Crochet Surgery or Not

One of the things I have celebrated on my blog are the number of good friends I’ve made over the years of being online. Most of these friends are fellow crochet enthusiasts. One of my online friends is “Maven”, we met thru a group on Ravelry back in 2008 and have continued to stay in touch thru Ravelry, Facebook and Twitter over the intervening years.

We have even met in real life. It was a couple years ago, when I took my trip to NJ and NYC to visit Jan. It was far too short  a visit, but really fun to finally have a face to go with the name.

Maven likes to collect yarn when she travels and she purchased some yarn in Tallinin, Estonia on her trip there in May 2012. In May 2014  she decided to crochet a shawl with it while traveling in London and Paris.  She picked the “Festival Shawl” pattern designed by Lyn Robinson. This is a pretty point-up triangle shawl.

Unfortunately it was not coming out the way she wanted, but it turned out the yarn was really difficult to frog. It is a rather toothy wool that likes to grab onto itself. She decided to put it in time-out for awhile in June 2014.

Maven had posted photos of her project and we had talked about how to fix it. I had suggested doing some surgery on the original UFO, then finishing the shawl with how-ever much yarn she had left.  Or she could try using hair conditioner on the project and seeing if she could gently un-ravel the project that way.

She wasn’t sure she was up to either of those fixes and jokingly suggested that she should send it to me to mess with. Of course, I thought that was a great idea, Blog Post!

1 - Box of Goodies and WIP

This joke kept getting tossed back and forth between us, finally she decided to take me up on the offer for real. Tuesday of this week I got the box in the mail. There was the expected project, but Maven also included some interesting chocolate goodies. She knows what a chocolate fiend I am. I am not planning on sharing any of these.

Triangle Shawl

Initial look at the project made me think that crochet surgery could work quite well. But I wanted to get a really good look at the project in the light of day before making my final assessment.

2 - Looking at options 1

I could see changing the direction of wear and loping off the original bottom point might work. That would mean the shawl would be more of a crescent shape than a triangle. But would Maven like it, and want to wear it?

3 - Materials for Surgery

4 - Looking at route for Safety line

I even went so far as to begin the set-up for crochet surgery. In this case I used some size 3 crochet cotton thread and a blunt yarn needle.

5 - Running safety line thru sts

I carefully wove the thread into the base of each stitch of my chosen row. The idea being once I had secured that row I could then cut the yarn on the previous row and un-ravel it or otherwise remove it.

If you decide to do surgery on your crochet this is the basic approach. If I had continued along this line with this project I would have left a lengthy tail at both ends of my secured row when removing the previous row.

Then I would have used some of the yarn in the remaining ball of yarn to crochet a chain that captured the base of each of my secured stitches and created bridges between them where needed. After that it is just a matter of treating that chain like a normal crochet foundation and crocheting any additional stitches off of it for the neckline of the shawl.

6 - Safety line in place

Once I had the thread in place though I kept looking at the project and was concerned that the finished object would not work for Maven. I wanted her to be happy with whatever I came up with and it really didn’t look like this would fit the bill.

7 - Partial Row

What about frogging it?  The last row on the project was un-finished, so I looked at it to see how difficult it would be to un-ravel. It came apart easier than I had expected. I realized that frogging the project and returning the yarn to Maven was a real possibility.

I hadn’t even tried the conditioner or de-tangling spray yet. So I began to very carefully pull the stitches apart and wind up the yarn as I went.

8 - Broken Yarn and crochet hook

Yarn wrap for broken ends

Early on there was a break in the yarn, so I folded the ends together and used a long slip knot to secure them. That way when Maven goes to work with the yarn again the color gradients won’t be interrupted.

One of the tricks when un-raveling a fussy yarn like this: take it slowly, one stitch at a time. I occasionally used a small crochet hook to hold the top of a stitch open as I gently persuaded the yarn to release. Other times I pinched the base of that top loop between my thumb nail and fore finger.

9 - Almost done Frogging

Whenever I ran into a spot that wouldn’t come free I would gently tease the fibers loose. Yes, this takes a bit more time. So only work on frogging a project like this in bits and pieces so that you don’t get impatient.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I could frog this and Maven can’t. I think 2 factors were in play here. Lack of humidity and very cold temperatures. I live on a cold dry mountain, Maven lives at sea-level on the East Coast. It was really cold the day the package arrived, 27F in fact.

If you are trying to un-ravel a project and are having difficulties with the fiber grabbing onto itself, try popping it in your freezer for a bit. A de-humidifier can be helpful too.

10 - Final Ball of Yarn

Now I have turned this project into a big ball of yarn. It’s ready to go back to Maven for her to crochet it into something new.

6 thoughts on “Crochet Surgery or Not

    1. You made me chuckle with the mention of bad memories from childhood. I remember those days too.

      Whenever dealing with an animal fiber yarn hair conditioner and detangling sprays can be a big help. After all the fiber is basically animal hair.

      Very glad my tips were helpful for you.

  1. I have been greatly remiss in responding to the blog post (though I have responded to you personally). What an absolute treasure it is, to have a friend who enjoys the same craft I do, but who is also chock full of the expertise and tenacity to tame that toothy yarn:) Thanks again so very very much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.