Frogging & The Art of Project Management

A photo of a pile of red yarn that's been frogged

Lisa Congdon calls it loud quitting: an assertive and unapologetic no to everything in her life she finds draining, feels done with, one-sided, obligatory, without purpose or joy. Sounds cathartic. If project management is a matter of managing our motivation, then loud quitting is the decision to face our setbacks and hang-ups, evaluate the project, and get rid of it completely. It is time to get frogging.

What Is Frogging?

Frogging is a term knitters and crocheters use for undoing the cloth. Why frogging? Because you “rip it, rip it”, just like a frog! Alternatively, you could undo the cloth stitch-by-stitch, known as tink-ing because tink is knit spelled backward.

We knitters are a humorous bunch.

Alternatively, you may see the terms ripping out, unravelling, and unweaving.

For our purposes, it doesn’t really matter what we call it—when working with continuous yarn, we have the option to undo our work. We can undo a little bit to fix an error, or we can undo the whole lot and reclaim the yarn. Both options are valuable tools in the art of project management.

red yarn in the process of frogging

Anatomy of a Quit

Way back in 1995 on This American Life, Ira Glass spoke to Evan Harris, founder of Quitter Quarterly, about quitting. Evan boiled quitting down into four steps:

  1. think about quitting
  2. think about quitting some more
  3. quit
  4. the post-quit stuff

All that thinking! It makes sense, though. Here we are thinking about problem-solving 😊. Ever since I went on that deep-dive looking for my Chiagoos, I have been thinking about what to do with all the other works-in-progress (wips) I had re-discovered on my shelves.

Felicia and Robyn have both recently talked about carving time out in their schedule for making (here and here, respectively), but before I worry about time management, I need to make a decision about whether to continue or quit each project. Each has a reason for being boxed up and put out of sight. Whether setbacks or hang-ups, I need to process those in order to make my decision.

It is a little game of Snog, Marry, Avoid, project-style: don’t quit but gift, don’t quit and keep, quit.

The Euphoria of Decisions Made

On my mind is a half-knit worsted-weight cardigan sitting in a box. It is heavily textured with cables and moss-stitch panels. It is the only item from my 2021 Make Nine that did not get completed. The yarn is a lovely heathered-grey Swedish wool mix that I dyed with madder. I don’t remember why it was put in the box in the first place, but I don’t think it will fit the intended recipient anymore. Even if it did, we’ve decided that the busy and heavy cardigan no longer sparks joy. I can think of a million better ways to use the yarn, and I don’t want to keep going on the project.

Let’s frog it!

Oh, that feels good to say! And that is how I know it is the right way to go. I’m in love with my decision—the euphoria of the quit.

A Yarn Under Tension is a Yarn Under Control

Frogging can get messy if we don’t manage our yarn as we are going. We are trying to avoid a big pile of tangled yarn here!

Your frogged yarn will show signs of having been knitted or crocheted, just like yarn unravelled from a sock blank. Soaking the yarn in warm water, or even giving it a gentle wash, will usually help it relax out those kinks, but to do this, you will want to wind your yarn into skeins, rather than balls.

My favourite way is to use a niddy-noddy to make skeins as I go, but you could use a skein-winder, a swift (depending on the type), the back of a chair, or even between your (or your helper’s) hands. If you don’t want to worry about a skein, you could always just wind the yarn into a ball (with or without a nostepinne).

red sweater with cables, a niddy-boddy, and a ball of yarn in progress of frogging

Post-Quit Stuff

My reclaimed yarn has been stashed and I happily wait for the time when my muse calls me to use it for something new. It feels great to have made the decision to frog the project. There is no failure here. It was the right decision for this project, and I am better off for it.

Do you have projects on your list that you just never seem to get around to completing? Sometimes those projects can weigh on us as we get hung up on the idea that we aren’t making progress. Well, one way to manage that list of projects is simply to take them off the list altogether. Huzzah!

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