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From the Lily Pad

April 8, 2013

I heard or read somewhere at some point in the last few years the idea that what separated experienced knitters from beginners was their willingness to frog a project. (For those unfamiliar with the term, frogging is when you slip the needles off of a project (or take a project already finished) and unravel it, so that you may start over and try again.) I found this idea interesting and am ready to admit that at first I rejected it (whenever I first came across it.) I know I first jumped to the conclusion that if one is an experienced knitter than one should not be making so many mistakes (somewhat sound logic on the surface, no?) I think this is true to an extent. I know that my knitting is better than when I began and I do make fewer mistakes. I am also far enough along in my knitting career that I can usually find a fix for issues that do arise (just don’t ask how often I may have to tink back on a lace project, or hell on something as simple as a hat, but anyway.) This is not to say that I don’t get my pride handed to be by projects ( I do) nor does it mean that I am done learning new techniques (I am not.) I just hadn’t made the leap to being okay with frogging a project because it wasn’t right. (Let’s not dwell on the fact that I may have known the project was off for most of the project, but I purposely ignored my own doubts and instead continued on. My ego is fragile right now.)

All of this is to say that in all honesty I thought I would have an FO (or a really close to finish WIP) for you all today. I have been struggling to find a pattern for a baby cardigan that I liked and that I could use with my yarn. (Baby Cardi is for a couple of friends from College who are expecting in July.) I have been searching on and off for something that would fit with the striping I had in mind for a gender neutral sweater. Failing yet again, I got cocky and decided to design on the needles (you can all cringe as you probably see what is coming.) Now I have knit my fair share of baby hats, and even dabbled in some baby blankets, but a cardigan isn’t exactly familiar territory. I have exactly one for myself (but let’s not discuss that okay?) I made a small vest for a nephew last Christmas and that pretty much sums it up in terms of garment experience. Now I am normally a rational, logical person (stop snickering, I am) and normally I can tell when I might be over my head in something (and being willing to admit it even if it is just to myself.) But for some reason this time I took leave of my senses and decided to wing it. (Hanging my head in shame.)

To be fair (ish) I did have some of a plan in mind. I knew that I wanted a raglan sleeved, top down cardigan. I knew I wanted garter stitch cuffs and collar and edging. I knew I wanted to incorporate stripes, and I knew I wanted to include buttons. I am sure there is this exact thing on Ravelry (probably more than one) but for some reason none of the countless patterns I reviewed caught my eye. So instead I decided to try my hand at designing. Now I don’t want to make it seem like I am discouraging anyone from designing their own patterns. I am not. I love the fact that with knitting (and other fiber arts) if you can’t find what you want, that it is simple enough that almost anyone can make up a pattern for themselves. What I am saying is that for me, trying to design on the needles was not the way to go.

Essentially what happened is that I ended up casting on too wide of a back. This threw the entire thing off balance (and would have required a very substantial button band. It also transpired that I kept knitting on this thing, despite feeling that the back might be too wide. I even finished, the main part of the body and bound off the edging thinking it was too wide. I picked up stitches for the button band thinking it was too wide. It was about 1 am when I was desperately attempting to convince myself that it would “block out” that I looked at the little cardigan and realized, painfully that there is no way this would work. It was in those moments that the quote about the difference between experienced and beginning knitters floated through my mind. It suddenly clicked and I realized that I would never be happy with this cardigan. I realized I could do better, that I would regret giving this as a gift to someone and that I would always think I should have gone back and fixed it. And so after a brief moment of silence (interrupted by a snoring cat) I began the process of frogging.

RIP little over sized cardigan

RIP little over sized cardigan

I have actually written out a little pattern now (and gone down a few stitches in the back.)  Which I have already cast on with.I have to say despite getting humbled by some sticks and string, it’s good to know that nothing bad happens when you frog (save for a few moments of grief.) And the bet thing is you always get a chance to try again. Where else in life do you get that chance?

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From → Knitting

6 Comments
  1. I have a shawl like that. I really love the yarn, but it’s not big enough and I don’t know how to make it bigger, or wear it how it is.
    Maybe this was the post I needed to decide to frog it, start again.

  2. Welcome to the club! I look at it like falling off a horse – if you have to frog/fall regularly, you need to get some lessons so you can be safer. If you never, ever frog/fall off, you’re probably not knitting/riding very much.

  3. Speaking as someone who has just completed three baby cardigans (my new grandchild is due in 6 weeks!), I know what you mean. Since all my patterns are old ones, I tried a new one this time and it didn’t work. I’ll blog on that soon. I shall modify that new pattern and make it again because I hate failure. I went back to the old pattern, after asking my daughter in law what she really wanted. She said she wanted a ‘plain cardigan that would go with anything’ so that’s what she’s got this time round. I made three of them, in different colours and will blog them soon.
    From what I can see in your picture, I think you’re making a beautiful cardi and I wish you well with it. Don’t forget to come back and show us soon.

  4. sparkeespud permalink

    You know frogging a project for mistakes is one thing, but as an experienced knitter I have frogged many just because I wasn’t in love with them any more. I once frogged an entired finished (and blocked) shawl just because I didn’t like it.

    As far as simple baby cardi’s go, I think you should look at Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Patterns, or her Book of Top Down Sweaters. She does a good job of sizing things for multiple sizes (usually baby to adult) and different gauges. It makes it really easy also if you are designing things to help get you in the right ballpark as far as stitch counts and things go. I have found my copies to be invaluable.

Care to share? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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