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Are you a Fearless Frogger?

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

I realised the other day that I have two very distinct ‘patience settings’. On the one hand, I can be so unbelievably impatient that merely waiting for the kettle to boil is excruciating, with ice ages seeming to come and go in the time it takes for that little switch to flip. Three minutes may as well be an eternity. On the other hand, I can sit in tranquil silence for hours, calmly and methodically sewing a lifeline into a piece of knitting, as I prepare to unravel inches of work in the blink of an eye.

Screaming impatience or weirdly intense focus. There is nothing in between.

I’ve been knitting the Antler Pullover by Tin Can Knits for a little while now. One of their signature bottom-up knits, it was going along swimmingly until I got to the cabled yoke. Now I love a cable. As a self-confessed process knitter, there’s something very pleasing about the methodical back and forth dance of the needles as they make the rhythmic curves and twists emerge. About 4 inches in however, I decided I didn’t like the way they were looking. They were….fine. I knew I could make them tidier. Somewhere along the way I had discovered a better tensioning method and it was going to annoy me if I didn't apply that from the beginning.

So I tore them down. Frogged the heck out of those perfectly adequate muthas.

Back when I was an innocent novice knitter, this act of unnecessary destruction would have horrified me. I'm not usually a perfectionist, after all. But as time has passed I’ve made peace with the process, and sometimes it’s even cathartic. I’ve discovered the Zen of Frogging.

My turning point was discovering the afterthought lifeline. Armed with a darning needle and a length of differently-coloured yarn, you thread it through the right leg of every stitch in the row or round you intend to rip back to. I won’t lie, it takes ages. This is where the ability to focus in on a deeply dull task comes in handy. It also makes your eyes go wonky as you meticulously try to pick up the correct stitches all the way round - 239 on my recent example. Eventually, several eons later you have all your stitches securely on that piece of scrap yarn and you can fearlessly frog away to your heart’s content, knowing that your lifeline will put a halt to the unravelling.

A lifeline inserted into a handknit jumper
I mean, those cables could be tidier

Advanced lifeline enthusiasts will strategically place these little safety nets as they go along, ahead of each tricky section, and this is significantly faster. Like taking the time creating a save point before facing a formidable boss battle. I am not one of these safety-first types; I think that would require a level of patience somewhere in between my extremes and that's never going to happen.

Are you a someone who patiently creates a savepoint before ripping back? Or are you still - as a phrase coined on my Facebook page yesterday suggests and has now become my favourite term - ‘Bareback Frogging’ like some kind of absolute daredevil?

Regardless of your approach, if you haven't yet made the leap from fearful to fearless frogger I encourage you to give it a try. Don't let yourself be trapped into either soldiering on with a project you're unhappy with or consigning it to the WIP graveyard. Rip that mutha back. The worst that can happen is that you get to do your knitting all over again, and that seems like double your money’s worth if you ask me.

PS. If you too have discovered the Zen of Frogging, you can shout it loud and proud with this little 'Fearless Frogger' stitch marker tin exclusively designed by Skeinhawk Yarns.

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