Frustrations, Fixes, and Frogging

This week I have had a several people ask me questions regarding projects that they're either frustrated with, stumped in, or just plain frigg'n sick and tired of. The last one is one of the most tedious things I have ever dealt with myself. You have this project that seemed like it would be so fun and then it became so boring. I have  a baby blanket on the  needles currently that is starting to get that way but luckily, I'm nearing the end of it so it won't become a project that is almost painful to pick up.

I find the easiest solution for such projects, unless the recipient is aware of the present to be, is to just stop. Tear the damn thing out and put the yarn away for something that you enjoy more. Granted, I kow if you spent WAY to much for said yarn, or you bough a lot for a big project, it can be somewhat painful to stop. But you'll be happier, I Promise.

For example. I had found a pattern out of a book that I have since done several other projects that I have enjoyed immensely. I thought this looked like such a cool idea. One of Bob's sister is always cold so I thought I'd make this huge Ruana style Shawl for her that is designed to look as though it's woven instead of knit. The entire thing is garter stitch, Yep, gag me with a ball of yarn. I was about a quarter of the way through it when I just completely lost interest. That was three years and three hundred dollars worth of silk blended yarn ago. This week, I took my own advice. Well, not entirely. I didn't frog the whole damn thing...

I did this.

It makes a lovely table runner, no? That's right. I bound the damn edge off and used it as a table runner. Now I have a great little table runner for when we have company over and I never have to dread opening the knitting closet to see the bag stuffed full with a three year old project. But, on the downside, the recipient was expecting this item at some point, but rest assured I found a great shawl pattern that I will whip up for her. Much more elegant as well.

See, my issue I have found is that I get bored with tedious projects. I must have changes in texture, stitching or something at least to keep my hands from being tired of the same old thing. It took me three years to realize this... sad, huh? This is why I gravitate to lace, cables, or any other project that makes these hands work a bit... So, when you're finding something so tedious you want to weep as you knit. Do yourself a favor and just stop. You can frog the whole damn thing, or recycle it into something more practical. You'll be happier, I Promise. And you should be happy while knitting.

As for stumped in a project due to making a mistake. Stop, take a deep breath, and look closely at your knitting. Can you see the mistake? If so tink back to it and do it correctly and move on after feeling quite proud of yourself. If you can't see the mistake, take your needle out, tear back to where you know things are okay, put the needle back in and move forward again. All the while keep breathing. If you need to, put it down, go pop the top on a ice cold beer or open a bottle of wine. When you're feeling relaxed enough re-evaluate whether your to drunk to knit or not. Don't knit drunk. I promise, any troubles will just be worse tomorrow with further flubbed stitches and a hangover. Just do something else. I find drunken bedroom activities alleviates much of my knitting irritation.

The main thing is, all of is will find a way to flub our knitting in new and creative manners. I promise. You're talking to a master f up here. The important thing to remember is that we all do it. Some of us are just a bit more graceful about it than other and can fix it before others spot it. I have found that I learn more about how the fabric I'm creating lays when I take out stitches to fix mistakes than when I'm just knitting along. Mistakes are often ways for us to learn more about this art of knitting. Really. That's not psycho babble, well it might be but even psycho babble has some truth to it occasionally.

Lastly, you find your so frustrated that you're tempted to put the wad of knitting in the garbage disposal with needles and all and turn it on. Please, don't! Take a deep breath, again, again, again, no don't fidget with the knitting, keep breathing. Again, again, deep breaths... Now when the urge for destruction passes, get up and put the knitting away. Yes, that's right. Just put it away. Sometimes are knitting needs punished with a time out. Go take a run, go to the bar, or if the urge to knit just won't pass, pick up another project. Yes, another one. You can have more than one project at a time. Though I allow myself no more than three or nothing gets accomplished. I sometimes find my projects seem to get jealous from time spent with the other yarns and then tend to behave properly the next time they come out. So, go pet your other yarn, fondle other needles and remember, knitting is supposed to be fun. If it's not, breath, and remember why you started in the first place.

One of my favorite yarn related writers is the "Yarn Harlot; Stephanie Pearl-McPhee" and I have a favorite quote from her on my fridge that I think applies to many areas outside of knitting.
“Knitting has taught me patience, honed my intelligence, sharpened my ability to solve problems, and shown me how to handle big tasks, knitting-related or not. The one thing it’s taught me that I wasn’t expecting; though, was humility. All knitters make mistakes, and some of us handle them better than others, but knitting is good practice for accepting our flaws and learning to be somewhat graceful about it. Note: Throwing yarn isn’t graceful.”

By the way, I have thrown a fair isle stocking across the room while my dogs look at me with amazement.

Keep knitting everyone,


AKQGuy's picture

Sorry guys, I did catch some language and fix it. This was copied over form my other blog where i worry less about language.

Well, you pretty much summed up my 25+ years of knitting and 38+ years of crocheting, though I usually carry the item through to completion, bored or not. I've learned a lot of discipline in my fiber work. (You already have this much time invested in it---finish it!!!) If I feel that something is more than I want to deal with, I try to abort early.

My aunt takes the cake on extremism. After my uncle passed away, she decided to crochet afghans. After finishing one, she would rip it out and make another afghan in a different pattern. When finished, she would rip that one out and make another using the same yarn. For her the fun was in the process of making an afghan, something she didn't want or need, except the need to keep her hands occupied. Though financially very well set, she is too frugal to give to give things away. Why buy more yarn when a few inexpensive acrylic skeins will work for so many projects and bring her such fun?

That table runner is nice, and I especially like how you finished the end.


AKQGuy's picture

That's how the original pattern actually was supposed to be finished off. Obviously I don't clue in on the boredom factor very well... So I ditch later in the game than I should.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Good points, Quinton. Is knitting a possible reason for my humility? Perhaps.* Of course, low self-esteem comes to mind. Anyhow, the main thing is that you have hit the best points of why knitting is so therapeutic on so many levels. Plus the life lessons it teaches. I like the way the table runner turned out. I also think the shawl is a better gift option in the long run. [*Goodness knows, I've been humiliated often enough by my knitting.] -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tallguy's picture

This is a common problem and you seem to have handled it well -- for you. But I have to say that I have never ripped out a project -- ever. NEVER. I just can't. As you say, you have invested so much time in it already, and I will not get that time back. So you have the option of ripping it out, which is something I would never even contemplate. The other option is to turn it into something else -- salvage it -- as you have done. Very ingenious! A scarf can go on a table or on a neck.

However, you made the mistake of starting the project in the first place. Not because it was the wrong thing to do -- a garter stitch scarf is a very comfy thing to wear -- but that you thought it was going to be simple and quick to do. While the stitch is simple, and there is only one stitch to learn, it is too boring! I would never suggest to a newbie to make a garter stitch scarf! We need some stimulation for us to keep working. At least, I do. I am process orientated as well -- I enjoy the act of knitting, and not the finished item as much. The scarf is nice too, but there is more fun and satisfaction in the doing of it. Knitting is supposed to be fun, remember?

So when you tackle a project that uses the same stitch over and over such as a garter stitch scarf or a baby blanket or afghan, you need remember it is going to take a very long time! Much longer than you expect. Are you going to get bored with it after two rows? That doesn't mean you should not do it, but that you need to be aware of this, and to be prepared to just suffer through it.

I would never have only this one project to work on. With this large and boring project, I also have a lace shawl, and a sweater, and socks on the needles or something like a hat for immediate satisfaction. I can work on the boring thing for a few minutes (until I can't stand it anymore) and then go to something a bit more challenging, and then back again. Hey, I need some rewards for the suffering, don't I?

It also depends on my mood. When really brain dead, I will work on something that requires no thinking... I can do it in my sleep (and sometimes do) such as the garter stitch scarf. But when I need something to engage the brain, I will work on complicated cable and lace socks or FairIsle or something else with more thinking required. And that is why I have so many things on the needles at any one time. Or I turn to spinning. That is my story and I'm sticking to it!