Friday, January 6, 2017

To Frog or Not to Frog?

I am working on a design for a shawl I am going to call “Springtime”. It is a combination of two stitches, to evoke two images we often associate with springtime: little leaves and raindrops. I was going to do it all in a lovely mint color I got from my first order, but as I reached the end of the first skein, I realized I wasn’t going to have enough yarn. Plus it took me one iteration of my planned stitch pattern to get the border just the way I wanted. So I had one section where the border wasn’t quite right. I started playing with the idea of adding another color of yarn into my project. I have a nice blue, and that was when I was inspired!
I was planning on alternating the leaf stitch pattern and raindrop stitch pattern, but then I thought, “if I am going to add blue, then I can just do the raindrop stitch in blue!” I had already done some raindrop in the green though…. So it was decision making time. Do I continue on, with my new design ideas, and just leave the previous work the way it is, or do I pull it all off the loom and start over? Eventually, I came to the realization that what I currently have planned will be a more artful design, better conveying the idea of springtime.  I want my first prototype of the shawl to be everything it can be. I am hoping that this design will be my first paid design, and I want my prototype to be as beautiful, so that the pictures I take of this shawl speak to those who might have an interest in making one for themselves.
Conversely, I have made mistakes in my knitting and just left them. For example, I was making a garter stitch hat for one of my boys, and I accidentally did two rows of knit stitch. If you are a needle knitter, it would be like you throwing in an unnecessary row of purl stitches when trying to produce garter stitch. I hadn’t notice my error though, and produced about 1.5 inches of hat before I saw it. I was going to go back, but my husband said “Don’t worry about it. He won’t notice, it adds character anyway.” With my shawl though, the errors did matter, and if I had left them, I wouldn’t have been able to use the shawl for my pictures and for the final production of the design.
When deciding to frog a project (or not as the case may be), you should weigh the pros and cons. You don’t want to always leave noticeable errors in your project, but neither do you want to be such a perfectionist that you take forever to finish even short projects. Our mistakes are what help us to learn and grow, so they aren’t always all bad.
When you are knitting something for yourself, your mistakes may not glare at you as badly as when you are knitting a gift for someone else, or even knitting something you intend on selling. When you are knitting something you want to give or sell to someone else, the mistakes you make can bring down the perceived quality of the item, depending on what the mistakes are. You generally want to present your best work to others. In pattern design, you want to give people using your pattern the best example of the project you can. Your prototype should be an exact example of how other’s project can turn out if they follow your design.
Basically, I think frogging or even going back to far on a project should be a decision you make on a case by case basis. Having to go back to far can be very discouraging. If it is for someone else though, your motivation is different, and it becomes more important that the item appear exactly as you mean it too. We are not machines, to never make errors, but the work we sell or give as gifts deserves our best effort. Even if that effort means starting over, or undoing a lot of the project.

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