ever!
    I just tried it with my favorite socks and it works
    great!

  16. fuchs&bär says:

    Thank you so much for the best tutorial ever!
    I just tried it with my favorite socks and it works
    great!

  17. fuchs&bär says:

    Thank you so much for the best tutorial ever!
    I just tried it with my favorite socks and it works
    great!

  18. Marilee says:

    I know this was entered years ago, but Pinterest has given this technique and idea a new lease on life ! I love it. I have a favorite old heavy weight [they just don't make these any more] cashmere cardigan sweater that has a couple moth holes in it… I could not bear to throw it away as I toyed with ways to mend … now I don’t have to. I will make the crocheted holes a design effect and put my lovely sweater back into wardrobe circulation again. Thanks.
    Oh, some better sweaters come with little hanks of mending yarn … it’s a good idea to save them. While I think a bit of contrast in the repair yarn suits this technique, you never know.

  19. another pinterest finder here… i’d just chime that you’re going around the initial hole in SINGLE CROCHET. (UK double crochet). put hook through fabric, draw up a loop. yoh, draw through. single crochet. slip stitch is put hook through fabric, draw up a loop. pull loop through.

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