The last rays of the sun had finally disappeared and the sound of crickets was steadily increasing in proportion to the number of stitches on my knitting needles. I grinned as my audio-book that was playing took me through a particularly funny scene. I came to the end of the round pleased with how much I was able to accomplish knitting in such a short period of time. My project was taking shape with each round and I couldn’t be happier with my color choice.
There, in front of me, was an unpleasant reality. I had made it to the end of my round and I had one too many stitches. A quick survey of my project didn’t reveal any obvious mistake or dropped stitches. I counted each individual stitch. My eyes strained to distinguish each individual dark purple loop on my needles. I had the right number of stitches so I began, painstakingly, to rip back my work, stitch by stitch. I worked the last half of the round again. My brow furrowed deeper as I came up with the same number of extra stitches at the end of the round. I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath. I double checked my pattern and stitch count again. The soft “ping” of my cell phone alerted me to a message from my husband saying he was leaving the game shop and was on his way home. Looking at the time after responding to his message I realized that I was tired. Looking down at my work I again examined it for any obvious reasons for my current frustration. I closed my eyes and listened only to the sound of the story coming from the speakers of my computer. When I opened my eyes again I inspected what I had accomplished since finishing dinner. All was well except for those pesky extra stitches. The sound of the garage door signaled that my husband was home. I placed my troublesome project into my knitting bag along with my pattern, stood, stretched, and went off to greet my husband before finally heading to bed. I told myself I would puzzle out what had gone wrong on the last round tomorrow. My project needed a time out and I needed some sleep.
In the morning it all became clear. The very first repeat of the round was off by one stitch, thus throwing off every other repeat. I gingerly tinked each stitch back; careful not to drop any since I had arrogantly decided not to use a lifeline. After double and triple checking that the start to my round was correct I finished knitting the round and came to the end with a satisfying perfection.
When I first started to knit having to tink back stitches was almost impossible partially because I knit so tight but also because I wasn’t very experienced. When I came across a problem knitting was no longer fun and relaxing. I felt inadequate and beat myself up for making a mistake in the first place. Sometimes I would even try to “fix” it by just making an extra stitch or knitting two together. Those “fixes” usually just made things worse. As my frustration rose so did the tears.
Over time frogging has become much less daunting. I am able to “read” my stitches with much more accuracy and I am not nearly so hard on myself. Watching other, even more experienced, knitters have to rip back has helped me realize that I am only human. I am also (usually) smart enough to use a lifeline on intricate projects such as very fancy lace or brioche.
There are some valuable lessons I have learned about frogging.
- Never try to frog a project when you are tired.
- If at first you don’t succeed try again.
- If you still don’t succeed put that knitting in time-out! Take a break, 1 hour or more, and come back to it with fresh eyes.
- Use a lifeline on things that are tough to rip out like lace and brioche.
- Ripping out stitches is nothing to get frustrated about; everyone has to do it every once in a while. (Please, someone remind me of #5 the next time I get frustrated with ripping out)
Frogging is a term used for undoing your knitting because you rip-it, rip-it, rip-it…get it?
Tink is the term that is used for knitting backwards once stitch at a time, the word is literally knit spelled backwards.