Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Monday, November 10, 2003


No, I didn't frog it, I had to unknit it. I didn't really think there was a difference, but I found out this weekend that there is.

I am knitting a pair of socks for my mother. Nothing special, just an acrylic/nylon yarn in a soft minty color for those occasional nights it is chilly in Florida. I started them on DPN size one and did the ribbing, I am knitting these cuff to toe. Then I got the small circular needle and it was in size three, which was what the pattern wanted to use. I completed the sock, and really liked the way it looked, except the pattern has a very long heel to cuff area. That put the tight ribbing about half way up the leg, unless you wore them in a slouch style. I don't think Mom would do that, so I decided the ribbing should be removed and reknitted. I envisioned pulling the ribbing down to where the pattern started, picking up the live stitches and knitting the ribbing in the size three needle.

I found out soon after I started pulling, that frogging backwards from how something is knitted just doesn't work. At first I thought I was having problems because I was trying to undo the cast on edge, but it became apparent that I was going to have to undo each stitch in a way different from what I am use to in normal frogging. I came to the conclusion that it was because I was going backwards.

My 'take it apart and fix anything' hubby had two very unhelpful suggestions, as he watched me fuss with this, while we were driving. One was to just cut the cuff off, unravel that yarn and reuse it. Well, that's a valid suggestion, I just DID NOT have the nerve to take scissors to the sock. I did not need to save the yarn, I have plenty leftover, so the only thing stopping me from doing that is the stubborness I was born with to undo things slowly and correctly. BTW his other unhelpful suggestion was to unravel from the toe up (snort) in otherwords redo the whole sock. NOT.

I did try for awhile to keep the yarn intact that I was unknitting, but finally decided that was not worth the extra tangles, and later would cut the yarn short again after it reached about a yard or so.

I finally hit a point where there seemed to be a repeat of three 'undoings' By now I had the yarn in a blunt needle, and all the stitches on two DPN's. I was basically using the needle to follow the path of the yarn to undo the stitches onto a third DPN.

This is what it would read like, if there were pattern directions for unknitting a K2P2 ribbing.

Stitches to undo on left hand needle, work onto right hand needle.
Pick up base of stitch on left hand needle. Hold it on right needle. Thread yarn through base of right needle stitch, front to back, unwrap yarn from left hand needle, then go again through right needle stitch from front to back. One stitch removed. Pick up base of stitch on left hand needle and hold it on right hand needle. Thread yarn through right needle stitch back to front, unwrap yarn from left hand needle, then thread yarn through right hand stitch back to front again. Second stitch removed. Third stitch on left hand needle (which looks like a knit stitch) can be remove in normal way, by picking up the base stitch below, putting it on the right hand needle and pulling yarn free.

Continue with these three methods to remove all stitches.

Now I know the readers' eyes are glazed over after reading that last paragraph. It must sound as confusing as knitting directions did, long ago (or maybe now if you are not a knitter)

I worked like this for about 7 rows and still was only about half done. There was a rhythm for sure and it did help to have the needles and yarn under slight tension, just like when knitting. But it was slow, slow, slow.. And occasionally there would be nothing else to do but the same thing that all of us have done when untangling yarn, just slowly and patiently follow where the thread has gone, and undo it. I suppose this happened when the live stitch I picked up on the needles was really several rows down, and not next in line. I finally unthreaded the yarn from the darning needle, and just used the needle to pull on the yarn. I kept the yarn cut short, and would just pull it out which ever way it was going next. It took many hours of my knitting time, and probably was only good for the experience of knowing I won't do it again.

I could have used all of this experience to really study the stucture of the knit and purl stitch, to know how it is really constructed, and connected. But I just could not wrap my brain around anything that intelligent. It was a strange study of the zen of doing something so well known to my hands, backwards and therefore so unknown to my hands. It was like watching me knit in a mirror. The best analogy for those of you that do not knit, it to think about a stretch of road that you drive all the time, and then have to drive it backwards.


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