Ask any knitter, they dread frogging a project. They hate it, and if you help them frog it, they won’t be quite so polite when telling you where to take your frogging suggestion or assistance. But, once in a while you come upon a piece you knit so poorly, or that has no purpose whatsoever, other than the practice it was, and you find the knot and untie it.

Then you start to pull the yarn out of its nicely (and sometimes not-so-nicely) stitched pattern. As you pull, you begin to make plans for this yarn. Sometimes you pull because it will work better as X or Y. When I first began knitting, on the knifty knitter eons ago, I created a doll blanket with left-over yarn. It was pretty and it was nice, but I do not arrange my dolls or sock monkeys in sleeping positions. They like to be much more playful. My nieces are living in Florida and don’t have much occasion to use said doll blanket in my home, so, I looked at a doll dress I planned to knit, hoped there was enough yarn and began to frog it. This one was easy to unravel, and the doll dress came out beautifully.

ImageThe First Doll Dress I Knit With Re-purposed Yarn

Next, I found a navy blue and mauve color I like. I began to knit the second dress with this stash. Only, as I near the bottom of the skirt, I’m beginning to realize there may be enough mauve pink to finish the skirt, but not enough to finish the arms. Originally, I thought I’d just have to suck it up and and knit the arms and cowl neck in the blue alone. However, I was sorting through a yarn basket I keep on a shelf the other day, and I came across what was meant to be perhaps a doll leg or arm in the mauve pink color I’m using.

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The Second Doll Dress I’m Knitting with Partially Re-purposed Yanr

Happily, I sat down and untied the knot. Once I got through the knots and the stitches pulled to close, I began frogging, knowing I would likely have enough yarn to knit the arms of this dress. I hope to squeeze out enough yarn to finish the cowl neck, but if I don’t; that part won’t look half bad in just blue. I considered buying another skein, but this color has proven hard to find of late, and I don’t have anything else planned for this color pink. Plus, I might just have a little more stashed in the basket, who knows?

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Scamp Is Always Happy To Help Me Re-purpose Yarn

For once, I’m frogging for happy reasons, instead of a noticeable mistake on a sock three rows ago!

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I’ve mentioned these in the past…Point Protectors. The real question is: Are they worth it? In my humble opinion, yes…if you use aluminum needles. I don’t feel I need them as much on my bamboo needles. In addition, if my work stays at home in the pretty little yarn bowl I received as a gift, I likely don’t need them as much.

However, when a girl is knitting a sock with 80 intricate stitches on those needles, and has thirty stitches on one needle, it is difficult to pick them up. I also have to pick them up in order and without twisting them. This can be frustrating on a good day. On a bad day, even the dog won’t try to help. I don’t blame him, but usually its because there’s no food involved.

Back to the point protectors, I travel for work often. If I’m in an older grade, I have time to knit at work, so I take it with me. Its a simple task I’m unlikely to get in trouble for and I can stop when there is an interruption. With substitute teaching, there’s often an interruption. As a result of the frequent travel with my projects, they sometimes come undone. Since I don’t want that, I added little green alien ears to each of my knitting needles and still have the stitches in places.

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Stitches Not Going Anywhere

Some might suggest that these alien ears protecting my stitches are more work to remove or switch around, or something else to remember in the midst of a complicated pattern. They are not that difficult. In fact, I’d say they’re the equivalent of five or six more stitches in a pattern. With eighty stitches, what’s a few more? It’s not that hard, and my pairs are lime green, so they’re quite noticeable on the end of my needles. Even if I forget they’re coming, I notice them.

They have an additional benefit. If you sit down and do not notice the knitting there, you get poked in the arm or the side or the rear with a rubber alien ear, not a pointy needle. They’ve been tested. I’m not admitting or denying human tests involving boyfriends at this point; but if such tests happened, he likely deserved it.

As for progress on other projects, I’ve gotten halfway through the skirt on the second doll dress.

I’m hoping to have enough pink to finish at least the sleeves, but the cowl as well…otherwise, I will simply use solid navy.

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Half of a Skirt

Regarding the socks, I’ve not made much progress, likely a couple of rows, which will get you there, but next week, perhaps I’ll have more done…. If not, Spring Break is coming up soon, and I’ll have time to write and knit. In the meantime, I’m considering dropping a little more cash for point protectors in case I put a pair of socks on other needles, but I have a rule about finishing one project before I start another. Yes, I think point protectors are worth the few dollars and the effort.

I knit my first two pair of socks on metal needles, and mostly, I liked using them. For a recent gift, (recent being in the last year or so), I received a set of double-pointed bamboo needles in multiple sizes. Being quite excited about receiving them, I began knitting my third pair of socks with them. At first, they worked quite well. But I travel between my home and my boyfriend’s home often.  My boyfriend’s home also has two large dogs that are hard on any set of knitting needles, but especially the bamboo ones. I also substitute teach in various schools, so I take my knitting projects with me. I knit while on breaks or when the kids do not specifically need my direct attention.

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So, which is better, bamboo needles or metal needles? I would have to say it depends on your project, where it is travelling with you and your preferences. As a disclaimer, I have only used acrylic needles once, they were straight and used for knitting the dolls I made for my nieces. They were straight needles, and do not compare to the double-pointed needles. I will say that they didn’t allow the acrylic yarn I was using to slide as well as the other needles. Other than that aside, I will not be comparing acrylic needles at this time.

In my excitement, I cast on 80 stitches to make a lacy sock. Yes, I said eighty stitches, I have large calves and widening feet as I grow older. I began to knit the cuff on bamboo and enjoyed it. I continued with the pattern for the calf/leg of the sock, and while it felt as if this one was taking a long time to knit-likely because I managed to complete two rows a day in a half-hour break while exhausting myself assisting in teaching preschool four days a week, I likely progressed about an inch a week unless I sat down one morning on my weekend and knit away. I even took it to do laundry with me. I accomplished two rows there as well, until I got to the heel flap. Then I knit the heel turn on Christmas morning. I was still knitting on the bamboo needles at this time. However, one of the needles were starting to bend.

Shortly after carefully knitting through the gusset with the half-split bamboo needle; the needle actually cracked one day. At that point, I had no choice but to switch to my metal needles. I could have knit with one metal and three bamboo needles, until the rest of them broke. I decided it would be easier to switch now, rather than hope they don’t break and lose my stitches.

As I was knitting very carefully through the gusset, I was chatting with an acquaintance who also knits. I mentioned my bamboo woes to her as I held up my very periscope looking sock. I suggested just going back to aluminum needles to avoid the breakage. I could not think of any way to seal this bamboo needle without changing its size or shape in the area it broke. Kerri, however, reminded me that she doesn’t like aluminum because the stitches slide off. I do recall having more problems with that on the previous sock, but it was a knit 6, purl 2, pattern and not too difficult to pick up. This pattern was a ten stitch repeat with knit two togethers and yarn over, and so pick up must be meticulous.

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Once I had switched to the aluminum needles that are still intact, I did have some stitches slip off the needle, in the pattern work, of course. I carefully placed the stitches back on the needles, and knit around very carefully, counting, and re-counting, checking for dropped stitches. As a result, I began looking for stitch holders, or considering the tiny rubberbands used with braces. I did end up picking up rubber point protectors, or stitch-holders that you may have noticed in recent blogs.

Most of the time, they are quite useful, unless you forget to put them back on the needles when you finish knitting the row. I had middle and high school band, with someone coming in to lead them through music I couldn’t lead them through as well alone. At the end of 7th grade band, which played with great enthusiasm, I forgot to put my knitting back together. They were playing such fun songs, I didn’t even remember to knit as I did through other classes.

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After school, I drove to my interview, then back to my boyfriend’s for the evening. During that evening, I realized that I had to pick up twenty stitches in this pattern as I had forgot to put the point protectors back on the needles. Any other time, I’m grateful I spent the money on these silly little alien points. I think the point protectors are a great investment if you continue using aluminum needles.

If you knit at home, or have a better travel system, bamboo works great. However, if you are on the go, I do recommend the aluminum needles.

Progress–it’s slow going, but each stitch gets you there. I had High School Art classes for two of the three days I worked this week. Mostly, when the kids are not painting on the table, and trying to tell you, “It’s okay, we do it all the time,” while none of the other tables are painted on, I like these groups of students. I also get to walk around and see some really cool art projects and ideas. Many art students are quite talented.

Since I am not incredibly needed by these groups, as I am in younger grades, I am often free to knit. I was able to complete more than two rows at a time this week. I even came home almost tired of knitting both days. Monday I got through nearly half of my first pattern repeat for the lace work. Thursday, I nearly finished it.

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I do track my progress with hash marks and tally marks, so I know where I’m at and that I am making progress through my long-term projects. That way I can see things moving along. However, that often leaves me focusing on the whole, or the big picture. I have five of these repeats before I begin the heel. At sixteen rows per repeat, this can feel overwhelming. At some points, I will compare the two socks, to make sure I am keeping things similar. I will also have to make the effort to repeat the noticeable mistakes I kept. But these are only checkpoints and I’m choosing to focus on what I can do; what I have done.

I’m finding myself applying this philosophy to my writing as well. I have begun the first edit on my draft that is close to finished. First, I printed out a real “book” of pages and have begun editing on hard-copy as I find it easier. I am working through the nearly finished manuscript scene by scene and looking at how everything flows. I’m making edits about wording and transitions, as expected. I don’t have quite as many edits as I expected at this time. But I’m honest enough to know what is expected.

After the 7th chapter I became tired of reading for the day, but still had some restless energy. I sat down at my computer and began to transfer my edits to screen. After I had edited a few scenes, I remembered the “status” field in my synopsis of each scene. I went back through those scenes I had edited and changed my status from “Draft” to “1st edit.” I did this for each scene I edited and finished the first chapter this way.

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Performing this simple task left me feeling accomplished. That sense of accomplishment carries with me that day, and on through much of the week. Just as finishing the first of the pattern repeats in my sock leaves me feeling accomplished. Its often just another hash mark in the project; one row or one scene at a time, but those little progress reports give me the motivation to keep working at it. I know, even on days I only get to knit one row, or write one scene, I have moved forward, one step at a time. Some days, that is all we can do.  Image

In closing this post, I wish you similar luck in your own progress and sense of accomplishments as we forge through the days tasks.