11 Reasons to Frog (or Not)

May 13 is National Frog Jumping Day!

This gives all of us a great excuse for playing and hopping around outside with the kids. It’s also the perfect day to talk about an essential principle in knitting and crochet: frogging.

Susanna, the crochet project editor at Interweave, and I love to talk and debate crochet principles (see our feisty discussions on Tunisian crochet and determining the right and wrong side of crochet fabric). When we heard about National Frog Jumping Day, we couldn’t resist talking about frogging.

What is Frogging?

In fiber arts like knitting and crochet, frogging means to rip out your work. Imagine yourself saying “rip it, rip it, rip it” while you are pulling out several rows or rounds of a project. It sounds similar to the noise a frog makes, right? This is assuming, of course, that you can hear yourself saying those words over the sound of your own sobs. I mean, who really wants to pull out hours or possibly days of hard work? The whole frogging experience is definitely on the “cry-worthy” list.

Despite its place on this list, frogging often seems to come up when Susanna and I discuss the many crocheted projects for and Love of Crochet we see on a monthly basis. In addition to these projects, we each have our own, and we also see projects being made by our coworkers and friends in our local crochet guild, as well as the various projects in books sent to us for review.

No matter what project we’re looking at, it always seems that Susanna and I see them very differently. When I look at something crocheted, I admire the project as a whole and comment on the use of color or the intricacy of the stitches. While she does see these things, Susanna has a keen eye for detail and will notice the flaws or inconsistencies right away. It’s as if those problem areas of a project send out a beacon to which Susanna responds with swift and immediate attention. Her ability to see inconsistency in crochet is so strong, she can even spot problems in photographs of crocheted items! These differences in perspectives are what give us the most heated debates about frogging.

Susanna (left) and Dana (right) yarn bomb a frog.

Susanna (left) and Dana (right) yarn bomb a frog.

To Frog or to Fudge, That Is the Crocheter’s Dilemma

These discussions about flaws and inconsistencies beg the question: should we frog our work or leave errors in our crocheted projects? On the one hand, since the projects are handmade, perhaps we should leave these little inconsistencies to remind others that the crocheted pieces have been made by people, not a machine. Some stitches actually make it easy to fudge our mistakes. Single crochet, for example, creates such a dense fabric that an additional stitch or missed stitch may go unnoticed or can be corrected in the next row. I’m not necessarily encouraging you to make a habit of fudging work, but sometimes it’s just easier to fudge and move on.

On the other hand, you want what you’re making to be as perfect as possible so you have the peace of mind of knowing you did your best work. It would be horrible to make something, leave an error, and then be reminded of that error every time you see the project.

11 Reasons to Frog or Not to Frog

Not surprisingly, Susanna and I don’t always agree on when to frog and when to fudge. Read our top 11 reasons to frog or to fudge, then decide for yourself.

1. Frog if yarn is snagged or split.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Yes
If the yarn gets snagged or splits while crocheting a stitch, frog it. This may mean you need to rip out an entire row of your work (or more), but snagged yarn looks bad and creates an unsightly fabric. Even non-crafty people will notice snagged yarn—there’s just no disguising it.

The Juanita Top Susanna made for her class reunion.

The Juanita Top Susanna made for her class reunion.

2. Frog errors even if the project is completely finished.

Susanna: No
Dana: No
Sometimes you don’t notice a mistake until a project is completely finished and you’ve woven in all the ends. Susanna admits that she recently finished making herself the Juanita Top for a class reunion and noticed a mistake in the lacy portion only after she had completely finished the project and was blocking it. While it bothers her every time she wears it, she knows that we’re only human, and mistakes do happen. In this instance, she and I agree to not frog.

3. Frog errors if the project is a gift.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Yes
The recipient of a crocheted project may not crochet, but that’s no excuse to leave mistakes in a project. Though they may not be able to identify the error, they may notice that something is a bit off. Give a gift worth receiving. Fix mistakes in items being gifted.

4. Frog errors if the project is for sale.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Yes
When someone spends money on a handmade project, they are expecting high-quality craftsmanship. Definitely frog errors and give the buyer your best work.

5. Frog errors if the project is for charity.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Yes
Just because you’re donating an item to charity doesn’t mean the project can be sloppy. Charity projects are a way to spread love and well-wishes with handmade items. Be proud of your work and donate good-quality projects.

6. Frog errors if the project is for an animal.

Susanna: Maybe Not
Dana: Maybe Not
This is one area where we both allow for a little bit of fudging. If the project is a nice doggie bed for the living room, we would probably frog and fix mistakes. If the project is a blanket for rescue dogs in a kennel, then we might let a simple mistake go; in this instance, the dog is looking for warmth and comfort, not beauty.

7. Frog if you have too many stitches.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Maybe Not
Susanna and I are firm believers in counting stitches. If the pattern calls for 225 stitches, for example, then your work should have 225 stitches. Sometimes, though, you may find that you accidently worked an extra stitch in your work. Perhaps a granny square has 4 double crochets in the cluster instead of the usual 3. Susanna will tell you to frog, whereas I may not. If you spot the error right away, then of course, frog it. But if you notice the error after several rounds, only frog it if the extra stitch makes the project buckle.

Lamb and frog pocket pals from Love of Crochet Spring 2017.

Lamb and frog pocket pals from Love of Crochet Spring 2017.

8. Frog if you have too few stitches.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Maybe Not
Again, counting stitches will help you spot too many or too few stitches in your work. Susanna will tell you to frog if you find yourself short of stitches, but I may not. If I’m making a stuffed animal in single crochet, for example, I may work an extra stitch into the next round if it doesn’t create a lumpy-looking toy.

9. Frog if you used the wrong stitch.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Maybe Not
Every stitch has a different height; therefore, Susanna will encourage you to frog your work if you notice that you accidently worked the wrong stitch (for example, you worked an hdc when you should have worked a dc). I may let it slide if I notice the mistake several rows later and if the texture of the fabric isn’t compromised.

10. Frog if you noticed a stitch is worked in the wrong space or stitch.

Susanna: Yes
Dana: Probably
Perhaps you should be working in a chain space instead of on top of a stitch, like in a granny square or moss stitch. In most instances, a mistake like this will probably be obvious, and we’ll both encourage you to frog your work.

11. Frog errors in projects for publication.

Susanna: Yes, Always
Dana: Yes, Always
If the finished project is going to be photographed for a magazine or book, always frog and fix mistakes. Magazines show pictures of the whole item as well as detail shots of stitch patterns, seams, etc. Every area of a crocheted project should be camera ready and picture perfect.

Sara Dudek, associate editor for Interweave Crochet, placing a party hat on a frog with help from Susanna.

Sara Dudek, associate editor for Interweave Crochet, placing a party hat on a frog with help from Susanna.

Allowing for Mistakes

As a perfectionist, I hesitated to write “maybe not” and “probably” on some of these items. In a perfect world, we would all to fix each and every error. But I’m also a firm believer in living in grace. We have to accept our humanity and allow for imperfections in life and in our handmade items.

In the end, what matters is enjoying the craft and being proud of our work. We should crochet to the best of our ability, fix what we can, and accept that mistakes happen. To frog or not to frog is a choice we make with each project we make. Will we strive for perfection or allow errors to show our humanity? That’s the crocheter’s dilemma and delight.

To frog or not to frog, that is the question. Which side of this debate do you fall on?
Dana


What will you be crocheting on National Frog Jumping Day?!

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