Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Gentle destruction brings the joy of a fresh start

I was up early on a recent Sunday morning, delightfully alone. Being the one morning person in the house has its perks! Waiting for coffee to brew, I looked outside and saw everything dripping and fresh from the night’s thunderstorm.

In the quiet of the living room I worked on my latest crochet project, a headband with flowers. I was close to finishing the main design; it was almost time to change colours. The thin cotton yarn felt good in my hands, and the deep blue pleased me. When I paused for a sip of coffee, I saw that I had somehow miscounted the flowers, and it wouldn’t actually fit around the head of the person it was destined for. It might fit around a doll’s head. A small doll.

I’d have to rip it out.

Grumblings generally stays quiet when I’m crocheting, but I couldn’t help muttering a hint of a grumble. Seriously?! I had been so close to finishing a project without having to frog it (that is, rip out stitches). It would have been the first one.

Since I finished the 14-year blanket in March of this year and started venturing into other crochet projects, I’ve had to frog every project at least once, sometimes two or three times. Usually a few rows, but I can think of three projects that I had to rip out completely, twice, because I misunderstood or misread the pattern (or, the “recipe” as I sometimes call it by accident, to the delight of Things One and Two).

Sometimes I have to frog because I’m talking with people or watching something and get distracted, sometimes it’s because it’s after 10 p.m. and simple instructions no longer make sense to me. Other times, I really don’t know what I’m doing, and I decide to guess what the instructions could mean, just to see how it will look. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I frog.

There’s freedom in knowing that I can guess and try… and that if it doesn’t work I can frog it and try something different. When I get stuck, I call a friend (thank you!), which helps. Sometimes I find a video tutorial, which reminds me to feel intensely grateful for the internet! So much faster than tracking down an expert or a book.

So the headband was going to, briefly, go backwards instead of forwards. As I pulled the yarn and watched the stitches disappear, I considered the fact that I don’t really mind frogging, in spite of that initial spurt of frustration. It doesn’t discourage me or make me want to give up. This is pleasantly surprising, because I’m not always patient. Husband, who has been observing me for some thirty years, would confirm that. In fact, he commented recently on my unusual perseverence with a shawl I was making.

He knows me. He watched me work on a blanket off and on over the years, never really progressing far until recently. He’s seen me paint, watched me give in to the irresistible urge to put lots of paint on the brush, because I want it to go faster and be done more quickly. He knows how hard it is for me to wait for people to open presents, to not give away surprises. I’m certain he could provide many examples of my drive to get things done, never mind enjoying the process.

But with crochet, I seem to have found a craft that I can enjoy every part of. I don’t get impatient when I frog. In fact, I find it strangely satisfying. A gentle tug on the yarn, and the stitches go backwards, undo themselves, one at a time. It’s neat to watch. This gentle destruction leads to a fresh start.

I don’t know if other people find it satisfying to watch stitches come undone. I did a quick search, and found some videos of high-speed frogging. Not soothing at all! My eyes could barely follow the yarn. I wanted to try to show how peaceful it is to frog, so I had Thing Two film me frogging a wrist-warmer I was making that was too small. I’m very curious to know if anyone else finds it soothing to watch! Do let me know if that 54 seconds is relaxing or stressful.

If I’m in a hurry to start crocheting again, I’ll go fast. But often I savour the frogging. Unravelling the stitches, watching the loops undo themselves, is fascinating. All that effort, erased in seconds. It turns that crochet piece, which may have taken minutes or hours of work, into an ephemeral piece of art, like those intricate sand drawings people do on the beach that last only until the tide comes in or it rains.

All those mistakes, undone and erased.

All that practice, invisible now and ready to help me do better next time.

I’ve talked about how working with our hands is good for us. How fortunate I am that I enjoy both the forwards and the backwards of crochet. Maybe I’m weird, but I’ll take that good and be grateful for it.

What has an art or craft taught you? Do you find it relaxing to watch stitches come undone? Share a comment or send me an email at susan at


About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

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