All the terms associated with “going-back” on a knitted project are pretty horrible.
- Ripping… the LAST thing you want to ever hear in regards to a garment.
- Frogging… it doesn’t make sense to anyone other than knitters.
- Unraveling... brings to mind a mental health term usually used when a person finally tips over the edge (insert hands pulling out hair image here)
But there are times when you do need to go back on a project.
When I first notice the error, it’s the beginning of the end. I can’t unsee it. I can’t let it go. I try to kid myself that it’s not going to bother me. But it’s tugging at the back of my mind. I feel a guilt--like I’m cheating on my talent by letting it go unattended.
This most recent “going-back” purgatory happened on my Sunset Highway Sweater. I was so worried that I would pucker my colorwork that I left the biggest, droopiest floats along the back of the first three inches of the sweater yoke. As I got used to knitting with two strands, my tension got cleaner and the stitches became more consistent. But those beginning inches were not beautiful. The work was gaping. The individual stitches were wonky and huge--at least twice as big as they should be, even though I’d knit everything on US 4s.
I knit about five more rows, kidding myself that I could block it out. Finally I knew what I had to do. I took a big swig of wine, envisioning myself as a cowboy in an old western, swigging whiskey as a makeshift anesthetic.
I freed my stitches from their needles and began to pull on their tails. I watched the loops ripple away as I unraveled three inches of colorwork.
After the deed was done and I was feeling sorry for myself as I was in the same place I was one week ago, I threaded the needles back through the remaining stitches, and began to work again.
But this time my tension was appropriate. I watched as consistent, happy, little Vs of color were neatly nestled in the correct location. The work was smooth and even under my hand as I pet it gently. I smiled with my red-wine teeth because I was so happy I went back and started again.
Sometimes you have to course correct. Had I finished the garment, I would have always noticed this little pooch. I wouldn’t have worn it and I would have beaten myself up about not going back when I was only 3 inches in.
So yes, it was painful. But sometimes to move two steps forward, you first need to take one step back.
Now I’m not even angry about it--if anything the first three inches helped me practice my tension. For one of the first times, I was appreciative of having to rip and repeat.
Maybe this whole “unraveling, ripping, frogging” business needs to be rebranded?
to knit again; to improve upon one’s prior knitted work; to make sure you will wear the f*cking thing.