A Whole Lot of Frogging Going On Here…

This is so embarrassing.

How many posts have I written about putting a lifeline in one's lace knitting?

Maybe you could be gentle and just not answer that. Because I could go back and count the lifeline posts myself..I'm going to guess there's at least three of them, probably more like five. Could be more, who knows. (Eek. How many posts have I written over the years, total? The mind boggles.)

OK, so I've given the lifeline advice over and over and over again…so can someone please explain to me why I am now faced with ripping back not one, but two projects where I did not use a lifeline? TWO PROJECTS. No lifelines. Not in the cute little Bolero from Feminine Knits, not in the Star Light Star Bright baby blanket

I am chastened. I am humbled. I'm tempted to say I grovel, but that might be a bit much.

Nevertheless, in the service of the Greater Good of Knitting Everywhere, I hereby do confess and explicate my sin, in the hopes that somehow, the gospel of lifelines will be heard all the more clearly.

(Heard more clearly BY ME, anyway. Earth to Planet Wiseheart. Important message coming through…)

In which I get very close to finishing the Bolero before splashing headfirst into the frog pond…

I've got two sleeves and two fronts done, and I had four inches of the back done. Thus, I was feeling rather smug about my ability to knit a simple (ahem) little lace pattern and watch TV and chat with my husband and pet the dog all at the same time. (You can see what's coming, can't you?) Halfway through a really great movie (Serenity, second time I've seen it, O how I love thee, Joss Whedon), I looked down at my knitting and swore rather fluently (sorry, Mom). Two rows back, I had gotten off by half a repeat, so that now the designs no longer "stacked up" properly.

And of course: No Lifeline. "It's such an easy lace pattern," I said. "The yarn is so nicely spun it will be easy to fix any errors," I thought. "I'm really good at fixing lace errors," I said.

Phooey. It is an easy lace pattern, and the yarn is nicely spun, and I do know how to fix lace errors, but phooey. This error was so big there was nothing for it but to rip away–not gently tink back stitch-by-stitch, mind you, but just whack those needles right out of the stitches and let 'er rip.

I ripped slowly. And I made sure no stitches got dropped…or so I thought. I put the stitches carefully back on the needles, started to repair stitch mounts…and found several dropped yarnovers and double decreases and oh…nevermind. I couldn't fix this mess to save my life. (I blame it on the black yarn being hard to see. Work with me here.) Now, I am tinking back over a hundred stitches, one at a time, carefully catching the loops of each stitch before they have a chance to get away from me.

If I had used a lifeline…I'd be done knitting the back by now, instead of starting at Inch Three. (Chagrin fills my heart.)

But wait. There's MORE.

In which I find a Problem in the Stars…

I was knitting along on the Star Light, Star Bright baby blanket, looking forward to having a fifth row of stars to show off to you today…and then I noticed a Flaw about 22 rows back (yes, I counted…EEK!). I'd never produced this particular mistake before (how ingenious of me!): In the midst of a stockinette row, as I whipped along, knitting without looking at my work as I am wont to do, I split a stitch. Not only did I split the stitch, but I knit the two halves of the split stitch as though they were two separate stitches…creating an increase right in the middle of the whole blanket. (Clever girl.)

There are no photos. I discovered this problem about half an hour before bedtime last night, and I was so annoyed that I dove right into Ms. Fixit mode before I thought to get out the camera.

Fixing the split-stitch increase: First, I turned the fabric this way and that, trying to decide if this was an error that could be Left Alone. I could, after all, simply decrease a stitch quietly near the edge before the next band of stars, and likely no one would be the wiser. (Meg Swansen does not show up at my house to randomly check my knitting, I'm sad to say. Or perhaps I'm glad to say. Tough call. I'd be thrilled to have Meg in my home, but not so thrilled to have her find all my silly mistakes.) However: The split stitch created a noticeable thin spot, which I worried might quickly become a hole in the hands of a toddler.

I tried dropping the stitches down to the split and re-working them with a crochet hook, but it left 22 rows of loose tension resembling a spider's web smack dab in the middle of the starry blanket. Not even blocking was going to erase that horror.

The end result, as you have guessed, was a late-night frog session, including a good 45 minutes or so putting 181 stitches in the midst of the lace star band back on the needles, correcting mounts and rescuing yarnovers and ssp stitches.

And the obvious omission? Ayup: No lifeline. My favourite lace trick and I forgot to put one in. Sheer laziness, no other excuse…and I paid for it with a lot of frustration (and loss of sleep! I love my sleep time…). All I can say is: Lifelines: Just Use Them. (Also: Do as I say, not as I do. Sorry about that one.)

And if you have any creative ways of remembering to use a lifeline, help a girl out here and leave a comment, pretty please?

Knit with joy…if not with lifelines 🙂

– Sandi

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can email me at sandi@knittingdaily.com or you can leave a comment.

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21 thoughts on “A Whole Lot of Frogging Going On Here…

  1. I too have been in the frog pond, but for different reasons. I frogged a not quite finished pair of socks that just weren’t working, and have frogged half a project that just wasn’t a good idea so that I can use the yarn for something else.

  2. Sandy,

    I love your honesty. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m working on a shell and I don’t really care for the armhole finish so I shall be swimming in the frog pond tonight.


  3. I used to be terrified of making a knitting mistake and having to face frogging, but I’ve done it enough times now that I’ve more confidence in my ability to knit and tink with the best of them. I haven’t tried using lifelines, though, simply because my projects are usually socks. Plans are to try my hand at a lace shawl as soon as I can find a pattern that meets my needs.

    I enjoy reading your posts very much. You’ve taught me all manner of knitting tricks. Thanks!


  4. Sandi- I am sorry, I too have been there. I know this is a bit too late for your projects and I have not used this myself to know if it would work, but, could you run a needle and thread through the stitches underneath your mistake as a life line and then rip back to that? At least that would save you from have to start completely over and also trying to pick up the stitches before they get away. Would this work for the future, ya know, in case we forget again?!

  5. Oh, I feel your pain! I’ve been frogging a lot lately, too. It’s just a sock, but it’s an experimental learning sock, so I feel compelled to frog to try to make it bend to my will!

    knit on!

  6. Whether or not I use a lifeline seems dependent on the size and complexity of my project. The cost of my yarn sometimes enters into my decision to frog or try other repairs.

  7. Note to self – quit thinking “I ought to put a lifeline in here” and just do it. Also the blanket – I’m working on my first four-star row. As soon as I pick it up again, adding a lifeline.

  8. Aw Sandy, I’m so sorry. It doesn’t matter how many times people say, “well now you can just spend more time knitting….” it’s one of the most angering things!!

    I completed the Silken Scabbard pattern – splurged on Sea Silk for it and everything – spent my week at the cottage working on it. The problem? I was too lazy to move ALL of the stitches onto waste yarn to try it on as I knit (top-down) , then put them ALL back on the needles, and so, in the final, glorious moment when I slip on my beautiful, blue scabbard… the length between the neckline and cast0off for sleeves is about 2 inches too far apart so it rides up to have a floppy neck or I pull it down and walk stiff-armed to keep it in place.

    That one’s still sitting in the corner until I get the right energy to rip out the ENTIRE sweater!!!

    Question: Are lifelines used in stockinette/cable patterns too?

  9. Hi Sandi,

    I am a beginner at lace kniiting, but I found a neat trick. I don’t use yarn as a lifeline, but a KnitPro cable. It’s a bit fiddly to feed through – but if you need it, it makes life a lot easier. 🙂

    Greetings from Germany

  10. Oh Sandy, I think you have inspired me to put in a lifeline. I am making a rectangular shawl out of linen that is done in 2 halves, lengthwise. I once had to frog out a sock in an intricate pattern because I stopped at 2 full patterns instead of 2 1/2. Never noticed it until the toe was finished.

  11. Nice post. Very convincing. But a little confusing to those of us who don’t yet know what YOU mean when you speak of a lifeline. I have yet to see the term in the “abbreviations” section of my newest knitting magazine. Bette

  12. I sooo laughed when reading your star lace dilemma! I am new to Knitting Daily and did not know about lifelines! But I was making a scarf in a very soft angora with stitches that you pick up below the row and yarn overs and stuff, etc. Well, needless to say, I THOUGHT it was an easy pattern until I tried to ‘remove a row or two’. Not going to happen. Because of the picked up stitches below the row, it was impossible to figure out how to pick up the stiches! So I am surmising that a ‘lifeline’ would solve that problem. Sooo I’m glad you wrote about lifelines. And, to get to the point of my comment. I did some creative knitting and added some ruffles on my scarf over the booboos that I could not figure out how to fix. I’m not done yet but I don’t think anyone would be the wiser! Certainly not my nonknitting friends! I do alot of free form knitting and crocheting with Prudence Mapstone ideas, and have just discovered Jane Thornley’s wonderful free range knitting! SOoo, creative knitting is GREAT!!!!!! JoanS.

  13. I’m knitting a charcoal vest, and just had to go back (yes, 1 stitch at a time), so I feel your pain!

    I’m also thrilled (but not surprised) that you’re a fan of Serenity! Indeed, Joss Whedon, and whoever melded the Western lingo and social ethics with sci fi, is a genius. Great casting, too. I can definitely understand (especially if you were also petting the dog!) how you could veer off your pattern.

    I like the comment above about not thinking about putting in a lifeline, but just doing it! Perhaps a little Nike symbol somewhere in your knitting things?

  14. I feel your pain. While knitting Julia’s shawl from Wrapped in Comfort I got off track and was so frustrated that I stuffed the whole thing in a project bag and moved on. Then came the fall again and I start thinking about all the things I “should” finish. So out comes the UFO’s and this shawl is one of them. I tried to figure out what to do to fix this mess and finally I frogged the entire thing and started over. Frustrating as it was I learned a lot and now it is perfect (so far, knock on wood, rub a rabbit’s foot, cross my toes because my fingers are busy). I have learned from experience that if I make a mistake, even one that only I will see, I know it’s there and I’ll probably never wear the thing because it bugs me. (I still wish I’d frogged back to that one seed stitch out of place on that beautiful pink cardigan.)
    I feel I’ve found a home here with others who understand this Klingonese we speak here. Knit on!

  15. I try to be philosophical about the great quantitiy of mistakes I make (yes, I actually believe it’s good to have a bit–or a lot–more to knit! But it makes for a lot of projects that are finished way after they should, like summer tops in the middle of October).
    What I’ve found to work wonderfully for a lifeline is not yarn, but the line used in a weed eater/trimmer (gardening). It is nylon, comes in bright colors (red, fluorescent green, bright blue) and is very easy to thread into the sitiches, plus a breeze to get the stitches back onto the needles. It comes in different gauges, and you can cut it any length you want to. I also use it to hold stitiches, like the sleeves in a raglan sweater. It is also great when you want to check the fit of something, but your circular needles don’t give you the desired length–just pass your knitting to a long enough piece of this nylon line, knotting the ends or using those black and silver office binder clips to keep your stiches from falling off.

  16. Another great lifeline material is fishing line. It comes in fluorescent colors now and my husband rarely minds handing over a yard now and then. especially because he’s always thumbing through my various needlework supplies for things he can use to tie flies.

  17. I’ve just joined Knitting Daily. My name is Karen and I’ve been knitting since I was 16, which is 28yrs. My adored maternal grandmother, God rest her, taught me how to knit and I’ve been doing it…and countless other crafts, ever since. I read with interest your Sept comments about the endlessness of same rows of stitching eg on the back. These are the bits I love best! I can pop a movie on and sit mindlessly knitting AND viewing at the same time. The worst part for me is starting a new piece of a pattern…hate the casting on and the increasing…find it quite vexing lol. How did your finished product turn out???