Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

The knitting

I’m very glad to have finally regained my knitting mojo after such a long hiatus. Once the days started lengthening and getting slightly warmer, my brain seems to have understood it was time for my hands to get busy making again.

However, my attention span might have been left behind somewhere, for I ended up making a few mistakes that I missed until much later! I’m glad I did catch them though.

I was knitting a Poet jumper and the pattern has sections with seed stitch. Seed stitch is created by overlapping a purl stitch over a knit stitch in alternating rows/rounds, so that you get a sort of dotted pattern resembling… seeds (the name says it all, really).
Without noticing at the time, I repeated two exact rows and ended up with something… wrong that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Once I spotted the issue however, there was no un-seeing it.

A section of my Poet jumper, showing a knitting mistake somewhere

Can you spot the mistake? I can see it from a distance… It’s a little below the middle.

A finger points at a knitting mistake on a Poet jumper
Putting my finger on it. See the two yarn-overs on top of each other on the right? One of them is the extra row I knit by mistake.

This put me in a conundrum: do I ignore the mistake and keep going, or do I frog the thing and correct it? I put it to social media, and the vast majority told me to leave it and continue. Naturally, this made me decide to frog it.

For the non-knitters: the term “frogging” is used because when you remove the needles from your work and pull the yarn back into the ball, you “rip it, rip it,” which sounds like “ribbit,” the sound frogs make.
(Don’t worry, I too was baffled when learning this.)

Completely removing the knitting needles from a project and effectively ridding the thing of its unravelling potential is daunting to me. When one does this, one also loses all useful markers set by the pattern creator, and I always fear I’ll forever miss my place and be unable to proceed… I took a deep breath, chose to trust myself and off the needles came. I stopped a couple of rounds before the offending mistake and opted to “tink” (that’s “knit” backwards – I know, I know…) until I’d corrected it. Phew.

Here’s the jumper, all finished, after I was set back two whole days of knitting.

A knitted Poet jumper is blocking on wires and a blocking mat on the floor
Here is my Poet, blocking

You’d think my knitting snafus were over, but it seems I wasn’t done frogging… I started on my Ripple Halter and, a couple of inches before being finished, noticed I was one stitch off. Normally not a big problem, but this is a 2×2 ribbing which only remains correct if the right number of stitches are maintained, so I definitely had a problem.

I’d done it once, I’d do it again! Frog, frog.

Marshmallow the cat looks at my hand as my knitting project is frogged
Marshmallow offers her support…

This was also a scary one, because I had 8 markers I needed to put back in the correct place to be able to follow the pattern. I managed… somehow. Three more days of knitting, gone. It’s all part of the handmade process though, right?

The spinning

My spinning mojo has also returned. I wanted some textured art yarn and set about preparing the fibres to make it happen.

Once my Leicester Longwool locks were dry, it was time to spin.

Now I need to decide how to ply this. I think I might dye some wool top neon green, spin it  thin and use it to create a textured, thick and thin art yarn. What do you think? Also: am I mad for frogging days’ worth of knitting for what a lot of people deem “small mistakes”?

Ever wondered what the difference is between wool top and wool roving? I wrote a blog post on it on my own website and would love it if you’d read it. Thanks so much!

27 thoughts on “Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

  1. I don’t think you’re crazy at all for frogging out the mistakes. My husband can’t bear to watch me rip out sections, but I see it as just another step in my process. I don’t knit just to hurry and finish pieces. So what if I spend more time on a piece to produce something I’m proud of? I’m happy to love a craft that allows me to fix mistakes or change my mind. It’s a good thing I’m not a wood carver.

    1. Renee, you’ve just spoken to my heart! That’s it exactly: it’s another step in my process, I’m not in a hurry. Also, I too am glad I’m not a wood carver or I’d be in a lot of trouble! 😀

      Would you allow me to retain this comment of yours for a future post in my own blog? I’m planning to write one about mistakes and how we’re all in a hurry to finish projects… What you said would be a great addition to my writing. I’d give you full credit, of course (and if you’d like me to link you to a specific site/page, let me know here or by emailing

  2. The poet jumper pattern is lovely and as its maker it’s understandable that you would want it to be perfect so no, you’re not mad – but we did struggle to see the mistake 🙂

    How do you manage to pick up all the stitches after frogging (as in your yellow ripple halter) because when picking up stitches as you go along the row the stitch loops get pulled smaller and smaller and threaten to disappear.

    The art yarn would look good with neon green!

    1. Thanks, I’m glad it makes sense – I’m 90% sure I wouldn’t have worn it knowing I had what was (to me) such a glaring mistake. I genuinely could see it at a distance!

      I don’t find it too hard to pick up the stitches when I don’t need to worry about yarn-overs (those are hard for me to spot). Wool has memory, so it stays put in loop formation, it’s just a question of getting the needles and start picking them up 🙂 I’m a fairly lose knitter, so my loops aren’t too small, but that can be remedied by picking them up with a smaller needle.
      Also, I like to pick them up a couple of rows/rounds above my mistake, so I can then “tink” it until I’m ready to correct the mistake by hand. Even if I’ve dropped a couple of stitches above, it doesn’t matter because I’ll have gone back further and those stitches have been removed in the meantime 😀

      I’m definitely swaying towards neon green!

  3. Your jumper/sweater is beautiful. I understand your conundrum, when it comes to frogging, or “tinking” as Brian calls it. (He heard that on a podcast I watched…knit backwards is tink) I cannot ignore most of my errors: it will nag at me until I succumb. A few times, I’ve been able to fake it good enough, for my critical eye – but not often.

    Recently, I have been playing with ripping back sections vertically down. Half the time it works, half the time not. I feel it’s much less stressful to just rip it back and do it again.

    It is always interesting to hear what others think about these things. There’s a comfort in knowing, we are not alone in these issues. In my case, it is certainly an issue – there’s always that person in my ear saying “if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” I’m working on accepting imperfection – but it takes a lot of effort.

    I am glad you’re able to wear a neon halter…I’m laughing at the moment, thinking of myself in a halter! 🤣


    1. Thanks, Capi! I loved the pattern for the Poet the moment I saw it, and my baby camel yarn needed a good project 😀

      Frogging is removing the needles and ripping the yarn, tinking is doing it one stitch at a time, whereby instead of adding yarn I’m knitting backwards and removing it – if my mistake is far back, I first frog, then stop a couple of rows before the mistake proper, put the needles back on and start the tinking process. The best of two worlds!
      (Good on Brian for paying attention to the terminology.)

      My “perfectionist voice” used to be loud and clear in my early adulthood, luckily I’ve drowned it down to a whisper nowadays 😉 Can’t let that pesky voice rule our lives!

      You’d look great in a halter! If you go to the link I share of the pattern, you’ll see one of the models is plus size and looks very happy and nice wearing hers 🙂 I will admit though, neon yellow might not be every knitter’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly mine.

      Ripping sections vertically down? You mean removing one stitch from the needle and letting it ladder down? I love picking it back up with a crochet hook, but I can only do it when it’s simple knit/purl stitches… show me lacework and I freeze. We all have our Kryptonite!

  4. I love that pattern, and you have made it look so lovely too. I remember knitting like that when I was at home (growing up) and we all learned to knit. I no longer knit, though I am sure I will at some point. Too many new terms to learn now though I think.
    Mistakes/errors that are so small to be seen by the person you are speaking with – do they need undoing? To me, if someone spots such a small error they are too close to my body!

    Love the colour of your wool that you are spinning.

    1. Hi, Marie! Thanks, I love that Poet jumper pattern a lot too.

      I’m sure a lot of the terms will either be the same, or easy to learn – there’s only so much one can do with knitting, it’s just the blending of stuff that makes it interesting 😉

      Ah, but here’s the thing: the mistakes bother me because *I* see them, not other people. I really don’t care what others might think about my knitting (as can be attested by my decision to ignore what I was told on Instagram!) If I can see the mistake, which I could from a distance on the Poet, or if it messes with the pattern’s structure as it did with the halter top, then it needs to be corrected or it’ll nag at me…

      My Poet cardigan still retains a couple of mistakes, which I can’t notice and therefore don’t bother me – besides, mistakes mean we’re human, am I right? 😉

      Yellow is a firm favourite since I started wearing colours once in a while. My wardrobe is still 90% black but yellows, be them neon or more subdued, are glorious to my eyes 😀

  5. Oh Leonor, I just love your finished Poet jumper and knowing that you will now wear it. Like you, if I see a glaring mistake….that is it….nothing will compensate it.

    As stated above….it simply has to be part of the whole process, and yes, thankfully we are not stonemasons!

    Seed stitch, is it the same as moss stitch? I crochet, never knit (although I do tink!) but your seeds remind me of a sky blue scarf my mum made me as a 10 year old in moss stitch.

    I like the idea of a frog croaking when unpick an errant piece of work. I’m sure if I say I’m frogging Mr Someone will have something to say 😉

    Art yarn with a fine twist of neon….sounds good.

    Wow more yellow….you’ve seen the 🌞

    1. Thanks, Antje! I really do love that jumper, and am making the most of the good weather to wear it – ¾ sleeves are not good for most months here in Scotland, so I’ll take what I can until I have to put it away in a drawer until next warmer season…

      I’m actually enjoying spending time with my mistakes, making the most of the knitting process, not thinking much about the end result and more about the journey itself. It’s quite soothing, and mistakes really lose their annoyance in this new light 🙂

      I think seed stitch and moss stitch are the same, yes. Let me try to represent it here:

      Makes sense, right? 😀 Do you still have that blue scarf? What a wonderful gift to receive!

      Mr. Someone can start ribbitting with you as you frog, and any passers-by can lament that the lovely couple has finally lost their mind! 😀 (I’d so do this to amuse myself if I had nosy neighbours…)

      I always said I’d wear yellow if I ever decided to add colour to my life, and I now know I meant it! 😀

    2. OXOX
      makes perfect sense….but I thought you were sending me OXO

  6. Ps….traditional Persian carpets always contain a ‘mistake’ – their belief being that only God can be perfect. With this in mind, minor mistakes that are not glaringly obvious & totally irritating, I’ve learned to accept….I’m only human.

    1. Exactly! Was it with you that I talked about this is someone else’s post? I love this idea so much 🙂

  7. I love the poet pattern too and I did see the error and know why you had to frog it. Tink sounds awful to me, I have enough trouble doing the right way round first time. Now I don’t knit – I have listened to that voice: “if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” There’s lots of other things I do love doing right so I don’t miss it.
    I love the loving support you were given by Marshmallow (lovely name for a lovely cat).
    As for combed tops, I don’t think that all the short fibres are removed. I have a hand spun superwash wool tops cardigan – tunisian crocheted cardigan which I made years ago and which pills constantly. I spend hours picking them off when I wear it.

    1. Finally someone sees the mistake! Thank you, Ann. Goodness, I was starting to think my eyes might be magic or something, and no one else could see what I did.

      Here’s what you need to remind that voice: “doing it right sometimes only comes with practice, and there’s no such thing as a mistake per se, only new knowledge of how *not* to do something” 😉

      Marshmallow is indeed lovely, not a mean bone in her body <3

      Ah you see, you're referring to roving! Roving doesn't have the short fibres removed, whereas combed top does. I knew there was a need for that blog post I wrote 😀

      Is the cardigan 100% wool? If so, it should have stopped pilling after a while… If it has an artificial fibre blended to it however, this one will grab onto the natural fibre and keep on pilling.
      Woollen spun yarns are warmer because they trap a lot of air in them, but they're definitely more delicate and pill much more than any worsted spun ones… Can't have just the good stuff in one yarn, something must give!

    2. Actually yes it was combed tops – all the fibres were in line front to back, at least until I used the hand carders to make rolags. It was blended, but the blend was just 3 or 4 different shades of turquoise superwash merino. Unfortunately it weighs a ton – I never learned to spin woollen so the yarn had little or no air in it, and it was navajo plied (so that I didn’t end up with barber pole yarn), which resulted in quite a heavy yarn.

  8. You are a patient woman! I hate frogging and tend to put things in a sulk pile when they need frogging. Great job. Your sweater looks fabulous. And your yarn is lovely. I would thread ply it. You get all the texture and less barberpoling.

    1. Haha, I get it! I have a couple of lace shawls in a “sulk pile,” I suspect when they come out of it, it’ll be to frog the whole thing and either start again or make something new… I won’t be able to pick up lace properly to continue the project, sadly.

      My plan is indeed to have a much thinner yarn as a ply, and apparently everyone else is also liking the idea of it being neon green, so that needs to happen soon 😀

  9. Gorgeous jumper! I am so in awe of people who can knit / crochet such large projects, I am such a slower crocheter (and even slower knitter) that it takes me at least 6 months to complete a tiny bolero jacket….

    Thank you for the write up about roving vs tops, it is a topic that causes a lot of confusion and I too am guilty of using the terms interchangeably, as you allude to in your post, if people search for “merino top” they will get results for merino sweaters not combed top! Another term that is used quite a bit is “sliver” (pronounced with a short i, like site), to me this fibre is most like roving, it is carded into a narrow strip but the fibres are still quite jumbled so you have a woollen prep.

    1. Thanks, Teri! I really do love that jumper, I’m so glad I corrected the mistake.

      So what if it takes you 6 months? It’s all about the journey, not the destination – there’s a reason this is a cliché, because it’s true! If you only get one or two garments a year, it just means you have one or two handmade items to love! Don’t be dissuaded by anyone telling you you need/have to be quick. To each their own 🙂

      Thanks for reading the post on my site! I find it very frustrating when I’m looking for one type of fibre prep and only manage to find the other because we’re all using the wrong terminology…
      Interesting remark about the “sliver” pronunciation, I’ve always heard it with a long “i”, like “slither.” Sliver can be made from roving or combed top, but you’re absolutely right in saying it’s most common as roving – I just bought some from a yarn festival I went to yesterday and 150g of it is already woollen spun on my wheel, resting, to be plied in a few hours 😀

  10. Glad you took the time to fix a mistake that was bugging you. I am not a knitter and so I think it is easier for someone who does knit on a regular basis to see an error. It doesn’t make any sense to spend all the time on a piece and then not wear it because of an error. There’s lots to be said for fixing things that can be fixed but letting the small imperfections go. Beautiful results!

    1. It was sorely bugging me indeed, Ruth! It was one whole row and I could see it at a distance, it had to go 🙂

      (there’s still a couple of mistakes there, but I can’t see them so those can stay, haha!)

  11. YOU r sweater is beautiful. I understand the need to fix it. If you know its there and can see it yourself, then that is all you will see, every time. The yarn is funky, lime green will make it funkier( is that a word?)

    1. Thanks, Ann. I do love it 🙂 I could definitely see the whole extra round and it was too glaring to ignore. I’m very glad I went back to fix it!

      Funkier is definitely a word, and I can attest the now plied yarn has come out rather that 😀

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