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What is “Frogging”, and How to Do It

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If you’ve been knitting for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the term “frogging” before. But what does it mean? And why is it called that? In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of “frogging” and offer some tips for frogging your work (without getting a headache!)

close up image of a woman knitting

What does “frogging” mean?

So, what is “frogging”? Frogging is a term used in the knitting and crochet communities to refer to the act of ripping out or undoing a project. 

For example, you might “frog” a few stitches to undo a mistake. Or, you might “frog” an entire project if you don’t like how it turned out.

While it might feel terrifying to rip out rows and rows of stitches, it’s often necessary to frog your work to fix an error you made a few rows back. 

I don’t think many crafters enjoy frogging – but it’s better than living with an annoying mistake or a design you’ve changed your mind about.

The origin of the term “frogging.”

The term “frogging” is a playful reference to the sound that a frog makes. Frogging means ripping out your work. And the phrase “rip it, rip it” sounds a lot like “ribbit, ribbit,” or a frog’s croaking noise. 

The term has become widely used in the knitting and crochet communities, and it’s a lighthearted way to refer to an otherwise tedious task.

To Frog or Not to Frog?

When should you frog? Well, it’s really up to you. 

If you’ve got a small mistake that won’t bother you, and one that hasn’t messed up your stitch count, you can likely ignore it and keep working on your project. After all, you’ll probably be the only one to notice the mistake once your project is finished and blocked.

But, if you are bothered by the mistake, or if it drastically messed up your stitch count, it’s better to frog it and redo it. A little extra work now will save a lot of heartache later.

close up image of a woman holding yarn

How To Frog Your Work

So, you may be wondering, how do you actually frog a project? 

How to frog crochet:

Since you’re only working with one live stitch at a time, crochet is easier to frog than knitting. 

  1. Remove your hook from the project.
  2. Gently pull on the yarn to unravel the stitches until you reach the mistake. Try to keep track of how many rows you’re ripping out, so you know where to restart your pattern.
  3. Once you reach the mistake, slow down and carefully the stitches one by one until you have removed the error.
  4. Then, reinsert your hook and continue crocheting as usual.

How to frog knitting:

Frogging knitting is a little trickier since you’ll have a whole row of live stitches to deal with. But don’t be afraid to give it a try! Take it slow, and you’ll be fine. 

  1. Find the mistake you need to fix, and mark it with a stitch marker. That way, you’ll know how many rows you need to rip out.
  2. Carefully slide the live stitches off of the knitting needle.
  3. Gently pull on the yarn to unravel the stitches row by row, until you reach the mistake. You might find it easier to unravel the entire row with the mistake, instead of stopping in the middle of the row.
  4. Carefully reinsert your knitting needle into all live stitches. Take care to orient the stitches correctly on your needle, and double-check that you have the correct number of stitches.  
  5. Then, re-knit the rows, taking care to correct any mistakes.

How to frog an entire project:

If you’ve got a whole project to rip out, you can save a bit of time by using a ball winder to wind the yarn as you unravel it.

Ripping out your work can be time-consuming, but it’s important to be gentle and patient to avoid tangling the yarn. If you’re working with a complex pattern or colorwork, it can be helpful to wind up the different colors as you go, so they don’t get tangled together.

How to rewind your yarn:

Once you’ve unraveled your work, you’ll be left with a mess of yarn. If you’ve been careful, it shouldn’t be too tangled.

The next step is to rewind the yarn into a ball, untangling it if necessary. After you wind it back up, you can reuse the yarn to continue your project or save it for another project down the road.

close up image of yarn and knitting needles in a basket

Reusing Yarn from a Frogged Project

If you’re like me, you have one or two half-finished projects that you’ve changed your mind about. Maybe the pattern wasn’t fun to knit, or perhaps the item doesn’t fit the way you intended.

Either way, you can frog that half-finished item to reclaim the yarn and use it for another project you’re more excited to work on. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Rewind your frogged yarn on the back of a chair, a yarn swift, or a tool called a “niddy noddy.”  
  2. Secure the yarn in several places with small ties made of scrap yarn.
  3. When you remove the yarn from the niddy noddy, you’ll notice that it’s all kinked up. Don’t worry – that’s to be expected. We’ll fix it in the next step.
  4. Soak the yarn in room-temperature water. You can use a little wool wash if you want, but there’s no need to agitate it.
  5. Remove the yarn from the water and squeeze out the excess water.
  6. Lay the yarn flat on a towel or blocking mat to dry.
  7. After drying, your yarn should be nice and straight again – ready for your next project.

Frogging vs. Tinking

What’s the difference between frogging and tinking? (Frogging, tinking… I don’t blame you for being confused by all this yarn lingo!)

  • Frogging refers to the act of ripping out rows of stitches or undoing an entire project. 
  • Tinking, on the other hand, refers to the act of “unknitting” a project one stitch at a time. (Tink is knit spelled backward, after all.)

If you spot a mistake a few stitches back, it’s easier to tink (or un-knit) them and redo them. But, if your mistake is several rows back, it will be faster to frog it instead.

Rip it, Rip it!

Frogging can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’ve put a lot of time and effort into a project. But it’s also an important skill to have as a knitter or crocheter. And even though it can be tedious, the end result is often worth it.

So the next time you hear someone talk about “frogging,” you’ll know exactly what they mean. And if you ever need to frog a project yourself, remember these tips, and let it rip! 

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