On Frogging and Life

Back at the beginning of September, I cast on 66 stitches in a simple grey acrylic yarn – some of the Spinrite Tent Sale yarn I had picked up in mid-August. We were on our way to a cottage to spend a gorgeous long weekend with a troupe of cousins, doing water sports, catching the last of summer’s sun on the dock, and talking long into the night around a camp fire. Obviously, I needed a knitting project.

For this particular environment, something simple was a must. Something I could work away with while still participating in everything that was going on around me. I didn’t want to squirrel myself away in a corner to work on a complicated lace pattern, or lose my thought in the middle of a conversation because I dropped a stitch while weaving in cables. Straight stitching. Straightforward.

Ease seemed the perfect pattern. I spent the whole weekend knitting, and then two weeks after that. I bound off the bottom edge of the body with just a little trepidation one evening at my knitting group, and, finally free of its circular needles, I slipped it over my head.

And sighed. It was way too big. The waist shaping and the 5 inches of ribbing turned out just fine, but the bust and neckline gaped out from my body, looking lumpy and large. But, with a little futzing, I could shift the tunic sweater into place just enough to somewhat satisfy me. Perhaps I had some hope for it left. I took it off and started on the first sleeve.

Almost as soon as I got home that night, I decided to frog it. I insisted on letting it rest for a few days, just to make sure I was certain. After all, I’d put two weeks of straight knitting into this sweater. Was I really ready to give up on it?

Here’s the thing about knitting projects: if they’re not quite right, if they come off the needles misshapen, if you don’t like the finished product you’ve created, you’re unlikely to use it. All your hard work and dedication? It’s nothing but a waste of yarn if you don’t like it in the end.

So, frog it.

But all that time! Was that wasted too?

No. Here’s the thing about knitting. About sewing. About painting. About drawing. About writing. About playing an instrument. About singing. About building relationships. About developing a career. Here’s the thing about life. The process is more important than the final product. Sure, it would have been nice if I could have had a sweater at the end of all that time I spent twisting yarn around a couple of sticks. The fact that I don’t have one is disappointing but acceptable because I learned so much about the process of knitting a sweater in that two weeks I spent working on it. I understand how raglan sleeves are created. I get top-down construction. I know a new ‘stretchy’ method of binding off an edge. I’ve been reminded how important counting is and keeping track of rows.

Yes, my sweater went from looking sweater like after two weeks to being wound up into balls of grey yarn in a matter of minutes. No, I haven’t started the sweater again. Yes, I still have yet to make myself my own sweater. But as I pulled those stitches out, I didn’t feel even the slightest twinge of sadness. That sweater gave me what I needed – a little more experience, and two weeks of entertainment.

And now, I get to make it again.

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