On Frogging

When I first starting knitting, I scoffed at frogging. I’m a huge believer in the 80/20 rule, which means that I tend to look for the 20% of the work I can do that will produce the 80% of the desired result. My mother would call this lazy, my husband would obsess over the 20% that isn’t perfect, but my mother-in-law and I agree that life is less stressful when you’re satisfied with “good enough.” In knitting, this translates to forgiving myself for the mistakes and assuming the non-knitters I give things to won’t be able to see the problem anyway, so why waste twelve hours of work undoing something?

Frogging is a bit silly. Except when it isn’t.

Plum Heather Wool of the Andes after frogging.
Time to knit a Seeded Cables Cardigan: 6 months. Time to frog the same: 1 hour.

In the last few months, I feel like I’ve been a frogging machine. And I’ve come to realize that, had I accepted sooner that frogging isn’t just for folks with OCD, I could have saved myself a fair amount of time and energy. What have I frogged?

  • An entire sweater that didn’t fit right.
  • A fifth of a sweater that was knit incorrectly and by a different knitter.
  • The first few rows of a sweater I messed up the shaping instructions on.
  • The setup on a shawl design that wasn’t coming out as I hoped.

All of this has me thinking of general questions to ask myself while I’m working on projects in order to catch the need to frog as early as humanly possible.

  • Is the yarn working with the pattern stitch? (Esp. with cables or lace or unique color runs)
  • Can I actually take over someone else’s project or are our gauges too different?
  • Will it fit properly by the time I finish?

The full sweater that I frogged was really the worst of it. I knew from the first few inches that the yarn and the pattern were not soulmates, but hope kept me moving forward when I should have cut and run. I spent MONTHS on a sweater that ended up sitting in my closet unworn for the better part of two years before I finally decided that it was a crime to let good yarn go unworn just because I couldn’t stand to undo all that work on those finicky freakin’ cables.

How about you, dear readers? When do you make the heart breaking decision to rip out your work?