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.
Trim the hole you are going to patch so that it is tidier and easy to crochet around.
Make a slip knot to begin.
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.
As you get going, your hole will start to look cauterized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.