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O'ahu born and Rockville bred, both Maryland and Hawai'i are home. Middle-aged knitter (believe me, my 40 is NOT the new 20) seeking the courage to live consciously, each and every moment. Now if I could just remember where I put my keys...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Knit Therefore I Frog: a classic tale of pain, catharsis and redemption in three acts

The background picture is THE IKI pre-frog (thanks for the picture, T)
This holiday season, I am trying to listen to my inner Budget Stasher. This holiday season, I have MEN to knit for, and I work with these men, and I find it just a little bit too intimate to make socks for men I work with. (I would be sitting in meetings, staring at their feet, wondering what was under their trouser legs, and they would have to do the old “Eyes up here” at me.)(Then again, if I could be sure this would not end up on my HR records, this could be kinda fun.)

I do not have a lot of masculine yarn. I. Like. Pink. I also like yarn of variegated colors, so pink shows up all over the place in my stash.

Limited to a) my stash, and b) yarns without pink, there is only one real solution: Frog* (drum roll, and make it dramatic) the Iki

Knit Kimono: 18 Designs with Simple Shapes
Iki Pattern in this book
Relevant background: The Iki is a knit kimono pattern from Knit Kimono by Vickie Square . I was inspired to get this last holiday season because I had a gift card to The Large Chain Bookstore, and I love the simplicity of the basic kimono design. (Interested? Click here.)

I knit my Iki, seams and all, the first week of 2010. It was a LOT of knitting. It was a week of staycation of dedicated knitting. I knit and knit and knit and knit – this pattern is ONE LONG PIECE OF KNITTING – and when I was done and had provisionally seamed it, it looked horrible on me. The texture of the Noro Silk Garden that I used was not heavy enough to give the garment a good drape, at least on my nicely padded frame. And while I am more than willing to take fashion chances (for example, see this), I didn’t even want my DOGS to see me in the Silk Garden Iki.

We needed a break, the Iki and me (I? Me? Eh.), and nice long break, and so Iki was put away. In bag, in storage bin, in upper corner of closet away. Far, far away. It was the best I could do at the time.

The background pic here is Frogged Iki
With my inner Budget Stasher (introduced in this blog post) insisting that I use my stash, and with the Iki having been knit in a non-pink palette, and with the frigging holidays approaching, yesterday was The Day to frog the Iki.

The Knitting Experience Book 1: The Knit Stitch, Inspiration & Instruction
Einstein Coat In This
Yesterday morning, before my coffee had kicked in and while I was still kinda sleep-fogged, I dug out Iki. I looked at her folds, I knew she was doing me no good as she was, all wadded up and stuffed away. I knew that the idea of using her for Sally Melville’s Einstein Coat for me was a good one, but I am a long way away from casting that one on (I want to get my current projects back down to the single digits, and now I have like, 35 or so lurking about). And I have other yarn I can use for my Einstein Coat. Yarn with pink, which I like.

So I quickly whipped out the provisional seams, found the end of my 30? 40? 50+? hours of knitting (ONE WEEK AT LEAST OF MY KNITTING LIFE, ONE PRECIOUS WEEK!), undid the knot and pulled. The unraveling had started. They say the first step can be the hardest. Hmmm. I actually felt kind of relieved. But I had to go to work, my job, the place that pays the underwater mortgage.

I will not knit while driving, but I have found it was quite cathartic to frog while sitting at interminable red lights.

I discovered that frogging at work is actually enjoyable. I frogged in the break area and got lots of “Oh, my God, you’re undoing all of that?” comments. Gratifying.

I frogged while talking to one of the executives about getting me some 2011 numbers that I need to do some of my planning for next year. He was amused, and even though he is tardy, he got cool boss points which put him solidly in my “not mad at him this week” column.

EmmaI also discovered that frogging something I spent a lot of time on can take me back to where I was when I was knitting it. I’m a big reader and often when I re-read things, I’m somehow transported back to where I was another time I read the same book. I read Jane Austen’s Emma for the first time while at the University of Maryland, in my LaPlata Hall dorm room. I reread Emma once every four or five years, and it takes me back to that time in my life.

Thus it was with frogging that project. At the beginning of 2010, the week I knit the Iki, I had just ended a relationship, been in an accident that totaled my beloved Mini Cooper (the two were not related, fortunately), re-homed two cats, and turned forty-effing-six (an age which, when said aloud, came as something of a shock to me – dunno why, as it’s the usual age one turns after being forty-five). Frogging the Iki took me back to my lonely, carless, shell-shocked-by-my-age state. I got to visit that place and see where I am now – happily in love with someone who LOVES not just me, but also my knitting (!!!!!), I'm no longer overwhelmed by the furbaby count, and I let go of the fun that was darting around in a sweet mint-green Mini that matched my eyecolor and have found satisfaction with a paid-for, practical, functional car (yes, the check engine light is still a problem – waved hi to me yesterday after being in hiatus for about a week).

Frogging that Iki, saying goodbye to one vision, winding those balls of yarn, creating new possibilities.

It really did not suck. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.

The background here is Noro Striped Scarf as of bedtime, yesterday

Despite my myriad of other projects, I needed to start knitting with the repurposed Silk Garden RIGHT AWAY.  As immediate gratification for my frogging fortitude, don't you know.

I took a couple balls of the yarn which seemed to have contrasting color repeats and started a favorite pattern: Jared Flood’s Noro striped Scarf.

For winter knits, I have found that pairing the Silk Garden with a kid mohair lace, like Colinette Parisienne or Rowan Kidsilk Haze, adds a soft aura to the Noro without taking away the sheen of the silk. In the scarf I started last night (ostensibly for Dr. Ueno, but don’t hold me to that), I paired Noro Silk Garden #272 with Rowan Kidsilk Haze #632.

Knits Men Want: The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man~ Plus the Only 10 Patterns She'll Ever Need
Love Love Love Bruce's book for Man Things!
It was nice to just knit. After frogging, it felt good to knit without needing a pattern and contemplate new possibilities. It felt wonderful to knit and contemplate how, miraculously, time can bring amazing surprises and accomplishments and healing.

You should be aware that my inner Budget Stasher (I envision her as Queen Latifah) was pretty darn happy with me, too.  In her smug, I-told-you-so-girlfriend, kinda way.  (I'm letting her have her little victory.  Me and Devil Stasher have some plans she doesn't know about yet...)


*For my non-knitting friends who read this, “frogging,”  in yarn-speak, means undoing, sometimes in tears, your knitting. If a knitter says anything to you about “frog” or “frogged” or “frogging,” it is ALWAYS appropriate to make a sympathetic face or noise and express empathy. Frogging can be like creating an exquisite and inspired Excel spreadsheet complete with formulas and having to change it completely because some freak in another department insists it doesn't work for them.  Or something like that - insert your own wasted-time-and-effort scenario here.


  1. I have frogged plenty of knitting too. It is at the same time tragic and absolute relief that the "masterpiece" will never have to be explained.

  2. Reading this almost makes me WANT to frog something...but I will resist the urge! LOL

    I keep seeing Bruce's book pop up and I think, or rather I KNOW, I need to pick up my own copy.