Wednesday, 11 June 2014

When Minor Modifications Turn Into Major Repairs

Last year I made a lot of hats for other people.

Meladora's Butterfly Stitch Slouch was a very popular pattern and I made several in the standard adult size for female friends and associates.

Last week, one of those hats returned to me for a simple adjustment which almost became a disaster.

The recipient of this hat loved the colour and style but found the band to be a little tight when she tried it on. That was no surprise because I often err on the tight-side when crocheting bands because they usually stretch a little with regular wear and laundering. I had the balance right in this regard for the other Butterfly Stitch Slouches.

After some months this particular hat was still feeling tight on the recipient except, instead of it slackening off a little, it was becoming uncomfortably tight. This will not do!  I offered to undo the stitching and rework the band for her so that it is looser.

This hat was made to a standard pattern size which was fine for all of the other women for whom I had made a Meladora's Butterfly Slouch, but not for this friend. 

She had originally tried on this hat as a ready-made item.  This time, we took measurements of her head circumference to discover she measured 3 inches more than the standard size. No wonder it felt so tight to wear.

Thankfully, Meladora's Butterfly Slouch is worked in two sections beginning with the band which is worked from the top down and fastened off at the edge. 

Then, turn the band around to work into its top row to start the patterned section. The pattern stitch is worked from the bottom up until it is long enough and then gathered at the top to form the crown.

"This should be an easy exercise of ripping out the band back to the foundation chain and then reworking a new band with a bigger hook size", I devised.

Step 1: Find the loose ends that were fastened off and woven in.  

I always leave quite long ends when possible for two reasons - the longer the thread, the less likely it is to come out; a long thread is very handy for future mending because it will be the same dye lot and colour as the rest of the item, having been exposed to the same amount of wash and wear.

Even if I had saved the leftover yarn from the same dye lot, if the leftovers don't go through the same conditions as the finished item, by the time any mending is needed, there's a good chance that their colours may not match properly.

"Aha! There is the loose end." Carefully I extract it with a small crochet hook. "There's where it was fastened off." I pull the end out of its loop and happily begin unravelling ('frogging') the band from its bottom edge.

"What's this?  Another end woven in?" I ponder whether this second end was from the foundation chain at the top of the band or perhaps I had joined in a new ball of yarn. It looks like the latter so I begin frogging from the second thread as well. "Yes, I had joined in a new ball." That's settled and everything is going smoothly.

Happily, the stitches were coming undone very quickly. "This will be fixed in no time."

Then, disaster struck.  

Not paying close attention, I ripped a little too far and left a big hole between the band and the pattern section! Meanwhile other stitches were coming undone to leave a bunch of loose loops threatening to create another hole.

I struggled to make sense of this mess.

By this stage, I was getting tired and my brain hurt.  I secured the loose stitches with split ring markers and the hat was put aside until conditions improved.

Step 2: Repairs

After almost a week of avoidance, the house was quiet, the light was good, I was awake and determined to get this mess sorted. Today.

I began with the big hole.

Close and concentrated examination revealed that I had begun unravelling the first round of the patterned section - a round of double crochet (dc - Aus/UK) into which the pattern stitch was worked.

I needed to rework that round, working the tops of stitches through the loose bottom loops of the pattern stitches. 

I had also unravelled part of the foundation chain which was the 'anchor' for that same first round of the patterned section.

It was very much a brain strain to remember the order of pattern stitches and work them 'backwards'. I may not have got it perfectly right, but the stitches are now all secure and there is no more hole. 

The string of loose loops was simpler than it looked.

These loops formed when a section of foundation chain unravelled.

The second loop from the right (with a black stitch marker) needed to be pulled through the last loop on the right (marked with a red stitch marker). The next stitch on the left had to be pulled through the loop on the hook and so on until there was only one loop left. Then the loose end needed to be fastened off and woven in again, just like the beginning of a regular foundation chain. Voila!

You may notice these stitches are uneven from all the fiddling around but that should not be noticeable once the band stitches are worked into them again.

Step 3: Rework the band with a larger hook. 

This time around, I used a hook that was two sizes larger and I worked evenly around until I got to the last round of crab stitch border (reverse double crochet / rev dc - UK/Aus).

Because of the larger hook, and working evenly instead of decreasing, this version of the band needed more yarn.

I am so grateful that I kept detailed notes about this project, including the ball bands.  I always write the project and date on the ball bands. Between my written notes and Ravelry (which I use to inventory my yarn stash) it was quick and easy to see which yarn was used, including the dye lot, whether I had any surplus available and where it was stored.

Thankfully, I still had enough to finish off the band.

I will not fasten off this hat until my friend has tried it on. I tried to stretch the hat to the right circumference. It might still be a fraction tight and I might yet need to make a new hat from scratch to fit my friend.

So until then, here are the 'before and after' photos again followed by the pattern details.

Before: big hole and loose pattern stitches.
After: dc round repaired and pattern stitches secured.

Before: foundation chain unravelled
After: foundation chain repaired

Pattern Details

Meladora's Creations, Meladora's Butterfly Stitch Slouch Hat, free crochet pattern <>, 2013-2014


  1. Clever you for sorting that out :-) I hope it fits now.
    Tracey xxx

  2. I am still waiting for my friend to come and try it on.