Tag Archives: frogging

Going with the Flow

Peggy Sue is dead.  (Not the person, the cardigan.)  I tried to fix it.  I wanted the pattern to work so much!  But, alas, it was not meant to be.  I started off with the wrong gauge (I knew this was going to happen.  I took a swatch and everything.  I’m just dumb.), and didn’t compensate accordingly.  My sweater was turning out much too small.  I got all the way to the armpits (it’s a top-down sweater) before I realized the error of my ways.

I ripped it out, and tried again on bigger needles, but the fabric just didn’t look right.  This time I only got halfway through the shoulders (thank goodness). I ripped it out again.

Then I got pissed and threw it in a corner of my craft closet.  It sat there for a while gathering dust while I sulked.

Now, I’m knitting up my pretty blue yarn again.  It’s still going to be a girly blue cardigan, but this time I’m sort of making my own pattern.  I’m using my new favorite sweater book, the Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.  It’s a Seamless Yoke Cardigan, based in part on her Feather and Fan Flare sweater.  It’s at a nice fine gauge (or at least fine compared to sweaters I’ve made before).  I like to make my sweaters with chunky yarn and big needles, but I wanted this sweater to turn out a little fancier and girlier than my usual projects).  But, instead of the fussy little cables on Peggy Sue, I’m using decorative increases and garter ridges around the yoke, hem and cuffs.  And, since it’s a yoke sweater, not a raglan, I think it will be more flattering on me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe funny thing is, though, that now that I’ve got it growing on my needles, I really like the contrast between the red yarn of my provisional cast-on and the pale aqua blue.  It’s making me think that I want to use red or maroon buttons on the sweater.  Which is ridiculous, since the whole point of making this sweater in the first place was to use my pretty blue buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, I suppose that takes me back to my original point: It’s important to stay flexible when you’re knitting.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the details, and keep slogging through a project that you no longer love, or something that you figure out won’t work for you.  And, it’s so hard to abandon a project that you’ve poured hours and hours of your life into. But, it’s so much more satisfying (and fun!) to make something that you love than to slave away, determined to finish the project as you planned in the beginning.  Just because you start on a project, doesn’t mean that it’s the one you have to finish.

How have you had to be flexible when you work on a project?


Gather ’round boys and girls, and let me tell you the tale of the Green Yarn and the sweater(s) it became.  Our story begins in the year 2008…

A hopeful young knitter named Allison found a beautiful pattern called the February Lady Sweater.


It was gorgeous… cozy, comfy, lacy, and a beautiful shade of green.  She had to have it.

As a graduate student, Allison went the cheapest route and bought a whole pile of white yarn from Knit Picks and dyed it with food coloring.  It turned out… with varying results.  Some of the skeins were greener, some were browner, and one even had bright red blotches in it.  It was odd, but it wasn’t going to defeat our knitter.  She went ahead and meticulously knit up the February Lady Sweater, carefully using each skein for only a few rows to mix the slightly different yarns throughout her sweater.  After months of work, and weaving in hundreds of ends, she was done!  She tried on the sweater and!

It. Looked. AWFUL.

It was chunky, too big, and looked like the worst, most stereotypical maternity clothes.  Allison wore it twice (out of stubbornness) and threw it to the bottom of her closet, where it was never thought of again.


In the summer of 2010, Allison got the itch to knit another sweater, and remembered that green yarn from two years ago, and went to go dig it out.  She found the terrible sweater, and tried it on again (just in case).  It was still ugly.  So, she ripped out the entire thing and balled it all up into a million golf ball sized skeins of yarn.

In the years since she had first knit the sweater, it had sat at the bottom of the closet becoming permeated with dust.  Unraveling the sweater and rolling up the balls of yarn caused both Allison and her husband to have massive allergy attacks.  So, out of spite, she hid the yarn away again, refusing to knit with something that made her sneeze like she had rolled around in a pile of cats.

Around Christmas 2012, Allison got it into her head that she wanted a new sweater.  Something plain, with nice long sleeves, and maybe a simple cable down the sleeves (because why not).

The idea rolled around for a while, until she purchased a book called “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters” by Ann Budd.  “Perfect!” thought Allison, looking at the pattern for a basic saddle-shoulder sweater.  “I’ll make this!  It will be quick and easy, and I’ll be able to use that green yarn that’s been following me around for the past five years.”

She cast on, carefully spit-joining the ends of all her little skeins of yarn.  And, before she knew it she had the top half of a great pullover: sleeves, crew neck, shoulders, and a good 10 inches of body.  Excited, she tried it on:  the sleeves looked perfect, the neck was great, but the body of the sweater was way too big.

More determined than ever, Allison ripped out the body (again) and reknit it, this time decreasing on the sides to bring the size down.  She tried it on (again), and was dismayed to find out that the sweater looked even worse than before!  The body fit around the waist, but now there were weird puffy bits in the armpits of the sweater.  Not good!

She ripped out the body once again and reknit it, this time adding k2p2 ribbing panels on the sides.  She held her breath as she tried it on once more.

It fit!  It looked good! Hooray!

She flew through the remaining 6 inches of body and bound off as quickly as she could.  She blocked out the sweater that night, and kept coming back to look at it as it dried.

Two days later (Seattle is always slightly damp, even in summer), the sweater was cozy and dry!  Allison excitedly put on the “finished” sweater, and was heartbroken to realize that the sleeves, after blocking, were a good 4 inches too long.  After a bit of pouting, she ripped the cuffs back and reknit them in an evening.

Finally!  The sweater was done!  It had been five years since she had purchased the yarn, she had tried two patterns, and had at least 4 major froggings, but at last she had something to show for her work.




So, the moral of the story?  Never, ever, ever, give up.  That’s the great thing about knitting.  No matter how bad you mess up (unless you set your yarn on fire or something), you can always remake a pattern, fix your mistakes, or totally reknit your yarn.


From the Back of a Galloping Jackass

I am a total perfectionist.  Guilty.

“But wait,” you say.  “I’ve seen typos and mistakes on this blog, and that one post has the wrong pictures, and I’m pretty sure that the third sentence in the second paragraph in your fifth post used the subjunctive mood where you should have used the indicative.”

To which I say,  “Oh crap, let me go back and fix that.”

When it comes to knitting, I’m even worse.  I am merciless with my knitting.  I’ll unravel an entire sweater if I don’t like how a cast-on edge is laying.  It drives my husband nuts.  He’ll shudder and yell “No!” when he sees me start to frog* a project.  But, if I know a project is so messed up, ill-fitting, or just plain wrong to wear on a regular basis, I have no trouble ripping up a project and re-knitting it until it’s perfect.

I do have a rule about when it is necessary to frog a project, though (although if you ask my husband, he’d probably say that I can’t finish a project without ripping it out at least once).  This gem of wisdom was given to me by a little old German lady who owned the knitting shop near my college campus, and I still use it today:

   “If it can’t be seen from the back of a galloping jackass, you don’t need to fix it.”

-Brigitte (I forgot her last name) circa 2008

Practically, this means that if the mistake isn’t big, doesn’t affect the overall fit of the garment, or falls outside of the most visible areas of the garment (for example, in the armpit of a sweater), you can leave the mistake be.

Unless you are dumb and a perfectionist like me.



*Frog-knitterspeak for unraveling a piece of knitting, because you “rrrip-it, rrrip-it.”  A dumb term, but don’t blame me.  I didn’t make it up.