Side track: Repairing latch hook, part 1

back side of little rug
Recently, I was asked to take a look at a little latch hook rug in need of repair - to fill in places where the yarn had fallen out.  The little rug, about 24x40 inches, was made by the grandmother of the current owner, probably in the 1930's.

I know how to latch hook.  I've done a fair amount of crochet repair.  How hard can it be?  So I agreed to see what I could do.

I know from repairing crochet that it's never that simple to repair/restore an old piece.  Really messed up areas are the result of little messed up areas that got worse - there are levels of damage and repair.

Here's what I learned so far from this piece:

1.  Of course, matching the color is always a problem.  Since the original yarn is wool, the replacement yarn should also be wool.  Thanks to a suggestion from a friend, I will take some new wool in colors I think might work and lay it out in the sun to fade them quickly.

2.  The areas around the bare spots have yarn that is worn down -- those are shorter than the good strands, and shorter than replacement strands, so some of them may need to be replaced, too.

3.  But here's the real challenge:  The rounded bits in the picture are where each strand of yarn is folded in the latch-hooking, not the ends of the hook strands of yarn -- that means all those bits of yarn are just waiting to fall out, basically held in place by the natural tendency of wool to stick to itself and stay put.

3.a.  The client likes the flattened, rounded texture of the surface.
3.b.  She wants the finished surface to be a consistent height.
3.c.  The strands of yarn of the new bits I've added -- what latch-hooking actually looks like when it is new -- seems messy to her and is not desirable.

So while I might/could wiggle those old strands a bit to re-seat them, that might disrupt the flat, rounded look of the surface that the client likes.  It might be better to fill in the empty spaces and then trim the new bits to have the same height as the flattened surface, or somehow worked them to be flattened in a way that they won't fall right out.

I am disinclined to add a finish to the backing to help secure the knots better when the whole project is done.  My experience with adding a finish to the back of a hooked piece to secure the knots has been disappointing:  It left an unpleasant finish that got tacky in hot weather and collected dirt, and it made any future repairs impossible because it permeated the basic mesh.

Searching for information on this on the web has not led to much information.  Fortunately, the mesh is in good shape, so I can work with it.