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A few years ago, I started knitting a new sweater. The yarn was pink and yellow cotton, the pattern promised a loose, comfy drape. This would be the perfect effortless throw-on for those slightly cool summer evenings after a day at the beach, on the way to the small-town ice cream shoppe in my knitting fantasies.  

The fantasy soon turned into a knitting nightmare. The fit was off, tight and … well, just weird. The sleeves had to be redone, several times, because they didn’t fit the armholes. The seaming had me screaming. Anything that could’ve gone wrong with this “beginner’s level” sweater did.

As that summer faded into the sunset, and the project extended into the winter months, my husband took to calling this my “Endless Summer” sweater because I had to frog it so many times. 

Knitters have a nickname for undoing stitches: frogging. I’ve heard the term explained as the muttered chant that accompanies unraveling a lot of stitches, “Rip it, rip it”—similar to the “ribbit, ribbit” of a frog. I think we just needed an amusing story to offset the agony of undoing hours of work.

For knitters, finding a mistake rows and rows ago, or a misread of a pattern that affects the entire project, is the worst thing that can happen in your knitterly life. You work so hard on a sweater or shawl, maybe with intarsia, or cables, or some fancy new design. Then you realize the count is off, the size isn’t right, something is just not happening, and the problem is too big to ignore. You must face the fact of frogging. Rip it. Rip it. This pink and yellow sweater had to be frogged so many times I was turning green.

To save my sanity and restore my serenity, I had to reframe unraveling my work. This happened by accident. One day, while ripping out stitches—again—a thought came to me: If only the mistakes I’ve made in life could be undone and fixed so easily. If only the harsh words spoken could be taken back, or never said. If only the olive branch had been extended. If only I’d called, or left, or returned. If only this or that all-too-human mistake, and the lingering regret, could be unravelled from the fabric of life as easily as I was pulling this sleeve out of this sweater. 

In addition to clever comments about my knitting skills, my husband has an excellent philosophy about mistakes. He says, “Everything we’ve done and experienced has brought us to this moment.” His theory is that if one thing in the past were different, he and I might not be together right now. (Marvel movies about the multiverse back him up on this.) We might not be as we are, content with what we have, willing to learn and grow, able to be present for our lives. 

When I think about that, I see the mistakes I’ve made, in life and in knitting, as experiences. Some can be revisited and mended, where appropriate. Others can’t, but I can take that experience forward and not repeat it, just like learning the right way to sew in a sleeve. If I learn from my mistakes, and do better next time, then remorse, too, can be unraveled. If I waste time in judgment of myself and others, I may repeat the mistake, or make another. The choice is mine, and ours.   

“Frogging” MedKNITation

The next time you have to undo some knitting, try this meditation. 

Step 1: Sit comfortably, with your spine lengthened to create space for your breathing. Have the project you need to undo in your hands. Let your awareness rest gently on your breathing. 

Step 2: If there’s a situation or mistake you’d like to address and release, bring it to your consciousness. No need to relive the details; simply observe, without judgment, the way you would assess a project you’re knitting.  

Step 3: See yourself as coming to a place where you can learn what can be learned from this experience, knowing you can use that knowledge, the same way you can use the yarn from the project you’re about to undo. Locate a loose thread and begin frogging. As the stitches unravel, visualize the situation being transformed into a useful, even beneficial experience. 

Unravel as much as you need to, winding the yarn as you go along. When you’re done, hold the yarn, and think of the project as an experience, one of many in your life. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we can all learn from them and do better. Keep the wisdom, and release the experience. Now you can use that material to make something wonderful. Close your meditation with three deep breaths. 

illustrations © suzan colÓn featuring Field guide No. 11: wanderlust Cuff-down Socks by wendy bernard, Field Guide No. 18: Beginnings Simple Swoncho by Karida collins, Kay Gardiner’s Blanket of Joy, and Lichen and Lace 80/20 Sock

More MedKNITation with Suzan

The Joy of Passing it On

It’s Mine O’Clock

A Design for Living

About The Author

Suzan Colón is a writer, a reader of the tarot, and a teacher of MedKNITation, a system she developed for meditation with knitting and crochet.


  • One of the best posts about knitting I’ve ever read. Thank you.

  • Thank you for this. It’s wonderful.

  • Yes! Thank you so much sharing your wisdom.

  • Good thoughts for knitting and life. Thanks!

  • Bravo. That was absolutely beautifully presented. Maybe you have given all us a resource for better appreciating our experiences in being “makers” or “creators “ as an avenue to a better understanding of being human.

  • This means a lot to me, right now… Thank you

  • Whenever I end up frogging/tinking or just picking up dropped stitches I remind myself that I would be knitting anyway so enjoy the time. I have a shawl my husband renamed, “just a minute I gave a mistake to fix” I said it so often.

  • Thank you for this. I will carry it with me.

  • Beautifully said. Love the illustrations

  • Perfect timing as I was debating about ripping 6 rows of a shawl (nearly 400 stitches each). So now it’s decided, and as I do, I’ll think about your essay – yes, easy to fix this; hard to fix some of my other mistakes.

    • I remember as a very new knitter how emotional it was when my teacher showed me how to frog. The thought of starting over was so liberating to me. I hadn’t “ruined” the yarn and likewise just because I had made mistakes in life, I hadn’t ruined my life. Loved this letter. Thank you!

  • This resonated with me. Valuable life lessons. Thanks.

  • I think of frogging as getting “your money’s worth” of the yarn/supplies. If you do it twice, all the more fun!

  • Thanks for sharing this. But the absolute worst thing that can happen to a project is someone spilling the biggest cup of coffee ever all over your project and into your project bag. Ruining the project already begun and the rest of the yarn for it.

  • Words to live by, not just when knitting.
    Thank you for a wonderful article and great way to begin each day.

  • I’m crocheting a shawl. I’ve frogged it at least twice. In it’s first life it was knitted. A friend watched me frog and joined in to help. It was so tight I had to pull it apart. We giggled. There was years of tension in that shawl. I let it all go and started again, twice. I recommend frogging with a friend. I’ll try your meditation next time, thank you!

  • I have a different attitude about mistakes in my knitting. As an RN, I had to work without mistakes, with perfection in everything. In retirement I’ve had to let go of my perfectionism. It hasn’t been easy;) but I hate to frog anything. So I learn to live with mistakes.

  • Great timing for me, thank you so much!

  • Sometimes I feel like I am tinking more than knitting!

    • I decided that it was time in my knitting life to try color work. Daytripper cardigan – everyone has made one. First time around got done with yoke stitch count off – oh read the chart wrong. Second time around only a sleeve and a half left – hmmm if it had been cold in Oz one of the munchkins could have worn it – gauge not right. 3rd time around I think I’ve got it. Philosophical it’s life! But…. This article makes me feel a whole lot better. Keep the wisdom let the experience go – thank you.

  • This was a wonderful piece. I’m going to look into your MedKNITation!

  • When I’m working on something where I have to continuously rip out stitches I call it “knitting in place.”

    Fortunately I like to knit so I consider it part of the process.

    • “Knitting in place!!” Very good description.
      I once undid several hours of a bobbin lace piece only to discover I hadn’t made a mistake in the first place. Somehow, I wasn’t upset — it was all yoga for the brain.
      Great piece, thank you.

      • “Yoga for the brain” – excellent

  • Thank you for the great reminders! I just frogged about 10” of a piece in order to redo it “well.” It started as a grind but became “steps to getting a better result.” And, steps to rereading a pattern again and again. And, YAY, the redo is better. Technically, it’s still knitting, so I did remember to enjoy the quiet me-time as I frogged. Onward!

  • I always remind myself that once this item is done I’ll be knitting something else. It’s all knitting, so what’s the rush? (Sometimes it works. 🙂 )

  • beautiful

  • Thank you for this article. I am now determined to “ribbit” a garment which should never have been!

  • I LOVE this letter, thanks Suzan. I often frog without too much remorse, sympathizing with myself that it’s part of the process and I do love the process. But to think about relating it to the mistakes in life and meditating on that is divine.

  • Fortunately I have to frog enough that I may actually be able to work through my past regrets! This is brilliant.

  • Thank you for this wonderfully thoughtful essay! I’ve decided to embrace frogging in my knitting. I figure it’s all part of the process, and if something does not fit correctly, I’ll never wear it, so why not make it again into something loved and wearable!!!

  • Yes. And thank you.

  • As I’ve frogged my “easy” shawl for the third time…. what a delight to read your words and wisdom on frogging and moving on.

  • When I was a beginning knitter, my LYS owner told me of the time she deconstructed an entire lace cardigan because the gauge was off, and she knew she’d never wear the garment as it was. The very expensive yarn had been discontinued, so there was only one option to make that sweater wearable. She sighed and asked herself, “Did I have fun knitting this? (Yes.) Will I have fun knitting it again? (Without doubt.)” So she rewound the yarn and began again. That practical, gentle forgiveness of self has stayed with me throughout my knitting life. Maya Angelou said (paraphrasing) to do the best you can until you know better. Then do better. Wonderful advice for life —- and for knitting.

  • Outstanding!

  • Excellent! Thank you!

  • I love this one. Thank you

  • Thank you so much.

  • Lovely piece! When I find a mistake in my knitting, I always let it rest, at least overnight, before I do anything about it. This helps me to not act rashly in trying to fix it. And whatever needs to be done (including ripping out) always goes better when I am calm and rested. Your meditation suggestion would have a similar result – I’m going to try it! Thanks.

  • When I was a foreign exchange student in Sweden, my high school friends were huge knitters and complained about lack of yarn: their parents had “put them on a yarn budget.” Next thing I knew, they were happily ripping out their own beautiful hand knit sweaters, just for the yarn! I was horrified, being barely able to handle ripping out a few rows. After watching my friends, I realized ripping out is all about attitude.

  • Thank you so very much for your insight, this was a marvelous post.

  • I learned to knit in my teens, a couple of years after learning (sort of – ha!) to sew. The first time I had to unravel a knit work-in-progress, I marveled at how easy it was. “Look, I can undo the whole thing with no damage to the materials. Nothing lost but a bit of time, and even that time taught me something!” Compare that to sewing – it takes *far* longer to unpick seams. Even worse: you can’t un-cut fabric once you’ve cut it. It’s knitting and crochet for me, no matter how many times I have to unravel!

    • I’m with you on this, Gretchen!

  • “If only the mistakes I’ve made in life could be undone and fixed so easily.”

    Wow. TRUTH. Thank you!

  • Release the experience; keep the wisdom(lesson). And know better; do better…
    I need these phrases posted around my house! Tattooed to my forehead! Working really hard at self compassion in a difficult time in my life knowing that there are worse things out there. Fires in Maui! War in Ukraine! Thank you for the reminder to do the best I can and let go of the rest. Frogging has really never bothered me and nothing in life is perfect, so everyone have their best day!

  • So well said and to remember always!

  • Awesome wisdom! How did you know I have some ripping to do and haven’t been able to face it. I’m going to find that sweater today. Thanks.

  • Great read.

  • I love this article. I went back and read her other 3 articles on knitting and meditation. How did I miss them? Knitting is like a vacation or like a space to breathe and be one with the yarn and the pattern even when the pattern isn’t going the way it should. Then, it’s really time to stop and think about whether it’s me, the yarn, or the pattern. Perhaps all three!

  • Lovely but we also need patterns to knit

  • Fantastic! So very true. I’ve long held that unknitting is as important as learning to knit. I once knit a cardigan that just turned out to be wrong for me so I showed it to my group and went home and took the whole thing apart. Now when I wear the new cardigan I reused the yarn to knit I just smile.

  • Beautiful, thank you.

  • Perfect !!!

  • Can I just add…..lifelines! Literally a life and sanity saver.

    • Amen. But for some reason, I’ll try something 2 or 3 times before I remember to add that lifeline. And, honestly, I’d rather frog it than try to fix a mistake a few rows back (I seem to drop stitches when trying new techniques).

  • Thank you, your words made me smile.

  • I love this and the timing of the message is perfect for me. I have had a sweater to “frog” sitting in my knitting space for months. This has given me the incentive to frog and practice MedKNITation today. Thank you!

  • Well sai, thank you.

  • As a relatively new knitter years ago I knit a garter stitch jacket out of The Knit Stitch book. However it never was a good fit and was not worn much, if at all. Fast forward 15 years later…it was sitting in my closet moved from shelf to shelf, until just recently I’d had enough. I sat down and found the sleeve edge and started pulling. It had bee knit in sections so it wasn’t a straight unraveling. That was okay. I pulled out yarn and wound it into balls while listening to Barbara Pym books. I wound the balls into skeins on my swift and turned them into skeins and washed them. And now I’ve started a new sweater. No regrets whatsoever.

  • This is such a refreshing, and meaningful, way to find the silver lining in having to rip out hours of knitting. Thank you for giving me this new perspective.

  • I think all people who work in a craft will make mistakes. Most times we can correct the mistake but there are times where the instructions or pattern are so bad, you don’t know what to do. I have tried many projects with bad results. I have taken several on line classes and ran into that situation. Then I start blaming myself for the mistake. I don’t know enough, or I got in a hurry, or there is something wrong with my reading ability etc. The truth of the matter is that the person who wrote the instructions could make a mistake same as me. I frog the project several times and after a while I finally accept the fact that this project wasn’t meant to be. There are too many things I want to do to waste time (after reasonable amount of time and help with my project) and need to move on. I am a person who hates to admit defeat, but there comes a time when it is necessary. Learning seems to be a process of making mistakes, learning from them, and learn when to quit (which I hate to do).

  • Thank you for these thoughts. I am in the process of knitting a summer Tee with a bit of lace design, top down. It has been frogged back so many times, I worried about the yarn. A k2tog or yarn-over was missed 2 rows down frequently though the count was correct at the end of
    that round. Ugh! I seem to be on track now (fingers crossed). It will be next summer’s sweater I’m now sure.

  • My latest frogging ended up as the most pleasant one. I was knitting an afghan for a loved one – bought what I thought would be bulletproof yarn for easy care. Made it almost halfway through the project when I realized that, as it sat in my lap, it did not have the “weight” I was looking for – I wanted it to feel like a hug from me!! Threw the project in a bag, ordered new yarn and knit away. But the old one needed to be frogged. Well a wee helper arrived who did the ripping while I balled it, all under the condition that I now reknit if for her when we were done (yes it had to be ripped as it started out with a stripe in it and she wanted all solid, so we ripped back to taking that last stripe out.) It was a perfect teaming and great time talking while working. Sometimes a willing helper makes the work go quicker and time fly by!!

  • Beautiful! I love this.

  • An ex of mine used to get anxious when I ripped out, saying, “It’s so violent!!”

  • Thank you

  • Very good site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get feed-back from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Many thanks!

  • whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like studying your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You already know, lots of persons are looking around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  • You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

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