I play a tabletop RPG with some friends at least once a month. We have a five or six hour session, and I will often bring along whatever knitting or crochet project I am working on. It gives me something to do with my hands while talking. Plus it’s always fun to see how Melissa Snark, the game master, works in knitting into her plot.
The latest project was a scarf I made for a charity auction. I spent the better part of a game casting on and working the first few rows of an infinity scarf. The pattern called for casting on of three hundred twenty stitches that is then closed into a loop. Then an alternating design is worked over eight rows and repeated. It is slow work but results are stunning when done correctly.
Between dice throws, I completed four rounds in about five hours. I stopped and looked down at my work, feeling something was off. I spotted the problem in half a second. I sighed and started to pull the yarn off the needles, undoing all my hard work.
Melissa looked at me in open-mouthed horror. “What are you doing?” she asked, shocked enough to break character.
“The cast on round twisted when I closed the loop,” I said. “That puts a wrinkle in the fabric.” I continue pulling yarn, the work of several hours disappearing in seconds. “I can’t fix it like I could a dropped stitch,” I state in a matter-of-fact tone as stitch after stitch unravels. “Have to start over.”
She put it into a context we both understood. “But that’s like deleting three thousand words!”
I shrug continued pulling yarn off the needles. “That’s what you have to do when there is a flaw that goes all the way back to the start.”
The term for the process of undoing several rows of stitches is “frogging.” It’s a pun based on the the words “rip it” sounding like “ribbit.” It’s the way to add humor to what can be a discouraging task. But her comparison to cutting out 3000 words in a manuscript is apt. I just had to restart a story because of an error in plotting I made in the outlining that could not be fixed.
Am I happy about it? No. While I can salvage some sections of scenes, a lot of it has to be rewritten completely from scratch. But like the scarf, the results will be stunning when I get it right.