Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Knitting MacGyver

Picture this.

I am sitting at work one afternoon in August. I am probably bored. My mobile phone rings and it's a number I don't know.

I am always suspicious of numbers I don't know.

A male voice I don't recognise asks for me by name. First and second name. Again, I'm suspicious but what follows is a rather odd but harmless request.

His name is John. He was given my number at a local yarn shop - Cassidy's or The Shearing Shed, I can't remember which - and how they had my number is still a mystery but I think they may have found me via the listing for the Canberra Stitch n Bitch group.

What I hear him describe is worrying and at first I panic. He has a jumper and it needs repairing. He doesn't know any knitters and hopes a local knitter can help. He describes a sister who could knit but who died and no one else who could help. Against my better judgement, I say yes, imagining the worst. I have visions of jagged edged holes, unravelled stitches, a nightmare. Perhaps helping him out will earn me good seats in Knitting Heaven.

Some weeks pass before our schedules are simultaneously free and when the time comes to meet him, Sean suggests I take a friend. Because, you know, men who call knitters for help with their unravelling jumpers are probably also deranged.

You never know.

A knitterly friend, Anthea, who works in my department and doesn't need much in the way of persuasion to get out of the office comes along with me. The arranged meeting place is a cafe near work and Anthea carries her knitting (she walks and knits!) so that he will recognise us.

We are met at the door by a waitress who says, 'Is one of you Helen?' I say yes. She points me in the direction of John who is at a table waiting. Very quickly it's easy to tell he is not deranged. At least not at first glance. He is a rather good looking silver-haired man in a suit who orders coffees for both of us and proceeds to explain his dilemma.

He has a large, heavy bottle green aran jumper that was bought for him in Ireland and as the problem is revealed, I know I will be fine. Anthea and I declare it an entirely salvageable piece and after a few more minutes of very nice chatting, John departs and leaves us to our coffee and knitting.

This afternoon, I set out to fix the jumper, turning myself into, as Kylie called me when I told her what I had to, The Knitting MacGyver. Truth be told, there was nothing very challenging about this fix-it job but I thought it was worth showing what I had to do.

Here is the jumper with the hole up near the neck.

You can see there's a hole in the purl section beside the cable. My fears of moth-eaten jagged holes were so much worse than this.

About 10cm or 4inches below the hole, I located a stitch just hanging out on its own, like this was an ok thing for a stitch to be doing. I grabbed it with a crochet hook.

Using the crochet hook, I picked up each horizontal bar of the ladder, working my way up towards the hole. Here, I've reached the hole.

For reasons beyond my understanding, there was no obvious place to hook the stitch once I reached the hole so I just worked right across the hole, picking up the first horizontal bar on the far side of the hole.

After that came the fairly dodgy sewing stage. Naturally enough I didn't have any yarn of the same shade, but the green of the jumper is flecked green and so some Bendigo yarn I had to hand matched a few of the flecks. Here is my carefully done but ultimately still fairly unprofessional job of securing it all down.

So that's the reverse side. Here's the front side - which on the jumper is the left shoulder blade.

See, with all the green flecking, I think the front is about as good as I could reasonably get it. Sean could only see it once I pointed it out (or so he said!).

So there you go. When strange men call you at work and ask if you can fix a much loved jumper, there's no need to be afraid. Or so it seems.

The proof of this pudding will be John's reaction when I give him his jumper some time this week. It really wasn't wearable as it was - that stray stitch was just going to keep slipping down the length of the body if somebody didn't intervene. I'm kind of pleased I got to help him out. I feel like I undertook a spot of community service.