This month, Inside Crochet has a distinctly granny theme, with a good proportion of the patterns inspired by the humble granny square. In honour of that, I thought I would share my tutorial for repairing granny squares. We have all done it - chopped off our ends at the centre of our granny square, thinking that we have probably worked over the end enough to trap it in. Then, some months later, you notice that the square is unravelling from the centre out. As with the blanket I had assembled for my nephew Austin at my sister's baby shower, which I talked about in my last post.
Above you can see the square that became unravelled in Austin's blanket. The good thing about this granny, and traditional granny motifs, is that they are usually made of a different colour each round so you can easily see distinct rows and it makes it easier to repair. It also means that if you cannot salvage enough of that first round of yarn to make the same round again, you can simply substitute another yarn in a different shade and it will not look out of place.
To begin, run a 'life line' along the round above the broken round; the round the unravelled yarn runs through. You can do this by threading a yarn needle and passing it through the round, or by pulling a thread through each group of stitches with a small crochet hook, as I am doing above.
If you are a fan of lace knitting, you may be familiar with a lifeline - a thread used to 'save' or mark a number of stitches - but it isn't often used in crochet, as you usually only have one stitch on your hook at one time. A lifeline is run through stitches to allow you to pull back to that point without dropping stitches. The yarn or thread you use for this should be finer than the yarn used in the project, for ease of passing through and to limit stitch distortion. It should also be smooth, so you can pull it out easily when it is no longer needed. Finally, it should also be a contrasting colour so that you can see it easily. Therefore, any kind of strong, fine, cotton crochet thread is perfect for a lifeline, I am using a DMC Petra thread for the lifeline shown.
Once your lifeline is in place, you can safely unravel the broken round without fear of the entire motif disintegrating.
Now, starting at the treble group to the right of a set of two corner trebles groups, thread the working yarn you will be using to recreate the first round clockwise around the stitches of the round that the lifeline is holding. Pull a little through to work the first stitches, but make sure that you are working the first stitches with the shorter end of the thread and that the long/ball end is at the end of the round. (Note: I have only threaded the bright orange yarn of that first round left to right through the first corner treble groups worked to pinpoint the groups you should be working with first).
With the short end of yarn, begin the first round again, as for a regular granny square, making the ring, then working the first three treble group into the ring. Pull up on the last loop on your hook, making it longer, then remove your hook from the loop.
Insert the hook through all the stitches of the next two three treble groups at the corner, from left to right, then insert your hook back through the original loop from the first round, and pull that loop back through the two three trebles groups. You may need to now pull on the yarn to make that loop the correct size - it shouldn't be too big.
Work a three treble group into the ring of the first round, then pull up on the final loop, remove the hook from the loop and repeat the same process for each corner. As with a regular granny square round, join with a slip stitch to the first stitch and your repair should be complete! This technique was revolutionary to me when I first learned it, I hope you enjoy it too.
I am aware that this technique can be very confusing and fiddly to work so I am preparing a video tutorial - will post it ASAP!